Last week the National Amateur Radio Manufacturers’ Association met in Orlando, Florida. The annual invitation-only event is an industry get-together of major companies that make amateur radio equipment where trends in technology, standards, and the overall direction of amateur radio is discussed.
This year the industry group released an official recommendation regarding amateur radio equipment obsolescence, urging all amateur radio operators to replace all their rigs on an annual basis. Several manufacturers spoke about the recommendation and the reasoning behind it.
Elecraft spokesman Ed Jabloski advised hams to follow the recommendation due to performance concerns. “We released the K3S in May 2015 to address the now mediocre performance of the K3. The K3S, which is nearly a year old, is approaching obsolescence. We intend on releasing the K3S+ soon in which we improve several key performance metrics by at least a two tenths of a dB. Amateurs not using this new and modern technology risk their QSOs while using substandard and aging rigs, like the K3. But also, regardless of new model releases, having new rigs each year will insure that you have the latest and best performance from new components and software.”
Kenwood representatives had a different take on the annual rig replacement recommendation. “We see it as more of something that gives hams peace of mind.” stated John Finley, of the Kenwood sales and marketing group. “Take for example the Kenwood TS-590S. That rig had a RF output power spike bug. While we have a factory modification to correct the power spike issue, we released the updated TS-590SG which doesn’t have the nasty power spike. Do you really want to be on the air with a rig with a output power spike problem? I mean, it’s just very, very risky….very scary. If you have a TS-590S you really should destroy it and buy a brand new TS-590SG. And really, do this each year with all your transceivers. It’s irresponsible to sell old rigs on Ebay.”
Baofeng attended the manufacturer event for the first time this year. “We already support the annual rig replacement methodology.” noted Alex Taylor, a US Baofeng representative. “Our rigs tend to last about a year anyway, and getting a new, fresh rig annually is common for our customers. We’re proud that we have supported the annual rig replacement initiative from day one.”
The recommendation will undoubtedly have radio amateurs scrambling to refresh their hamshacks with new rigs, and may have a positive impact on Dayton Hamvention 2016 vendor sales and attendee numbers. All manufacturer representatives at the National Amateur Radio Manufacturers’ Association event stated they were ramping up production to be able to support the recommendation and meet the demands of hams.