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Author Topic: Hatred for high end radios  (Read 4148 times)
N3OX
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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2008, 07:34:19 AM »

"Yes, but don't bash the Mercedes saying it is a waste of money, that it shouldn't be built, etc. and hate those who have one.
"

Neither example you've posted suggests that these people actually are full of **hatred** for the owners of expensive radios.  

As far as "waste of money", you'd have to take a good hard look at that.  It might actually be factual in a cost-benefit sense.

To prove they weren't a waste of money in an objective sense, you could do  a long term and very complicated study of nearly identical M/M contest stations to get a clear picture of what the level of score enhancement is if you bought six IC-7800's instead of, say, six $2500.  radios.  

Without having some numbers to back up the real on-air benefit of the radio's specifications, the case for whether or not these rigs are a waste of money is equally emotional and subjective as that of the "no radio should cost $10,000" crowd.

Yeah, the specs are demonstrably better in the lab, but what's the probability that you lose a particular QSO if you're running a mid-grade "good" radio instead of one of these ultra-performance showpiece rigs?  I'd bet pretty small.  

I'm not saying that you shouldn't have an IC-7800 if it makes you feel good in the pileups or the contests, but I don't think you can correlate the cost of one of these high end rigs with the real performance enhancement.  The K3 really puts a monkeywrench in the works at least for CW contesting there.  The IC-7800 is 5dB more expensive than the loaded K3 and I doubt the 7800, on average, lets you work 5dB weaker stuff with the same antennas. ;-)

Just keep in mind that the argument on both sides is emotional.  Yeah, the assessment that these guys have never sat down at the helm of an IC-7800 may be correct, but the fact that you've done so and concluded that it's the best rig for the job is only partially rooted in fact.

If you compare two such disparate radios, you'll see a huge difference in favor of the better one.  But what if you sat down in front of an Orion II at 4dB less cost vs. the IC-7800.  Or the Hilberling at 3dB more cost.  It *should* take more than a few minutes, hours, or even days of playing with these rigs to decide which is best for you and it probably wouldn't correlate much with price.

I think some guys are probably a bit upset that the ham radio luxury market is sucking their buddies in.  There's a lot of opportunity for conspicuous consumption ... $10,000 HF rigs, $800 CW paddles.  If you buy all this stuff and then have a weak signal because you blew all your money on shiny stuff inside the shack, I can imagine a few old timers and working class guys with big signals getting quite exasperated at you as they try to dig your weak signal out of the noise.   They might come to think that these radios should never be built because they end up tricking new hams into blowing money on useless stuff.

Not everyone buys an IC-7800 because of the performance enhancement it provides.  In fact, I bet few people buy one for the *REAL* performance enhancement.  The *percieved* enhancement is likely to be a lot more than 4 or 6dB ;-)

An IC-7800 is light years ahead of an IC-718 in performance... but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to help you make any contacts.  It is practically guaranteed to hurt new hams, even retired lawyers, to buy a fancy rig like that, and I think that's where a lot of this sentiment comes from.  

You fault these guys for being negative and unimaginative and/or inexperienced about the benefits of these radios, but can you honestly an IC-7800 is worth the money if you A/B it against a *good* rig at less than half the price?

73,
Dan













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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
AB3CX
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2008, 09:43:44 AM »

Keep in mind the corporate marketing strategy. All the sellers are trying to increase profits and sell higher priced radios! By creating 3-4 rigs, with one at the high end, more people will feel obligated to move up to at least the "base" station level radio, which now is the 756 Pro 3, or the FT-2000 at about $2600 average sales price. The Icom 7800 and the Yaesu FT-9000 probably have very few owners, but they create alot of demand for the other rigs. If the top of the line was the 756 Pro3, alot of hams wouldn't feels so bad about using the next rig down in the features/price column. Another point is that the nice features of the top end rigs eventually end up incorporated into in the middle level rigs, once the chips are created - look at the FT-950/FT-2000 situation.  
Do all these hams go around hating Cadillac and Mercedes Benz drivers because they drive a Ford or Chevy? They all get to work...
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N9DG
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2008, 10:50:40 AM »

AA5JG: "… But don't bash someone else or their rig because their budget or operating style is different than yours."

And on the flip side don't automatically assume that because someone has no desire whatsoever for any of the $10K+ plus radios that they somehow harbor a "hatred" for those who buy them. Undoubtedly there are numerous people who can afford them who simply don't want them because they have done their own technical analysis of the cost benefit ratio of owning one. Dan, N3OX has made the case for that scenario really quite clear. And don't assume that just because a radio cost the most that it performs better/best in all measurable metrics, or even the ones that are the most important in rough band conditions. Or that their bells and whistle features are actually the best implementation of them, just do a close examination of the available bandscopes for example.
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N3OX
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2008, 03:23:54 PM »

AA5JG, You make some very good points.

"Other than the Icom 7800 and Yaesu FTDX9000, there are no other rigs that do true dual receive and operate on 6m."

How about a pair of K2's with Down East transverters?  Build 'em into one box with one amplifier ;-)

But seriously... you're right that there are some features in the high end rigs that really could put them far ahead of the competition, especially if you are looking for one radio that does it all.  I think Rob Sherwood was recently quoted as saying something about how the top rigs as far as RX specs are all so good that you should make your decision based on other features.  That makes sense.

"am sure that there are QSOs I could make on a 7800 that I can't on the FT100D-when the band is full of signals and the FT100D is generating enough noise and IMD products to cover up some weak stations that the 7800 would allow me to hear."

Absolutely.  There's actually probably a pretty big set of them, easy with a '7800, hard or impossible with a FT-100.  You take your comparison over to the 7800 vs. 756 PROIII, though and that  number of QSOs drops like a rock, I bet.

AB3CX points out:

"If the top of the line was the 756 Pro3, alot of hams wouldn't feels so bad about using the next rig down in the features/price column. Another point is that the nice features of the top end rigs eventually end up incorporated into in the middle level rigs, once the chips are created"

Good point ... the high end rigs are a testbed to let the engineers go wild without much regard to price point.  They provide a great marketing tool as well... but now that you say it, maybe you've cut to the core of it.

A lot of hams wouldn't feel so bad about using the next rig down...

Here's the Icom 7800 with these fantastic specifications.  It's the unattainable ideal for most hams, convincing them to scrimp and save for a Pro III

If the scrimping and saving is based on a real technical analysis... man, I really could use another 10dB IP3 or whatever... great.

But if the scrimping and saving and perception that one's rig isn't quite up to snuff is based on an *emotional* response (which it almost always has to be ... you can't generally and reliably measure the difference between an IC-756ProIII and an IC-7800 at home), we can expect the occasional reviewer, one way or the other, to fly off the handle about the existence of these radios.  The whole decision process is, at its core, somewhat emotional.  The marketing teams will make sure of that.  

I personally don't like being marketed to.  It upsets me if you try to get me to spend my money on stuff I don't need.  I probably won't rant about how a radio shouldn't be made, but I do worry a bit about the overall relationship of people and the products they buy.  

Heck, if conspicuous consumerism weren't rampant, the high end rigs wouldn't even cost so much.

The Hilberling PT-8000 is a $22,000 radio.  Several years ago it would have been a $17,000 radio, maybe in 2000 it would have been a $14,000 radio.

Why?  Dollar is slipping against the Euro*...

Why?  Junk mortgages tanking our economy...

Why?  People were convinced to buy houses they couldn't even DREAM of paying for...  or, heck, took out a home equity loan and a second mortgage to buy their luxury car... and since they had some extra cash from the loan, they brought it full circle and bought a PT-8000 ;-)

- - - - - - -

AA5JG, I agree with you that if someone actually has the money and it would make them feel good to top off their dream station with an IC-7800, heck, go for it. You can't take it with you.  

And I can understand that you might find it a little curious that someone would rant about how a radio never should have been made, given that there are some people who have a luxurious retirement ahead of them or whatever...

But we're also living in a country that is undergoing a fair amount of economic trouble because we rely on massive spending beyond our means to keep the economy going in the first place.  So, I understand where these ranters are coming from, their attitude of:  "It's a damn hobby, get some perspective and don't buy a radio that you'll never use"  It makes sense to me as a microcosm of my concerns about our society's relationship to material goods.  I seem to be a little calmer and a lot more verbose in this particular rant right here... ;-)

I love this hobby and I will set aside some money for fairly high end radio gear in the future, but I'll also take the ranters in stride, because I think they are coming from a place that we should all at least consider, just because it's so easy for other factors to erode the difference between a $10,000 radio and a $3000 radio to almost nothing.

So to prospective buyers of radio gear I'd say this:

If you've got the money to spend and it feels good, go ahead and have your IC-7800 cake and frost it with your Begali key and high end audio gear and your Alpha amp.  You'll *feel* strong in the pileups, you'll *feel* like a contest winner.

But if you *don't* have the money, put those things out of your head entirely.  You won't be any weaker in the pileups or any deafer for it.  Don't save for a high end radio when you could be out winning contests and getting DXCC honor roll with a 2nd or 3rd tier setup!

That's my rant.

73,
Dan







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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N9DG
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Posts: 315




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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2008, 05:46:06 PM »

AA5JG: “Other than the Icom 7800 and Yaesu FTDX9000, there are no other rigs that do true dual receive and operate on 6m. The Ten Tec Orion, which is a fine HF rig, doesn't do 6m. The Elecraft K3 may join this group, but the second receiver option isn't available yet. If those features are important to you, your choices are pretty much limited. And there are hams who need those options at a high performing level.”

And like the K3 the Flex-5000's will soon have a second hardware RX module that will allow complete band independence of the two hardware receivers. So there are other less expensive choices for true dual RX and 6M than the $10K+ radios. And BTW the Flex-5000's can support full duplex operation because the RX and TX signal paths internally are completely independent. And it gets even better, because unlike the other radio choices out there, each of those hardware receive modules can accommodate as many “software receivers” within their 192 kHz sampling passbands as you might want and can be exposed efficiently in the user interface (work to do this is already underway). And also be aware that all of those software receivers will be essentially identical in performance. So if you want to listen to 4 or 5 signals per hardware RX module you will be able to do so. Sounds pretty neat to me, and each of those extra software receivers will come at very little additional cost.

And I guess I just don't understand the need or desire to have everything in one box. Remove that requirement from your thinking and it becomes obvious that you can get more capability and flexibility for less $'s by spreading those $'s across more boxes. The only thing you would loose is not having just a single object to grab and go, but then that's not something you'd do with any of the $10K+ radios anyhow.
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N2UGB
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« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2008, 10:31:31 AM »

Whatever floats your boat. If you have the big bucks to spend on the hobby, fine. Just as long as you are not depriving your family of some of the extras they may deserve while you are being a big spender on yourself.

You might want to bury some of that cash in the back 40 for future use...banks are in 1930's trouble.

The West Europeans, these days, are in the money and coming over here, with empty suitcases, on shopping sprees and returning, with full suitcases, of "stuff", which includes ham gear.

I'll be happy with my second-hand QRP gear. I still have the rent to pay at the end of the month and my health insurance costs $265 a month...for myself. And I'm a retiree on medicare, at that.

Don't worry, be happy!

73
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N3QE
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2008, 11:43:03 AM »

There's a certain simplicity and directness about the very lowest-end radios. Some love the HW-8 and it's direct conversion receiver. I personally love the HW-16 and the way the QSK works so smoothly that I swear I can hear the band with my key down. (Lacking features like, say, a T/R relay and AGC help with this!)

Those particular radios and their receivers work like crap in even a moderately-crowded RF environment, though. But even the fanciest radio can work like crap if you don't know how to use it.
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