What Sells: Radios: CB, Ham & Shortwave

The CB craze of the 1970s is long gone, but amateur (“ham”) radios continue to be popular with people all over the world. Today, there are approximately 675,000 amateur radio operators in the United States, and more than 2.5 million around the world. Both new and vintage radios sell well online.

What Sells

Top-selling brands include:
Research Resources

A typical ham radio is a transmitter and a receiver, usually purchased as a single unit, called a transceiver. Newer transceiver models often have semi-complicated controls and menu systems that may require reading the manual to use. The following websites contain photos and technical information that can help you identify and describe your item:






If you are looking for a beginner’s guide to becoming a ham radio operator, take a look at Ham Radio for Dummies or subscribe to CQ: The Radio Amateur’s Journal.

Condition & Testing

Look for these signs of wear and tear:

  • Scratches and scuffs
  • Malfunctioning displays
  • Stuck knobs and controls
  • Water damage, mold or mildew
  • Frayed or missing cables and cord
  • Missing parts and manuals

Age, moisture, temperature and humidity fluctuations can also contribute to deterioration of delicate parts, so find out how the item was stored and when it was last cleaned or repaired.

Things to test:

  • Powers on/off
  • Buttons, knobs and controls work
  • Display lights up (if applicable)

It might not be possible to test whether the system transmits and receives signals; ask the owner for a demonstration if they know how to operate the equipment. If not, you can sell the item “as-is” but the final sales price and number of potential buyers will be lower.

Be careful when testing a transmitter; if it isn’t hooked up properly it can cause severe burns and other injuries. It’s safe to turn it on and off but don’t test any other features unless you have a licensed radio operator with you.

Key Details

Include these details in your listing:
  • Brand
  • Model name/number
  • Age (if known)
  • Features
  • Accessories
  • Condition

It’s helpful to include close-up photos of all controls and panels, as well as logos, stickers and other markings.

Storage and Shipping

Radios should be stored in a well-ventilated room, away from children, pets and smoke. Don’t place an item next to heating vents or air conditioners, either, since temperature/humidity changes can cause damage. Cigarette smoke can damage sensitive electronics, so ask the owner if the item came from a smoke-free environment.

Consumer electronics should be double-boxed and insured for protection during shipment. Use the original packaging whenever possible to store and ship a ham radio. If the original packaging is unavailable, use boxes made of a durable corrugated cardboard for the outer and inner cartons. You will need to use a cushioning material, on all six sides, to protect the radio from shock. Foam is best, but if it is not available, bubble wrap should be used as a substitute. Do not use styrofoam, peanuts, or popcorn in the inner box since they will not support the radio in all directions during shipping.

If shipping more than one radio in a box, ensure that they do not touch, and that they are each cushioned individually. Remove all accessories, including cables, wrap them separately and place them in the box away from the radio. Secure the box using adhesive-backed tape.

Now Hiring in Your Area