Crafts take a place in radio, computer show


Claudia Fund handcrafted Berry Bears made of beads and brought them to a radio and computer show.

Strange choice of venue?

Not if you know the show.

Yesterday's Third Annual Computer and Ham Fest displayed more than radio bits and computer bytes.

"Most of the shows we go to have other things for [the] family to do while the hobbyists go through the equipment," said Mrs. Fund, a Virginia Beach, Va., resident whose husband, Bill, sells computer accessories such as disks.

Janet Stalmaker from Ijamsville in Frederick County, whose husband, Phillip, has been a ham operator since 1961, said the crafts table is another way to cater to this type of event, which has evolved into family outings for many.

"Although this is primarily a gathering of amateur radio operators and their families, the organizers recognize the need to have things that interest the people who are not there for the electronic things," she said.

"One show we went to on the York State fairgrounds had bingo set up with canned goods as prizes," Mrs. Fund said. "I went home with a shopping bag full of food."

Visitors to the show at the Agricultural Center in Westminster may have taken home anything from antique radio parts to a train with a Lifesaver roll candy body and peppermint wheels, another of Mrs. Fund's creations.

Some of the displayed "hobby kits" included police sirens, a telephone bug -- batteries not needed -- and a speech scrambling and descrambling device.

Phillip Stalmaker said the shows give hobbyists a chance to exchange equipment and ideas.

"People mainly come to the shows to learn where they can get certain items and to unload things they no longer need," said Mr. Stalmaker, a retired AT&T; supervisor. "Antique buffs also come to the shows to find old tubes to restore old radios. These shows are good to find the materials they need."

Selling and buying old equipment is nothing new to electronics buffs, said Ryan Miller, a lisenced ham radio operator and one of the coordinators of yesterday's show, which was sponsored by the Penn-Mar and Carroll County Amateur Radio clubs.

"It's like a cycle. The older ham radio operators come to the shows to sell off their old stuff to upgrade to newer models," Mr. Miller said. "But there is always a novice coming in who will want to buy the older stuff to learn on."

Budding ham Ryan Sexton, a sophomore at Westminster High and a member of the school's amateur radio club, was helping the club raise money for equipment by selling donated radio accessories.

"It's fun," said Ryan, whose father is a ham operator. "The com

munication part of it and talking to people you've never seen or heard of before is exciting."

Eldon Geiman, a Greencastle, Pa., ham operator who was tailgating -- selling items from the back of his vehicle -- said there are other, more material reasons to attend these shows.

"You get lots of bargains out here. Something comes out one year for $1,000 and the next year it is still selling for $950," said Mr. Geiman, who passed the test to receive his license a year ago. "But a year later you could probably get it at one of these shows for about $50."

Tim Keener, a Hagerstown building contractor and electronics enthusiast who was selling with Mr. Geiman, agreed.

"Its a last chance to get rid of the clutter around the house or to find something you'll need later, but won't see again anywhere else," Mr. Keener said. "The attraction is like a yard sale -- you get good stuff for much less than its value."

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