Spot the difference

We all know those “before” and “after” photos where you have to spot the differences, right? Well, here are two for you to dissect.



No no no, the Chinese medicinal hair growth tonic didn’t really work: my amount of hair is still the same. But a trained ham’s eye had no problem in spotting the change on the desk, not?

When my TS-440S broke down – again – a couple of months ago I was pretty upset. I was just getting back into DXing on long- and medium wave and winter was coming, which means more fun on 160 meters. My semi-QRP TS-130V was just not up to the task, so I had a tough decision to make. After telling myself “carpe diem“, “you only live once” and “come on, ease your mid-life crisis a bit” for a week I finally sold some of my mutual funds and ordered a KX3 kit. Being a very responsible husband and father I had bad feelings about diverting some family funds for my own pleasure. But boys need toys and I just don’t feel right without a decent rig (or some wheels, a guitar and Dutch cheese for that matter).

Now you just can’t let Elecraft send over a transceiver to Taiwan, because the customs people just don’t allow that. Importing transmitting equipment is strictly regulated and quite a serious matter to the government of Taiwan. Importing papers have to be arranged and customs forms signed, money has to be paid and stamps stamped on a multitude of documents and receipts. So, the average Taiwanese ham doesn’t bother with it and neither did I. Elecraft sent the KX3 to a good friend in Colorado who repacked it and send it in two shipments to Taiwan. The replacements parts for my “weather station” arrived safely and a couple of days later I had my KX3 ready and was back on the air.

Happy happy happy, but then I started to feel the limitations: the KX3 can only put out 12 Watts and even less if you want to do digital modes. Elecraft has a 100 Watt amp in their product line and it looks very nice……only its price not so much. And I am not a QRPer. I need some powerrrrr to compensate for my lousy antenna system. Most ham equipment over here is imported from Japan and so I started to look for a decent (read “cheap”) QRO amp. I first tried the second-hand market, but I ended my search at where the ICOM IC-7200 was being discounted 31% to only 72,800 Japanese Yen. That translates to 720 US dollars and is in my opinion the bargain of the century. You can hardly get a decent second-hand amp, let alone rig, for that amount. And why buy an amp if you can get a whole new radio for such a nice price? So I ordered one, my good friend JA1RZD tested it in his shack in Tokyo and an acquaintance then brought it with him on a visit to Taiwan.

Now I am the happy owner of two very modern rigs. It’s quite a culture shock compared to the old Kenwoods I have, but I am beginning to feel the advantages of having DSP, computer control, very narrow filters and independent pass bands control. And you know what? The remainder of my mutual funds did so well since I sold a portion that I already have “earned” back the IC-7200. All’s well that ends well.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

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