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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products

from tentec@contesting.com on May 17, 2001
View comments about this article!

The following announcement was forwarded to various email reflectors:

From: Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 Subject: [Kachina] 505DSP to be Discontinued

Hello All,

Yes, it's true. I am sorry to report to you that effective 5/24/01, Kachina Communications, Inc. will discontinue production of all HF radio products, including the 505DSP and its related accessories. As you may know, many of the top management of Kachina are hams, so this has not been an easy decision to make. However, given the reduced worldwide demand for amateur radio in general, and HF radio in particular, it seems the only sensible choice for us to make.

From discussions with some of the top contacts in our industry over the last several years, it has become obvious that most companies manufacturing amateur radio products these days (including the top Japanese brands) do so out of a labor of love, supporting the losses from other more-profitable ventures. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources of a Kenwood or Yaesu, and simply cannot afford to support an unprofitable product line indefinitely.

Kachina Communications, Inc. will remain in business in Arizona, as we have done for the past 25 years. In future we will concentrate on our Swift Wireless line of broadband wireless Internet products and services. Swift Wireless operates a wireless Internet service in several Arizona communities and provides turn-key services to other ISPs throughout the Southwest. We will continue to provide service and spares for all Kachina HF radio products for the forseeable future, and will honor all factory warranties through the duration of the warranty period.

The amateur radio products remaining in our inventory will be made available through our web side at clearance prices, so if you are looking for a bargain, check there (http://kachina-az.com) beginning May 25th.

I would like to thank all of those who purchased the 505DSP over the last several years. I am sorry that we could not continue to manufacture the 505DSP, but we will do our best to continue to provide service to you in the future. I would also like thank Sherman Leifer of M&S Computers, who was a big supporter of the 505DSP for a number of years, and singlehandedly sold more 505DSP than all the HRO and AES outlets combined. Sherman and I do not always see eye-to-eye on everything, but his efforts and abilities kept the 505DSP alive for a lot longer than it might have otherwise been.

Thanks and best regards,

Cameron Earnshaw Vice President Kachina Communications, Inc.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
Anonymous post on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
You have market success if you become a leader not a follower.

Kachina could have done well if they built the best product they could using the latest design techniques. That is building a transceiver with a high dynamic range receiver, with high +3rd order IP of +30dbm. Low transmitter phase noise etc We all know what ails the current crop of radios. Secondly they should have stuck in a tracking preselector or heavy duty bandpass filters. They also should have done everything else in its specs to make it a benchmark, then people would have bought this radio in numbers. I only want to buy something that is the best, otherwise i might as well just use my KWM2 or Drake C line. Hell if Elecraft could build a benchmark radio why could they not do it?

Lets hope that Ten Tec is not next and they fully understand that people want performance not just me too-ism. I have a tight fist and know just enough how to judge a radios performance specs, and till someone produces a decent set of number i wont be buying their products. All ham manufacturers have been slow to adopt state of the art RF techniques and then they wonder why people dont buy their products.

Anyway i might be wrong
 
RE: Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by N3HKN on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Fully agree. If Elecraft can do it then why not others. In fact maybe ham radio should look to Elecraft and Ten-Tec more. Encourage them to build state-of-the-art gear. Ten-Tec pre-built, Elecraft kits. Let's see, if we had an IF DSP kit for the Elecraft at $100 per kit would that help?

The various automatic functions, that are rarely used on the hi-priced imported rigs, are SECONDARY to good front-end and IF performance. Even if you are satellite focused you need a good basic rig coupled with DownEast transverters/converters. Yes it is not all in one box but so what. If you can't cable it up turn to stamp collecting. Too many hams are relying on compromise radios that "do all". They have no idea what a quality rig that has less functions can do - Elecraft & TenTec.

PROPERLY marketed RF quality rigs can be sold. Not all hams are brain dead appliance operators screaming 599 every weekend.

Dick Boley N3HKN
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
Anonymous post on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I am sorry to see another American hamradio equipment manufacturer go out of business. That leaves us with precious few USA companies to compete in this very competetive business. I must confess I am a serious Ten Tec supporter, and have been for many years, but I am concerned about the Quality Control issue at Ten Tec, especially in recent years. I hope Ten Tec management, marketing, engineering, customer service and all phases of their operation will take note and insure they are giving it their very best. I personally don't want any foreign made radio equipment....I only hope I am not forced to buy foreign in the future.
Good luck Kachina in your future endeavours.
A "Made in the U.S.A." supporter.
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by WG7X on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Gents,

I think that you did not fully understand the
paragraph below:

"From discussions with some of the top contacts in our industry over the last several years, it has become obvious that most companies manufacturing amateur radio products these days (including the top Japanese brands) do so out of a labor of love, supporting the losses from other more-profitable ventures. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources of a Kenwood or Yaesu, and simply cannot afford to support an unprofitable product line indefinitely."

It is apparent from this that amateur radio products are secondary to the manufacturer's main products, and as such, will not have the R&D that main line products do.

The attitude espoused by our anonymous friend shows just why the Amateur radio industry will not and cannot afford to bring out their best for our hobby. By that I refer to this comment:

"I only want to buy something that is the best, otherwise i might as well just use my KWM2 or Drake C line. Hell if Elecraft could build a benchmark radio why could they not do it?"

Chences are that this 'ol boy has not bought ANYTHING new in the last decade. Given this market, and this attitude, why would anyone try to sell an amateur radio product?

Personally, I salute those who have at least tried to bring new products to market, and wish them only the best.

Thanks for the attempt guys! Under these circumstances, nobody can blame you for getting out of the market, after all, you still have to make a living!

73

Gary, WG7X

 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by W3GEO on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I am sorry to see Kachina leave the Amatur Radio business. I would seem that the integration of an HF radio with a computer would have stirred up more interest than was the case. With all of the efforts to recruit new hams, especially those who were weaned on PCs, what Kachina (and Ten Tec) did made sense. That these products are not selling in any great numbers probably tells us more about the nature of hams who could afford to purchase them than anything else. I wonder how may units per year Kachina would need to sell to keep the product viable? This may have been a pioneering product introduced before its time.

Unfortunately I never had the chance to actually see or use the Kachina. It looked interesting in their advertising but in my case, I would have wanted to play with it a bit before laying out the purchase price. If I order a Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom or TenTec, I have a very reasonable idea as to what to expect, having used radios from all these manufacturers. Had I had a chance to see it and use it a bit I might have purchased one.

George
W3GEO

 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by CT2HME on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Ten Tec had to build a new box for the Pegasus simply because it was not selling.
The "new" Jupiter is not more than a Pegasus with a different box and it is selling quite nicely.
Iīm sad to see Kachina go.
I never bought anything from them but we all loose when we have less market to buy from.
The fact is Ham produts do not make companies generate profits.
In a time gone, when radios like the 1000D, 940, 950 and so many other equipments were selling, we had a chance.
Now... we have to look at new products like the TS-2000. Itīs cheap to produce and itīs made to work, but itīs not a 950.
Saddly, that should be the future of ham radio: radios that work for low production prices.
Well, I hope Kachina still offers support to old clients.
73s.

John, CT2HME
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by KE4MOB on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I think this is symptomatic of a general over abundance of radio manufacturers and/or equipment. I would suspect the life expectancy of a radio is longer than the "cycle time" for manufacturers. For example, I got my TS-450 new in 1996. It still works fine. Do I need a new rig? No. If it dies tomorrow, I'll probably go the used route--why pay the $1000+ for a new rig, when a used one costs half the price?

I suspect the same thing is happening to the computer industry--the rate of obsolescence is now drastically lower than than the rate of new product introductions. Who really needs a 1.3 Ghz processor when the 500 Mhz you bought three years ago works just fine?

Thus, some sort of consolidation is in order. I agree, though, with the above posts in that manufacturers should concentrate on basic performance first. I think we all would like a radio with execellent characteristics, and just the bells and whistles we want. But instead, we have to settle with radios from the "big three" that try to be everything to everybody.
 
RE: Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
Anonymous post on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I've read that the Kachina 505DSP is a great radio and I've read that the Ten Tec Pegasus is a great radio (in its price-class). I'm no technophobe by any means but a rig that you have to (literally) tie to a bulky PC to make it work just does not appeal to me at all !

This is further highlighted by the fact that both manufacturers offer an accessory tuning knob ! This strikes me as a little bizzare.

I think that as someone else said, Ten Tec have taken the correct approach in turning the Pegasus into the Jupiter (a "stand-alone" rig which can be "modified" via internet downloads; Wow ! What a concept !).

Maybe if Kachina had done that with the 505DSP, a lot more people would have considered buying one.
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by VK2GWK on May 17, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Just a matter of numbers and marketing. Not enough amateurs to buy enough HF equipment frequently enough to keep manufacturers interested in us. In the 70's and 80' the big names came out with new models every year or so..... Now new HF models are introduced every five years or even less frequent.
I predict that in another 5 - 10 years there will be only one or two manufacturers left.

For VHF/UHF it is slightly different. This stuff can be made in larger numbers because there is not much difference between a HH for commercial and for amateur frequencies. But who wants to walk around with a HH at his ear and fry his/hers brains these days....
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by K4EFZ on May 18, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
It's always sad to see any quality company discontinue their products.

It's also easy for "armchair" experts to criticize "why it happened". Those armchair critics might be right, but why do they usually post their opinions as "Anonymous"?

If you have something of value to say, say it.

If you have criticizm, stand behind it.

Chris K4EFZ
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by K3AN on May 18, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
"It's easy to identify the pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs." Sorry to see you go, Kachina.
 
RE: Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by N7OW on May 18, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Best Wishes guys! Thanks for a great effort and for pioneering a new product. You did a good thing just like Studebaker did! The tip of the plow is always shiny. The credit belongs to you and not all the complainers. 73's

 
Kachina Decision Implications for HF  
by K1BRF on May 18, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The market is flat and mature, nobody is making any money and when things tighten or currency moves the wrong way for a while, it is easy financially for a manufacturer to cut a product line with those characteristics. Surprising and a little rattling they did it right before Dayton, Suppose other producers end up doing the same thing or they significantly de-emphasize their efforts? Suppose they act after Dayton, not before. What would amateurs do if a couple of other major firms make similar decisions? Speculate, for a minute we end up with only one manufacturer? Or none? What would happen?

My guess is
(i) amusing pricing on the used markets (save that old unit!)
(ii) a new producer would emerge selling low-end kits
(iii) QST would start writing articles about how to build units
(iv) we would move to digital communications
(v) Watkins-Johnson and Rhode & Schwarz would be the target of the well-to-do hams.

Since nobody stays in a losing business "for the fun of it" no matter what anyone thinks, I would be interested hearing what folks think would happen to the HF market if we were left as an unserved market.
 
Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
by KQ6XA on May 19, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks to all the people at Kachina.
My Kachina MP-25 is stout and dependable... it will be working HF long after most of us have become silent keys.

We have lost a generation of HF operators. My children gave up on HF because of the Morse requirement, even though they enjoy ham radio. There are very few new HF operators now, so the market for HF gear is gone. Sad but true.

Bonnie KQ6XA
 
RE: Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
Anonymous post on May 19, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
My comments re. the DSP505 not being a stand-alone rig were an observation, not a criticism.

Lost generation ? If your children are too lazy to try to meet the test requirements (CW or whatever they may be) then they do not deserve to be in the hobby. I'd rather see the hobby die than turn into CB.

Regarding numbers, there are twice as many licensed hams today than there were 20 years ago so where's the crisis ?

Why don't all you doom-mongers *do something* (like encouraging your children to learn CW or whatever's required) instead of putting-off any potential new hams with your depressing posts. Why don't you get onto 2 meter FM and let them know how much more *fun* HF radio is than working local repeaters. Why don't you tell them they can get onto HF for $100 (which they can)... BE PART OF THE SOLUTION...

HF radio is doing just fine and if the ARRL (and hams in general) would start promoting the hobby to the general public instead of to the choir then it would be even better.

Regarding anonymous posts, we are entitled to post anonymously if we so choose so don't waste bandwidth complaining about it.

Signed,

A 20+ wpm Extra (and proud of it)
 
RE: Kachina Decision Implications for HF  
by WB6SMX on May 20, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Brian, you covered most of the "things" that might happen if the manufacturers decided to stop making our gear. When this nearly hundred year old hobby started, there were no manufacturers of rigs. Most folks, like my father and his brother, had to build from scratch. They wound their own spark coils, built their own coherers, and used telephone receivers for earphones. They scrounged thru coal piles for galena for their crystal sets, and . . .well, you get the idea. What was done before can be done again, even in this much more modern era. The people who would be successful in their efforts would become the new manufacturers. Heath started this way, and many others.

Hams have always been ingenious in solving problems, and I would hope that this spirit of "can-do" has survived. If it has not, then the hobby will cease to exist.

73 es cul
 
RE: Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
by KQ6XA on May 20, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
By posting anonymously, the previous person deflated their own meager opinion.

Bonnie KQ6XA
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by K9UNA on May 20, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
How sad it is for me to see Kachina leave amateur radio. I have a 505DSP and I can tell you that it is a great radio. However, it works a little differently from your standard radio which probably turned off some users.

On the plus side:
Works very well
Sounds good
Easy interface clean interface
Fantastic construction
Upgradeable by hardware cards and software
DSP sounds very good and clean
Useful features are built into the software

On the negative side:
The number one problem with the DSP is that you have to use a computer (which of course is also a plus). When push comes to shove I will turn on a trusty regular rig because it’s easier and quicker and more intuitive. Like many people, I have a busy life and I don’t have hours and hours for amateur radio. I tend to approach the hobby in little time slots. I think that TenTec and Kenwood recognized this fact by offering a regular radio platform for their two computer rigs. It is my guess that Kachina just didn’t have the capital to come up with different configurations.

So what could be done to keep Kachina in the amateur radio business?
Probably not much (except a lot of money). But if money were no object, then:
A traditional radio add-on interface for the radio
Cheaper accessories, like a reasonably priced tuning knob.
Value added software, like a really good logging program included.
Lots of advertising
Fun stuff like the ability to customize and change the outward appearance of the software interface. Microsoft calls this “skins.”
Some sort of partnership with the big amateur radio retailers
Some sort of partnership with one of the big manufacturers?

Anyways, I sorry to see Kachina go. They tried (and succeeded) to produce a very innovative, ground breaking radio. They were the first computer operated radio and their clever ideas will be missed.

 
RE: Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
Anonymous post on May 20, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Whether the post was anonymous or not is immaterial. Bottom line is that the truth hurts !
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by KC8QGL on May 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I think this whole thing is a hoax. I went to the Kachina website and there was no announcement like this and the 505DSP didn't appear to be marked down to a close-out price.

Sue
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by KE4MOB on May 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Just a thought here...I notice Kenwood is offering the TS-2000 in a "black box" configuration as well, and no doubt Yaesu and Icom are soon to follow. Maybe the folks at Kachina have succeeded too well....now the "big three" are producing products in direct competition to Kachina, and Kachina has realized it's time to cut and run (no offense intended). I have heard one Kachina on the air--and by far it was one of the best rigs I have ever heard on RTTY.
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by N1YRK on May 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Sad to see Kachina go. I don't really know their products well, but anytime a respected manufacturer calls it quits, it makes you wonder the state of the hobby. I could go on about that but you've all heard it all before.

I wonder if Kachina would license the design / sell remaining stock/tooling/parts to someone willing to take over the line?

Maybe it's time to put our money where our mouth is and rescue good products before they are gone forever.

 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by KT0F on May 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
What a shame!

Kachina started a trend with their two part radios. That is to say that you could have a radio at your house in the City, and the transceiver at a remote location somewhere. With the overwhelming and constant battles of C,C & Rs, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to move some amateur installations away from covenant-controlled communities and provide an answer to some of the antenna challenges facing amateur radio.

Best of luck to your company in the future!

I know that many of us hope for a return of your company to amateur radio similar to the rebound of Alpha Power.

73
John
KT0F
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by W6PMR on May 22, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Bottom line here is that this company made one product that had a limited appeal AND the compitition beat them in price.
Nobody can stay in business under those conditions.
 
RE: Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
by VA3FCM on May 22, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Most of the anon. posts here spout nonsense. The ignoramous above most certainly did! If you have the courage of your convictions, you should be willing to affix your name. P.S. a considerable number of your comments were without foundation.

73 de va3fcm
 
RE: Lost Generation of HF Hams. Sad But True...  
Anonymous post on May 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Yawn ...
 
RE: Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
Anonymous post on May 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
W6PMR hit the nail squarely on the head !
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
Anonymous post on May 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Perhaps if you had not encouraged M&S sell your radios at cost, AES and HRO would have had more reason to sell them for you. They had them on display for customers to see and hear. But why bother if someone is selling them at no profit????
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by N5LB on May 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The decision to exit the amateur radio business is unfortunate but apparently necessary for Kachina to focus on more profitable lines of business. In reading their announcements it appears that Kachina has problems that go beyond the manufacture of HF equipment. Products go through a life cycle that is more or less predictable and in order for a company to produce the next product or major product upgrade sufficient cash must be generated by the business. This looks like a case of insufficient cash generation by a business that may be in serious trouble for the long term. What product lines does Kachina still have for sale in any market? Additionally, amateur radio products will always be limited in manufacturing quantity. Hence the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs following product launch is limited. The result is a necessary high selling price. Even several million hams worldwide is insignificant compared to say the market for computers or components.
I hope that Kachina works through their business issues and thrives. They seemed like a really innovative group of people. Its just to bad that I couldn't justify the outlay for one of their radios.
 
Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by W2IHY on May 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I am saddened to see another company get out of the amateur market. Most amateurs have idea of what is required to bring a product to market and make it a success. Having the best product guarantees little. Going up against the big 3 (ICOM, Kenwood, Yaesu) would be considered by many suicidal. To get amateurs to go to a new companies products not only takes technical product leadership by the new company but also the funding to battle it out over 2 to three generations of products to begin to gain enough market share to go in the black. There are people who will buy something new from a new company because it is the best. Unfortunately many people feel as though they are taking a chance and take a wait and let's see attitude. Selling a few thousand units may seem to the layperson as a lot but when you have to cover manufacturing costs, advertising cost and development costs etc. it is not enough volume and you do not get enough economies of scale to win on the bottom line. Most companies that have the expertise to develop exceptional products will take their talent and capital and expend it to the more profitable commercial market. Guys the innovation comes from the small guys and when they stop developing products change will be slow in coming because it will be deemed as unaffordable from a business perspective. Kachina I wish you well but I hope your exit does not discourage others from entering.

Julius (W2IHY)
 
RE: Kachina Discontinues all HF Radio Products  
by W8JI on May 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I'm sorry to see anyone leave the amateur market, but I think the poster who complained about poor RF performance was correct. Even though it is a stagnant or declining market, there IS money out there for high performance products.

It seems the biggest problem is new radios are mostly "bells and whistles", with the same poor or average RF performance. SSB transmitter IMD performance has been declining or hanging around the dismal -30dB (from one tone) specs that we are used to, instead of up in the -40 dB or better range of the better 1960 era rigs.

Receiver performance also takes a back seat to digital frills.

Case in point? Look at the RSGB tests of the newest Kenwood. It almost sets a new standard in poor RF performance.

Factually, there is little or no reason for many of us to buy a new radio unless we like a different cabinet.

I won't pay 50 cents for a radio that blocks easy, has birdies, or has clicks and phase noise problems.

I'd spend several thousand dollars TODAY for a really GOOD RF performance transceiver. I've actually been looking for a few years for something that has:

1.) High receiver dynamic range
2.) Low phase noise
3.) No unnecessary keyclicks on transmitter

I give a hoot about 30 digital filters and 200 memories when the receiver blocks from a few closeby 30-over-nine signals. Computer control would be nice, but a lack of key clicks and phase noise and excellent blocking performance is what would make a sale.

With off-the-shelf parts and minimal test equipment, I can build a receiver that blows anything on the market away. I can change the mixers and amplifier stages in an old Drake R4C and with one day of work have a receiver with a close-spaced blocking dynamic range easily over 140 dB!

Why release radios with pre-1950 RF performance specs and year 2000 digital systems? I want performance, not a toy. If some manufacturer wises up, and builds a simple but excellent performing rig he will sell more than he can build for a good many years.
 
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