The cost of equipment

The new edition of Radcom arrived a little while ago and I had a chance to have a read through it yesterday and there was a review for the new Kenwood super rig. It certainly looked an impressive site, but what struck me the most was not the features it had but the sheer cost of the thing. It tips the scales at over £6k. The cost of my last car!

Radcom also features a section every now and again about how they are trying to attract new members and potential people into ham radio. Can I give them a little hint, start working on cheaper rigs. The evidence was even strong as I went through the pages and it showed individuals, who know doubt deservedly, won trophies and prizes for all manner of things. There wasn’t a single one in the 16-24 bracket, in fact I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a soul under 45 in there.

Can I make a suggestion?

Can we please take a look at providing cheaper gear that doesn’t need building, say a £100 rig that will get people on air. If we can produce a funcube dongle for a little more than that which seems like an amazing piece of kit, why can’t we produce a rig that is universal, cheap, useful and worth having rather than producing for the wealthy ‘person of a certain age’. That way we may be able to see talent in the younger age bracket collecting trophies.

If you’re looking for a volunteer to project manage it then just ask. If you’re looking for a technical whizzkid then you’d better look elsewhere ;-)

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “The cost of equipment”

  • Charlie Cartmel G4EST:

    Alex, interesting item with very valid arguments. I would also like to see RadCom pay more attention to cheaper kit, perhaps second hand kit also to give those thinking about the hobby an idea of what they can expect. Their article on the TS-990 was in my mind just an extended press release as very little on-air performance was documented, and there was no control or benchmark to find out how much better (worse?) it performed.
    I was QRT for 19 years and in January 2011 attempted to fire up my old Kenwood TS820S but found that a PLL board had failed. I went out and bought a second hand TS570D from the South Manchester rally and got on the air with that. Seemed to perform well, and still does alongside my Icon IC706Mk2G, also pre owned. Both rigs cost around £500 which is perhaps expensive for a start-up, but nevertheless seemed value for money for my needs.
    This leads to my main point here. How much better is the TS990 to say the top of the range Yaesu or Icom rigs, or to rigs such as mine? £6000 better? What is a good second hand buy – compare rigs in price ranges?
    RadCom should have extensive on-air comparative testing using other rigs as direct comparisons, that way the prospective hams will get a better idea of what the initial outlay will be and performance.
    I must add that when I saw the article on the front cover I was looking forward to an exhaustive on-air review with comparisons to other rigs as I was thinking of buying one, however …
    73
    Charlie
    http://www.G4EST.me.uk

  • Alex, g7kse:

    You are absolutely right Charlie. I ride road bikes when the weather is good and the magazines regularly run articles about what is the best bike for this or that in this or that price bracket. Those are opinions of those test riders and will need to be tempered, but if you are after some advice then that’s a good starting point.

    I still think this is an expensive hobby that could be made cheaper for newcomers. I have never owned a new rig and may one day get one but I’d rather not pay the list prices if I can help it.

    We have a lot of talent amongst our ranks, that, if engaged correctly could produce kits etc without the pressures of commercial interests which may limit creativity. There are some cracking kits about that with a bit of funding could develop into really good products that can be used as a basis for newcomers and us with ‘less than full’ pockets alike.

    I feel a letter coming on

  • Robert Gulley AK3Q:

    Well said! I too read the article curious about what could possibly justify such a high price, but found little of substance. Too early to get a good handle on it anyway – only been out for a few months.
    As for cheaper equipment, maybe it is time to go back in time a bit to valve days. I have a Swan 350 which works well (only just learning about how they work – this unit was in good shape when I purchased it), and frankly, the audio quality is great, makes up a lot for not having DSP etc..

    One thought would be for folks so gifted to restore and then sell good working condition old radios – yes, they take mare learning to operate, but that used to be the norm. Maybe we could all benefit from taking a step back in time . . .

  • John Mann-KK4ITN:

    That is why used rigs are in demand! Well if nobody takes a mortgage out on the new rigs the makers will get the hint, I guess. Even QRP rigs are going for almost $2k+.
    I will stay with my TS-140s until one of us burns out.
    By the way how much is a [up side down] $ in USA money?

  • KG6WXN:

    Where can I buy a good handheld transceiver.

  • Alex, g7kse:

    EBay is a start but before you buy anything you need to work out what you want /need. Cheapo Baofeng txrx’s are hard to beat for price but they are limited.

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