Seems there are a lot of deals out there for good (older) used radios if you just look in the right places, and be patient. Places to look for the deals?
Depending on how adventurous and trusting of others, there are many places to turn. I’ll give you a run-down of sites I’ve browsed, with my opinion of safest to “feeling lucky?”
Safe: $$$ Places that won’t scam you
- Ham Radio Outlet – Used equipment that they have looked at. http://www.hamradio.com/used.cfm
Some Risk: $$ Places that help to guard against scams
- QRZ.com – This is the place where hams sell their gear, an are required to divulge who they are (callsign) and seems very geared toward reducing the risk of fraud. http://forums.qrz.com/forumdisplay.php?7-Ham-Radio-Gear-For-Sale
- QTH.com – Lots of stuff for sale here, and great tips how to protect yourself. http://swap.qth.com/
Buyer Beware: $ If you know what you’re doing, you can make out with a great deal
- Craigslist – Personal risk if meeting individual, but you should be able to see/test the equipment before you buy. http://craigslist.org/
- eBay – Always understand what you’re buying, and check the sellers ratings. If *anything* looks fishy, don’t bite! Another thing I like to do is search for the product in google images just to see if the seller is using someone elses images for the item. If so, keep walking by.
How to buy?
You don’t have money to buy new, so you better plan so you can make the best of the money you have.
Always start with a budget, and (at least) general requirements of what you need, ie. $300 and HF operation with AM/CW/SSB capability.
Search for things that match your requirements, and start writing down the prices you’re seeing. Make notes as to the condition and sellers information. This may come in handy later if you have seen the item/seller often, and need to gauge how much the seller may be willing to negotiate.
You will start to get an idea of whether or not you will be able to purchase what you want within your budget quickly. The longer you can wait for a deal, the more success you’ll have in getting a lower price.
Also, the more open you are to things like wear and limited functionality, the more you can negotiate and save. If you’re not one that is handy with fixing things, be realistic and open your wallet.
Always remember that if you know what you like, don’t compromise! You’ll always be thinking “what if?”
Using this method, I was able to hone in on a used Kenwood TS-430S for $264 shipped from eBay. The seller said it functioned fine, and had a good seller rating and reviews. The pictures showed signs of wear and some oxidation on case screws. That meant that the photos weren’t edited, and ensured (to me) the “honest” nature of the posting. I took a gamble, and ended up with a radio that even contained an FM mode board that wasn’t even shown on the item description! Bonus! I’m very pleased with my purchase, and it didn’t break the bank, nor force me to compromise.
I hope your experience will be as good or better than my own venture. Good hunting!