The TR BBQ XV proves that less can be more


The 15th TR BBQ took place this past weekend. As ever, it's good for the soul to escape to the coast of Lake Michigan and hang out with a bunch of folks on the same wavelength.

This year's party proved slightly different than years past, though. Most notably, there was no beach. Water levels at Lake Michigan were much higher than usual this time around, making for a sheer drop from the dunes to the water.

I can't confirm that there were velociraptors prowling the shores of Lake MIchigan, but it was definitely dangerous to try and walk in the waves. As a result, we had fewer kids than usual at this year's event—and no fireworks. A TR BBQ without a fireworks show is like, well, a lake without a beach.

So what's a gaggle of gerbils to do? Even without sandy shores, the weather this year was perfect. Temperatures hovered in the 70s or below for the course of the event, and despite an overcast drive on the way up, the clouds parted as we crossed into Holland, Michigan, making for a perfect summer day on the lake shore. drfish opted for a tent in case rain threated to scuttle the event, but the big top mostly kept the crowd safe from the sun in the cloudless skies.

While I was too busy eating to get pictures, zgirl fed us all with racks of impeccable ribs, just brew it! plied us with two delicious homebrews and tasty spam musubi, and countless other gerbils contributed drinks and sides to make sure nobody went home hungry or thirsty.

TR editor emeritus Scott Wasson put out the call for unique keyboards at the event and brought his own custom Whitefox board with Kailh Speed Bronze switches for the curious to put their rib-greased fingertips all over. drfish brought out his Topre Type Heaven, and Starfalcon brought his space-saving and standard-size IBM Model Ms so that younger hands could get a sense of the classic buckling-spring feel.

Scott also brought a range of switch testers so that folks in attendance could get a sense of the full range of Kailh, Box, and Cherry switches. I went home convinced that I need a board with Kailh Box Jade switches, although it looks like I'll need to plan a custom board with those clickers in order to put them to the test.

With clear skies and dry ground at our disposal, the traditional TR BBQ cornhole tournament kicked off. We had a particularly large bracket this year, as many kids graduated to the adult tournament for the first time.


Josh S. (center) with Henry (left) and Justin (right) from Corsair

After our expansive bracket whittled itself down to the last, Josh S. took home the win for the third time in BBQ history and selected Corsair's Race T2 gaming chair as his spoils.

Gleek took home the second-place spot and selected a combo of Corsair's K63 Wireless keyboard and Dark Core RGB SE mouse as his trophy.

zgirl finished third and grabbed one of Corsair's Dark Core RGB SE mice as her prize.

Ben finished fourth and grabbed Gigabyte's Z370 HD3P motherboard (and a stylin' Corsair tee) to celebrate his victory. A number of junior gerbils also got their pick of the prize haul from the kids' cornhole tournament.

Excelling at cornhole is just one way to win prizes at the TR BBQ, of course. Long-time TR reader and BBQ first-timer Bomber was the big winner in our raffle, and he took home one of Corsair's Obsidian 500D cases with his beginner's luck. We didn't have name tags available this year, so if you showed up for the first time and we didn't get a chance to talk, be sure to make yourself known in the comments.

Seriously, look at this prize haul, folks. With "only" a few dozen people on the beach and routes to victory for both luck and skill, it's more likely than not that you'll go home a winner from the TR BBQ. Our thanks again to Gigabyte and Corsair for providing such an awesome prize haul, and to Justin and Henry from Corsair for showing up in person to help give away the loot.

The hardware swap meet was particularly rich with potential gems this year thanks to Dposcorp and a number of other TR readers. If your tastes run to finely aged CPUs, motherboards, RAM, graphics cards, and even complete systems, there's always something of interest to be found among the classics our swap-meeters dig out for attendees' perusal.

While we didn't cap off the night with rockets' red glare as we usually do, TR reader chubbyhorse made sparks of a different kind fly by offering several folks a ride in his Chevy Bolt EV. If you're at all curious about electric vehicles but haven't ridden in one, don't—it'll make the longing for one that much worse. It's seriously weird (but oh so cool) to fly down the road with nary a sound but wind and tire noise tickling your ears. Thanks again to chubbyhorse for indulging the curious.

By one count, we had over 60 people on site at the peak of the event, and it's always a pleasure to meet and eat with our readers. I was able to borrow a tripod for this group photo thanks to Dposcorp, so this may be the first TR BBQ group photo I've actually appeared in. 

If you've wanted to come to a TR BBQ but have been putting it off in years past, you can't say we don't give you plenty of warning about these things. Make an opening in your 2019 summer plans now and keep an eye out for the first murmurs of BBQ planning next spring.

Next year will be the 16th TR BBQ and 20th anniversary of The Tech Report, and it would give me no greater pleasure than to celebrate that anniversary with drfish and TR readers on the shores of Lake Michigan. Here's hoping it'll be an extra-special event and that you can help us make it that much more so by showing up. Until then, thanks to drfish, zgirl, just brew it!, and all the other TR readers who make this event one to remember year after year.

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