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Author Topic: The future of "kit" rigs  (Read 20526 times)
F8WBD
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Posts: 72




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« on: October 06, 2013, 03:32:39 AM »

Not having a KX3, I am beginning to feel a bit of a social outcast. Someone from the wrong side of the tracks condemned to remain so. If you don't have a KX3, you are beyond contempt.

Has the mass exodus to this thousand-buck rig damaged the viability of the low-cost kit-provider folks?

Kinda wonder if the future of QRP will be the province  of the mega-buck/euro class, if the kit providers drop out.

« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 03:43:18 AM by F8WBD » Logged
W1JKA
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2013, 06:39:39 AM »

 Not to worry, low end QRP rigs (kits)  aren't going away anytime soon anymore than low end QRO rigs are going to disappear because of the $5000.00-$10,000.00 rigs that are available. As with QRO, QRP has many sub niches in which the KX3 is way over kill i.e. some  QRPers like to home brew or true kit build and learn a little about theory and circuits by doing so, the KX3 in kit form is basically a mechanically bolt together rig. There is a big difference between casual and so called extreme portable QRP ops in which the KX3 is best suited for the casual type which still leaves a market for the small rugged single band rigs. Some QRP ops only care about one particular mode. There is no doubt that the KX3 is among the top of the heap for a do all multi band QRP rig and will fill the niche of an operator that demands such. My niche is CW only, as such my operating needs are adequately met with a K1 for the home QTH and a few small single band CW rigs that will handle the rigors of my portable type operations.
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W4KYR
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2013, 10:31:29 AM »

Not having a KX3, I am beginning to feel a bit of a social outcast. Someone from the wrong side of the tracks condemned to remain so. If you don't have a KX3, you are beyond contempt.

Has the mass exodus to this thousand-buck rig damaged the viability of the low-cost kit-provider folks?

Kinda wonder if the future of QRP will be the province  of the mega-buck/euro class, if the kit providers drop out.



I too do not own the KX3

Elecraft wasn't the first the one selling higher cost 'kits'. Heathkit sold both low cost and higher cost (and more complex) kits back in the day as well.  Low cost kits will always be available. Among the reasons include that they are low cost, easy to put together, small, lightweight and the satisfaction of putting it together yourself. QRP kits can be ridiculously simple (Pixie2), or more sophisticated. Some QRP rigs are considered classics HW 7, 8 and 9, The Wilderness, SST, Tuna Tin as well as others.


Cheaper the better?
Someone made the good point that they take the MFJ CUB with them camping, hiking and rafting. If it gets trashed they are only out $100. If it gets muddied up or water logged...just clean it, dry it and it still works. The Cub is available assembled as well as kit form as are some Youkits rigs.


Quote
Has the mass exodus to this thousand-buck rig damaged the viability of the low-cost kit-provider folks?

No.
People flocked to the KX3 because of many reasons. It has newer technology, more filtering, PSK, built in ATU (optional), built in battery, puts out 10 watts, small enough to carry in a backpack and the company makes reputable products. $1000 multi high tech rig and $100 QRP rig are really two different animals.



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KE7TMA
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2013, 11:50:54 AM »

Not having a KX3, I am beginning to feel a bit of a social outcast. Someone from the wrong side of the tracks condemned to remain so. If you don't have a KX3, you are beyond contempt.

Has the mass exodus to this thousand-buck rig damaged the viability of the low-cost kit-provider folks?

Kinda wonder if the future of QRP will be the province  of the mega-buck/euro class, if the kit providers drop out.



I guess the trick with sour grapes is to put them in the sun, eh?
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F8WBD
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2013, 12:50:48 PM »

It is encouraging to find the opinion that the future of small QRP rig kits remains positive.

Thanks for your input on the subject.

Oh, I drink the wine from my grapes before they sour. They do need the sun while they are still on the vine, though.

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AD6KA
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2013, 03:24:32 PM »

Quote
Has the mass exodus to this thousand-buck rig damaged the viability of the low-cost kit-provider folks?

I see no "mass exodus".
Indeed, look at the sales and the Users Groups for the low cost monoband
kit rigs such as the Rockmites, the BITX lines, the ILER's, the MKARS80,and others.
You will find that group is thriving, and there is a lot of fun and excitement there.

It's an apples and oranges thing, IMHO. I like the inexpensive monoband rigs.
It's a blast to make QSO's with 4-5 watts using a rig you built  (and modified) yourself.
(And no, I don't consider screwing together an enclosure and some pre-assembled
PC boards as "a kit")

Would I like to own a KX3? Sure! But I'd rather spend my money on other things.
Stuff that I would get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of.
73, Ken  AD6KA
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KA0HVE
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2013, 05:23:30 PM »

I bought a Ten-Tec Century 21 a while back and have been having a blast with it since June.  I crank it down to 1 watt here lately and I doubt anyone can tell it's not an Elecraft when they hear it. Smiley

I'm seriously considering building a QRP or QRPp rig or two to have some fun with.  (Can you say Rock-mite? Smiley )

If you're a social outcast then I most certainly am also.

Are you having fun?  if yes, then don't worry about it.
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WX2S
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Posts: 735




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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 02:38:38 AM »

I now own a KX3, but it's a portable rig to me. My base station is simply more capable at QRP. Since I'm limited to an unobtrusive vert by QRXYL, I observe the following with respect to station gear::
Quote from: Oscar Wilde
I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
Grin

Besides which, my objective is just to have fun, not oneupmanship.

73, Steve.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 02:47:57 AM by WX2S » Logged

73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
N3IG
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 10:28:54 AM »

     I have the KX-3 which is my at home QRP rig because of all the features. The used FT-817 I paid $450 for is still my take into less desirable environments rig. I just picked up a HW-8 at a hamfest and my next itch is to build a Rockmite. So just because I was able to save enough to buy the KX-3 (a lot of money for me) does not mean that I am not going to continue to support makers of more basic rigs/kits. They are all fun.

     I don't really consider bolting the boards to the chassis as a real kit. The K-1 I had was much more fun to assemble and worked great.
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W7ASA
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 10:55:53 AM »

Happily, these days in QRP we are seeing MANY kits in addition to the superb KX3.  The QRP ham can be contented with options from the most 'minimalist' FET regen receiver + crystal transmitter where your BRAIN is the filter system    Grin   , all the way UP through the various QRP kits to the KX3 with all of it's high selectivity, amazing sensitivity and very,very low internally generated noise.  Also, in terms of real income, even in a depressed economy these rigs are historically more affordable as a percentage of house hold income than ever. It's a great time to be a ham.

I had a KX3 for a short while but sold it. (long story -  Cry Cry Cry  bring tissues...  Cry Cry Cry ) and without a doubt the filters and noise figure is what grabbed me about that rig. OTOH, the older generation of rigs from NORCAL& Elecraft and many others are very good - nothing to look down on. My KX1 still amazes me and yes - I can take it anywhere.

I enjoyed your little satire about 'social outcast'.   Grin   I still enjoy my KX1 and two decade old (almost) Wilderness Sierra - both heavily modified.



73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
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N4OI
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Posts: 210




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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 05:31:55 AM »

I bought a Ten-Tec Century 21 a while back and have been having a blast with it since June.  I crank it down to 1 watt here lately and I doubt anyone can tell it's not an Elecraft when they hear it. Smiley

I'm seriously considering building a QRP or QRPp rig or two to have some fun with.  (Can you say Rock-mite? Smiley )

If you're a social outcast then I most certainly am also.

Are you having fun?  if yes, then don't worry about it.

Yes, I agree that the Century 21 fun proposition is second to none.  That said, I really enjoy building low-cost QRP kits.  My last was a breakthrough -- the Softrock Ensemble Rx that required soldering a LOT of SMT devices.  I bought an imported hot air solder station and a syringe of solder paste -- a real learning experience!  Now I would look forward to more really cool CW kits with SMT devices....   I hope kit builders are not trying to keep one foot in the past by limiting their offerings to through-hole technology....

73 ES GOD BLESS U ES URS DE KEN N4OI   Grin
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AK7V
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2013, 09:48:41 AM »

I think the simpler kits are here to stay.  The KX3 is overkill for the type of QRP operating I do (CW only, outside, antenna wire thrown in a tree).

If I want to do SSB or digi, I use my 100w rig at home.  If I go outside, I use a simple home-brew rig or maybe my IC-703 if I'm feeling extravagant. 

I don't really understand what the market is for the KX3, personally.  I understand all the other Elecraft rigs.
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W4KYR
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Posts: 567




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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2013, 10:23:05 AM »

I think the simpler kits are here to stay.  The KX3 is overkill for the type of QRP operating I do (CW only, outside, antenna wire thrown in a tree).

If I want to do SSB or digi, I use my 100w rig at home.  If I go outside, I use a simple home-brew rig or maybe my IC-703 if I'm feeling extravagant.  

I don't really understand what the market is for the KX3, personally.  I understand all the other Elecraft rigs.

From what I gather, the KX3 bridges a gap in the market. It has higher power than the FT 817, is able to take an optional built in tuner, runs on batteries, has more filtering, does PSK, has a USB port, consumes less power on receive than the FT 817, it is portable (although I think it should be more rugged), has free firmware and it is made by a company with a good reputation.

But the key is that the KX3  bridges a gap in the market. The Icom IC 703 with it's 10 watts and the SGC 2020 with its 20 watts are no longer being made. Both sell for more now used than what they were selling for when they were closed out.  For an extra $350 over the price of they are selling for used now, you can a buy new portable rig with new 'features'.

Although the Yaesu FT 817 is a great innovative rig ..  (and fairly rugged) it  has been out for over 10 years, the last revision was the ND I think in 2004. It is overdue for an upgrade.  

« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 10:27:28 AM by W4KYR » Logged

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KK6GNP
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2013, 11:08:31 AM »

F8WBD,

I've been having a lot of discussions about the cost of the hobby lately, because I feel like technology being what it is today, that things seem to be artificially inflated on some levels (not all rigs).  That's just my opinion though.

The replies from other hams range from people agreeing with me, to people saying things like "maybe this hobby is't for you".  Though I did buy a KX3, I did so because I do not plan to spend multiple thousands of dollars on multiple HF rigs, and wanted one I can use for home and field.  I am very much interested in kits and SDR platforms for the future.  I'm planning to get a YouKits multiband SSB kit to compare experiences with the KX3 in what I would call 'satisfactory real world use'.  While the KX3 is no doubt 'superior' in many ways to cheaper kits, I wonder how many of those differences really matter when I'm actually out in the field just enjoying nature and a little radio fun.

Like any hobby, there is expensive gear and the people who don't mind spending the coin.  I'm more of a bang-for-the-buck spender, myself.  I imagine I'm going to find that I will have as much fun using a YouKits (or similar) kit, as I will the KX3 for my casual application.  It is very subjective, but for me, radio is something I will bring along to the field to do in addition to other things, so I may not need the KX3's capability to enjoy myself.

Don't let the seeming cost of all this stuff get you down.  It doesn't have to be that way, but you will have to have some expectation of narrowing your capability some, maybe to a few bands.  I'm mostly interested in SSB right now (and plan to learn CW), so there are even fewer low-cost alternatives out there.  There are lots of QRP CW kits and small devices being built by various people.

I feel like SDR is a big deal, and it's really just starting to take off now.  I think in the future we will see the cost of getting into HF in general come down, because it will have to.  The number of people willing to spend $3000+ dollars for a transceiver is going to fall off quite a bit in the coming decade.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 11:30:02 AM by KK6GNP » Logged

73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
K7RNO
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2013, 02:00:09 PM »

The KX3 is overkill for the type of QRP operating I do (CW only, outside, antenna wire thrown in a tree).

That precisely describes me too. Except that I don't throw wires up a tree, I pull them up on an installed block.

To add a bit more color, I can also agree to the "simple taste" phrase. And because of that, I cannot afford to buy cheap. So what alternative would I have had? If I had been shown one, I'd have gladly saved some money.

I've only had it for a few months but so far cannot see where I made a mistake. Happy ham here.
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73,
aRNO
NAQCC #6870, SKCC #11131
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