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How to Get Rid of Ham Radio Equipment

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Four Ways to Sell or Get Rid of an Old Ham Radio

Do you have a ham radio? Ham radios are still often associated with Boy Scouts, but actually, the average ham radio operator is around sixty years old.

What happens when that equipment is passed down to someone else, whether because of death or downsizing? What do you do with the equipment when it falls into your hands? Can you sell it? Should you throw it away? Here's what you need to know.

1. Approach Your Local Radio Club

The first option for selling or donating ham radio gear is to contact the local ham radio club members if they want it. They may be able to try to sell it for you at the next swap meet or convention. Some ham radio clubs hold “silent key sales”, where the club holds a sale for the ham that has gone silent (passed on) at no charge. If you donate the equipment to the club, you receive a tax write-off. If you donate the equipment to the group, they can still hold the silent key sale and use the money to fund the group. Or they can donate the equipment to new hams so they can get more young people engaged in the hobby.

If you want to clear out the ham radio gear in a pre-estate sale, call the ham radio club and ask who wants what or when the next ham radio sale is.

While there is demand for some ham radio equipment, most of it is expensive to ship, hard to move and difficult to sell.

While there is demand for some ham radio equipment, most of it is expensive to ship, hard to move and difficult to sell.

2. Donate to a Thrift Store or Charity

You can make donations while alive or from an estate. The problem is finding a home for everything. Unlike older appliances, most ham radio gear isn’t going to be accepted by Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You can contact Excess Access and see if they can find a home for the gear. All else fails, Excess Access can sell the gear to an electronics recycler to fund their other donation/exchange programs.

Computer manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Apple have e-cycling policies. These programs are geared toward computers, but they could apply to other electronics. Dell’s donation program even finds homes for good quality equipment with relevant charities like Dad's old micron oscilloscope from the electronics lab.

The benefit of selling gear to a bulk buyer is saving time trying to sell it yourself.

The benefit of selling gear to a bulk buyer is saving time trying to sell it yourself.

3. Have an Estate Sale

Estate sales are unlikely to be successful ways to get rid of ham radio equipment unless promoted as an “amateur gear” estate sale. Clearly identifying the sale as offering ham radio gear will bring out those who buy the estate sale items, and fix that knob that Dad never did while knowing which half-finished or poorly repaired gear has to go, before selling it at a convention. These people also have the knowledge to determine which collectible gear will sell for several hundred dollars on an online auction site and which should be dropped off with an electronics recycler.

Yes, these sales can bring out the sharks who will pay $100 for a pile worth $400 - but they are also going to take the time to catalog everything, determine the value of individual items, donate and sell what has no market value and you get money to use toward the estate's obligations today.

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Read More From Toughnickel

What about when you're still alive? Can you still have an estate sale to sell ham radio gear? While some estate sale companies offer assistance with pre-estate sales, such as downsizing one’s home before moving, few will help you if you have a lot of ham radio equipment.

4. Recycle It (Somewhere That Handles Electronic Waste)

Recycling is an option whether you are downsizing or deceased.

A ham’s QSLs, awards, and logs will have little value if their friends don’t want them. The old copies of CQ magazine, too, are unlikely to sell online or at the half-price bookstore. One valid use for this material is putting it in a paper recycling bin, especially those that recycle the paper and donate part of the proceeds to charity.

Electronics recyclers, those who will take any type of electronics waste from old computers to very old flip phones, will usually take ham radio equipment. Many e-cyclers will take extension cords, power cords, and other cables as well. Research the electronics recycler before you drop off the gear, because some of them will not accept copiers, ham radio equipment, cameras with film, or anything else that may require hazardous waste handling procedures. Digital electronics will be more likely to be accepted by these electronic recyclers than anything with vacuum tubes.

Note: Due to US federal government regulations, nearly all electronics recyclers will refuse cathode ray (old-fashioned) TVs and CRT monitors.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why don't you say "sell" versus "get rid of"?

Answer: I don't say "sell" because there are many ham radio items for which there isn't much of a buying market. Ham radio rigs and even walkie talkies cost more than they are worth to ship to a buyer in most cases. That is why I spent so much time talking about where you can donate ham radio equipment or find it a new home with someone who may not pay anything for it but will be able to use it.


larry from manila on December 07, 2018:

would love to try it who knows maybe there is something in it for me as well

Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on April 24, 2017:

This article was intended as general advice regarding how to dispose of ham radio equipment.

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