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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

I Want a New Radio

Duane Grotophorst (N9DG) on January 7, 2002
View comments about this article!

Its time for new technology.

Do I want?

  1. A DC to daylight radio in one small box? Nope.
  2. A big 50lb behemoth with gazillion knobs, buttons, and switches? Nope.
  3. A cute little paper back novel sized box that does DC to UHF? Nope.
  4. A traditionally designed radio with a DSP chip stuffed inside? Nope.
  5. A cutesy multicolor screen or a simulated analog S meter? Nope.
  6. A bunch of button driven, multi-level menus to wade through to change settings? Nope.
  7. A fancy sculptured front panel bezel with shapely buttons? Nope

What do I want?

I want a simple box, in fact a whole series of boxes, a series of single function boxes that I can mix, match and combine in order to build the "radio" I want use for any given need. A series of boxes that are all each individually connected to my 100Mb Ethernet switch along with my trusty dual display monitor PC. Why not serial (or USB) port connections? Too slow (USB - limited distance). Below are some key points (that I can think of for now) to include in the various modules.

For the RX module:

  1. Minimal number of conversion stage IF scheme (get into the digital realm with as few analog mixer stages as possible).
  2. High performance DSP A/D & D/A.
  3. Ability to stream raw data from the A/D to the host PC.
  4. Capability to do either all, some, or none of the required DSP work and D/A audio generation in the RX module itself.
  5. A separate optional sub module that provides for spectrum sweep functions.
  6. Available in SHF/VHF/UHF configurations.
  7. All the other good receiver traits weve come to expect.

For the TX Module:

  1. Obviously DSP signal generation.
  2. Ability to stream data to/from the A/D & D/A to the host PC (high fidelity TX audio processing on the host PC anyone?).
  3. Available in several different power levels QRP (5W?), 100W, 500W, 1.5KW (separate power modules would be nixed by FCC regs, bummer).
  4. Good sized heat sink, no fans (so ok fans are realistically needed for the higher powers).
  5. Available in an all HF band configuration, or in mono band configuration for any of the HF bands.
  6. Available for VHF/UHF/SHF in multi or mono band configurations, similar power choices like the HF modules.
  7. WX proof, tower mountable versions, this especially useful for the VHF/UHF/SHF bands.
  8. All the other good transmitter traits weve come to expect.

For the antenna tuner module:

  1. Size matched versions for the above TX modules.
  2. Versions for use indoors and versions for outdoor/tower mounting.
  3. Built in intelligence to communicate the L/C values back to the host PC, so it can remember the settings for the next time you use a particular frequency/antenna combination.

Software considerations:

  1. Resist at all cost the temptation to simply draw a picture of a traditional radio with its "virtual" buttons and knobs on a computer screen.
  2. Avoid the term "virtual" when describing the user interface, its bogus, shows old traditional "knobs and buttons" radio design paradigm thinking.
  3. I like the idea of a nice big, sufficiently granular spectrum sweep/waterfall type display that you would use for all frequency tuning with simple mouse clicks on the spikes/streaks (you PSK31 folks should immediately get the general idea), or mouse dragging across the sweep display.
  4. I would also like a bare essentials only user interface for more casual operating like rag chewing.
  5. Built logging features of course.
  6. Native digital mode support, remember that you can stream the digital data to and from the host PC after all, just think no silly sound card/radio interface boxes.
  7. Be creative I surely cant think of all of the possibilities.
  8. Oh, ok, for those absolutely must have a "real" panel it could made as an accessory too (I do agree with the need for knobs and buttons in a mobile environment).

Why the single function box modularity? In a word, versatility. For example an SWL who only wants to receive SW broadcasts would only need an RX module, then perhaps add second for when want expand their capability. Or a ham who only wants to work HF with a 100W would have a RX and TX module, but wait they get the DX bug, hmm a second spectrum sweep capable RX should would be nice, ok just add another RX module. A large multi multi contest station would assemble a system made up of 2 RXs and perhaps a 1.5KW mono band TX for each band.

How expensive would this approach be? I dont believe as much as you might first think. In reality the RF pieces and parts would be essentially the same as what is already being used to build traditional radios. Powerful DSP and A/D D/A chips are quite inexpensive and continue to drop in price and increase in capability (thank you mass consumer market). Ethernet components are now very inexpensive, marginally more costly than RS232, but SO much more capable. Have you priced 100Mb switches at your favorite local computer retailer lately? Also Look at some of the existing products that already embody at least some of the basic concepts described above. Many of these have been on the market for several years now.

Is all of this without problems? Of course not, there will be engineering challenges, keeping all of the digital circuit noise out of the analog side of things. This perhaps being one of the biggest, however I do believe it is manageable. There will also be much work to be done with the software development, but looking at what people have done in just the last few years for the numerous "sound card" modes I believe it is also doable for project of the scale described above.

So is there anyone else other than me who wants a NEW radio?

Member Comments:
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I Want a New Radio  
by W7BAS on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Very well written article. I'll take two of them!
I feel a little torn though, there is something about
the buttons and knobs. The possibilities of component based systems are endless, and would only further the technical aspect of our hobby. I guess like everything else in life, it would end up a personal preference:)

73's, and more of you get on 6m!

Bruce W7BAS
I Want a New Radio  
by KG4BOD on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
You know, a lot of people DO want little boxes with HF to UHF coverage, and nifty DSP chips inside. Times change, customer demand changes, and apparently the manufacturers have responded. Just look at Kenwood's "2000" model, or ICOM'S 706 series, or Yeasu's 100d/817 models. Work local folks, or around the world on your choice of HF or by satellite. Thanks to modern surface mount technology our toys are smaller, lighter, and work better. And yes, there are plenty of people who don't want to take up a lot of space for boat anchors. For the folks who want the big, heavy stuff, enjoy it! But this is 2002, and thanks to a lot of smart people who engineer todays radios, we can have fun with the hobby without taking up a whole desktop to do it. Another perk is that it's all getting cheaper too, so more folks can enjoy the many modes of the hobby.
I Want a New Radio  
by LA1SJA on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I would agree; but with some additional wishes.
I would like to have the full size front panel of either the FT1000 or the IC756ProII in the shack with a single fibre connection from some indoor Ethernet unit to the rest of the radio (or your modular one)that should sit at the far end of my garden.
The in-house front panel should have an Ethernet plug so that you could connect it to either wired or wireless LANs and move it around at will.
Real knobs and real switches both at home and wherever you can find a soutable network connection.
(Exact CW control and tolerable audio quality over Ethernet can be achieved on the LAN, but both could be a problem on some remote connections.)
I have just networked my home office and house at 100MB using CAT5 cabling. (Wireless LAN is still too slow for the specific local applications.)
Need to rearrange my shack considerably to avoid coexsistence problems with RF TX. This applies both to the LAN switches/cabling and to the DSL modem and router. Net result is that the radio is used less than before.
Computers screens and keyboards tend to converge on your favourite office table, and thats where the radio control panel should be as well. Would be great to get the rest of those radio boxes out.
The network is there to stay so the only long term solution is to move the RF souces out.
The fibre connection to the outdoor unit would solve a lot of RF problems.
The intermediate solution is to listen in-house on a high quality tranceiver and transmit with a remoted IC706.
Your modularity idea might also accomodate the wishes of the users that still belive in good old x-tal filters by providing a traditional analog RX module for CW alongside the DSP for the digital modes.
(More expensive, but if you use a good, volume production A/D converter it would be great.)
All these wishes can definately be met with off the shelf low cost digital components already in volume production for other applications.
Lets hope that such ideas are taken up by the major amateur radio suppliers *and* combined with todays high-end RF front-end designs.
I Want a New Radio  
by K0WA on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!

I really love the concept, but I do like buttons, knobs, and a lot of do-dads and dilly-wigs

But, I think that software radio is going to be the future. Loading in "skins" to make the radio perform to a specific task...CW, RTTY, PSK31, SSB, AM, Contests, just about anything.

We need to "think-out-of-the-box" in ham radio to make the next leap in radio technology.

Digital voice? What ever...but we still need those guys that like to see tubes glow in the dark. That is a lot of fun too.

73 - Lee - K0WA
I Want a New Radio  
by KD5PDA on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I am a fairly new ham, and I want those big radio's with the knobs you don't even need, and it weighs over 200 lbs. But what will I do with the temp,dew pt, ect. Or the alarm on the panel, or the compass. I think all these crazy stuff on radios now day's is dumb, I will never use all of it.
I Want a New Radio  
by W0FM on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
A wonderfully thought-provoking article, Duane. I have fantacized about many of those same things but was never talented enough, or committed enough, to write them down.

The chilly realization, however, is that we are now talking about utilizing circuits and concepts that are already being mass produced for other (consumer) markets. Remember when hams introduced the technology to the consumer? If we allow ourselves to resort to "borrowing" technology and loose our zest for "developing" technology, we're sunk! I hope more hams, like you, are thinking "what if".

Thanks for the insight. Your article really underscores our hobby's need for a constant stream of energetic, inquisitive and innovative young people. Talk up the hobby!

Terry, WFM
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by WB2WIK on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I want all that stuff in a package that looks like a 75A4 and smells like the baking in of new vacuum tubes. But it should have a PC card port so I can keep it current, and 1 Tb of RAM so I'd never have to adjust could just remember everything I've done with it, from the first second of use, and just do all that again.

RE: I Want a New Radio  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I want a Kenwood TS-970SDX or the 'new model' to replace the older 50lb TS-950SDX. The new 2000 series does not 'do it' for me. The new 'box' can weigh less, but not too much smaller please. The only other problem is the price. $1800 would be well received.
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by ZL2LD on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The modular approach could end up being very expensive, and therefore not be commercially viable.

But I do like the idea of a front panel which I can remove and connect via ethernet to the main unit. That way I can control the radio (turn the knobs etc - far nicer than a PC screen simulation) from anywhere in my house - even in an armchair by the fire in winter - while the main unit and linear can be in my shack.

The remote panel could be used anywhere in the world via the internet (if the connection was fast enough)
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by LA1SJA on January 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
If and when such radios where to become available they might rock a few legal boats and influence some internal hobby regulations.

National PTTs might come under renewed pressure to relax rules on remotely operated stations.
Think of having your low band vertical raised at your cottage shorefront just for the winter when no one complains out there and then operate from your city home.

Contest rules might need to add a set of new contest classes; "Remote stations". Single, multi, one local-one remote, multi with operators at differrent places etc.
Basic points would be scored as before based on where in the world your physical tranceiver would be situated. Extra points might be added or handicaps introduced based on where in the world you where sitting by the fire or relaxing on the beach with your front panel.

With how many extra dollars would you support a DX-expedition to be allowed two hours of experience with a "remote pile-up"?
(I should stop here. Taking this any further would change the topic.)
I Want a New Radio  
by N0YVW on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Amen! I've envisioned almost exactly this, but haven't quite known how to express it myself.

Sign me up for one of the first.
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by ZL2LD on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I've wanted this for a long time. When I first saw the specs on the Kenwood TS2000 I thought it might have been able to do this by adding a PC at each end (for the TCP/IP network stuff) since they sell a unit without the front panel.

However you can only plug in a silly little mobile front panel on that version. And even with the mobile panel you have to take send and receive audio separately from the rig. The audio needs to be converted to digital and travel over the same link as the control data. One day!

73 Peter ZL2LD

I Want a New Radio  
by KC0JBJ on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!

Field of (Day)Dreams?

Doubtful you will get anyone from The Big Three (or Four, but who's counting?) amateur radio manufacturers to follow up on your ideas, but there are some folks down in Tennessee.....

Could be some nice niche marketing there, which the big guys don't really do that well. For them it not only has to "Play in Peoria", but also in Liverpool, Nagasaki, Guadalajara, Ho Chi Minh City, Kabul, Bangkok, Munich, Sao Paulo, Milan, Capetown, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, Murmansk, etc., etc.

Or, start your own company. You may not become a Bill Gates, but you just might get extremely comfortable, self-actualized, and in-demand as a speaker at Dayton!

Good Luck!

I Want a New Radio  
by KC0JBJ on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!

Field of (Day)Dreams?

Doubtful you will get anyone from The Big Three (or Four, but who's counting?) amateur radio manufacturers to follow up on your ideas, but there are some folks down in Tennessee.....

Could be some nice niche marketing there, which the big guys don't really do that well. For them it not only has to "Play in Peoria", but also in Liverpool, Nagasaki, Guadalajara, Ho Chi Minh City, Kabul, Bangkok, Munich, Sao Paulo, Milan, Capetown, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, Murmansk, etc., etc.

Or, start your own company. You may not become a Bill Gates, but you just might get extremely comfortable, self-actualized, and in-demand as a speaker at Dayton!

Good Luck!

RE: I Want a New Radio  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
A few years ago, I was talking with the Kenwood people in CA. I mentioned that what I really wanted was a transmitter, a receiver designed for 10-30 meters, and a receiver for 40-160 where band noise was the limiting factor.

They chuckled, and told me nobody else wanted that radio set up.

Now what I want is a remote receiver for 40-160.
You're Getting a New Radio  
by KD5QLK on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I see your dream and raise you.
I want to wear a really nice pair of ubiquitous confortable hi-fi headphones.
I want to have a very high fidelity noise-cancelling microphone on a boom mount (or clipped if I like.)
I want gain and equalization for both.
I want to be able to use this to listen to my radios, my cell phone, mp3 player, whatever I want, variably mixed. So radios, mp3 players, and cell phones have to understand this.
Bluetooth, the just-starting wireless specification, can do this (including the Ham part, provided it can operate in a high-energy RF field. And cross-repeating to a base brings down the ham RF too.)
I want a screen, whether pda, laptop, maybe even eye-mounted, giving me all this cool computer-controlled interface stuff, coding/decoding CW, slowscan, spectrum analyzing, DSPing, APRSing, etc.
You're modularizing by system function. Good, keep going. Give every piece an adequate interface of it's own, or group into like types of components (i.e. audio producers, text producers, a multi-mode radio is at least both) but let them smart-work with each other.
Dont get me wrong, I LOVE the feel of a well-made tool. There's a reason for the big mobiles with real knobs still being popular. But I have a multi-meter that looks and acts just like my old one, that just happens to have a serial port. What if the remote head on the new Kenwood mobile could be removed outright and the radio operated by serial/usb/firewire - we may not be far from this.
Ubiquitous computing should include ubiquitous communication. I already walk around my home, multiple stereos piping the audio of my HT throughout the house. Sometimes the TV or my computers MP3 player is mixed in. If a CQ sounds interesting I'm 20 seconds away from answering, whether soldering or surfing. And Im considering getting a two-line cordless phone and setting up a "line" for my radio, using VOX.
The trick is to break the radio off of the user, whether mobile, portable, or getting a coke from the fridge, and make it another component in the overall system. But let each piece work just fine independantly, the cell phone still working like a cell phone, the mp3 player plays mp3s by itself just fine, but a pda-sized device ties it all together into MY system, and makes the radio just part of the communications sub-system of my Personal Area Network.
No, I dont want to walk around like the borg all day long, but when Im driving to my EmmComm station and happen upon a downed airplane, it might be nice to tie it all together - gps giving me (and network control) APRS, slowscan video for a quick scene report on one frequency while getting directions on another. This is doable NOW, but making it robust, comfortable, and as intuitive as possible is the challenge.
We already have tiny multi-mode and band trancievers the size of last decades handi-talkies. We already use computers to control radios, audio, video, text, etc. And someone WILL bring this stuff together, in some fashion. Look at Tivo - it doesnt make a whole lot of sense at first, but almost everyone that tries it "gets" it - video becomes a resource, and storage is assumed. Why not "Tivo" radio, with a visual interface of multiple channels (ala audio editing programs), the dsp detecting variation in signals and color-coding each station, letting me pause and go back for the call sign I almost caught, then speeding up without pitch change to catch up to the live "stream". How many net controls would like that?
Great Post. We need more of this. But dont be so quick to abandon traditional interface design. Dont fix what's not broken, just make something new with the same and newer parts.
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by W0FM on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, and Duane, one more thing......I'd like my modules in kit form with manuals ala Heathkit! Terry, WFM
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by K5AF on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
This is a great thread! I think it is time to stop thinking about hardline and start thinking about fiber optics.

I'd suggest that the radio of the future has a control head that is connected via fibre optics to a tower mounted module that can be completely independent and accessed from any of several locations. Completely independent means having rechargeable batteries at the tower base with solar and/or wind-generated charging, with a sophisticated power management system that maximizes battery life. While we're at it, forget the rotatable beams, have a series of wires of various lengths and orientations at different points on the tower that could be tuned in multiple combinations for maximum gain in a desired direction. The antenna tuner would also control the phasing and direction of the lobe.

I could see this antenna control becoming an integral part of the 360 degree transceiver display, with a wide-frequency-range Adcock array providing initial direction sensing for a selected unknown signal. If the signal has a known prefix, the optimum antenna combination would be immediately selected when the prefix was typed in.

Instead of the one dimensional spectrum display, all the signals within a selected bandpass would be sorted by azimuth and displayed on an azimuth ring display. When a particular signal was selected on the azimuth ring (with a mouse or trackball) the receiver would stop the bandpass sweep and tune to that frequency and the appropriate antenna combinations would be selected for transmit.

Upon completion of the QSO, a QSL request would prompt an email to the requesting station and print out a QSL, via internet.

Impossible? Not at all. Let's not stop dreaming!

Paul, K5AF
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by LA1SJA on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
To move this radio into the area of ubiquituos computing it could be an advantage to divide the discussion of connectivity into
- main radio and
- control unit connectivity.
I suggest to keep the 10/100 MB Ethernet interface on the main radio unit regardless of whether it is small as an FT-817 or mega-modular and large as a fridge, and whether it is in the next room or on Heard Island hooked up by sattelite.
Conceptually it is (just) an ordinary IP server with RF capability.
When you arrive at the remote site you just find the RJ-plug and connect. Either you have a fixed IP address, or some local router will provide with one for the session.
You should be in business in minutes.
Keep the TCP/IP settings and the applications mainstream. Short frames and nothing fancy at application level that might be filtered say in intermediate protocols like what happens today with DSL and the PPPoE protocol. It would have to "sneak through" any IP pipe from any country.

At the control panel side, this would present a uniform interface via any network to your local "home gateway" that would provide your local ubiquity over any short range system like Bluetooth, HomeRF, 802.11 or HiperLAN. It is still unclear which of these protocols that would win the mass market and we should leave it to the entertainment industry to take the cost of developing the first products.
The same line of thinking would hold for reaching the radio via an advanced PDA at the airport.

At the same time others (including me)could still keep the old-fashioned front panel by the fire, only now it is based on Ethernet.
I Want a New Radio  
by KB9YUR on January 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Why is it so hard to make one of the following:
1: An HT (6,2, 70cm) that offers SSB capabilities.
2: A small mobile (6,2,70cm) that also offers SSB capabilities.
Not everyone has hundreds to spend for an all band/all mode
radio like the Icom 706 (though its a great radio).
I Want a New Radio  
by N0JVT on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I Hope tentec Is listining :-)

Just think of it...expandability like a modern PC
You could even borrow some of the technolgy from the computer....Switching powersupply... a motherboard that ties all the modules togather....i hope someone is working on this

have a nice one all

Mike - N0JVT - EM17

I Want a New Radio  
by AB7RG on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!

I deal with computers on a daily basis. It is partly how I make a living. Personally I like (make that love), to keep them apart. All I need is a radio that locks up, says it has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down, then crashes it's HD...

Personally I like what we have now. Soundcard interfaces are my preference when I do use a computer program with one of my radios.

What I would like to see is for one or more of the manufacturers to bring back "hollow state" gear. Tubes and crystals, no solid state components (i.e. transistors) at all. I think that this would bring in tons of $$$'s due to sheer nostalgia. I would love to play with them, as I was born to late to get a chance to. Unless you count ones that are in a severe need of a restoration or considered collectors items...

73 Clinton AB7RG

RE: I Want a New Radio  
by KB1GYQ on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with AB7RG & KB9YUR...

Go read the reviews section of the website, and talk with another who works with computers (as I do)... Give me something that works out of the box 99% of the time, and a company that has good customer service and I'll be very happy. If amateur radio is to have any purpose in emergency communication, we MUST stay away from technology for technologies sake.

Give me a nice TUBE rig for the base. Those will work fine even after an EMP. And an inexpensive 6&2 FM & SSB
mobile & HT.

Anyone remember those sub-miniature tubes from the WW2 era.... those were great. The ones the military was putting into proximity detecting circuits could take a large amount of shock too.

RE: I Want a New Radio  
by LA1SJA on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Just a short comment on using the PC as a platform for the radio.
To operate with (almost) the same stability as an ordinary radio, the "radio mainframe" that accepts all the modules must have a real-time operating system much more stable than Windows and even Linux. It would have to be a dedicated one developed specifically for the radio hardware, - with the ability to bootstrap itself in cases of trouble, and it would have to be upgradeable remotely.
All the other functions like logging, QSL-ing etc. could be performed on ordinary PCs on the network just as today.
I Want a New Radio  
by N5WX on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Great Idea, only one flaw... when it becomes 2 yrs old and you want to add a module...OH so sorry, it has been discontinued. Now you have to buy everything new to fit the new module you need. Hmmmmm de N5WX
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by KU3S on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
An Omni-C Plus
I Want a New Radio  
by KC0KBL on January 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I couldn't pass this up without a vote for my number one request. How about a couple of banks especially for the VHF and UHF mobiles. Some of us travel and a set of frequencies from one town can be intermod magnets 80 miles away. And I don't consider 2 banks a big improvement. Low tech I know but I'll be one of the first to jump if they offer a dual bander with say 6 or 8 banks of selectable memories.
I Want a New Radio  
by K2WH on January 11, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The 756pro and pro2 meet alot of what you want in a radio. What I would really like to see ICOM do for upcoming versions of the PRO is a complete package of all current digital transmission modes built into the rig. That includes packet, PSk, Hell, SSTV, Throb, amtor, pactor etc. All utilizing the video display. A port for plugging in a keyboard! This can't be that hard to do. The pro already has RTTY receive capability although I don't see the purpose of that if you can't connect a keyboard to the rig for transmit. That would be my ultimate rig, no longer requiring a PC to operate all these digital modes.
I Want a New Radio  
by KD2E on January 11, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
For the masses, they already make what we want!
Simple, plug 'n play.
Seperate transmitter and receiver?
Not gonna happen anymore! This leaves too many openings for questions like "How do I get my Widget receiver to play with this other brand something?"
Computer controlled boxes??? Yes, someday. But not now!! Do you think Kenwood wants anything to do with Microsoft???
Besides, the TenTec computer rig and the Kachina already showed the lack of interest in computer-required rigs.
While I don't want one, the Kenwood TS2000 is the model rig for this day and age.
A mass produced, predictable, plastic box that is cost effective, and will be outdated (or broken) in less than 5 years.
Back to my C line!!
I Want a New Radio  
by K9FE on January 13, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
What I would like is a radio that is software upgradable, has a modular front end and finals section. That would allow you to tailor the receive and pick an output. Like the 500 watt final section you could get to replace the 100 watt. Like the 5watt qrp section and one heck of a recieve section to make the radio a true QRP rig when you wanted.

All this and maybe a 10/100/1000 BaseT connection that could address your new digital rotor. An auto Tuner with the range of an LDG would be a nice addition, but maybe without the quarters in the blender sound. Maybe a display that could be remoted along with the remote keyboard so you could run your log program. Most of the new super-radios have more than enough processor power already.

Is the dream over?

best wishes in the New Year
de K9FE Mike
I Want a New Radio  
by W1JQ on January 14, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I'm impressed with the number of folks who agreed--particularly about network connectivity.
Personally, I don't see why *any* electronic equipment is made without an Ethernet port.
If I could get an Ethernet module for my IC-746, I'd buy it in a minute.

I like the modularity concepts (a lot of VHF/UHF looks that way already, once you get past
the DC to Daylight stuff), but the fundamental concept here is networking
(and programmability). No more RS-232.

Mike, w1jq
I Want a New Radio  
by KD7OXQ on January 14, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I've been Hamming off and on for over twenty years since 1959, and what I really like about the hobby is the diversity of interests. I can't bash another Ham for being interested in a certain aspect of Ham Radio.

As for my opinion, give me the box with all the knobs and switches, let me control everything. Call me a control freak! In fact, I like to count the knobs and switches and divide them into the cost of the rig, and there you have the Dollar-Per-Knob (DPK) of that rig. I have two computers at home and use five on the job, and I don't want one in the shack. The closest to digital I want to get is to get on CW, or maybe fire up the old Vic-20 with Micropatch interface on RTTY (both vintage 1983).

Let's face it, if we want to go totally digital and computerized, why not just communicate via E-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, or the free Internet phone systems? Like BBC, we could just go off the air and go totally Internet. I feel that all the current high technology, including cell phones, are just benefiting the manufacturers and sellers. Does the average guy like me benefit? I don't have a cell phone, pager, or any other high-tech toys, and don't feel the need.

I use an Icom 745, vintage 1983, and it does me well. I have a nice collection of boatanchors, and like diddling with the knobs. I still use Windows 3.11, and refuse to get on the upgrade bandwagon just to make Bill Gates richer, when my home-made Pentium 166 with Windows 3.11 does it all for me, and faster than the multi-gigahertz computers I use at work.

Nope, each to his own, but for me, give me retro!

I Want a New Radio  
by K9IUA on January 15, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Modular -- yes, I like that idea. But not what you describe.

To me, keep the computer out of this. I get enough of that
at work, and besides I don't want to have the computer on
everytime I want to use my radio, nor do I want the radio to
become yet another internet-like appliance. I've been watching
with interest the efforts that Ten Tec have been involved in with
the Jupiter and Pegasus, or with the new designs for VHF
(the model 526) or the pending QRP HF rig, but that is not
what I want right now.

Instead I want a radio that I know I can use 20 years from now,
just like my current radios. I don't want a radio that I have to
load new firmware every month to overcome some bug, or one
that is so easily affected by RF in the shack. Make it simple,
with the bare minimum of controls on the front panel. Robust,
not plastic. Modular with the VFO/LO as one module with
interconnects, where down the road I can drop in the current
replacement. Or modular with a different finals pack so I can
pick the power levels I want (QRP or 100watts or big amp levels).
Modular where I can drop in a module to pick whether I want
simple IF crystal filtering or DSP IF filtering or whatever the
new technology may be in ten years times. In other words a
backplane with a frontpanel, where the modules build the
radio. Something that I as a ham could even build my own
replacement modules; just need the backplane or interconnects.

But most of, and I am repeating myself, I want a radio that I know
will still operate 20 years from now, just like most radios built
before the 1990s have been for today. I don't see that in any
of the radios being built today by the big manufacturers.

Kevin, K9IUA
I Want a New Radio  
by KG4PES on January 17, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I am imagining this very radio now. I see a single strand of CAT-5 cabling as my feedline, allowing my to operate and control via computer a vast array of mast mounted goodies. Just imagine the possibilities of the accesories for this:

1. Mast Mounted preamps, that are fed with CAT-5
2. Antenna rotors contolled over the network
3. Mast Mounted amps
4. You fill in the blanks.......

Oh the list goes on. But I love the idea, the network is the radio and the radio is the network.

Build it and I will buy it.
I Want a New Radio  
by K4KYV on February 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I have thought of the same idea. We used to homebrew rigs by purchasing or scrounging the components and building the radio, firing it up and working out the bugs, then going on the air. Today's stuff is getting too complex for that, and individual components are getting too small to see, let alone solder onto a surface mount board.

Many people "build" their own PC. You buy the cabinet, a hard drive, mother board, power supply, disc drives, etc. and connect them together, install the software, and after working out the bugs, start computing. The secret to computer building is standardisation of modules so that you can plug in a variety of different ones made by different manufacturers. Why couldn't ham equipment modules be available in standard form, just like for a PC? If you wanted to build a receiver, you would have your choice of RF amplifier board, mixer, local oscillator, if amplifier, filters, detector, audio. You could disign your own circuit and choose what frequency IF you wanted, and design your own conversion scheme, for example. By choosing the proper module, you would have a choice of analog VFO or DDS. Transmitter modules likewise would be available by a variety of manufacturers. You could decide if you wanted separate transmitter and receiver or transceiver.

This would return the art of homebrewing to amateur radio. Instead of buying and soldering together transformers, capacitors and resistors, you would be connecting together modules. They would be available from a variety of manufacturers, but would use standard plug-in connectors, just like PC components. In effect, you would build a piece of equipment by assembling the block diagram, just as in the old days you assembled the schematic at individual component level. Hams could actually construct their own state of the art equipment. Beginners could build from construction articles while more advanced builders could design their own circuits. For most hams today, you have two choices: sharpen your scrounging skills and build or collect and restore vintage equipment, or buy a transceiver and become another boring appliance operator.


I Want a New Radio  
by N8YV on March 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
WOW! "How I learned to stop worrying and love the PC" (With my respects to the late, great Stanley Kubrick!)

As a traditionalist when it comes to radio, I am as much put off by your preferences for serial ports, monitors and Ethernet switches, as you are for knobs, cabinets and physical mass!

Give me a REAL radio (not a PC), with REAL knobs (not cyber-simulated mouse-clicked ones), REAL touchy-feely features and enough physical presence to halt the most wandering of gazes!

Anything copping the name "radio" while connected to a CPU and a keyboard, just doesn't cut it!
RE: I Want a New Radio  
by WA2JJH on September 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I liked everyones hypothetical implimentations. We want the world,and we want it now!(doors)

My idea would have the best HF/VHF/UHF/SHF/EHF rigs in the shack. Of course power adjustable from 10mw to full FCC legal limit. The shack would of course be computer controlled and enhanced. The best DSP, keyer, transmitter audio processor and mic.

Then the kicker...all remote controlled by laptop with a combo WLAN and cell phone PCMIA card. Even better a wireless palm pilot. Full display of every knob, meter, and adjustment of course!

The other take is the modular approach. A FT-100D or an Icom IC-706IIG would be a start. Maybe the 100W power amp bricks coud be removable, for smaller size.
Add on SHF and EHF converters. An IR or WLAN wireless pocket size or garage door size remote controllers just for the nifty factor.

Any way great artical and thought provoking reader feed back.

73's and laughs MIKE WA2JJH
I Want a New Radio  
by VE7LGT on December 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Its good to see that there are people out there that want this type of radio but it would seem that there are to different worlds when it comes to electronics technology The oldschool companies IE: audio, video and communication companies and New scool IE: the computer manufactuers The cell phone companies etc . the old school is living in the world of last Thursday and the new school is lving in the world of next thursday and we the consumers are stuck here in the present Dreaming .
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