2021 ~ A Year for Technology and the Land Fills Must be Full

 Some Radio Equipment Observations!

Just as there are "News" Junkie's I am an "eBay Junkie"! There, that is a confession that as a result of Covid19 I am spending an inordinate amount of time touring the eBay Radio Communications listings. I have noticed a trend that I can't explain.

Here are some observations and these perhaps signal a siesmic shift in the radio equipment in our shacks.

  • Pick out a maker of a  rig of old and enter that info into the eBay search listings.
  • Instantly your mind may drift to heathkit and SSB transceivers
  • Several years ago many listings would jump onto the screen
  • Do that today -- and the offerings are few and the prices are through the roof. Can you imagine spending $350 for a rusted, burnt up HW-101. Well that is what you see.
  • Go to Swan and there you see a few more listings for the same search parameters -- but $449 for a Tri-Band beat up Swan 240 seems crazy.
  • Check out hallicrafters and like very few offerings and a rusted FPM-300 which by itself is a piece of junk is asking $400.
  • Collins gear today is more expensive in dollars than what the dollar price was when 1st offered. But those listings too are shrinking.
  • While there seems to be a supply of Drake gear -- the prices asked for a non-working R4A's signals a money pit to get them back on the air.

The reason for my searching for these rigs of old is that many were excellent designs; but had short comings especially in the frequency control -- you know non-linear, drifty analog VFO's. With a bit of current magic digital technology these old boat anchors can be put on the air and run with the big dogs. But the supply is rapidly drying up. Even better if you can get a rig and power supply for $69. [About two years ago I picked up a National NCX-3 and matching power supply all for $69 -- soldered one capacitor that was loose and it works!]

So where are these old rigs going? Are the rigs of old now in the landfills? Another sad fact of life -- hams minted in the early 1950's are likley SK's or no longer active. These would be the pioneers who bought the Swan's, Drake's, Heathkits, Hallicrafters and Collins gear. These would be the hams who would want to re-create their 1st "big boy" stations. But like the rigs of old --their numbers are diminishing too. So do surviving realtives simply put the rigs in the junk pile for haul away? My family would have no clue what to do with my "treasures of old"! Possibly helpful hams are trying to help out the widows with their estate sale listings --big bucks for junk to help the widows. Or maybe just a ploy?

In  a recent post I cited that a Dentron HF-200A today costs more than an ICOM 7300. So why buy a HF-200A?

New hams of today likely shy away from the old boat anchor rigs for many reasons. Chief among those reasons are issues such as the skills and tribal knowledge to work on the rigs and there is that high voltage problem. Another is the lack of menus and features. Hey, you only have an AF and RF gain control -- where is the menu button,  DSP and dual VFO's? 

Another observation -- most of the stuff being offered, like the 70 year old sex worker in Holland, has seen better days. The bright shiny new look is pock marked with rub marks, chips, missing knobs, and often a good case of rust. A tour inside often shows there must have been a fire inside the box or it was stationed for many years in front of a heavy smoker. Oh BTW it is non-working and no dcoumentation. Just so we don't loose focus the descriptors just mentiond refer to Radios!

So now this drives us to the seismic shift to either "appliance box" purchases or to actual homebrew, scratch built, home fabricated rigs. I am beginning to see a resurgence of homebrew and this is where I think the ARRL is in a pickle! 

The "all knowing boys" in Newington, must grapple with trying to foster the advancement of technology through featuring projects from those leading the edge (Farhan comes to mind) to dealing with the hole they may have dug. 

Is there a complex issue of trying to foster homebrew while hawking the latest $6000 rig from Japan? Advertisers often don't appreciate competition from the medium they are using to advertise. I heard that ARRL now wants to sell antennas. Hmm that now puts ARRL in direct competition with some small US manufacturers. The OM, W1AW must be shaking his finger at the ARRL CEO from beyond the grave!

Time for the ARRL to be "woke" and go back to a time when the pages of QST were chock full or radios you could actually build. We desperately need the likes of a modern day Doug DeMaw and Lew McCoy to lead the charge where now it is a homebrew SDR Transceiver being featured in QST --a step up from the Tuna Tin 2 or the Mighty Midget!

If you are an ARRL Member (I am not) write them and tell them to get "woke". What if hams would take their dollar power elsewhere? You in Newington -- time to think about that seismic shift in our hobby.

Pete N6QW

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