A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Announcements and items of immediate importance.
Post Reply
User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10783
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Richard Hull » Wed May 09, 2018 8:11 am

I have an old posting in the files section on hamfesting.

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=7954&p=57358#p57358

I will give a few more tips...

Hamfesting is a great way to get some fusor parts, electronics, and vacuum pumps. I offer some additional observations in this post.

In general only big dealers at hamfests with a 5 to 10 table spread of goods will take plastic. Single table stands with old farts selling mostly garbage are strictly cash and carry. "Money talks, plastic and personal checks walk." I found a dealer selling Arduino UNO R3s for $10.00 each who would take plastic. I asked what was the price for cash on 10 of them. He said $7.50 each. Quantity and cash works across the board whether you are buying at a single table or a 10 table spread.

You never go to any nice large hamfest without a pocket full of cash. I typically pack a kilobuck in 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s and a couple of 50s. This is because I also sell now and need to make change. Yes, Virginia you can lose a sale if you can't make change as most of the dorks and doofuses only carry 20's, 50s and 100s. Likewise, many small sellers with a $65.00 item when given a $100 bill will often say I can't make change and they aren't lying. Many virgin or one-time sellers just do not prepare to really sell. (bring small bills)

On more than one occasion I have been at a table and notice a guy at the next table eye-balling something cool that I want. Naturally, I hope he puts it down and walks on so I can snatch it up. Often he offers a big bill 50 or a 100. The guy can't make change. The would-be buyer says he might get some change and return. I make sure he is well out of sight and step up to the table and buy the item with exact change. Cruel and devious, you say... Hamfesting, for winning hunters, is a true, blood sport and demands a certain amount of predation on the weak and ill prepared among the herd.

Yet for all the blood sport, there are unwritten rules among sellers who are honest among themselves. If you buy something early at a hamfest, you do not take it to your table and sell it for more that same day. It is honorable, however, at a future hamfest to sell it at your table for any price you can get. Those who break this rule will often not be sold another item in future and are told so by the guy they are attempting to buy from.

Buyers who only carry large bills use a common ploy to force your price down if you have something they want. Let's say I have an item for $65.00....They say "I only got a single 50 for today", hoping to get it for $50. I have played this gambit for years, myself. It usually works! But not with me. I tell them when they want to give the sole bill they have to spend today........"Oh, I will always leave a man with at least $10.00 in his pocket, I'll never take his last dollar." Then he will say then $40? I say..."sorry"....... 50% of the time they are back an hour later with $65.00 as they really wanted the item. In good faith, I will usually lower my price to $55.00.

There are many more tactics, unwritten rules and gotchas in hamfesting, but the above gives a small overview from my 35 years of hamfesting, both buying and selling.

Hamfesting, whether buying or selling, is an art form. It is not always as simple as a seller, selling and a buyer buying. There is an undulating flow that often can be worked by the adroit seller or buyer.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1450
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Dennis P Brown » Fri May 25, 2018 12:35 pm

Richard, at these places are the items generally sold as is? I have no real experience so I was wondering? Considering the nature and short time available for these markets, I'd think that might be a given but I don't know. So maybe this aspect should be talked about as well?

User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10783
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Richard Hull » Fri May 25, 2018 7:39 pm

You question is answered in firm and certain terms in the URL I supplied in the above posting. It is my manifesto on hamfesting.

Here goes..... Everything is sold as is! You buy it, you own it! No crying in your beer, no whining, just wheeling and dealing. No excuses given or accepted. In general, you pick it up off the table, you touch it, you feel it, You look it over, you think about it, you ask the price, you pay for it, or...you make an offer. Once the item is paid for, the transaction forever ends at that moment in time.

Ask yourself, if it is totally non-functional, can I fix it? If you can't fix most anything either mechanical, electrical or electronic, don't buy it. If you say this a lot to yourself, when considering a purchase, you are not a real hamfester. Hand tools, and small connectors, wire, empty cabinets and non-complex, one component items may be all that you will buy as they are visibly functional or not.

Way back when, in days of yore,a real ham was part of the greatest generation. They could fix anything except broken hearts and the crack of dawn. If they couldn't fix it, they could fix it so it couldn't be fixed. Electronics became far more complex and capable. In addition, people became a lot dumber and lazier due to the circus of "ready to go" things laid out before them involving the use of their individual fingers instead of both hands and their brains.

Today, the latest and greatest in electronics truly can't be fixed due to embedded controllers, SMT components, lack of general skills and gear needed to make repairs, coupled with a general malaise and indifference by the bulk of human kind to learn by the "doing" or through self-directed learning.

Old electronics up to the early eighties can, before skilled and adroit hands, be repaired, provided vacuum tubes and old IC chips can be found. Many of the older folks in these forums are skilled to some level and repairs would certainly be attempted.

Certainly, every living person here should attend and experience one good hamfest and decide for themselves.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

User avatar
Bob Reite
Posts: 275
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:03 am
Real name: Bob Reite
Location: Wilkes Barre/Scranton area

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Bob Reite » Sat May 26, 2018 10:48 pm

I bit the bullet a couple of years ago and bought surface mount rework equipment and learned how to use it. That's because newer broadcast gear is loaded with SMT and unlike consumer electronics, you can't just go to Wally World and buy another for a couple of hundred bucks. So I can fix the newer gear, providing it isn't the custom PROM that you can only get from a manufacturer who is no longer in business that is defective.
The more reactive the materials, the more spectacular the failures.
The testing isn't over until the prototype is destroyed.

User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10783
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Richard Hull » Sun May 27, 2018 6:29 pm

I had a $2500 Pace setup at work that we bought in 2000. I used it for about 6 years on and off. This worked out great until the transistors and resistors became smaller and smaller by a factor of 3X or 4X and the solder runs started being pulled up in the de-soldering process. Finally, all the individual components were replaced by 28-60 pin IC's. No genuine effective repair became possible and all of our manufacturers demanded all gear be sent back to them for any and all repairs in or out of warranty! The customer bore the $$$ shipping and repair bill out of warranty.

Hamfests, here, have offered a variety of SMT tools and soldering aids both used US made and new (chicom). I, currently, among my electronic friends, know of not one living electronics enthusiast who will work with or repair SMT gear. It is no longer the wave of the future, it is here and will not ever go away at the OEM level.

The great electronics of today offers far too many features and compactness to allow for all but the most minor SMT work or the most obvious and simplest repairs to be made. Amateur electronics is still very much alive and well among the determined. Virtually 100% of it is still done using micro-controllers already mounted on small SMT boards connected to larger components, be they older, larger, SMT items or classical components.

Hamfests do not offer individual SMT components, save for a the larger, lower Rds, Power FETs.

At my age, eyesight and fine motor control obviates any SMT work on my part beyond older large SMT work or repairs. I got my first look at a modern 100% SMT Ludlum 14C the other day as a friend came over with a dead unit to see if I could get it going. A near microscopic little inductor seemed to be the problem in the HV section. I suggested he contact Ludlum repair.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

User avatar
Bob Reite
Posts: 275
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:03 am
Real name: Bob Reite
Location: Wilkes Barre/Scranton area

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Bob Reite » Sun May 27, 2018 10:49 pm

I probably should qualify that I can do gull wing and two terminal SMT rework, the most common types encountered. If the bad device is a BGA, forget it! Time for a board swap in that case.
The more reactive the materials, the more spectacular the failures.
The testing isn't over until the prototype is destroyed.

User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10783
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Richard Hull » Mon May 28, 2018 5:38 am

Big Manassas,VA hamfest coming up Sunday June 3. I'll be there buying and selling. Maybe I'll see some of you there from the VA, MD, area.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

User avatar
Bob Reite
Posts: 275
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:03 am
Real name: Bob Reite
Location: Wilkes Barre/Scranton area

Re: A bit more on hamfesting (buying and selling)

Post by Bob Reite » Tue May 29, 2018 10:31 pm

If I go to a 'fest at all this weekend, it will be the Rochester ham fest since it is only half the distance that VA would be from me.
The more reactive the materials, the more spectacular the failures.
The testing isn't over until the prototype is destroyed.

Post Reply