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Author Topic: Prices of used HF gear  (Read 4550 times)
K9AIM
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Posts: 931




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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2012, 07:46:47 PM »

I bought a Ten-Tec Omni C (546) for $300 with power supply and felt like it was a steal.  In 1980 I would never have dreamed of having such a rig -- even back then it cost a heck of a lot more.  So while the old HF rigs may seem expensive, they can also be pretty good deals depending on their condition and how well they were maintained.

Another important thing to note is while they may seem to command a high price, the same holds true when *you* go to sell them.  I started out with a used Scout found on Craig's list, then got a used Argonaut V, then an Omni C, and then a used Jupiter (a modern, great rig).  Despite having a low budget, by selling the each rig I owned as I upgraded I was able to progress to the Jupiter without shelling out a lot of cash.  In fact if you do a little shopping, you can even make money when you go to sell these old rigs.  Many of us are a bit nostalgic for the rigs of old.  For example, to me owning an Omni C was liker a dream come true.  When I was a young man I used to salivate over QST ads for the Omni C but did not figure I would ever be able to afford to own one.  It was really cool to own one and it is a really good rig -- even today if you love CW.   
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W5FYI
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2012, 10:25:36 PM »

My first rig was a Yaesu FT101E that I bought second-hand for $600 at a ham radio store more than 30 years ago. That was a lot of money then--probably still is, especially for used equipment. Today that radio can be had for around $100, and it still covers most of the ham HF spectrum.

Then I went to the Dayton Hamvention, attended a seminar hosted by Bob Heil, K9EID, and saw how easy it was to convert a CB radio to 10m FM. When I got home, I found a modifiable CB at a thrift mart for $2 and bought about $15 worth of parts to do the mod. I had a blast with the converted rig--working stations from Seattle, Wash. to Miami, Fla. while driving around in Oklahoma City. It was a lot of fun, for less than 20 bucks.

There are still some bargain rigs out there, especially if you consider some of the kit radios. Take a look at the Vectronics kits, the kits offered by NorCalQRP.com; those at www.qrpkits.com; those offered by Dave Benson, K1SWL; and the popular Steve Weber, KD1JV, kits. You pay extra because you have to buy a soldering iron and solder, but prices are within reason, and half the fun is in building it on your own.

Consider this--golfing is a pastime that will initially set you back hundreds of bucks for the clubs, bag, and balls. Then it costs extra every time you play--in greens fees, lost balls, lost bets, and beer afterwards. A ham station is pretty much a one-time expense; thereafter it costs only 10ยข, probably much less, for every hour you use it. That's a lot cheaper than golfing, boating, shooting, and a host of other hobbies.

Congratulations of the license. You'll soon find that ours can be an inexpensive hobby after all. GL es 73.
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AG6WT
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2012, 07:15:06 AM »

I don't see how those of us who are not made of money are ever supposed to afford to get on the air, what with the prices for USED HF gear. Really, $200 for a 30 year old Kenwood is simply not logical, especially if the rig has major problems or is a big unknown, as most cheap Ebay gear is. Somebody puts up a cheap trx, soon it's bid into the ozone layer. I've read stuff from hams who say that even at hamfests guys want crazy prices. Really people, some of us are on fixed incomes and can't afford $300 for an untested, 40 year old, analog rig. I like that the Chinese are getting into HT's, but for HF gear prices are still crazy. I'm not asking for a SD radio here, just an old Heathkit with a LED display would be nice. I'm not trying to troll here, but if you have people who are struggling as it is, and you tell them "well, ham radio is great, it's only $15 for the test, but once you pass you will shell out $1200 for a 30 year old HF base station", I mean, they'll say no thanks. I can get a used car for that. The cost is a major impediment to me getting on HF once I get my General.

Byan,

If cost is a limiting factor for you, the solution is to put in the time to learn CW. For about $100 you can buy or build a single band CW transceiver. Add a little more to make your own dipole, coax, and basic straight key and you are set to cover the technician portion of 40 meters. You don't even have to wait to get your General license. Take a look at the Ten-Tec 1340 kit for $124. It's not too hard to build but if you want something already built and tested, ask around in the classifieds here and on qth.com as well as the Ten-tec group on Yahoo groups. They aren't hard to get as some hams enjoy the building part the most and are willing to sell theirs to fund purchasing another kit.

Another option is to check around with your local radio clubs. Some have equipment reserved as loaners for their members. In my own club we have a few older radios, tuners, power/swr meters, power supplies, etc. donated by club members that any member can borrow for up to a year.

If you are looking to buy used, stay away from eBay. Sniping drives up the price of any potential steal. Rather, stick to Craigslist, eHam, and qth. Constant monitoring is the trick. As soon as a deal pops up you have to contact the seller right away because it's first come first serve. The ads for working rigs at cut rate prices are put up and taken down as fast as 10 minutes. I once bought a really nice FT-100D for $300. I literally saw the ad as soon as it was posted and called immediately and sealed the deal with a Paypal payment. In another ad I saw a like new IC-718 for $300 just as it was posted. I couldn't find my cell phone for 5 minutes and by the time I got it and called the seller he said 10 people had already contacted him. The ad was taken down 20 minutes later.

The point is the deals are out there but you have to constantly search. The good deals are here and gone in an instant. The guys that are asking too much... well you can see their rigs reposted and reposted for weeks on end so if you don't look carefully, all you see are old, high priced rigs.

GL
Ray KJ6AMF
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W5DQ
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2012, 11:49:12 AM »

I don't see how those of us who are not made of money are ever supposed to afford to get on the air, what with the prices for USED HF gear. Really, $200 for a 30 year old Kenwood is simply not logical, especially if the rig has major problems or is a big unknown, as most cheap Ebay gear is. Somebody puts up a cheap trx, soon it's bid into the ozone layer. I've read stuff from hams who say that even at hamfests guys want crazy prices. Really people, some of us are on fixed incomes and can't afford $300 for an untested, 40 year old, analog rig. I like that the Chinese are getting into HT's, but for HF gear prices are still crazy. I'm not asking for a SD radio here, just an old Heathkit with a LED display would be nice. I'm not trying to troll here, but if you have people who are struggling as it is, and you tell them "well, ham radio is great, it's only $15 for the test, but once you pass you will shell out $1200 for a 30 year old HF base station", I mean, they'll say no thanks. I can get a used car for that. The cost is a major impediment to me getting on HF once I get my General.

It's like everything in economics ..... demand determines the price. Look at the state of the ham radio NEW equipment market these days and it is apparent why the cost of good clean used gear is still holding its own. Just like you mentioned there are those on fixed incomes that can't afford a nice $3K to $5K do all modern IF DSP wonder rig. Even the $1K entry level rigs are beyond their budget. For them it is the used market or nothing. Filter out the carcasses and smoldering ruins of burnt up rigs and what you're left with rises in price very easily and quickly. I recall as a new ham 36 years ago, I would have sold my mother into slavery (figuratively of course) for a nice new TS-520S. The really funny thing is that the same rig, in good condition with all the options and pieces included, can fetch almost the same price these days on the used market. I once had a TS-830S and just loved the receiver in it. I stupidily traded it off and can't count the number of times I could kick myself for doing so. I would really like to have another but as pointed out, they go for a tidy sum in clean, good, working order.

Best advice anyone can give to those on fixed or limited incomes is try and find a local sale that either you can barter a trade or hold until you can scrape together the cash or start saving and hopefully your piggybank and a deal can converge somewhere along the way. If it is the issue of not knowing how to repair a rig, perhaps it is a good time to 'invest' in a fixer upper and do a little troubleshooting and learning along the way. I have repaired a few 'tech specials' for a few bucks after getting them cheap and had a nice little rig afterwards. The TS-440S is a perfect example. The 'DOTS' problem is sometime the issue why the current owner is letting it go and wants to get something out of it. The repair for this problem is simple to do and only requires a couple bucks of parts and a little time on the bench. Even if it turns out the rig is a 'bench queen' (essentially unrepairable), one avenue of retreat would be to part it out and sell the modules, wiring, swtiches, etc and make back a little or much of the initial outlay. The learning experience gained would be well worth the investment time and any 'lost' money (hopefully little of this  Wink )

While we're talking about the used market, take a look at the 6M used radio market. Here is one area that ANYTHING working will fetch top dollar. 6M operations is gaining in momentum even though it is somewhat a seasonal band for most of the US. The market just keeps going up as more and more of the surplus used gear is swallowed up by new hams wanting to get on 6M on the 'cheap'. Case in point, the FT-840 HF/VHF/UHF rig has final transistors that are non-existant in most parts palaces. Lose a final and the rig becomes a paperweight. If you do find finals somewhere, be prepared to spend BUCKS! Yet this rig still commands top dollar for used condition due to the niche it fills. Only other close challenger to the FT-840 is the TS-2000S and its variants and while the TS2K is still in production, it is not looked on by many as being a worthwile radio due to the old DSP technology use. Yet it too is still pricey as used gear.

Hope you can find a solution to your needs. The used market in ham gear can be a wonderful place to shop and remember days gone by. It can also be a money pit if you are not careful and do not understand what you are holding or looking at. Like a onion, it has many layers and used properly, can make the 'stew taste good' but if you're not careful, it can also bring 'tears to your eyes' Smiley

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
WB2WIK
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Posts: 20542




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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2012, 11:57:45 AM »

Welcome to the hobby, ZOL.

Since I saw no one else mention this, perhaps I should: Amateur radio equipment has never in history been as inexpensive as it is today.  I've been a ham for more than 47 years, and 47 years ago a low-end station would easily cost one or two months' income for most working people.   Higher-end stuff was much more than that.

I have a 56 year-old receiver here (an old Collins 75A-4) that 56 years ago sold for about 1/3 of what a new Chevy (automobile) cost.  And it's only a receiver.

My first "new, made for ham radio" VHF hand-held was a Wilson 1402, which was 5 crystal-controlled channels (you had to buy the crystals, for about $15 per pair) and 2W output, 2m only, and was $200 back in about 1973.  It could "hold a charge" for about 30 minutes of transmitting time.  If you look any any inflation calculator, you'll see that HT cost the equivalent of probably $600 in today's dollars.  Today, you can buy two brand new multi-band HTs that do much more and work better for that cost.

So, things may seem expensive but they are cheaper than they've ever been.

The culprit is inflation, which is a discussion outside the scope of this site. Things seem expensive because of it, but electronics have been getting steadily cheaper over the years, due to Asians doing what America couldn't.

"Inflation" only means things cost more and doesn't describe why.  It's true that incomes have not kept up well with the general Cost of Living for many nowadays, so our dollars earned don't go as far as they once did, but that's not the fault of amateur radio equipment sellers.

I disagree about Asians doing what Americans couldn't.  They have cheap labor, but it's getting more expensive at a faster rate than our labor is; and this is ramping even faster now that there aren't so many government subsidies as there once were.  There's also the cost of transportation and service to deal with.  American amateur radio manufacturers like Electraft, Ten Tec, Flex Radio, Ameritron and other MFJ divisions are doing very well and competing extremely well with Asian imports, to the point that American-made ham gear is leading the way in performance and value today (for "new" equipment).

Interestingly, if you discuss ham gear with well-to-do Japanese hams (there are lots of those!) you'll find many revere old American-made Collins and Drake stuff, not to "collect" them, but to use them on the air.  Some of the biggest and best all-Collins ham stations in the world are owned by our JA ham friends.

Hams around the world buy American made amateur radio antennas, even though they cost much more overseas than they do here.  Not a day goes by that I don't chat with someone in Asia who's using a SteppIR HF beam that costs $1500 here, and $3000 where they are. Tongue







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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2012, 01:30:33 PM »

Good news, I found an Elmer who sells cheap HF rigs to broke hams like me. He agreed to GIVE me a Heathkit SB-102. With power supply. Untested, but I should be able to fix anything wrong.  Grin Grin He's Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN, Cameron Park CA, and if you run across him give him a virtual pat on the back for me.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2012, 01:58:05 PM »

Good news, I found an Elmer who sells cheap HF rigs to broke hams like me. He agreed to GIVE me a Heathkit SB-102. With power supply. Untested, but I should be able to fix anything wrong.  Grin Grin He's Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN, Cameron Park CA, and if you run across him give him a virtual pat on the back for me.


That's a deal hard to refuse!

Hope you get it going and don't forget to focus on the antenna system, which next to the operator, does most of the work.

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AC4RD
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« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2012, 04:29:48 PM »

Good news, I found an Elmer who sells cheap HF rigs to broke hams like me. He agreed to GIVE me a Heathkit SB-102.

There are some GREAT hams out there!  Congratulations!  You'll have a world of fun with that rig, and if it works as sporadically as MY first HF rig, a Griefkit SB-104, you'll also learn a lot when you learn to work on it!  Wink  I envy you the fun you're about to have, discovering the fun of HF and DXing!

One suggestion: in a few years you'll have a little more money and you'll want a better rig.  When you're sure you don't want the SB-102 any more, do like I did with my Heathkit and give it to another new ham!  Smiley 

Have fun!  73!   
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