Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. - -- Samuel Butler (1835-1902) British writer.
Many of you have noticed a change in the W5FQ repeater, it appears that the range is somewhat down from what we are used to. I would like to start a fund for some repairs that are needed. Also I will be doing some test in the next few weeks on it to see what will need to be addressed first. A report will be given and suggestions will be entertained for equipment that might need replacing.
Let's all try to be at the meeting Saturday to discuss the events ahead. Also we have the swap fest coming up that we need to plan. See you then.
How much performance do you really need?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
A reader recently e-mailed me: “Just a quick question – Are you still in the thinking stage about getting an Elecraft K3? Great rigs, aren’t they?
“What I would like you to think about, though, is how many contacts you log in one year’s time. If you log 100 per year (check your log) then your cost will be $50 per contact for that year. If you log 500, then your cost will be $10 per contact. If you keep that rig for three years, and log 500 contacts over that time, then you will have spent $10 per contact.
“Now, consider what that rig will be worth in three years. Will there be something come along that just blows the K3 away in terms of performance?”
I replied: “K3s are great radios. I’ve just purchased a used KX3, though, so I am not planning on getting a K3 in the near future. I have purchased a 50-W HobbyPCB amp to use with the KX3, so I'm not going full QRP.
“I make a lot of QSOs/year. My average over the last 13 years is more than three per day, and that doesn’t include contacts made with other callsigns, such as the club station, or on Field Day. I’m sure that my cost/QSO will be low enough to justify my investment. :)
“In addition, rigs seem to keep their value pretty well. I’d guess that you can sell a three-year-old K3 for at least 80% of what you paid for it. I think that one of the reasons that an Elecraft K3 is worth the investment is that Elecraft provides such good customer support, and that they are continually improving their radios. For example, they just came out with a new synthesizer board, with better RF specs, for the K3.
“I don’t see anyone coming out with a radio that blows the K3 away in terms of performance in the near future, although I might be wrong. FlexRadio has perhaps the best chance of doing that, but you’ll have to buy into the Flex user interface philosophy to take advantage of that. I think that Elecraft and Flex, plus the three Japanese manufacturers, will make incremental performance improvements over the coming years, leapfrogging one another as they bring out new models.
“One thing to think about is how much performance is overkill? Just like you can now buy a computer that has way more computer power than the average user will ever need, I think that most of these high-end radios offer way more performance than the average ham will ever need. It’s cool to look at the Sherwood Engineering receiver tests and see that your rig is in the top ten, but will the average ham actually notice the difference? My guess is probably not.
“Thanks for sparking my thought process on these issues.”
My guess is that most amateur radio operators don't think about what the rig will be worth in three years when buying an HF transceiver. Instead, they're looking at what the radios that are currently available cost, and when there's a big price difference between two models that appeal to them, they're trying to figure out if the higher price is warranted. In many cases, the lower-priced model wins out. It's not because the more expensive radio isn't better, but it's not that much better.
It all goes back to how much performance you actually need. Yes, you can probably do more with a $10,000 radio than you can with a $1,500 radio, but is it really worth the added expense? In other words, are you going to have more fun with a $10,000 radio than you are with a $1,500 radio?
Let me know what you think. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When he's not agonizing over what radio to buy, Dan operates CW on 30m and blogs about amateur radio at www. kb6nu. com. He's the author of the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides and the CW Geek's Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code.