Author Topic: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?  (Read 3734 times)

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Offline uski

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Hi there

I'm wondering if others are seeing the same trend.
Where the f*** do we get cheap test equipment nowadays ? What happened in the past few years ?

For work reasons I relocated twice in the past decade, in different continents.
6-7 years ago I used to have a decent basic lab at home, that I built with equipment I got for free. Power supplies, decent DSO oscilloscope, logic analyzer, and a bunch of other goodies. All in good condition.
When I had to relocate to another continent, I could not ship everything and bring it with me. So I gave everything locally to friends and other enthusiasts, just as I was given the stuff before, fully expecting to easily find equipment a bit later.

Since then I did not build a lab at home since I had access to a decent one at work.

Fast forward a few years, I am trying to rebuild a lab, because I no longer work in the industry and I want to tinker at home.
I was expecting to find decent deals relatively easily. If I was able to get a lab for essentially nothing, years ago, I should be able to get gear very easily by paying a bit right ? And more modern equipment too ? WRONG !

People are trying to sell broken equipment which are clearly garbage salvage for hundreds of dollars. Untested crap, clearly physically broken and abused, clearly straight out of a dumpster where it was carelessly thrown out. eBay is full of this, people have no shame !

It seems like some "test equipment companies" which I am not going to name are getting all the stuff and selling it at 80% of the new price. Proudly showing pictures of their warehouses full of old test gear.
It seems to me that they cleverly inserted themselves into all the recycling places. What was sold on eBay for cheap before, by the recyclers directly, as it went through the recycling/disposal network is now directly stored into warehouses belonging to some specialized companies that are asking some big bucks for the equipment, greatly limiting supply and propping all the prices very high

Am I missing something or is it really bad now ? I thought it was a local trend (I am now in the US) but it seems like it's an international thing. Can't find anything anywhere at a decent price.
We even have people selling entry level 20 years old multimeters on Facebook Marketplace for $100. A bunch of them.

I am considering buying everything new, because the price of the used gear is now so high that it doesn't make sense to spend $600 on a "as is" 30 years old equipment when something new and much better sells for $1000.

It seems like somehow the value of used test equipment has gone significantly up in the past few years. Any idea why ?

PS: Yes I totally regret giving the stuff away, but relocating with it wasn't really an option anyway  |O :-\
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 08:42:30 am by uski »
 
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Online Microdoser

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2020, 08:55:22 am »
I am going through a similar process. Looking at second-hand equipment I see lots of people selling old, untested pieces which they have clearly found in the garbage for nearly the price of new equipment, just because it was 'retro' or 'vintage'. Often, when you add in the cost of delivery and replacing missing parts like scope probes, the price is identical to just getting a new product yet has inferior specs.

I decided that I would spend the money and get a brand new product, with modern features and a warranty.

Good luck getting your lab back together!
 
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Offline Fungus

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2020, 09:53:55 am »
Hi there

I'm wondering if others are seeing the same trend.
Where the f*** do we get cheap test equipment nowadays ? What happened in the past few years ?

The Gollums in the TEA thread are hoarding it.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 11:36:53 am by Fungus »
 
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Online coromonadalix

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2020, 10:37:52 am »
loll 

but one of the problems    the more people are showing interest the prices are spiking   :palm:
 

Online tautech

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2020, 11:26:56 am »
I thought it was a local trend (I am now in the US) but it seems like it's an international thing.
Maybe it's time to change your profile flag.  ;)

Quote
I am considering buying everything new, because the price of the used gear is now so high that it doesn't make sense to spend $600 on a "as is" 30 years old equipment when something new and much better sells for $1000.
You betcha !
The capability of modern gear is astounding especially for those that already have experience with older equipment.
Quote
It seems like somehow the value of used test equipment has gone significantly up in the past few years. Any idea why ?
Buyer resistance to all that new fangled modern equipment. Some prefer to KISS when in fact they are doing themselves a disservice.
In just the 7 years I've been handling TE the advances are amazing yet somewhat daunting for those that are slow to embrace it.......yet learning about new technologies is a lifelong voyage for us all is it not ?

Avid Rabid Hobbyist
 
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Offline alm

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2020, 12:33:05 pm »
Buyer resistance to all that new fangled modern equipment. Some prefer to KISS when in fact they are doing themselves a disservice.
In just the 7 years I've been handling TE the advances are amazing yet somewhat daunting for those that are slow to embrace it.......yet learning about new technologies is a lifelong voyage for us all is it not ?
This would explain why the prices are not dropping, not why they are going up. Unless you claim is that this resistance is increasing compared to say a decade ago?
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2020, 01:44:24 pm »
This would explain why the prices are not dropping, not why they are going up. Unless you claim is that this resistance is increasing compared to say a decade ago?

Supply/demand.
 

Online George Edmonds

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 02:00:44 pm »
The answer in one word

EBAY and buy it now price inflation.

George
 

Online NANDBlog

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2020, 02:47:37 pm »
There is cheap equipment in the USA. There isn't cheap equipment in continental EU.
It has to do with the taxation. Companies are incentivized to use testing equipment until it is scrap metal. It's bad for the technology sector, it is bad for the engineers, it is bad for the equipment manufacturers. It is the reason, why we have to beg on the floor to please please please buy the stuff I need to do to do my job.
 
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Online Bicurico

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2020, 03:13:10 pm »
It was never as accessible as now to setup a home lab with propper soldering/dessoldering station, DSO, signal gen, PSU, spectrum analyser, etc.

Thanks to brands like Rigol, Siglent, etc., you can buy test equipment that would have been unimaginable 10-20 years ago.

You can go even cheaper if you consider chinese low spec "hand" oscilloscopes, the SMA/NWT spectrum analyzer/tracking gen, FeelTech signal gen, etc.

The problem with second hand test gear is that the demand is huge. Whereas 10-20 years ago most people would not need a spectrum analyzer and wouldn't ever have considered owning one, nowadays even I, who am not in the electronics trade at all, own SEVERAL spectrum analyzers!

So, 20 years ago, when Nokia was a huge company, they would swap their test gear for new units and throw out their old ones: I imagine that many engineers would be allowed to take a unit home. And there was little to no demand for something like that: what would you do with a spectrum analyzer anyway?

But today, literally any amateur, no matter what his background is, can take some Arduino, develop a PCB in Fusion360/Eagle, have it manufactured for peanuts in China, 3D print a custom enclosure, etc. Suddenly it make sense to own propper test equipment!

And while new equipment is cheap, for even less you can get a second hand PREMIUM unit! Wouldn't you prefer a HP spectrum analyzer that goes up to 22Ghz over a "cheap Siglent or Rigol"?

Also, don't forget that eBay has democratized access to exotic stuff. Before, only people of the trade with connections would get a free test equipment. Now, ANYONE can get a CHEAP test equipment.

I don't blame eBay at all - I am rather thankful for eBay, because it allowed me to buy lots of stuff at a great price.

And for all the auctions I lost, well someone was willing to pay more than me. So it is just fair that this person got the item.

Finally, if you are in the US, then your complaints are of a privileged one! If I could buy all the US based test equipment I see on eBay, without haviing to consider shipping and taxes, I would be so happy...

Regards,
Vitor
 
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Offline wolfy007

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2020, 03:36:16 pm »
This would explain why the prices are not dropping, not why they are going up. Unless you claim is that this resistance is increasing compared to say a decade ago?

Supply/demand.

Im not so sure its as simple as that (well in some case perhaps).There are some adds that have been on ebay for 8months and the seller isnt dropping the price, but no one is buying it either. Wouldnt be surprised if some people are holding high prices and as others look to advertise they see this and think thats the norm, especially for items that are a bit more rare. I have spoken to a few sellers like that, I told them to contact me if they dont want to wait any longer to sell it, and have gotten a couple reasonable prices from something that was way over priced a few months earlier. All because someone else was selling high even though it isnt selling.
 

Online bdunham7

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2020, 04:16:31 pm »

Where the f*** do we get cheap test equipment nowadays ? What happened in the past few years ?
It seems like somehow the value of used test equipment has gone significantly up in the past few years. Any idea why ?

I buy/repair/sell some of this stuff, and vintage audio equipment as well.  The audio stuff had a similar boom starting probably a decade ago.  And before that, in the 2000's it was vintage cars, such as the 50s thru 70s muscle cars.  There's a pattern--it starts out with an appreciation in the value of the so-called prime stuff, like a Hemi 'Cuda or one of the very large 70's Marantz receivers, then it trickles down to the lesser products of the same type and brand, like a clapped-out 383 'Cuda or a mid-80's Marantz rack system.  Finally, you see absolute utter crap showing up.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1971-Dodge-Dart/264849731458?hash=item3daa462f82:g:2SgAAOSwW2VfTVpC

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=353211929249&_sacat=0

Your observations are correct--this has happened to test equipment recently, like in the past 2-3 years and especially this year.  There seems to be a resurgence in interest and no shortage of money.  Some old test equipment is interesting or fits a particular niche, but for the person hoping to set up a basic test bench using older equipment, the good deals have been taken.  The only way to go is to be patient, know ahead of time exactly what you are looking for and just refuse to pay too much for broken stuff.  If there is something specific you want, watch eBay like a hawk for sellers that either list an item at a low BIN price where it gets snapped up in minutes or list a low-volume item as an auction.  Get the Gixen bidding service for that. And realize that there is some stuff that you just can't get a deal on. 

The worst part for me is that it becomes difficult for me to add value by refurbishing when the price difference between mint/working/guaranteed and as-is/broken starts to diminish.  Paying $200 for a basic analog 2-channel scope isn't totally silly if that is what you want--and I've sold several--but paying $100 for a broken one is just nuts.  Always check TEquipment and Saelig to see what a new item will cost with the EEVBlog discount.

Finally, as alluded to earlier, eBay fans the flames with their outright fraudulent sold listings.  There are also a surprising number of hoarders who seem to like to calculate their wealth by imagining that their treasure collections are worth the highest eBay price and then some, but won't ever actually sell a single item because they always keep the price well above market value.  The piles of junk I've seen lately are astounding.


A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 
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Online jogri

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2020, 04:19:36 pm »
You can always search for sold items on ebay and use that price to negotiate with sellers...

And you should always remember: Every item you see on ebay HAS NOT BEEN SOLD... There may have been five cheap and one overpriced offer, but if someone bought the five cheap ones you only see the overpriced offer. Let's take your broken Agilent 500 MHz scope as an example: How long would it be for sale if it was offered for a hundred quid (instead of 300)? A day at most? A lot of guys (me too) use filters/scripts to get notified of cheap offers as soon as possible, because that's the only way you can somewhat reliably make money with the repair and reselling of old gear. I only look at fresh offers (no more than 1-2 days old), if an item has been offered for weeks/months it probably is too expensive.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2020, 04:40:13 pm »
I think there are a lot of things going on here.  Some of them very good from an overall point of view, though terrible for those wanting to set up a cheap lab.  First, the world is getting richer.  More and more people are moving from third world economies to places where advanced education and free time are realities.  This is great, but also greatly increases demand for this type of equipment (new and used).  Second, Ebay is a two edged sword.  New and or greedy sellers see the high sales prices and use them as a benchmark for selling their equipment.  I am sure that if the OP had decided to sell rather than give away his equipment on first move this would have been part of his strategy.  Even if he decided not to try for top dollar, setting half of the apparent market price would push an upward price trend.  And finally, the demographics mentioned in auto sales above play a part.  The huge baby boom (at least in the US, I don't know if there was a similar boom in other parts of the world) has reached retirement and are looking for the tools and toys of their youth to play with in their newly found free time.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2020, 04:54:25 pm »
I think it has more to do with lack of supply than increased demand.  At least here in the US, there were some huge surges in supply over the last 30 years, that depressed prices:

1. offshoring of most electronics manufacturing

2. 2000 crash, 2008 crash

3. Silicon Valley transition from hardware design to software

4. US military reduction in internal repair capability

5. downsizing of test equipment rental houses

6. closures of used TE dealers (e.g. Tucker)

Maybe those are all over now, and we're back to "normal".

 
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Offline MosherIV

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2020, 05:17:49 pm »
So I am not the only cheap skate  ;)

There deals to be had out there, you just have to be patient.

By far the cheapest option is to grab te from the place you work when they dispose of it.
Not option for you  :(
Make friends who do still work in companies with te and ask them to get it for you.

Check out local 'maker spaces'. They often get donated te, you cannot take but you can go there to use it in return for helping out.
 

Online 25 CPS

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2020, 05:30:56 pm »
Cheap test gear.  I'd always heard that hamfests were the place to go to get "the good stuff" for cheap.  So, when I started building out my workshop a number of years ago, that's what I did and wow.  No good stuff.  Not cheap.  No.

Try your luck at the remaining local surplus/junk shops has worked several times for me but that's a risky YMMV proposition especially since their prices have been creeping up lately.  Gentrification with increasing rents has been a problem for that kind of business in many cities.  First the prices go up to recoup the rent costs and then this type of business ends up getting squeezed out altogether and there are far fewer of them to shop at now.

eBay/Kijiji/Craigslist, have all been hit and miss.  When good deals come up you have to jump fast otherwise you'll miss out due to someone else that moved more quickly.  On the other hand, a lot people have truly delusional ideas of what ageing and increasingly unsupported, unreliable, underperforming compared to current equipment older gear is worth.  I don't think anyone here is willing to pay big money near top dollar for an older digital scope that's not as capable as a new one, has a calibration RAM battery that's about to go flat, tantalums that are getting ready to fail or electrolytics that are getting ready to corrode circuit boards (there was a range of Tek scopes that were particularly notorious for that) etc. that are priced not far off what new current products cost.

Industrial/Government surplus, work writeoffs.  Is it just me or have policies about this sort of thing tightened up a lot in the last few years?  Employer writeoffs being given away or sold cheap to employees appear to have all but dried up and a lot of places have signed sweetheart contracts with eWaste recycling companies that have exclusive rights to all this stuff for a couple pennies per pound scrap value and then turn around and flip them all at top dollar for as-is, not tested, not guaranteed condition (see eBay above).  Government surplus, at least here, has been thin for quite a while.  I think now that gcsurplus.ca offers shipping on a lot more items, prices have gone up quite a bit on test equipment when it does show up on there vs. when you had to make the trek to Ottawa or wherever it was located at to pick it up in person.

It's a shame, compared to three or four years ago, things have dried up considerably.
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2020, 05:45:51 pm »

Fast forward a few years, I am trying to rebuild a lab, because I no longer work in the industry and I want to tinker at home.
Connections..connections.
Maybe market didn't change that much but you relocated more than once and don't have the good old contacts for freebies anymore?

 
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Offline AVGresponding

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2020, 06:03:53 pm »
So I am not the only cheap skate  ;)

There deals to be had out there, you just have to be patient.

This ^

Over the past few years I've built up a collection that would have cost the same as a small house, new.

The most recent was a mere month or so ago, a Keithley 2000 for £250, perhaps not fetching more as it was giving two error codes. I guessed at the problem and was correct. The cost of the fix? A few sprays of contact cleaner. Ok, so it was a gamble, but it does show there is cheap gear out there if you cast your net widely enough.
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Offline txNgineer

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2020, 06:31:01 pm »
I think tautech and edavid hit on the main points. While you have to be very careful with buying some of the gear by unpronounceable name importers, a lot of it can be good or even better than some vintage. But because it takes a lot of research and knowledge about what you are looking for, many people just don't bother. It baffles me to see a vintage piece of gear like a 20,000 ohm/volt multimeter selling on ebay for more than the cost of a good quality DVM. If it is an analog meter you need, at least get an old VTVM.

Power supplies are another puzzler. A vintage 3a-30v power supply can be seen for 3 times the cost of a good new one. The only drawback to the new one is sometimes you have to add your own filtering. AND derate the power ratings by what I am call the Watt-Exchange-Rate.. Like a dollar exchange, the import stuff is usually about 2-3 time overrated with respect to US/EU/AUS watts. But they are cheap as chips so just buy a bigger one.

 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2020, 06:39:16 pm »
Funny that this thread should appear today...  just this morning, I was browsing eBay looking for a parts unit.   All I could find was overpriced garbage.

I got curious and started searching for some of the equipment here on my shelf, to see what it would cost to buy it again?  -  I was totally shocked, a lot of the stuff that I had paid $50 - $100 for in the past, was now at a minimum north of $300.

There have always been "stupid expensive" listings for most test gear on eBay, but it was always possible to find stuff at reasonable prices as well.  No longer, it seems. Old test gear on eBay has definitely gone through the roof,  and there is less of it available.

Even unpopular equipment that hardly anyone uses (despite being very good!) has gone expensive - sellers trying it on, I guess.

Basically, I think what is going on is simply supply/demand:

  • There is a finite supply of older equipment, we are at the tail end of 80's/90's stuff being retired.
  • Word has spread (including via the EEVblog!) about how good some of the old stuff is - it is no longer seen as scrap
  • Perhaps more people are doing more hobbyist stuff or even electronics work at home, having more time due to Covid19

The only defense against stupid prices is to not pay them.   New equipment definitely looks attractive in comparison to overpaying for older models.
 
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Offline exe

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2020, 08:32:07 pm »
I have same feelings and I'm more inclined in buying new gear, rather than buying overpriced junk.

However, I think the gear price went up too last few years. I observe a pattern when cheap brands becoming not so cheap anymore: new models are getting more expensive, old models are increasing in price too. Like, siglent 6.5 digit dmm is getting quite close (in my opinion) to dm6500, for example.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2020, 09:04:20 pm »
I have same feelings and I'm more inclined in buying new gear, rather than buying overpriced junk.

However, I think the gear price went up too last few years. I observe a pattern when cheap brands becoming not so cheap anymore: new models are getting more expensive, old models are increasing in price too. Like, siglent 6.5 digit dmm is getting quite close (in my opinion) to dm6500, for example.

Anyone that thinks the rate of inflation is really 2%, I have a bridge I would like to sell you!  :D

You are right about the Siglent DMM, it is only 10% less than the Keithley.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 09:07:10 pm by SilverSolder »
 

Offline LootMaster

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2020, 09:04:32 pm »
I looked on ebay for many months myself, daily.

Only to find overprice GW-Instek that seemed so unpopular I could barely find a mention on EEv and most stores did not carry MSO.

After months of hope, I eventually gave up and started  considering wich arm and wich leg I was going to give.

Luckily price of new is barely 2-4x more, wich is not  that much if you take good care of it like Mr Carlson's lab.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 09:13:42 pm by LootMaster »
 

Offline max.wwwang

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2020, 10:32:25 pm »
I share the feeling here. It’s sad people like me have to pay unreasonably high prices even to buy some broken or scrap gear for learning purposes or attempt to repair.
 


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