Posts Tagged ‘sherwood’

Taking a stroll through transceiver time…

Something that has made me drift into periods of wonder for a long time now is to look through the websites or other historical sources of radios and transceivers manufactured for amateur radio. By just perusing radios over a lengthy period of time, one can gauge how and when the hobby made changes in the technology. As the author William Faulkner has said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” If coverage of the 2022 Xenia Hamvention bone yard is any indication, Faulkner is indeed right about the technological past not even being past!

Anthropologists of technology tell us that:

Social change is driven by — and depends upon — technological change.

Tim Ingold, Social Analysis No. 41(1) March 1997, p. 106.
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The past isn’t even past, said William Faulkner (Oxford, MS)

Our technological change in transceiver technology lends itself to the social change in how we practice amateur radio. I’ll focus on just one element that has emerged in the last decade, the panadapter effect, in a later post. But for now, let’s just get a grasp of the bigger picture. For it may not be what you thought, if you’re a long-time amateur radio operator. The pending demographic changes that I’ve written about unmercifully suggest that some won’t see the changes that tech imposes on cultural shifts.

But technology moves onward. The changes that improvements and revolutionary creations do begat collective change, even if the past still is among us in terms of usage or just in our hearts and minds. Those images and feelings are demographically rooted, however, in the time in which our early years are imprinted in our memories.

People — smart, thoughtful people, with relevant backgrounds and domain knowledge — thought that Airbnb and Uber were doomed to failure, because obviously no one would want to stay in a stranger’s home or ride in a stranger’s car. People thought the iPhone would flop, because users would “detest the touch screen interface.” People thought enterprise software-as-a-service would never fly, because executives would insist on keeping servers in-house at all costs.

It’s quite an amazing walk to just browse through the dates that radios in Rob Sherwood’s table of receiver tests were released to the market. I’ve put a simple time line page in the portfolio of Sherwood Tools for the viewer to easily do that. I’ve added links to pictures and details of each radio for a richer experience.

Return to the year you were licensed or got seriously interested in amateur radio. What’s the nearest year in Rob’s Table? What was the technology of that radio? What was your first transceiver? Locate your amateur radio life course regarding transceivers through Rob’s bench test list. Then, check out the other Sherwood Tools to see how it fits into the latest rigs.

After this new page was circulated by Twitter, I received this kind note from a popular SOTA award winner, Ed Durrant DD5LP in Germany:

This is a great work that you have pulled together. I found myself going through the time-line saying, yes, yes, I remember those and then I’d see one I didn’t recognise but in general this is very useful to see which companies were really active at different times…I am in awe of this work, the more I check different links, the more I get pulled into it and I can see how much effort you have put in it.

While it did take a minute, the results are hopefully well worth it. But just taking the Sherwood Table and placing each radio into the year of market-entry, there is a look at over a half-century of technological advancement in this time line. How has it made us change our behavior in operating? How has it changed the organized hobby itself? And what will tomorrow bring? Go take a stroll through transceiver time here.

Don’t Look Back! They Might Be Gaining On You…or the emergence of the premium HF transceiver

The old quote attributed to the iron man of baseball, Satchel Paige, about not looking back is what I thought of as I posted my latest page in my new Sherwood Tools section of the FoxMikeHotel.com website. The emergence of the premium HF transceiver is the focus of much discussion, rants and downright fistfights in the kitchen to paraphrase a research methods text. Such a topic is ripe for statistical analysis using best-available data. I’ve tried to do that in this new page of tools to use to shape your thinking about pulling the trigger on a premium HF transceiver. In this market? How could you not use all the evidence available to you?

The Sherwood Tables are the basis of that data with the addition of the market-entry price and year. The focus is: who invented the premium transceiver? Well, it wasn’t Hilberling although at $20,000 in 2021 US Dollars that might be a good guess. Head over to this page to see by clicking here.

If you’re heading to Hamvention, it might be a good time to check the graphics out before making a decision. If you’re sitting this one out, it’s a great time to review what I have posted there. I understand Rob NC0B will feature these tools at his talk—Transceiver Performance for the HF Contest and DX Operator— for Contest University.

Sherwood Tools Available

The work that Rob Sherwood NC0B has contributed to the public over the past decade is unique and an amazing service to hams worldwide. I’m talking about, of course, his summary Table of receive bench tests published at this Sherwood Engineering website. He is independent so no one can think that advertising dollars could skew his assessments or how he presents them. As a CW contest operator, he is very clear that he sorts his table on the basis of what his experience and training has shown him to be the single most important measurement in his table: the narrow dynamic range.

I am not a CW operator or accomplished contester (lol) but enjoy the latter with my small team of fellow hams. But I am a statistician who likes to focus on problems where analytic tools can help foster a wider understanding of the data surrounding the problem area. So, working with Rob NC0B, I’ve created a set of “Sherwood Tools” to visualize his data as well as link them to a couple of other critical aspects of a rig purchase: market-entry price, consumer satisfaction, and the year the radio entered the market. These four vectors of data drive all of these tools, now available over at foxmikehotel.com.

3D Sherwood with Market-Entry Year

The tools include a sortable Sherwood list where you can sort on any of the nine tests he publishes as well as the composite index of them that I created and included in my two-part NCJ articles in 2021. A set of 3D data visualizations are available to simultaneously view radios on four data elements (that does make it 4D, technically). Several graphs illustrate key aspects of the data, including how to not get tripped-up in the “ranking” of radios where the bench measurements are just not appreciably different. Seeing how the past 50 years of radios appearing in Rob’s Table have made a remarkable and clear progression toward the best receiver performance that modern test equipment can detect is in another tool. In addition, how the trend in getting a receive bang-for-the-buck has progressed over this 50 year period is there, too. Finally, I’ve used the industry-standard tool by Gartner, the Magic Quadrant, to help isolate radios in Rob’s Table that perform and are rated above average at various price points. I call these the Golden Quadrant Lists.

Rob NC0B has not endorsed these tools and neither have Scott K0MD or Bob K0NR. But all three have given advice and suggestions for how I’ve designed them for which I am very grateful. None should be held accountable for any mistake or result that the viewer may find there. I hope these Sherwood Tools are of use to viewers who are evaluating rigs. (They have been to me over the past two years of doing this research during which I’ve purchased two new HF rigs.) Making a written set of must-have features is a critical complement to these tools. Just like Smokey the Bear says: only you can put out forest fires. Only you can determine the feature-set and ergonomics to satisfy your use-case for a new radio!

I’m outlining a talk on the use of these tools should clubs wish me to visit with them via Zoom. See my contact tab above. I’m good on QRZed.

3-D Sherwood!

Due to questions I’ve received during club talks to visualize all three dimensions of price, performance and satisfaction in HF rigs, I’ve assembled a 3D data cube (scatter plot) with these three measures together. This includes the composite Sherwood Receive Tests (SPI), price at market entry, and the eHam rating. The data cube points are color-shaded to reflect year-of-entry into the marketplace. These data are updated with Rob NC0B’s March 5, 2022 test data. A few (older) rigs without eHam ratings were removed.

Go to this link over at FoxMikeHotel.com to take a look. I may do some additional analyses in the near future so stay tuned if you’re interested in Rob’s work and related data.

Sortable Sherwood!

One of the most valuable tools for amateurs worldwide to use when evaluating HF rigs is the set of bench tests that Rob Sherwood NC0B has provided for quite a number of years now. He ranks the receive tests by his favorite metric: narrow dynamic range in dB. It’s a key for CW contest operators (pun intended) which he is in spades. But it is a frequent question from readers of Rob’s table: why can’t I sort it on another criterion? Especially if I’m not a CW contest operator?

Well, now you can! Working directly with Rob NC0B, I’ve taken his latest receive test data and made a sortable table for the Sherwood Test Results. They are circa March 5, 2022. It’s at my companion site, foxmikehotel.com at this link. I plan to update it when Rob adds new radios to his Table.

I’ve also added sub-pages to illustrate some facets of the data. Based on my work over the past couple of years with adding price and consumer satisfaction data for each rig in his Table, I’ve learned that it’s important for readers to better understand both Rob’s tests and his ranking metric. In that research published in the ARRL’s National Contesting Journal, I created a composite of all nine of Rob’s bench tests which I called the Sherwood Performance Index (SPI). It is a broader assessment of receive performance than the narrow dynamic range. But it is not intended to be a replacement for Rob’s preferred metric, only a complement.

Thus far, I’ve added two interactive charts that will help the viewer better understand Rob’s table results. More may come.

One chart shows how the reader can “out-rank” themselves by ONLY focusing on how a rig is ranked on the narrow dynamic range measurement. Rob tells readers not to take the exact ranking as the only aspect of a rig for the top ten rigs are all very good on receive. This interactive graphic will allow the viewer to see how some rigs “bunch” together with almost identical narrow dynamic range but are, indeed, sequential ranked because of numerical differences that simply do not make much difference as realized in the rig’s actual performance. But, ever hear an athletic team cheer this after a game? We’re Number 10! We’re Number 10! I didn’t think so. But Number 10 might be just as good as Number 1 on the metric determining the ranking. You have to look at the data behind the ranking. This chart makes it easy.

A second chart demonstrates how Rob’s ranking variable, narrow dynamic range, relates to the composite SPI. You’ll find some interesting results from that chart, seeing how narrow dynamic range is important but there is more to some rigs than that. Especially if you’re not a contest operator, CW or otherwise.

As he has stated in various podcast interviews (including mine on the ICQ Podcast and recently on the Ham Radio Workbench), he started these bench tests for his own use as a CW contest operator. Rob disagreed with the ARRL’s tests as published in a review of the classic Drake R-4C receiver. So he created what he thought was a suite of appropriate bench tests. And the rest is history. For transceivers and receivers (“rigs”) over a 50 year period!

Here’s a trend line for the SPI by year over the horizon of rigs in his Table, circa November 2019. We are in the best period yet for receive performance in terms of Rob’s test suite. But now you can sort the Sherwood Table on any of his tests including the composite SPI that I added to asses your rig of choice.

Rob codes his website in conventional HTML. He recently had to suddenly change hosting providers. So he’s had enough on his plate with all of the other engineering contributions he makes almost daily to various email lists and groups. So while he could alter the HTML code to provide the ability to sort his table, I appreciate his spending his retirement time continuing to assist the amateur radio community as he does now. I hope that this offering of a Sortable Sherwood Table on my companion website will help the reader better understand this terrific tool as well as help Rob, too.


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