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Author Topic: Should I stay away from eBay for HF rigs?  (Read 1858 times)
N0NS
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Posts: 45




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« on: January 18, 2008, 08:09:35 PM »

Greetings all,  I recently got back into HF after several years off.  I am currently borrowing a Heathkit HW-100 with an antenna tuner.  I am looking into purchasing my own HF station.  Ideally, I would like something like a Kenwood TS430S, or an Icom 735.  I would like a rig with an automatic antenna tuner but a stand alone tuner will work.  I want to spend a little as possible but get a radio that is not tube, does not take 20 seconds to tune up, and a minute to change bands like the HW-100.  I want a digital readout that is accurate to within 50 or so hz.  General coverage RX is highly desired too (WWV anyone?)...

Here's my problem.  I am not connected with many local hams, and the ones I do know do not know anyone who is selling local HF gear.  I have spent a lot of time surfing eBay for HF rigs and came out with this general impression that purchasing a HF rig on eBay is a very bad idea primarily because you have no assurance of what you are getting!  Most sellers will say how great the rig works but then go on to say "no warranty" and
"sold as is!"

That being said, I am not sure where else to go besides purchasing a new HF radio (most likely IC718)... I am not sure the extra $200 for a 718 is worth the risk of a $400 430S or 735.  

Would you buy a 718 new or roll the dice on a 430S/735?   Granted, if I had tons of money I would just purchase a TS2000 or some high buck radio but my goal is to spend as little as possible (considering my wants) and get on the air!

Lastly, if you would not do eBay and still want to save off of buying new, how would you proceed?  Hamfests have not started yet so I am at a loss here!

Thanks! 73  Joe N0NS
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N3BIF
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 09:52:24 PM »

 I bought 3 hf rigs via the Internet over a two year period . The first two were bought sight unseen but I asked a lot of questions and checked up on the owners callsigns etc. I consider my self lucky and was very pleased with each transaction. The third involved  more money so I limited my search to only those hams which would be feasible for me to visit. For me I decided a hours drive was the limit. The sellers let me visit and try out the equipment and again I was well satisfied.
    I only looked at "c;classifieds" such as eham, qrz.com and qth.com. For this important of a purchase I choose to ignore ebay, however I have bought many $25.00 or less items  vis ebay without incident.
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ONAIR
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Posts: 1747




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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2008, 12:19:47 AM »

   I'd get the 718 which is very highly rated in the eham reviews.  You'll have a brand new rig with a guarantee, with many modern features including DSP.  You can keep it for a while and then sell it, and get back a large portion of your purchase price to put towards your next rig.
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K9KJM
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2008, 12:49:14 AM »

You are looking at what many, Including myself consider the best bang for the buck starter radios.
The good old Icom IC 735 is about the best low buck rig you can get, Now selling for around 300 to 350 bucks.
The Icom 718 sells for around 500 bucks brand new with warranty.
And you can keep going up and up the list......
Good used Icom 706 series that "do it all" for around 600 used, (BUT the 706 is mostly menu driven..... More computer than radio!)
Good used Icom 756PRO radios now sell for 900-1200 dollars, And that real do it all radio, the TS 2000 sells for around 1250 good used.
ALL RIGHT HERE on the Eham classifieds!  You DO Have to follow the ads for a while to find the equipment you are looking for. But here you are dealing with fellow ham operators.
As they told you, Ebay is the deep water where the sharks swim........... USE CAUTION.
Plus the whole world is bidding against you......
If you can wait until the right deal comes along, Right here on Eham classifieds, You WILL save big money. IF you need to have that radio sooner, Expect to pay lots more money.
If you are serious about buying some major equipment, Dont be afraid to make the donation to Eham to get the classified ads right away. Worth every penny!
http://www.eham.net/classifieds/?view=all
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K7PEH
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2008, 01:24:55 PM »

I have bought a few radios on EBay and my first transceiver, an Icom 756, I bought on EBay from another ham who was upgrading to the Pro II.  That was a good deal.  I paid a fair price which was about the same ballpark (plus or minus $75) of other Icom 756 rigs I had been tracking on EBay.  I actually failed to win a previous auction and decided to try the high bid in the last 10 seconds type of thing for this particular auction and it worked.

The Icom 756 was in perfect condition -- not a flaw, a mark, or anything else wrong with it.  I still have it even though I have since bought a Pro III.  It is a keeper and my backup rig.

I paid $740 in February 2004 for the Icom 756 and I still see some Icom 756s (the non-Pro version) go for that amount but mostly more at times.

Things that I consider to be a MUST DO for bidding on EBay for ham radio equipment...

1.  Give preference to ham radio operators.  Hopefully you can get their call sign and maybe find out more about them.

2.  If seller is ham radio operator but has a very high buy/sell transaction count they they are probably in an Ebay business of sorts.  This is a negative that erases the benefit of being a ham.

3.  Ask question, in particular, ask questions bluntly and see what kind of response you get.  The sellers attitude is often a good indicator of their character.

4.  Avoid, always, any rig that is listed with comments by the seller such as "I do not know how to test" or "Do not have proper equipment to test", or "panel lights, light up, sound comes out of speaker, but do not know if it is working".  To me, these are all indications that the rig is likely (though not always) going to be DOA.

5.  Of course, the opposite sort of statements, such as "This was my main rig until I bought my Icom 7800 and it works perfectly or your money back" are good things to hear.
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AB3CX
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Posts: 637




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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2008, 07:39:40 PM »

Another nice low priced rig is Yaesu FT-900, really performs for $550, and there are alot of them out there.
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K8AC
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Posts: 1477




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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 05:49:51 AM »

I've bought a few HF transceivers on eBay.  100% of them had one or more problems, in spite of the seller claiming they were "perfect".  I can fix them myself, so not a big problem, but if you can't maybe you should avoid eBay.  I've had much better success buying from QTH.com or the classifieds here on eHam.  
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2008, 10:07:01 AM »

Everything I've ever bought via eBay, except "brand new in factory sealed box" stuff which I have occasionally purchased, has had some sort of problem when I got it.  My expectations were really never met with anything purchased sight unseen and used via eBay.  So, I don't use that anymore.

Now, one thing I *will* do, because eBay is such a popular site, is look up to see where a seller is, if he has something I want.  If he's local, I might arrange to drive over and look at/test out the gear he has for sale.  Then, I can either bid on it via the regular auction, or see if the auction runs out without the seller's minimum being met, in which case I can buy it directly from the seller afterwards, etc.  No legit eBay seller will strike a "side deal" outside of the auction, as this can get him in trouble; so I wouldn't ask anyone to do that.  But if the seller's price is set unrealistically high and it's not met, I can buy the stuff a minute after the auction expires, and go pick it up.

The IC-718 is a nice starter rig that's very easy to use; however it does *not* have an automatic antenna tuner, and that's one of the reasons it's so affordable.  Adding a decent manual or automatic tuner to that rig will cost another $200 or so.  

You didn't mention your antennas, but I hope you figured antenna cost into the budget.  The world's greatest rig with a crappy antenna is a crappy station.  An old junker with great antennas is a very good station.

WB2WIK/6

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AC5E
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Posts: 3585




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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2008, 10:26:28 AM »

Should you stay away from eBay? Well, yes, unless you are looking for a boat anchor.

The Asian silicon foundries have discontinued many "critical" parts that have no satisfactory substiutes. That leaves the rigs using those parts orphaned.

It's hard to say exactly which rigs are on that list - other than those worst hit are some of the most popular rigs ever built. But if you have one and a discontinued part dies you either have a parts rig or one very expensive repair.

Everyone is entitled to do as they choose, but I would buy new, make a list of all the solid state devices used in the rig, and watch the "end of production life" notices from the chip makers. Or buy a Ten Tec or Elecraft. They seem to avoid devices with a short production life.

73  Pete Allen  AC5E


 
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2008, 03:40:13 PM »

>RE: Should I stay away from eBay for HF rigs?  Reply  
by AC5E on January 20, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
Should you stay away from eBay? Well, yes, unless you are looking for a boat anchor.

The Asian silicon foundries have discontinued many "critical" parts that have no satisfactory substiutes. That leaves the rigs using those parts orphaned.

It's hard to say exactly which rigs are on that list - other than those worst hit are some of the most popular rigs ever built. But if you have one and a discontinued part dies you either have a parts rig or one very expensive repair.

Everyone is entitled to do as they choose, but I would buy new, make a list of all the solid state devices used in the rig, and watch the "end of production life" notices from the chip makers. Or buy a Ten Tec or Elecraft. They seem to avoid devices with a short production life.

73 Pete Allen AC5E<

::Problems abound.  First, many modern rigs use proprietary ASICs/FPGAs which are programmed specifically for or by the rig manufacturer; they're discontinued whenever the manufacturer decides to do that, and there's no way to forecast it.  Next, the majority of chip makers won't even tell you when their end-of-life is scheduled...the typical response is "five to seven years, or whenever the process changes...whichever comes first" and that's about all they'll tell you.  None will guarantee anything.

Also, nowadays most chip makers are fabless; that is, they don't actually fabricate their own stuff and they don't own any silicon foundry at all.  So, it's their design, their masks, etc, being fabricated at some other factory which could go down due to a natural disaster at almost any time.  Oops.

"Risky business," for sure.  And one of the reasons old S-lines retain their value after all these years: There aren't any parts you can't still buy, after 40+ years.

WB2WIK/6
 
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N3VMD
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2008, 04:35:00 AM »

It's like anything else, "buyer beware". Like many, I've purchased from ebay both successfully and unsuccessfully but in all fairness I've been burned as much at hamfests etc as I have on ebay. Use common sense, ask the right questions, check the sellers feedback and roll the dice.
Good luck,
Todd
N3VMD
73
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WW5AA
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Posts: 2086




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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2008, 10:24:46 AM »

A good source is the used radio equipment from the big candy stores like HRO, AES, etc. Maybe not as cheap as EBAY, but they stand behind their used sales.

73, de Lindy
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2008, 01:19:55 PM »

>RE: Should I stay away from eBay for HF rigs?  Reply  
by N3VMD on January 21, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
It's like anything else, "buyer beware". Like many, I've purchased from ebay both successfully and unsuccessfully but in all fairness I've been burned as much at hamfests etc as I have on ebay.<

::I've never been "burned" buying anything at a hamfest, because I carefully inspect, and test, anything I intend to buy and carry out.  Dayton's a great place for this because there are several powered and accessible AC outlets all over the place and lots of antennas around to test almost anything "on the air" in 5-10 minutes.  I usually bring a small wheeled cart containing a dummy load, wattmeter, coax patch cables, DC jumper cables, AC extension cord, etc.  Can't do that with eBay.

I picked up an Icom IC-751A at Dayton years ago when they were typically going for about $750, and got it for only $200 because the seller claimed it worked perfectly and when I went to test it right in front of him, it was dead as a doornail.  He was very embarrassed and agreed to let it go cheaply, on the spot.

Turns out it was missing the RCA phono patch cable between two ports on its rear panel which connected the antenna to the receiver.  Replacing a $1 cable fixed the rig, and it really did work fine.  (I didn't figure this out until I got home.)  Good deal for me, bad deal for him, but he should have known better!

WB2WIK/6
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WX4O
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Posts: 101




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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2008, 04:41:35 PM »

I've bought and sold many ham radio items, including transceivers, on eBay and never got burned once. As everyone says, be careful. I think eHam is a good source too. (I'm alabama-sales on eBay, but am just a ham, not a store).
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KE4DRN
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Posts: 3734




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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2008, 05:36:39 PM »

hi joe,

ebay is a good place to start, just do a lot of research.

check the sellers previous purchase history,
is that 'minty Icom non smoker' on auction
the same radio he bought lastmonth as a fixer upper ?
you can only go back three months but it is a good way
 to weed out these types radios from your list.

many times wife of a silent key will auction off the station gear
and you can find a good radio at a fair price.  

just keep looking, don't jump at the first one you see,
research completed auctions so you do not overpay.

aesham.com sells a lot of gear from tradins.

73 james
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