Flea market finds

We sometimes wonder why do don’t see classic electronic equipment at second-hand stores. We had thought it’s because these items tend to get snapped up quickly, but perhaps we’re not shopping in the right places. Here’s a photo set documenting some of the finds from a recent flea market.

The offerings cover a wide range of products and components. There are all kinds of bench tools like oscilloscopes, voltage meters, and bench supplies. But we also see more modern computer parts like cardboard boxes full of motherboards, and heaps of PC power bus wires. You can get five tube sockets for a buck and if you need the tubes they’re just $3-5 a piece. One of the more useful finds is a display case full of shrink tube of every diameter; and one vendor is selling wire by the foot.

License plates and common sense place this Flea Market in the Silicon Valley area. But if you’ve got more concrete info on where this type of event goes down please share it in the comments section.

[via Adafruit]


  1. Slipster says:

    Most likely a hamfest.

    My best guess it was this one: http://www.electronicsfleamarket.com/

    • Auz says:

      That is indeed the De Anza electronics flea market. It is mostly old HAM equipment but there are plenty of computer, hardware, and military surplus merchants as well. Some times sellers give away component grab bags and free junk near the end of the event. It is a bit more friendly than using craigslist for misc electronics. Since this is only once a month other places to shop in the area are Weird Stuff and HSC Electronic Supply.

    • chopperdave says:

      Indeed, it is. I believe this is the first time it has been held under the solar panels.

      Always tons of interesting stuff to see there, and local amateur radio clubs sell coffee and donuts there.

  2. techninja says:

    I’ve seen similar flea markets up in the Bellevue / Redmond area of Washington state. You get a mix of hardware hackers from Microsoft and Boeing providing some very diverse toys; I once found an autopilot system for a 737 in a booth next to a guy selling a half dozen MMD-1s and some Intel Dev boards for various processors.

  3. jordan says:

    looks like…heaven!

  4. medix says:

    Rogers flea market in Rogers, Ohio. The place is massive and there’s usually a good offering of hand tools, vintage electronics, and the usual flea market stuff.

    Best plan is to get there when it opens (like 6 or 7 am maybe? It’s been awhile since I’ve gone.. )

  5. George Hahn says:

    Does anyone know of something like this on the east coast?

    • Robot says:

      If you’re in the Boston area check out the MIT Fleamarket. http://www.mitflea.com/

      It fills 4 stories of a parking garage and the adjoining parking lot. It’s worth it just for the nerd factor alone.

      – Robot

      • wjp says:

        HAM-Fests are held all over the east coast. I used to live in NC and went to the one in Shelby and the one in Charlotte every year. I think the Charlotte event has already taken place, but the Shelby event is in September. http://www.shelbyhamfest.org/ Now, go get your geek on!!

      • komradebob says:

        The first MIT Flea of the year was this past weekend. It was pretty impressive. I picked up a mainframe for an HP Spectrum Analyzer (853A) and an HP Selective Level Meter (3586C) for $80 for the pair. And they even work. :)

        There was a 1Ghz HP signal generator that went for $50, along with racks and racks of HP test equipment. I’d say the show was about 60-70% computer gear, with the rest split between test equipment and radio gear and the usual 5-10% just junk.

        NEarFest is next month in NH. http://www.near-fest.com/ Generally one of the best on the east coast.

        There were great monthly ham fests in California when I lived there in the 90’s. DeAnza and Livermore both come to mind.

        Of course the old folks will remember when there were great surplus shops on every corner. Or at least someplace just outside the fence of every military installation and defense contractor.

  6. brad says:

    Psh. Not a hack!

    • Mister X says:

      Not a hack?

      Clue up brad, a good Hacker needs a well stocked Junk Box, and this is where the Magic starts, gathering parts for projects, and being inspired by others “junk”.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Anyone know if there is one like this in the Portland Metro area of Oregon State?

  8. The Timmy says:

    very nice! I’d be coming home with all kinds of crap my girlfriend would leave me over.

    reminds me of when First Saturday (Dallas Texas) was good.

  9. Thanh says:

    Anyone knows something like this in Washington DC metro area?

    I used to go to Edinger Ave close to freeway 57 in Santa Anna California. They open a swapmeet like this every 2 months (I think it’s the last sunday of the odd months, it’s been more than 10 years that I didn’t go there). I got couple junk stuff from there : solar panel, laser tube, meter, batteries, etc.

  10. DJElectfire says:

    I am very envious! I would have so love to have been to a flea market like that…. then again I probably would have over-spent and would have too much to bring all the way back (to the East Coast)…. Between flea markets like these and Akihabara, Japan… I would be in electronics heaven!

  11. bsom says:


    Click on Hanfests then you can search by your state. The DC area has a ton of sales. I’m in Baltimore and I go to at least 8 a year.

  12. Galane says:

    There’s some serious mad scientist lair decor on sale there.

    Whatever that huge metal box with the clock is, it would make a very neat bedside clock, forget whatever else it does.

  13. steaky says:

    Does anyone know of anything like this in the UK??

    • nes says:

      If you are in the South then NADARS at the Newbury showground (17th June) is the biggest one. It takes half a day just to walk round the traders, without seeing any of the demos and talks. FRARS Hamfest at Wimborne (12th August) is also pretty big and worth travelling down for.

  14. Alex says:

    Same question as above, anything in the UK like this?

  15. sureshotstudio says:

    almost same question as above… something like this in the netherlands…. (baco army goods doesn’t count)

  16. Ren says:

    That U-Haul truck in the background looks appropriate, if I had attended that swapmeet, I would need a U-Haul, not to haul all the goodies home, but to live in, once my wife found out!

  17. Ray J. says:

    Thanks for the post and all the great shots. This was a walk down memory lane. I’d love to attend some meets such as this.

  18. 2guys1gadget says:
  19. steve says:

    Unfortunately almost all of it is garbage. Less useful than just a simple youtube tour.

  20. Leif says:

    A few people mentioned it already but that just likes like any Hamfest. Just go to one of those ARRL links that they posted and you are almost sure to find at least one annual event near you if you live in the US.

    The largest anywhere is probably the Dayton Hamvention in Dayton Ohio. (Not the nicest facilities but the largest) That’s coming up May 18-20. If you are within driving distance and you think you want to attend something like this then just do it. Take a weekend off from work or whatever and just go.

    • Robert says:

      I have not missed a Dayton Hamvention in over 25 years.. It’s a shadow of it’s former self, but still a great place to buy and sell electronics.. It’s still a great place to stock up on bench meters, oscilloscopes, as well as hand tools and components. Lots of computer stuff. I have sold spectrum analyzers, Argon Lasers, Metal Vapor Lasers, and assorted junk. Now, I mostly hang out, but it’s still a lot of fun. Sunday at BOUT 10:00, Lots of interesting stuff shows up by the trash barrels, and the pickers have a field day. Stop by our booth 3822 & 3823. Free cold drinks if you have a Hack a Day patch on your hat! Free Sun block to all visitors.

      In this video,we are loading a Ruby laser into a guy’s car. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgMLXWsS2ms

  21. Nick says:

    If you are near Redondo Beach California, I highly recommend the W6TRW swapmeet. It is held on the last Saturday of every month, more info here:


    It takes a few hours to get through, and there’s a lot of overpriced junk, but it’s worth doing. Among other things I’ve bought a WWII field phone, a Pentium III laptop, and a USB video capture card for $5 each.

  22. Kris Lee says:

    Is there something like this in Benelux too?

  23. ArhPos says:

    …and all I found was a jet engine from Fouga :-(

  24. mpechner says:

    Thanks for pointing at my photo set of the flea market.
    I was blown away to see over 308,000 views of various photos today.

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