If you have a favorite event or surplus place to add (and yes, I hope to see my listings go nationwide eventually), please E-mail me and let me know about it.
PLEASE NOTE: Stores that sell less than 50% surplus equipment or parts, or that sell all new components, or swap meets that are not at least 75% dedicated to used/surplus electronics, are NOT ELIGIBLE for listing.
I don't usually add comments about specific swap meets because of the high degree of variability involved. However, I'm choosing to make an exception in this case. Assuming that the NW Division holds this event at the same place every year (the convention center in Seaside), it is by far the most physically uncomfortable and cramped event that it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. The table I had one year was crammed very tightly against the metal rail of an upstairs walkway, so much so that I could not sit down comfortably.
The corridors holding the tables are also too narrow in the upstairs area. If you're claustrophobic, or if you get nervous in large crowds, you're going to have to take some serious 'happy pills' to be able to deal with at least part of this event.
My final gripe is that the swap portion of the event was simply too small for my liking. This event is much more a true ham convention than it is a swap meet, so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.
In summary: If all you're going to this event for is the swap portion, there are better options elsewhere, starting with...
Swaptoberfest! This is a twice-yearly event (usually in February and October) put on by the Mid-Valley ARES group in Salem. It takes place at the Polk County Fairgrounds in Rickreall, about a two-hour or so drive from the Portland area.
As far as northwest techswaps go, I would consider Swaptoberfest to be second only to the Mike & Key event in March. I've been told that the October slot is better attended than the one in February, but I was certainly not at all disappointed with the Feb-2004 event. I found some amazing deals, lots of vendors, and an excellent assortment of radio and test gear.
Coos County Radio Club swap meet. Annual event, usually the third week in July, in Bandon, OR. See their web site for details.
This event, as of my last visit in July 2006, could best be classified as a 'micro-swap' in terms of size. Expect no more than 20 or so vendors, given the available space. However, I will say that I found the prices to be (for the most part) pretty reasonable. The assortment of gear, taking the event's small size into consideration, was not that bad, though I wish there had been more in the way of test gear.
If you're going to visit this event, don't go just for it. Take a couple of days, at least, and have a look at Bandon itself. It's a very small, peaceful, and beautiful town on the southwest Oregon coast, smack in the middle of Highway 101 between Coos Bay and Port Orford. The Old Town area, around the marina, has some worthy stops, including the Bandon Sweet & Treat Shop (an old-style candy and jam store), but don't plan to eat at the Wheel House Restaurant unless you also want a capital-class serving of snooty attitudes, bizarre dishes, and (to my eyes) excessive prices.
If you're into exotic animals, you will definitely want to check out the West Coast Game Park. It's one of Bandon's best features, IMO, and is most definitely in the category of what I would call an 'interactive experience.' Well worth the price of admission, and (for those hard-core hams who have families that don't share your interest in radio) an excellent distraction for the XYL and any 'harmonics' you may have traveling with you. ;-)
If you want more details about Bandon, feel free to drop me a line. I can suggest places to eat and stay that (hopefully) won't overtax your budget.
The Portland area has four (that I know of) such places. They are, in alphabetical order:
Cascade Surplus Electronics, aka 'Da Lode' -- CLOSED IN 2012
R5-D3 Electronic Surplus -- CLOSED, End of Nov. 2015 due to owner's passing.
Tektronix Company Surplus Store
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Last update: 14-Jan-16 by Bruce Lane