- I never enjoyed wandering around in the parking-lot, looking at the used/damaged junk. Sometimes you can get good deals — if you know what you’re looking for, and if the person is actually honest about the condition of the item — but that’s actually much less common than you might think.
Perfect example: My first 2-meter HT: 40 bucks from some random D-bag at some Hamfest or other. It turned out that the circuit board had been shattered, and (ineptly) solder-jumped back together. Result: semi-random failures, mostly involving if you moved the HT even slightly/if it heated more than a few degrees during usage.
Stupid D-bag hadn’t bothered to tell me this up front, and had sworn that the unit was “working fine”. Now, I can (somewhat) understand if the guy would have admitted that the unit was only semi-usable, and/or been selling it explicitly as something to strip for parts — but lying about it the way he did (especially to a “newb”) was…..a d-bag thing to do.
Another “deal” I got at another hamfest: some sort of Heathkit transmitter, where the guy had yanked the power transformer/all of the tubed, and somehow “lost” the manual/schematics over the intervening years.
Result: 5 years of (intermittently) searching out tubes/trying to find/figure out how to make a suitable power-transformer, locating schematics, finally buying tubes from an EASTERN EUROPEAN SOURCE — only to have the “new” tubes pop when I tried to power the damn thing up, for the first time. 😦
So: no. “hamfests” are nothing but a way for people to unload their failed projects/scrap on unsuspecting victims.
The other thing is: most of them serve as fund-raising for “local clubs” which are basically useless even to their own members.
Any club which does NOT actively assist its own members in navigating the (onerous and unjustifiable) restrictions on outdoor antennas perpetrated by many HOAs is — to that extent — at least circumstantially responsible for the ongoing “death” of Amateur radio.
So, no: I haven’t been to a hamfest in over a decade. More to the point, the few that I *did* attend “back in the day” all sucked