Once inside, we started past the primary exhibit area, like we do every year, and headed towards the back of the hall where they house the swap meet. We pass the obligatory food stalls and walk into a nearly empty back hall.
We looked around.
No swap meet.
Slow panic starts to build as we search around and find one of the side loading dock doors to the hall open and people milling in and out. Through the door we could see another building that people were entering and leaving and it looked like they had moved the swap meet to a separate building this year. Odd, but perhaps they had more people and needed the space to house them.
We worked our way over there, picked a random starting direction (right) and started to work the rows.
This year was a very disappointing year.
It turned out there were fewer exhibitors this year and possibly the reason for the change of location was to mask that. Usually there are three huge areas in the back of the main exhibit hall for the swap meet, but the building they held the swap meet in this year was about half the size usually set aside for this.
It also turned out there was less interesting equipment. For the first year no one ended up buying a computer, although there was a very interesting military spec 486 PC (which turned out to be the only interesting computer this year, unlike last year (of which I didn't write about sadly) were someone hacked up a GRiD pentop computer to run Linux but the price was too high). It was a portable (read: luggable) in an Army Green metal case, removable harddrive, detatchable keyboard that fastened to the front to form a lid and came with I think 8M RAM. was a fairly standard PC inside even though at first I thought it was a piece of test equipment. The asking price was a bit high, and upon investigation, the power transformer was too hot to keep it running although it was very tempting. I wanted to buy it for use as area51 the firewall/NAT server I want to reset up.
We did however, come across more IBM PS/2 keyboards (which are the keyboard to have—everything else is crap) at one table. Not only IBM PS/2, but black IBM PS/2 with the pencil eraser mouse between the G and H keys. Between the five of us, we bought all the black IBM PS/2 keyboards. You can never have enough of them. They're indestructable, feel wonderful and you can bludgeon lusers with them. Perfect for the BOFH in your life.
The only other interesting thing was a huge UPS (on the order of 900W) that Mark scored for only $25, still in working condition.
Other than that, nothing.
All in all, a very dissapointing HAM fest this year.