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Author Topic: The Sine Qua Non of the coming Kenwood TS-990  (Read 2253 times)

Posts: 99


« on: December 04, 2012, 11:49:51 AM »

 I found myself wondering what does "affordable" mean with respect to buying a Ham rig. Specifically the 990. We all agree that the rig will cost north of $5000. Some of us think it's above $8K. No matter. The point is it's not a low end radio. Indeed, I've always wondered who buys these sub $1500 HF rigs. I don't even consider them to be full on base stations (but then that's another topic).

So just what does "affordable" mean. Some hams have lamented they won't be able to "afford" the radio at $5K plus. To me the issue is more complex than pricing. And all Hams enjoy reconfiguring their station in their head. It's a favorite past time many hams pursue.....endlessly! Laughs. "Let's see now, if I selll the FT-2000 and get rid of the Icom R-75 and those 2 analog HT's (not worth much) and sell the club my al " We've all been there and will be again. Probably soon.

But financial cost is only one variable. Just why does one need a $5K plus radio to enjoy Ham radio? We all know the answer is, you dont "Need" it. Though I suppose a case could be made for contestors/DXers and serious SWLs who seek every possible technical edge. But for most, a TS-830 would do just fine. (And by the way, I think the 990 will be an excellent SWL radio. Albeit pricey)

How "active" are you? What level of operational sophistication does the operator have? Is built in PSK and visual tuning an operational necessity? Is that retro/visual dial a plus? It may not be, but once you moved from a Rotary dial phone to a Button push, it's hard to imagine going back. To me that's the secret sauce of the 990. The sine qua non  if you will These new integrated features will have a profound effect on operational expectations of Hams who use the rig. Within seconds of sitting down and "firing up" the 990 the visual displays will tell the OP, how active a band is at present, most recent activity ( Waterfall) , the Rig's operational status and filter widths as well as a rapid scan and demod of digital modes. All this acting as an indpendent IP addressable device! Once a Ham has "experienced" the 990's operational environment it will become essential (if not addictive!). There will be no going back to a lesser rig.

Now you say, well you can get much of that now anyway for much less than the 990 will cost. And yes you can. Still....the integration, the ergonomics and "fun" factor just don't compare! Apple users often say, "when you sit down at a Mac there is a "fun factor" that is not present on the PC" I think the 990 will be "Mac" like in that respect.

So to me this "hidden treasure" of the 990 will be it's biggest attraction. No single feature set or spec will prevail over all others. Kenwood didn't just build a radio, they've built an RF "experience" that gives the operator many ways to engage the HF spectrum. And it looks like it's going to be a blast! Now if only I can "afford" it.............

« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 12:01:52 PM by WA4D » Logged

Posts: 839

« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 02:38:18 AM »

What we need is more measurable improvement in  the transmitter cleanliness department.
We also need improvements in noise blanking technology.
A radio that costs over 5000 dollars that does not have a calibrated S-meter is a piece of junk.

New technologies like DDC/DUC should be the standard for the future, not a   down conversion radio dressed up in bells and whistles.

Two technologies that would help hams would be adaptive pre-distortion for the PA and  DSP based beam steering. You cant do these things on a old   dinosaur down conversion platform.
Another technology that should be standard on any ham radio  over 4000 dollars is a VNA. Again  you cant do this on  your grandfathers era  technology that is a pig with lipstick on it today.

When the Kenwood radio is finally released, you will  have an expensive piece of equipment that is not much better than a IC718, because the laws of physics  will guarantee  that  no possible improvement is possible unless
the whole platform that Kenwood uses is changed. What are you really expecting that is going to be  better from Kewnood? Expecting better receiver numbers that cant be used? This is a dead end road because of all the splatter  on the ham bands.

Even if Kenwood does deliver miracle receiver performance I can bet you a thousand dollars that its transmitter will have poor TX IMD and ALC design faults. The TS990S transmitter will be the same transmitter design as that of the TS-590S with all its flaws. It will just be a 200 watt version of a lousy analog transmitter with a poorly design ALC loop that should not be in any modern transmitter design.

If you looking for a Ferrari radio, look at the Hilberling or  Rohde and  Schwarz transceivers. Hams are really being taken for a ride with these useless expensive toys that off no real advantages or improvements. The only plaudit is that the radio is new and that the ignorant will praise it as the best thing since sliced bread! Yup this new Kenwood will be hearing Aliens through the splatter that no radio in the freeworld will have a chance of hearing.  Its  a Kenwood it must be good, eh? Good luck I am glad its not my money!

Posts: 99


« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 01:49:25 PM »

Amusing response  Zenki..... but your view is irrelevant. And that of an engineer.  Hams are appliance operators and few even know what a calibrated S meter is.

One of  the great myths  about Ham radio is that it is a "technical" hobby.  Though I concede a few engage in technical pursuits. Most just engage in meaningless blather on the air. And for  that the Kenwood/Icom/Yaesu appliances work just fine. Thankfully the big 3 don't design radios for Ham technicians. They "Design" radios on the basis of what  the "marketing" people tell them.  I know that's painful to the many pseudo engineers in the hobby!

Lastly the $5 to $10K radio is not expensive . Despite your dismissal, I dare say the overwhelming majorityof Hams would be more than satisfied with any of the +$5K radios now available.   No one cares about the Hiberling or R&S.  These are hams. Not technicians.

I did get a kick our of your reference to the $18,000 Hiberling. A radio that's been trying to get off the ground for  a  decade.

Cheers from LA

Posts: 763

« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 05:15:48 PM »

Even if Kenwood does deliver miracle receiver performance I can bet you a thousand dollars that its transmitter will have poor TX IMD

The IMD is due to using 12V finals both to allow a TRX to be used mobile and cost cutting, neither of which will be the case with the TS990. As it is mains powered with no 12V DC socket I doubt very much they will use 12V finals.

Expecting better receiver numbers that cant be used? This is a dead end road because of all the splatter  on the ham bands.
Maybe you should learn how to use your radio.

Posts: 4100

« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 08:45:35 PM »

Measurements I've made (and published) over ten years show that at least in a quiet rural UK location, with reasonably good antennas, an instantaneous dynamic range on 7 MHz (the most demanding band) of over 95 to 100 dB is unnecessary.

What real use is an accurately calibrated S meter? For that matter, why a high class frequncy standard? Does it MATTER if you are on 14205 or 14205.1 if that's where you get the DX?

Posts: 543

« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 02:40:07 AM »

"For that matter, why a high class frequncy standard? Does it MATTER if you are on 14205 or 14205.1 if that's where you get the DX?"

It matters if you're running WSPR mode or some of the other digital modes. In many cases, if the TX drifts more than 4-5 Hz during a 2 minute WSPR transmission, it becomes undecodable on the RX end.

Posts: 854

« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 12:19:11 PM »

The "essential" ingredient in ham radio - hmm?
A new TS990, or perhaps a new challenge in operating.

Although the "Fun R.F. experience" stated sounds like marketing 101, "sell the sizzle, not the steak", it is still verbal vaporware.
I was once talking to a lady who had just bought a new Rolls Royce, and she was lamenting how after two weeks, it was just another car.
The thrill had worn off, and she was now in search of other thrills - this is the trap of using material objects to satiate the need for novelty.

As to whether having a bag full of bells and whistles, shiny techno beads, and all day suckers is going to make one happy - only you can judge.
But remember, hams are not a homogenous group of factory produced identical humans.
The vast majority will be interested in similar things - the so called appliance operators to which you allude.
This is a law of nature, in the same way that most people will cluster around an IQ of 100, because it is defined as the average of a selected group.

But the average is not where innovation and progress is made - and never has been.
The Henry Ford's, Edison's, Tesla's, Bell and so on, were all weird birds, who by nature thought outside of the "normal" demographic.
The "Engineer" type of hams you disparagingly refer to, also would fit into this category, and even the "pseudo engineers".
People who are not happy been fed, napkin tucked neatly into their collar, with marketing gruel, and being told they are eating ambrosia.

Average people are of course where the major manufacturers target their products - this is the so called mass market.
The same is true of television programming, and we can see where that has taken us.
It is your money, if you choose to blow it in Vegas, or buy a TS990, that is your decision alone, and always should be.
Or if you choose to have a "fun experience" with a tablet PC which is locked down, full of proprietary protocols, and binds the user with hardware constraints, that is also your choice.

Of course some of us, only see a transceiver as a source of radio frequency energy to use in our experiments.
There are not a lot of us, but we are having fun with our little inexpensive transceivers, and simple but effective antenna's.
In fact you may even work some of us and not realize you are contacting a station which cost peanuts to build.
That is the true democracy of ham radio.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 12:26:15 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged

Posts: 763

« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 08:15:59 AM »

My take of the TS990 is it is effectively a SDR with knobs and buttons. It will have the advantages of a SDR - panadapter, excellent brick wall filtering, the ability to sample a large bandwidth etc but you won't need a PC or get RSI from using the mouse to alter the RF gain.  Grin
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