I'm an IT consultant with experience on Windows/Linux/Mac and a smattering of AS400. Frequently I come across clients who have an AS400/iSeries that's been tucked in a closet or under a desk running for years without a problem that they now want to pull data off of into a front end app for team collaboration/sharing, etc. I know enough to muddle through with the help of a manual and find the info I want, but I often end up steering them towards moving to the Windows platform just because that's what I know and support even though I really enjoy working on the iSeries and think it's more reliable and secure than Windows. Many of my clients are in smaller towns away from the metro area of Detroit and there are no local resources for iSeries. I'd like to become more fluent myself so I could offer them the support they are seeking and continue to make use of their investment.
Is it feasible to pick up a used AS400/iSeries on eBay to use for training purposes? I'm a self-learner and love nothing more than pouring through a manual and working things out on a live system. I see plenty of 170's and 270's in the range of $1000-$5000 on eBay, which is pretty much my budget. Most of the systems I come across at client's are in the 5-10 year old range so I don't think I really need to have the latest and greatest. If this makes sense, what sort of system should I be looking at, what OS version, what are the licensing issues, etc? Most of them have descriptions of which cards they come with, cables, etc. But I don't know what to look for if I"m just looking to tinker around versus run it in a production environment. Or where can I go to find this out? I've Googled everything I can think of and I can't really find anything useful.