The best deal that comes to mind for me is the 130-in-1 kit I bought about 15 years ago at a deep discount from Radio Shack (or was it The Source already?). Partly because it was a good deal in itself, but mainly because it kick-started me back into my tech hobby
I've since given it away to help kickstart someone else's passion for tech.
My KENWOOD PW18-2 linear power supply that I got for €30 plus shipping from an online auction site. It was listed under home/consumer electronics, not in the test gear section, so no one else saw it. It's a split-rail +/- 18 Volt supply with a 2 Amp max rating, so it's not the most powerful supply and digital boards are often too much for it.
But it has served me really well during the 5½ years I've had it, and has enabled me to work on labs after hours while taking EE classes. At home you can even bring warm tea into the lab, so that alone is worth the €30
I agree that some of the best "scores" are the road tests here on E14, but excluding those:
A MSP430 development kit for $4.30. That used to be the official list price (including international shipping) so I didn't get a deal in that sense. However that was my ridiculously low price of entry into the world of embedded development. A gateway drug.
A Proliant DL380G5 rack mount server from eBay - £18. The "local collection only" meant a fairly substantial server cost me less than a Raspberry Pi.
Fred27 They used to have a 4/30 (MSP430 day) deal, but I don't think they've had that in 2019 or 2020? I bought a MSP-EXP430FR2433 LaunchPad in 2018 and a to upgrade my old MSP-EXP430G2 LaunchPad. Really should do more projects with them, the built in debugger is such a nice feature of those boards.
Mostly the winnings from Element 14.
I did bid for a ‘working perfectly’ Fluke 287 on the flea, and got that for a bargain. Apart from a blown power cap and damaged battery terminals it was ‘perfect’ as long as you didn’t need to use it for more than a few days and had a massive stash of AA batteries. Toe rag!! However, it turns out those things have a lifetime warranty and whilst I could have fixed it myself - the cap is a well known problem - I thought I’d send it to Fluke. In less than a week, they’d sent me a brand new one to replace it! I call that a great result and excellent customer service.
That looks immaculate. I still have some vinyl around someplace, maybe even a turntable, but it sure isn't a Thorens.
I got a lovely Denon amplifier about 20 years ago for a roll of 2.5mm Twin and Earth - which I 'acquired' from stores (if it has a NATO Stock Number . . . . . . ) and then used the Station Supply and Movements Section to send to the other base.
Got the amplifier by return a few days later . . .
Free basically, and it still works great to this day.
Oh, and a few years working at Sealand and being the IC of a Test Measurement Equipment Cell did get me a couple of old CRT Scopes and a nice Ver 1.0 Fluke 89 - the less said about those the better . . . . .
Best deal I ever had came at a company surplus equipment sale.
Two of us found this box of OpAmps and split the box between us for about 10 USD.
It turned out that they were not supposed to be sold and the group wanted them back.
We negotiated a return and made about $400 each by selling them back.
PS, at another sale I picked up a stack of SteelCase cubical tops for 1 USD.
I ended up selling a lot of them at $10 a square foot and made a lot of money, plus outfitted my wife with a really beautiful computer room.
How did you fit a computer room in your wife?
Sort of a stretch for electronics deal, but it is electro-mechanical (some of the units did have stepperdrivers attached). One of my many past jobs was working for a life sciences company that built instrumentation for various forms of testing. One of their products was an autosampler that would draw vapors from a series of vials, arranged in a rectangular array. This product suffered some issues from it's original design, so the company did a mass recall and retrofit of the device. The result of this recall was a large number of XYZ stages (equipped with stepper motors, gears, belts, leas screws, anti-backlash devices, low friction slides and bushings, etc.) that were deposited in the dumpster in the back of the company. Not being opposed to 'dumpster diving' at the time, I had acquired many of these XYZ stages. I sold over 30 of these on Ebay (~$50 to $80 each, so around $1500-2400 in total ), gave some to friends, salvaged parts off of others until there were only a few left over as I prepared for my big move to Texas . Here are some of the pics that I used on Ebay:
I'm sure, with the current COVID-19 situation, I suspect that such events might not be around for a while. In Australia, surplus and boot-sales are definitely not something that happen regularly simply because the community and demand is quite small. I tend to make the trek up to the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club's Wyong Field Day for their "hamfest-style" boot sales, but the pickings usually are fairly slim. I've blogged about my hauls in the past -
I suppose the best thing I got out of the most recent one was a USB External BluRay writer for AU$25 still-in-box (although likely used briefly in ex-display condition) and getting a few Sunon MagLev 60mm DC brushless fans which I managed to use to replace a noisy fan with failed bearings in my relatively young R&S NGM202 power supply. I suppose hunting for bargains online seems to be the way to go in Australia, although there aren't that many to be found once you count the cost of shipping into it.
My XYZ Printing da Vinci Pro 3D printer went for $300 bucks on amazon brand new. Since, I can't find it for less then $540.
Once every five years I might do well on an e-bay auction. My hit rate is low on that.
I once managed to get a load of brand new high voltage supplies (kV) for about £20 total, and I'm sure they were worth a few £k originally (they were very old unused ones in sealed boxes). I felt sorry for the seller, he'd just retired and I'm sure had hoped they would sell for more (I was the only bidder) so I just gave him more money when I went to collect them - still way less than they were worth (but at the same time I would not have purchased them at a much higher price for occasional work..) so at least he must have felt a bit better.
I also did well last week, with a near-unused data logger for just over £100. (I wanted a power meter, but they are more expensive - the data logger did that feature but didn't advertise it well).
I should point out I've also done exceptionally bad in the past - like a power meter that was faulty : (
Celestion speakers from the UK. For virtually nothing at a recycler:
The lower "circle" is a passive radiator. A novel (then) flat plate that gets kicked by the backward pressure of the speaker above it....
These weren't expensive in the day either. Affordable for many household and there were many around.
I am sure I have scored some great deals over the years and probably the road tests and contest winnings I've had on element14 would rank as the best deals I ever had.
I am asking this question because I am sure the answers will trigger some great memories of deals I found along the way.
I do remember one one auction I went to where I got a box of fifteen brand new 9V transformers for about $20. These things were perfect for 5 to 12 V linear power supplies. They were big - about 15 amp outputs and they were so heavy I had to sell half of them to the guys I was bidding against, just so I could carry the rest in my back-pack. But it also meant I got all I could carry almost for free.
Those flea markets and Ham fests and electronics auctions seem to have disappeared from this area.
If you have a picture of your great deal, all the better...