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Recently licensed technician here, and going straight into my general class, I'm keeping an eye on cheap (sub-$400) HF radios. I keep reading articles that suggest used radios that normally sell for under 350, but I can only find them on Ebay for over 400 right now, and rising, it seems. Is this a seasonal thing, or is this relatively abnormal, like the recent rise in price of firearms and ammo?

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    $\begingroup$ uff, with the current scale of global economic events, I don't think this can be generalized. Like, there's a shortage of plexiglas. A shortage of e-bikes in europe, sportive bikes in general have increased waiting times. You currently can't buy high-end last generation NVidia GPUs, and the current generation isn't yet available. ... I'd chalk this up to "people are at home trying to figure out how to spend their time". $\endgroup$ Oct 9 '20 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcusMüller Yeah, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't keep looking. And there are ham radio sites that sell used gear, such as qth.com and qrz.com. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters
    Oct 9 '20 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcusMüller Yeah, I guess. The price of stuff in general is increasing. I was just wondering if I should wait until spring since I don't have my general yet anyways... or buy now while you can still get onto HF at all for below $1000... $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Oct 9 '20 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ nah, as Mike said: buy used! Especially now if people are upgrading to more expensive gear, sensible gear will probably stay affordable. Also, before you spend $1000 on HF gear... let me tell you about other expensive hobbies like 70 to 6000 MHz SDRs + separate amplifiers... $\endgroup$ Oct 9 '20 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ There are many QRP kits for under $350. Even some SDR transceivers. $\endgroup$
    – hotpaw2
    Oct 10 '20 at 1:27
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This question was asked in the middle of the pandemic, where people were largely isolated from physical social events. I suspect that as a consequence of this, amateur radio activity increased to replace those missing social events (I know I did that for sure). Possibly as a consequence of that, demand for amateur radios increased, to the point where even used equipment has become scarce. Scarcity leads to higher prices.

Additionally, on October 20, shortly after this question was asked, the AKM chip fab factory caught on fire causing a partial building collapse. This facility made ADC and DAC chips that are the leaders for SDR based radios and digital audio systems including radios, phones, and high end digital audio equipment. AKM also makes oscillators used in radios. While there should have been stock of these parts, when news of the fire got out, any available stock immediately disappeared or prices for it skyrocketed. AKM outsourced some of its ADC/DAC production (but not the oscillators) to other companies including Renesas, which ironically had its own much smaller fire several months later.

Many manufacturers who relied on AKM parts have halted production, making the radio shortage worse. Some still have their own stock and production may continue at least through July 2022, but will run out before production restarts and backlogs catch up, possibly in late 2022.

References:

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