Author Topic: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?  (Read 3584 times)

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Offline MarkKn

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Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« on: April 03, 2022, 12:53:52 am »
Getting a new (to me)  hf rig. Used to do ham stuff maybe 30 years ago, and re-starting the hobby. I have most of my modest steup figured out. There is the question of the transceiver itself. I like the idea of an icom 7300--but it looks like most internet outlets are out of stock. As I look at used rigs, some of them pretty old, it seems like the used rigs are overpriced compared to the value equation of the 7300. Right now I am only interested in CW at 40 meters, so I don't necessarily need something complicated, but maybe I would regret getting a minimal rig if I decide to expand what I am doing. I don't have my finger in the pulse of old hf rigs and what they are worth, like I am with computer gear.

After at least 30 years of looking at want ads and craigslist when I want another computer, I think the sellers have an exaggerated idea of what their older stuff is worth and I almost always build a new computer. I am wondering if its like this with ham gear--the sellers have an inflated idea of what the used gear is compared to what is available new. I don't at all mean to be provocative here, just kind of feeling my way around hf stuff and wondering what the landscape looks like. BTW, I am thinking a 100 watt rig is the power for me. I had a yaesu 757gx back in the day--and I saw one of those used on ebay for $800--that struck me as a bit much. I am more comfortable fixing tube hear, so if I get an older solid state rig, is it common to replace all the electrolytics? I saw a cap kit on ebay for an older hf rig. Thoughts?
 

Offline bob91343

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2022, 04:01:24 am »
I haven't bought a new radio in many decades.  I find that estate sales and such allow me to get some nice stuff at reasonable prices.

My favorite radios are Kenwood.  I now own two TS-940S and a TS-440S and a TS-520S.  The 940s are, to me, the ultimate radio.  These are in the process of upgrading; when that's done the 440 and 520 will be sold.  The 440 is very good and has never hiccupped once in the years I have owned it.  The 520 is dated, and probably would only appeal to a nostalgia freak; mine is nearly pristine, gotten from its original owner who never used it.  All the radios have CW filters.

Any of these radios would satisfy a ham who wants 40 CW.  If you are into bells and whistles, well then you are on your own.  I am not; I prefer a core of a solid radio that will keep going.  Modern radios are far too involved for me, with all the menus and buried features.  If I need to make some adjustment, I want to be able to reach for a knob and adjust it.
 

Offline tkamiya

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2022, 12:00:58 pm »
I agree with Bob....

I think new designs depend too much for menus and combination of keystrokes.  I like older radios and have many.  But, one think that is negative for today's operation is stability.  Newer digital modes require TCXO at minimum to maintain stability.  It doesn't matter much for CW, but if you want to expand in future, it'll be an issue.  There is no way FT101 and TS520/820 era radios will be stable enough for FT8, for example.

Having said that, I love my Yaesu FR101/FL101!
 
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Offline ahbushnell

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2022, 02:30:08 pm »
I haven't bought a new radio in many decades.  I find that estate sales and such allow me to get some nice stuff at reasonable prices.

How do you find estate sales with Ham equipment?  Thx
 

Offline bob91343

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2022, 04:57:24 pm »
Good question!  In my case they sort of come to me.  I check Craigslist (that's where I got my TS-520S) often and it's a good idea to get involved with a radio club.  Often they have swap meets, SK sales, and individual items.  Ask for help even if you can get by without it.  Borrow a radio and see how you like it.  Go to a club meeting and let it be known that you want to buy a radio.

Once you get on the air, you make friends who can inform you of extra equipment.  There are swap meets on the air as well and you don't have to transmit to take advantage of them.  Here in California there is a swap net on the air on the weekends on 40 meters.  For the most part, items are a bit overpriced but usually negotiable.  My favorite negotiation phrase is 'do you want to get rid of this or not?'.
 
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Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2022, 05:02:06 pm »
I think most used ham equipment sold on ebay is overpriced. Sometimes ridiculously so.

Ive recently been impressed by some new SDRs that are finally being sold for fairly decent prices.

But you have to hunt the vendors out via their mailing lists. You wont find these radios on ebay or similar.

I like the Hermes Lite 2 (requires a standalone computer)

and the mchf standalone (its its own SDR radio and its a good one).  Avoid the Chinese knockoffs on ebay.

Both should cost you around $400 away from your ownership.. Not bad considering that similar radios might cost >$600 to buy from the traditional vendors..  Too expensive.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2022, 05:04:19 pm by cdev »
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Offline chrisl

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2022, 05:59:07 pm »
Stay away from eBay or FB - people ask crazy $$$ for ham gears.
eHam and QRZ have more reasonable price. 
For CW op on 40M TS830, TS130 should be more than plenty.
 

Offline bob91343

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2022, 01:20:17 am »
Actually for CW on 40 almost any radio would be fine.  My TS-520S would serve well.  It covers 10 through 160 (no WARC) and puts out 100 W.  CW filter, speech processor, nice radio.  But it's analog and carries with it the limitations thereof - imperfect frequency readout and stability (although I cobbled up a freq readout for it that resolves 10 Hz).  I don't even use that radio; I got it because I wanted to qualify for the vintage SSB 75m net every Tuesday but have lost interest in that.

My only warning is to stay away from a Swan radio; they are notorious for frequency drift.  And no RIT.
 

Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2022, 04:29:55 pm »
Prices on HF rigs online are ridiculously, ludicrously high too much of the time.

I would rather build my own from scratch than pay so much.
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Offline bob91343

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2022, 04:56:11 pm »
Building a rig today isn't what it used to be.  I built my first rig running an 807 final, on 10 meters.  I used the receiver power supply to run it.  But I was a teenager and had no money for these things.  You can't readily buy parts for such a project, today.  Of course it would be solid state but just finding tuning components is difficult.

It's simple to find an old radio and, if needed, repair it.  There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them languishing in garages under tons of dust and rust.  They appear now and then at swap meets and on Craigslist, but forget about auction sites or any other online sales.

I reiterate my suggestion regarding going to club meetings and picnics.  If you don't pay too much, it's a minimal risk and often one can recover the cost in a later transaction.  I was on 40m CW last night and there was some DX there to be worked.
 

Offline El Rubio

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2022, 12:54:21 am »
I have bought and sold many radios and other gear on qth.com. I have never had a bad deal on there ( at least 20 things bought and sold. I trust hams. I find used HF rigs seem to hold their value like pickup trucks. I just saw a TS-180 in working condition for $295. He has an Icom P.S. for $50 too. You can post a want to buy ad as well. Good luck.
 

Offline m3vuv

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2022, 01:27:49 pm »
For what its worth,i always avoid yaesu rigs,when repairing them i often have to pull datasheets for finals etc,it always seems yaesu run components right on there upper limits!,i try to stick with kenwood,i find most of there components are run at 50%  of there rated specs and not 90% as per yaesu,the only issues i have had with kenwoods is leaky caps due to age!.
 

Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2022, 03:00:57 pm »
Building a rig today isn't what it used to be.  I built my first rig running an 807 final, on 10 meters.  I used the receiver power supply to run it.  But I was a teenager and had no money for these things.  You can't readily buy parts for such a project, today.  Of course it would be solid state but just finding tuning components is difficult.

It's simple to find an old radio and, if needed, repair it.  There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them languishing in garages under tons of dust and rust.  They appear now and then at swap meets and on Craigslist, but forget about auction sites or any other online sales.

I reiterate my suggestion regarding going to club meetings and picnics.  If you don't pay too much, it's a minimal risk and often one can recover the cost in a later transaction.  I was on 40m CW last night and there was some DX there to be worked.

It seems as if many "modules" are around now which could be tied together to make a functional transceiver. (although using it might be clunky or require one to write or even script ones own software tools to do it)

I don't know. The possibility has been knocking around in my head for a while.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline Wallace Gasiewicz

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2022, 11:42:04 am »
I have a few old radios.
If you want a tube radio I suggest a Drake TR4, yes the PS may need recaps. I sold my tube Collins set because I thought the TR4 sounded better. (can't keep everything)
The 940 has a bunch of problems but it is so popular that people fix it all the time, lots of resources, I prefer the 930, I think there are fewer problems.
These are both really great sounding radios.
The Kenwood 520, 530, 820, 830 series are good also. I have repaired a few.The receivers are pretty good, no AM. The 830 is the best one.
The Yaesu 101 series is popular still. Many have been used on CB bands and have "mods" and have been beat up. The 101 ZD is a different radio and is more difficult to get on CB bands, it is a good radio.
The Kenwood and Yaesu I mentioned only use tubes in the Transmit section.
Icoms are good also.
I'll hold my comments on Heathkit and Hallicrafters for now, other than they are easy to maintain.
Most old tube radios will require PS cap upgrades soon if not immediately. Not hard, just takes time and is a bit expensive only if someone else does it.
You wish to get exotic??
I use a Military GRC 106 and a Sunair military type radio. The GRC is good and can be repaired, The Sunair is a mystery to work on.
There are groups on Groips.io for each of these radios.

Wally KC9INK
 
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Offline A.Z.

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2022, 03:35:38 pm »
Getting a new (to me)  hf rig. Used to do ham stuff maybe 30 years ago, and re-starting the hobby. I have most of my modest steup figured out. There is the question of the transceiver itself. I like the idea of an icom 7300--but it looks like most internet outlets are out of stock. As I look at used rigs, some of them pretty old, it seems like the used rigs are overpriced compared to the value equation of the 7300. Right now I am only interested in CW at 40 meters, so I don't necessarily need something complicated, but maybe I would regret getting a minimal rig if I decide to expand what I am doing. I don't have my finger in the pulse of old hf rigs and what they are worth, like I am with computer gear.

After at least 30 years of looking at want ads and craigslist when I want another computer, I think the sellers have an exaggerated idea of what their older stuff is worth and I almost always build a new computer. I am wondering if its like this with ham gear--the sellers have an inflated idea of what the used gear is compared to what is available new. I don't at all mean to be provocative here, just kind of feeling my way around hf stuff and wondering what the landscape looks like. BTW, I am thinking a 100 watt rig is the power for me. I had a yaesu 757gx back in the day--and I saw one of those used on ebay for $800--that struck me as a bit much. I am more comfortable fixing tube hear, so if I get an older solid state rig, is it common to replace all the electrolytics? I saw a cap kit on ebay for an older hf rig. Thoughts?

A good pick may be a TS-940sat, it can be found for less than $700 in good conditions; if instead you are going for a new rig, you may consider a Yaesu FT-891 or, if you are ok with QRP (but you may add an amp later on), an Elecraft KX3 which imHo is a perfect CW machine; then, before buying anything, consider to invest some amount of your budget into a good antenna system (by "system" I mean everything going from the shack to the antenna, just to be clear :) )




 

Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2022, 04:10:48 pm »
The mcHF looks like a very good choice too, and not too expensive.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline Wallace Gasiewicz

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2022, 05:49:40 pm »
If you are considering a Kenwood 930 or 940
The tuner is of limited usefulness. Only tunes a mismatch of 2 or 3 to one.
Much better to have an external tuner.
 

Offline A.Z.

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2022, 07:35:22 pm »
If you are considering a Kenwood 930 or 940
The tuner is of limited usefulness. Only tunes a mismatch of 2 or 3 to one.
Much better to have an external tuner.

Wallace, the tuner is there to allow matching a decent antenna system, not to match a barbed wire fencing :)
 
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Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2022, 07:09:23 pm »
One can use a good matchbox to tune a tree, without chopping it down, or even climbing it to put a wire there. .

Tall Tree as antenna.. Probably one with decent low angle of radiation/reception if tall enough. Roots as radials..

Since trees conduct, kind of...
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Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2022, 07:12:06 pm »
Some of those old tube radios can run into a bad mismatch all day long and not miss a beat.. But the prices on ebay are all over the map, often just insanely high.. Not even remotely a decent deal. Some of them are cult classics but relatively few compared to the bad deals..
« Last Edit: April 21, 2022, 07:13:53 pm by cdev »
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Offline A.Z.

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2022, 07:09:00 am »
One can use a good matchbox

Exactly so, a "good matchbox", but we are talking about the ATU built into a rig to allow adjusting the relatively "low" mismatch of a multiband antenna; also, you're sidetracking the topic, please let's stay ON topic, thanks
 

Offline Wallace Gasiewicz

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2022, 10:14:25 pm »
Here is my philosophy on old or used radios:

You buy one, let's say for $500
You don't like it.
You can sell it for $450 or $500

You buy a new radio, You pay $2K
You don't like it.
You sell it for $1200. Oh My!!! Hobby just cost you more money.

If getting started in HF go for the used radio. Just my opinion. You could buy and sell three or four radios before you find the "one". And it would not cost very much, you could even break even. It could even be fun!

About TS940
I repair 930s and 940s. If you buy one, it would be nice to have a service person available. They are getting old. But, don't get me wrong, they are really great radios and lots of people really love them. And there is definitely a market for them used, although the prices on them are higher than a few years ago. I prefer the 930 over the 940. Again just my opinion. I have owned and repaired both models.
My comment about the tuner was to set the OP at ease if the unit he buys does not have a tuner. An external tuner is relatively cheap and will do a good or better job.
If you buy one without a tuner, don't worry about it. Again Just my opinion.
 
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Offline bob91343

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2022, 10:38:29 pm »
I agree, Wallace, except for the comparison of the TS-930S with the TS-940S.  I have owned and repaired both, and I much prefer the latter.  Performance is nearly identical but memory management is better on the 940.

As a matter of fact, I recently got a bit more serious than usual with my 940 and I can't remember ever using a better radio on CW.  Interference rejection, copying through noise, and ease of use are impeccable.  The RIT and XIT range of 10 kHz is excellent.  A friend told me that the speech processor gave a signal improvement at his QTH of two S units.  Add to that a good antenna and an amplifier, and I consistently break pileups.  Best radio I have ever used.
 

Offline cdev

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2022, 11:53:43 pm »
Ive always heard good about them. They must be great to inspire such glowing comments from owners
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Offline Wallace Gasiewicz

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Re: Getting new HF rig--are used HF rigs a good value?
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2022, 12:34:59 am »
The last 930 unit I repaired  was just great. The voice processor got many praises in OTA contacts. It is easy to set up once you are used to it. Many processors on older and newer rigs make you sound like Donald Duck. The one in the 930 is just great. Makes you sound like a DJ. Really the circuits in Rx and Tx are the same in both radios.
The radio has to be set up internally well for everything to work well, there are lots of adjustments to keep repair people in coffee money.
One of the reasons I prefer the 930 is the board layout. And the additional stuff in the 940 drains more current from the potentially troublesome PS.
 


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