Category Archives: Nostalgia

2019 Huntsville Hamfest photos: Flea Market

Yesterday (Saturday, August 17), was the first day of the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama.

Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of friends that Huntsville is a must-see hamfest. And, boy, were they right! Turns out the Huntsville Hamfest is one of the largest hamfests in North America.

The entire event is held in the amazing Von Braun Center and is fully air conditioned–a good thing as temperatures were pushing 100F/37.8C yesterday!

I took a number of. photos in the flea market area of the hamfest. In truth, though, this is only a small sampling of what was there. I told a friend that–in terms of selection and radio density–this was one of the best hamfest flea markets I’ve ever seen. If you were looking for ways to rid yourself of your hard-earned cash, this was the place to do it!

Click on the photos in the gallery below to enlarge each image. Note that I plan to take photos of the vendor/club areas today and hopefully post them tomorrow:


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Classic portables onboard a 1919 Great Lakes tugboat

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Ewing, who writes:

I know you’re always on the lookout for trips and visits so I thought of you when we were up in Wisconsin last week. There’s a maritime museum up in Sturgeon Bay, on the peninsula, that includes a 100 year-old tug. You can go aboard and climb all up and down…and they’ve got some great radios in the crew cabins as part of the displays of what life was like back when the ship was working.

There were a number of standard but interesting normal transistors but what really caught my eye were the Hallicrafters World Wave in the pilothouse and a fantastic pair of Trans-Oceanics in the cabins of the chief engineer and the captain.

The purpose of the visit really isn’t the radios — it’s about the working life of the Great Lakes and an old ship — so discovering them was a fantastic lagniappe.

[T]he appeal of shortwave in these circumstances is clear: Imagine you’re in the middle of Lake Superior towing a barge full of logs to be pulped, or some other unglamorous but essential Great Lakes cargo — maybe a barge full of big rocks to build a breakwater in, say, Sheboygan — and you come off watch in the middle of the night. Life on a ship can be deadly monotonous and deeply lonely but then picture yourself tuning in to the international band on your luxurious Zenith set … not bad since the iPad won’t be invented for another 40 or so years.

These pix also depict the engine order telegraph, which the captain in the pilothouse used to signal commands to the engine room. There was one for each of the two main engines, and duplicates in the pilothouse.

The captain moves the handle so that it indicates the speed he wants (e.g., Ahead Full) and the bottom needle on the telegraph in the engine room moves, ringing a bell. This is why an engineer might report he was ready to sail by saying he was standing by to “answer bells.” The engineers would select the speed on the engines and then move their own handle on their own telegraph to correspond with the captain’s order, signaling to the pilothouse they’d completed the instruction.

The engines are the white things pictured behind the telegraph and on which was stamped the brass plate also photographed here. The diesel engines were made by the Electro Motive Division of GM and replaced this ship’s original steam propulsion system. EMD is most famous for its pioneering and legendary freight locomotives, which led the way in “dieselization” after WWII in converting many railroads from their romantic but much less efficient and much dirtier steam power. But the company also made marine diesel engines as evidenced here and these served this ship for another three decades or so — just think about that. There also are still EMD GP30 locomotives from the 1960s still in service in some places in the U.S., according to what I read in this month’s Trains magazine.


Fascinating, Phil––what terrific vintage kit! Thanks for sharing those wonderful photos and descriptions with us. 

Yes, I can imagine SWLing would have been a vital entertainment outlet for those on working ships in the Great Lakes. No doubt they had access to a number of strong mediumwave stations on the coast, as well. What a way to while away the off-hours.

Click here to follow @PhilEwing on Twitter.

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Photos from the 2019 Berryville Hamfest

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this excellent photo gallery from the Berryville Hamfest. Dan notes:

You will notice one photo in particular — of a rare Skanti R-8001 and a Telfunken E1500.

The Skanti, which went for only $600, is now comfortably sitting in my radio shack!

Wow! What an impressive collection of radios at this flea market. Looks like Berryville is worth the trip for anyone with an interest in vintage radio.

Thank you so much for sharing these pics, Dan!


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1963 Film features the Rugby Radio Station

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Rugby was not a conventional radio station but a communications hub transmitting radio telephony, including the now obsolete telex service that later gave way to fax

The 800 ft high masts had been a landmark since the 1920s and, as reporter David Rees finds out, maintaining them is tough, particularly during the coldest winter of the twentieth century. As one rigger says, “The wind doesn’t have time to go round you, it goes straight through you.”

Eighty years of broadcasting history came to an end when Rugby Radio Station was closed in 2007.

Watch the 1963 Rugby Radio Station at
https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-rugby-radio-station-1963-online

Rugby Radio Station
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_Radio_Station

Post Readers: Please note that this film is a region-blocked video and only viewable in the UK. If one were to know such things, a way to circumvent this would be to watch it using a VPN located in the UK. 🙂

You might also read this Rugby Radio book review by Dave Porter found in our archives.

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A photo tour of the 2019 WCARS hamfest

Yesterday, I attended the WCARS hamfest in Waynesville, North Carolina, with my friend Sébastien (VA2SLW) who is currently on vacation in the area.

The WCARS hamfest is a smaller regional hamfest, but it attracts a lot of folks from the mountain regions of north Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and beyond.

The WCARS hamfest flea market always has quite a variety of radios, including a number of great vintage models. I’ve been very lucky in the past finding excellent deals, too. This year, I (reluctantly) passed up a few deals knowing I’m also attending the Huntsville Hamfest in August and the Shelby Hamfest in September.

Below, you’ll find a selection of photos from the hamfest. Note that you can click on the image to enlarge it and I attempted to include price tags when possible:


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