Thursday, October 24, 2019

A letter sent to DX Engineering

Are we being manipulated by the Ham Radio Manufacturers?

Here is a letter that was sent to DX Engineering?

If after reading this you have similar views --why not drop K3LR a note at the DX Engineering website "Contact Us" tab. I am sure he would love to hear from others in the ham homebrew community who like me see $4K for a Appliance Box as being out of step with our true ham roots which are now over 100 years old!

10/26/2019 ~ PPS (Pre Post Script). 

When you have the innovative and experimental mindset, then it is possible to add some new technology to fix problems with older radios. One does not learn that by knowing the 3000 menus in the IC7300. A Ten Tec Model 540 had a completely broken dial cord mechanism. Yes. radios used to have dial cord mechanisms. 

The message here is "when you know stuff, you can do stuff"! Working Contests and Operating may not give you the skill sets to pull this off. Watch the video...

October 23, 2019

Dear Tim, K3LR

Thank you for sending me the latest DX Engineering catalog which clearly displays radios and equipment that are simply not affordable for an OT like me who lives on a fixed retirement income.  Spending $4K for a radio is simply not in my budget; but that does not mean I am not on the air with some very modern equipment!

Your lead piece on page two sums it up quite nicely –endless possibilities. Recently I “homebrewed” a fully functional SDR transceiver for about $150. The reason this is possible is that there is so much amazing and cheap technology that makes this SDR rig a reality. Notice I didn’t say radio as that has implications of an appliance box! 

For a computer I am using a $35 Raspberry Pi3, the Sound Card was $15, and the USB Frequency Controller was $30. A lot of the critical hardware was obtained as free engineering samples and includes two ADE-1’s. Yes, it’s on a bread board.

The display can be an older LED TV that has an HDMI port and of course a keyboard and mouse. The driver stage is a 2N2219 and the final is the IRF510. The SDR Software is a free download from N2ADR known as Quisk.

Above is the typical Quisk spectrum and waterfall display just like the Big Boys with the $5K radios; but mine cost me $150
This now leads me to the remainder of your piece about Elmer’s. Seem like things have really shifted over the 60 years I have been licensed. Today’s Elmer seems to serve the function of what is the best antenna to purchase from your company, or how to navigate the 3000+ menus on the IC7300. In my day Elmer’s were the technical resource for knowing each and every component in a circuit and how it is applied, and the “why” it is there. Oh, that’s right now you send in a box top and get an extra class license and then spend thousands for a rig you have no clue how to operate.

It is with interest that your Elmer goals seem to follow what to buy, how to operate in contests and a friendly voice that says buy a FTdx101D. No where do I see a fostering working with and/or building your own radio using the latest technology. I know you have done marketing analysis to identify the demographic with the most $$$ and the new crop of rigs are priced accordingly. 

In a recent vintage ARRL Bulletin it was a position of the IARU that hams are hams for two reasons: Contests and Operating. Certainly, that is good for your business; but that position ignores what hams of my vintage did and do today. They were innovators and experimenters. Just look at Gerald Youngblood who took the concept of SDR and now he along with Raytheon are developing the next generation of communications systems (SDR Based) for the US Air Force. Suppose if K5SDR only wanted to operate and do contests? Side note, Raytheon used to be a ham equipment manufacturer. If you have ever happened to look at the nameplate on a late Model of the famous SBE transceivers – yes a unit of Raytheon.

My real point is that you might want to consider offering more “homebrew rig” kits so that we continue to foster the innovation. Besides you might actually hook a few more customers for the big box appliance stuff.

Now below is an example of where I built a solid-state version of the Collins KWM-2 which I call the KWM-4. Not every one could pull this off – but here is another endless possibility.

This is a multiband, dual conversion (10.7 MHz and 455 kHz) all solid state QRP rig. It involved some critical thinking and with the exception of the remote keypad and the Digi VFO the whole design and construction was done by me. As you can well guess I spend lots of time on the fabrication side, little time operating and no time contesting.

Since DX Engineering has become such a Big Gun in our hobby and regrettably the ARRL only wants to sell advertising for unaffordable radios, perhaps this is a time to be a true Elmer and foster and reincarnate the original “homebrew” spirit of our hobby. I invite you to visit my webpage and my three websites. , and Hopefully you will see I have built more than one radio.

Pete N6QW

A Bit Of Wizardry -- When You Know Stuff, You Can Do Stuff. My Extra call goes back to 1977 in case any one wondered.

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