This year, at the Dayton Hamvention, I spent more money than I ever have. Though the Hamvention is a showcase of innovations and flea market treasures, I typically walk away with a few connectors, cables, or maybe some handy accessories; I rarely spend more than $100, though I budget much more.
But this year was an exception. I walked away with a few bigger-ticket items I found irresistible. Buyer’s remorse? Nope.
SWLing Post reader, Mike, asked what I purchased, so instead of sending him an email with the tally, I thought I’d post my finds here.
I already have an SX-24, but this one is cosmetically superb for its age. The seller told me that she “lights up” but has no audio; it was an estate sale item. I assume that it has a bad capacitor or two (or more). No doubt, it can be fixed and will fill my radio room with warm audio in due time. At least, that’s the theory!
I purchased this Hallicrafters SX-24 for $60.00
Signal Corps BC-221-AL Signal Generator
This is a working BC-221-AL signal generator that will more than pay for itself each time I align my BC-348-Q (or any of my boat anchors, for that matter). It, too, was in excellent shape and I couldn’t pass it up at $30.00 (great price as the seller was ready to part with it on the final day of the Hamvention). I love the fact that its reference book and log, with schematic, are fully in tact. Bonus: it has that great vintage military electronics smell.
Surmen DC Digital Voltmeter
I picked up this simple in-line volt meter at Universal Radio for $20.
The photo above is enlarged: the actual unit is very small (2.75 x 1.5 x 1 inches). Since my whole DC system is based on Anderson Powerpole connectors, this simple meter will help keep tabs on voltage. I think Universal sold out of these at the Hamvention, but since they build them in house, you can order online.
Side KX panels and cover
I like traveling with my Elecraft KX3, but I worry about the faceplate being damaged in transit. In the past, I’ve used dense foam to protect the front of the radio, but it’s an imperfect solution.
This year, Gems Products was selling their Side KX panels at Elecraft‘s booth in the North Hall. The Side KX handles protrude a good 1/8″ beyond the height of the KX3’s knobs, thus protecting the rig even if turned upside down. I also purchased the clear Lexan cover which fits perfectly on the radio. Now when I travel, I can throw the KX3 in my backpack and not worry about the face being damaged.
At a Hamvention discounted price of $60 with tax, it was no minor purchase, but the investment to protect a $1,200 portable radio was well worth it. I must say, the fit is excellent and installation took perhaps 5 minutes.
Sony TFM-1600W portable radio
This Sony was a late Saturday flea market purchase. The vendor–who attends annually and is well known for his gorgeous display of antique tube radios–had this solid-state Sony sitting at the back corner of the booth. It quickly attracted my attention and that of my buddy (and radio enabler) Mike (K8RAT).
Originally priced at $65.00, the vendor was kind enough to let me talk him down (“beg” is more like it, right Mike?) to the $40.00 cash I had left in my pocket.
Once we got it back to our lodging we confirmed what we had suspected: this Sony has incredible audio fidelity and great sensitivity. No big surprise here: in the 1970’s, Sony was a brand well-known for superb audio fidelity.
This Sony will need a little work–the pots and band switch need a thorough cleaning. Also, the tuning needle somehow came dis-lodged from the fly-wheel mechanism. All of these things can be fixed, though, and I’ll have a superb receiver that should last a few more decades. For a radio built in Japan in 1971, I’m very happy with its condition.
Palstar SP30B Speaker
I’m a sucker for hand-crafted gear. While perusing the flea market, I looked for an affordable vintage speaker for my BC-348-Q, but I couldn’t find one. Inside, however, I spotted this beautiful speaker at Palstar’s booth in the East Hall. I’ve owned a Palstar R30C shortwave receiver before and know how much they care about audio fidelity and overall quality. The SP30B was originally designed for the R30 series receiver.
The wood speaker cabinet on the SP30B is built by a wood worker exclusively for Palstar; the finish is amazing.
The SP30B retails for $99.95 at Palstar.com. I was able to snag this one for only $75 as it was a display and Palstar’s last one with cherry finish.
I purchased a few additional accessories and supplies:
- Icom ID-51a BP-272Li extra capacity battery from Batteries America: $52.00
- 75 feet of coaxial cable: $70
- 8 blemished PowerFilm solar plates: $5
There may have been more items, but I’m calling this a total Hamvention expenditure of $412.
Did you attend the Dayton Hamvention? How much damage did it do to your wallet?
It Looks Like you did quite well for yourself Thomas. The SX-24 is a great catch, I’m jealous. I love the old military gear, and your right about the smell of military stuff. Every time I get near a military cargo plane, the smell takes me back to my Air Force days. Have fun with the new toys!
Wow–I bet the smell of military gear does bring back memories for you. I’ll have to assume you’ve been to the National Museum of the USAF?
I go there every year I attend the Hamvention in Dayton. They have many aircraft set up so that you can walk through them–especially in the presidential aircraft hangar. You find that cargo plane smell there for sure. My favorite museum.
And, Ed, thanks for your service!
Oh yeah, I’ve been going there since 1984 when they only had one hangar and there were more planes outside than in! I love that place. I build model planes and use the pictures on their website for painting guides. Pretty handy.
It looks like you hit the jackpot, Thomas. That’s a lot of nice gear for you to play with.
Jackpot may be a stretch, Gary, but I’m quite happy! 🙂 I’m still kicking myself for not buying a Halli SX-28 with matching speaker last year. It was a tad pricey @ $250, but was in mint cosmetic condition. It also needed to be re-capped. That can get a little pricey. Alas, someday…
I saw a photo of a tube 2way radio the other day, someone wanting to restore it. It looked so rusty, surely the owner could find a better transceiver to start with.
Then I realized, I was thinking like it was forty years ago. Then, such things were so common. And, they were forty years younger. The decades since likely has taken its toll.
In that light, that Hallicrafters is in great shape. It is like it was forty years ago.
I hope you got the calibration book for the BC-221. That’s specific to each unit, and once upon a time, they’d say if it didn’t come with calibration book, it wasn’t worth buying. Too much trouble to calibrate it with no frequency counter and receivers lacking much in the way of good readout. Nowadays, making up a calibration book would merely be tedious.
Yep, this 221 came with a calibration book that is in excellent shape for the age. The past two Hamventions, I’ve been on the lookout for a 221, but the ones with a calibration book were simply too high in price. I’m quite happy to have found this one.
Good purchases Thomas – and that Hallicrafters looks beautiful. With it being in such great shape physically, my guess is the chances it has been tampered with, or been the victim of poor modifications, is minimal. Shouldn’t be too hard to get it working, and then you will have a gorgeous receiver!
I hope you’re right, Dave!
The Skyrider Defiant is a beauty. I love the Art Deco-ish styling from that era of Hallicrafters.
She not all looks; the SX-24 produces beautiful, warm audio.