I returned safely from the Hamvention about 7:30 p.m., having stopped to get my front wheels balanced before I left Dayton (Pep Boys, 25 minutes, and it made a big difference; staff was nice, too.)
Met a few old friends -- Key Collector/Enigma Machine expert, Prof. Tom Perera and another key collector, "Neal," (who I suspect is this guy), along with my former boss (ret.) and the former V.P.-Engineering (very ret.), "Tom" from one of the vacuum-tube ham homebrew reflectors I was on some years back and the guy who calls me "Heather," 'cos my phone number on my "Retrotechnologist" and "Airship Privateer" business cards list the exchange as "HEather 2." Plus many folks who found my "Alpha Geekette" T-shirt fetching. --Gotta know your audience!
What'd I buy? Not much. A supposedly-working Ten-Tec Century 21 transceiver at a fire-sale price, a miniature telegraph key (made in France for South Africa's military), a old Readrite meter (the low-cost meter of the 1930s amateur homebrewer and still cheap when found: $1.00), a handful of antenna insulators and a biography of RSGB's wonderful Technical Topics columnist, Pat Hawker, G3VA. (Sadly, he's retired from regular writing but when you consider his first publication was prior to WW II, it's not as if he was a slacker).
Saw a nice Unimat lathe, with the part missing from mine (drill press adaptor. It's not a huge loss, as that's the little device's least-useful function), priced to sell at... $350.00?!?! They don't make 'em any more but it's a low-precision desktop lathe. Also saw -- laid hands on! -- a Mecograph right-angle "bug" key (it's a semiautomatic telegraph key that was designed to get around the Vibroplex patents) and a simply stunning GPO key, a massive piece of British engineering with the works in a cylindrical brass casting with a glass cover. Overbuilt? You bet, but it's a delight to the hand and eye. Alas, I didn't get a chance to learn what rare treasures Tom Perara might've unearthed; he was busy lecturing a rapt audience about WW II cipher machines when I reached his space.
A good day's geekery. I could easily have spent more time, but the clock waits for no one and I wasn't about to drive home squinting into the sunset.
The Hot Needle of Inquiry got better than 33 mpg, driving the speed limit both ways. That's some high gear!
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
11 months ago