Where do all the radios go?

Have you ever wondered how many radios of a certain type were made and sold? I do. Then I wondered where are they now?

This whole train of thought was brought on by Pom descrivbing some issues with his 290MkII and a local ham looking for dimensios for the 290MkII battery box. For example, it always seemed to me that everyone, at some time, had an FT290MK1. But I think I have actually touched 2x FT290MKII in my licenced life since 1990. I remember they were painfully expensive when new. Likewise at one time, everyone seemed to have some flavour of IC-706. Now it’s as likely going to be an 817. The jungle drums suggest the best selling radios of all time are the 817 and 706 but what of the odd stuff. How many IC-1271’s did Icom make and sell? (It’s a 10W 23cms multimode). How many IC-3700M’s were sold (that’s a 70cm/23cm 25W mobile FM unit)? And if they sold a few thousand of them where are they now? Sat in a box in an attic?

There must be tons of this stuff sat gathering dust somewhere. Possibly offered for sale now and then but for a price based on what was paid 25 years ago and not what a 25 year old electronic item made from obsolete and unobtainable semiconductors is really worth.

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Hi Andy,
I’d bet thousands of rigs spend years and years collecting dust in hams shack shelves, attics or basements. At one point, when these hams either loose interest on ham radio, die, move to a different QTH and decide to proceed with a deep cleanning and tyding of their shacks, all or most of these unused rigs go directly to a clean point for tear down and recycling.

What a shame…

As an example, I recently bought through the internet an ATU MFJ-16010ST from a ham in the US. When it got here, I found to my sorrow it wasn’t working at all. I opened it and found that it had been internally manipulated with some of the inductor coils wires being unsoldered to the inductance switcher.
I immediately contacted the seller and he explained me he had bought this ATU years ago in a ham convention and he had kept it unused on a shelf for years until he decided to sell it.
He apologized very much for the faulty unit sent and he returned me the money.
This faulty ATU is back in the shipping cardboard box on one of my shack shelves now waiting for some day when I’ll get some time and motivation to figure out how the coils of the manipulated inductor were initialy coiled and soldered in order to carry out a repair.

I’m sure many transceivers are having a similar story and are currently in boxes or shelves…

Now that you mention IC-706, I’ve recently bought one MK I on the 2nd hand market for my QTH in the building flat I’m living in now. It’s serving me well so far.
When I arrived to this new QTH, I found one of my neighbours living in this same building, just underneath, is a former ham. He told me he still holds his license and keeps all the rigs but he never uses them.
I know several hams in the area of Pamplona with their ham radio rigs and even the antennas still installed and apparently usable but never getting out on air.

I have many times stated that our hobby seems to be inevitably coming to an end and I still believe it…



I have a deceased estate cupboard in my shack that is were most of my not used stuff is.I was looking for something the other day in a drawer in my shack bench and thought “how long has this birds nest of old leads and wires been here”. none of it relevant to what I do today.
A few weeks ago I took some recycle electronic to the “waste transfer station” [dump] and I did not see any transceivers there, I did add a couple old cb rigs and a power supply to the nicely sorted pile of elw .
Good question Andy makes one take stock, looking around the shack here I can probably see 6 rigs I hardly turn on. Time for a stock take clean out to add to the question of Where do all the old radios go.
Ian CZ …

Can I suggest that you consider selling them for a realistic price? Or donate them.
Even dead stuff is worth offering for sale. The electronics may be fried (such as running a 12v set from 24v in a lorry in error) and unless it’s a modern set it’s hardly worth repairing even if the chips/LCD etc. can still be bought. But the case, knobs, connections etc. are of value to anyone who has the same set but with worn or broken controls etc.

It’s only going to get harder to fix stuff that is made from full custom electronics and canibalising dead sets will be the only way to fix modern equipment never mind vintage gear.

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I have always found it remarkable that amateur radio transceivers retain a monetary (resale) value for far longer than any other electronic or electrical equipment. Almost any mobile phone, personal computer, laptop, television set or domestic radio set will be worth next to nothing after five years or so. Yet amateur radio transceivers can attract second-hand prices of hundreds of pounds after even 20 or 25 years. Witness the small ads in any amateur radio journal, or the bring-and-buy stall at any of the few surviving amateur radio rallies.

This must prove something … but I’m not sure exactly what!

Walt (G3NYY)

It probably shows the market is small. Computers etc. sell in the hundreds of millions and until recently did date very quickly. Something like an FT7B of 40 years ago is still usable (if working). But yes, even though there may only be thousands of some models sold, the secondhand prices do seem daft. Of course what people ask and what they get are not always the same.

Modern domestic electronics are not built to last, either electronically or physically, and if they do happen to last their appearance is likely to become unfashionable. By contrast FT-101s and TS-520s seem to go on for ever and still perform quite adequately even if they don’t have the most modern bells and whistles. Look at the FT-817, built around a solid casting, there are plenty of fifteen year old specimans still getting a hammering out on the hills but in that time their owners may have gone through several mobile phones, three or four computers and a few TVs. Our rigs hold their value because they continue to do what we ask of them.

Mind you, this has reminded me that I have a lovely TS-520S sitting waiting for me to get around to finding out why it suddenly lost drive!

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Stewardship! Like most things in life, it is often down to how you treat your rigs that is a key factor as to whether they retain their value or not. My 817 has been up around 500 summits, yet is near mint. Some of the base station rigs on sale at rallies look like they have been through the wars yet they have most likely only been used indoors. I suppose it is a case of easy come, easy go. For me it has always been a case of hard earned, so look after it!

As for where all the rigs go, well I suppose a percentage have died electronically and may have been beyond economic repair. Some have been modified to suit a purpose which has then passed, so the rig more or less becomes scrap. Others sit in hoarders shacks and cupboards - which begs the question, how many rigs do you need? Personally I am “maxed out” (to the relief of my XYL) with 2 HF and 2 VHF rigs, plus my Eddystone “nostalgia” communications receiver and two handhelds. Mind you, there may be room for one more… :wink:

BTW, some years ago I worked someone from a summit who told me he was not on his usual rig, but using one that he had not switched on for a while. I enquired how many rigs he had - the answer came back… 27, Hmm.

73, Gerald G4OIG


You see them for sale regularly Brian.

Where are all the TS-690’s or TS-450s? I used to know several people who had an FT-767 with the 6/2/70 modules. You never see them for sale now.

Where are all those 90’s dual band mobile sets? There were so many models on offer I’d expect to see them regularly being offered.

I think there are plenty of hoarders out there. In some ways I am one. e.g. I have a Yaesu VX1 micro handy. I bought in when it came out in 1997. Still works fine on the original batteries but they don’t hold the charge so well anymore. I only use it once a year now at the FN rally! I should sell it and use the SOTA VX170 which takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

I still have and use my Trio TR-7010 2m SSB/CW rig which I purchased in 1976. For many years it drove a QQVO6/40A linear running HSCW meteor scatter. The amp has been changed, but I still retain MS capability, subject to what antenna I can get up and when. I also regularly use my Trio TS-130V purchased in 1983 for datamodes. Indeed the style of these rigs appeals to me more than the modern rigs, so I have recently added a secondhand TS-430S (c. 1984) and TS-711E (c. 1990) to the bench… and as Walt said, the prices paid were not reflected in the age of the kit.

Maybe someone will declare the use of much older kit for SOTA… even better when activating (I have used the TR-7010 from a summit or two). Time for another electric handbag event?


I think some of them get passed on locally, without being advertised, as they are still quite desireable…

The only radio that I have “hoarded” eg very rarely in use, is a Trio 7200G. Crystal controlled mobile 2m FM. Nicely made, in close to mint condition (I agree with Gerald on that point). Still works, good transmit audio and fairly bomb proof receiver.
I couldn’t bring myself to throw it on the recycle pile, though it probably will end up there…

Maybe I’ll bring it out on the next Handbag event :smile:

Edit: Still in regular use is my 1970s Drake R4B, close to mint, spare set of valves in stock, though I haven’t needed them yet… :wink:

A handbag event is most definitely needed.

My first radio was an FT-470 handy and the second radio bought a few days later was a TR-7010. I thought the 7010 was brilliant. So much fun had with that and a 5ele Jaybeam in 1990.

I’m not sure I’d punt on a TS-430 no matter how clean unless it was silly money (£50 or less) with the relay problems they have when old. But a TS-711 is a keeper.

If the WX looks reasonable over the Christmas Holidays then maybe a handbag event could be a goer. Gerald would have to do a repeat using his G8 call to keep the driving acceptable. Though I used my 1985 vintage FT290 to work him when he was up last Christmas time.

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A little off topic…

I remember in the mid 1980s a fellow member turned up at the Central Lancashire ARC with a sizable box containing about 15 commercial bug keys of various types - the orginal type of non-electronic bug keys with weights on them, Vibroplex etc. How they got into the local household saleroom who knows. He bought the lot for £8 on his first bid! Someone did not want that equipment to gather dust… Lucky fellow - as a radio ham just being there on the right day.

For myself, I tend to sell on my older radios when I upgrade to something better, I always get that bit more money selling privately than trading in with dealers - providing the radio is working to specification. The only radio gathering dust here in my shack is a Kenwood TM-281E 2m FM radio. As others have said it does electronics no good at all if the gear sits unused without electricity passing through. I also have an almost unused YouKits HB1B as a back up radio, not used for at least a year, but carried on overseas SOTA tours in case my prime mover, a KX2 or my well scratched FT-857D fails on location.

In the past so as to afford a better radio and avoid taking out a loan or drawing too much on my savings I have always needed to sell on the predecessor transceiver.

Here is a list recalling the HF and VHF base radio’s, starting in 1981 until 2017 I have had and kept for the approximate period listed before being sold on. In most cases it is an indication of the performance of the radio as to how long I have kept it. Where unreliable I have indicated this in the list. The S designator denotes secondhand purchase and N denotes a new purchase

YAESU FT-2000D (200W) 5 YEARS S


Owning and operating these radios over the years and updating when the technology moved on, or when I could afford something better, has given me great pleasure. Up until 5 years ago my budget only allowed one main base radio. Now in retirement I can afford to run two, but only because I tend to buy second hand and then I can spend the rest of my money on the most important part of the station the aerials!

Writing this has encouraged me to start a new thread: Chasers - show us your station. SOTA is not just about activating, chasing can be almost as much fun as well.

73 Phil

I used to have a Trio TR-9000, but sold it while inactive for many years.

You do indeed see quite a few Icom IC-290D, Yaesu FT290R rigs offered for sale. I’ve got a TS-790 in the shack which gets used for UKAC’s and now that I’ve added one of my CTCSS modules also on the local repeaters.

Nick Barnes, G4KQK has written some very good articles about updating the Icom IC-290D, the Yaesu FT290R-Mk1 and the Yaesu FT290R-Mk2 which include fitting the CTCSS boards. See his web pages at https://billingtonrepairs.wordpress.com/https://billingtonrepairs.wordpress.com/

I am amazed that you change your radios so frequently, Phil!

From 1975 to the present day, my base station list looks like this (working from memory):

YAESU FT221R (a second one) 22 YEARS S
KENWOOD TL922 HF LINEAR AMP 32 YEARS S (Still in use).
KENWOOD TS590S 2 YEARS N (My current base radio)

I like to get my money’s worth when I buy a rig!

I have never had an Icom rig.

Walt (G3NYY)

You are certainly getting your moneysworth Walt. Thanks for an interesting post. I can remember you winning top band 160m contests in the early 1980s when I was on the CW contest learning curve! That TL922 - secondhand 22 years. You couldn’t have thrashed it to last that long. I have had HF linears in the past but have given them up along with DX and serious contesting. I might get back into that side of the hobby but SOTA is keeping me happy for now.

Maybe I have been wasteful with so much changing of equipment, but I have little unused stuff. To be honest I am the same with cars. I don’t usually keep them for longer than 2-3 years, but again I rarely buy new preferring “pre owned”.

73 Phil

I still have and use an old Kenwood TS 140S, nice old radio, I run it at 100 wtts and it works very well, not used as much as it should be, nearly mint condition.
Cheers Ken

I used to work with and was very friendly a ham who is no longer active and still alive, albeit a little older than my 65. I have to say that we have now lost touch, however I met him again briefly at a works gathering about 4 years ago.

He was a fanatical DXer with a Kenwood TS-850 and an Acom 1000 linear. He was one bloody good operator amassing 100s of DXCC Countries on all bands 160 - 10m **every year. The day he retired from work (age 60) he gave up ham radio, this would have been around 2003. The guy cannot be far off 75 now yet his TS-850, Acom 1000 and all ancillary parts are still in his possession, gathering dust.

Hopefully when the time comes to go silent key the family will sell on the equipment to honest amateurs, although what is the chance that the equipment will still function after sitting unused for 15 or more years?

73 Phil

Subject to Phase 2 of my “rebuild”, Paul and I will be up north of the border between 28th and 30th December, so no need for the use of the B call. However, I really need the flexibility of the 817 for our post-Christmas activations. Would not the warmer months be more appropriate for a handbag event anyway as more people might be inclined to drag the heavier and more current thirsty rigs with the necessary battery power up the hills?

It still is if you accept the restricted tuning range and the clunky VXO arrangement. Mine is tuned by a DFC-230 with additional internal crystals to suit. I hoped to find the matching VFO, but I doubt any left the shores of Japan.

As for the 430S, yes it has relay issues, but it is an easy cure. I need to apply some cleaner to the internal connectors as the drive drops off occasionally, but other than that it is fine and the receiver is very sensitive.

As for my list (the TM-201A lives in the car and the 817 and 857 are dedicated SOTA rigs) -

Just one regret - selling the FT-736R (6/2/70/23) to purchase the FT-857D.

I too have never had an Icom rig.

My 7010 had been “done” so it tuned 144.200-144-300 & 144.300-144.400. I have seen the real VFO for sale in the UK just once. I think the fact that you had to turn the big clonky knob then fish about with the VXO knob to find anyone made using it more exciting. It’s all a bit boring tuning from lo to hi with one control. Nowadays every synthesised rig is so accurate you can give a QSY frequency like 144.253.34MHz and everyone turns up perfectly netted. Boring!