CQ Magazine, same old, same old

Remember CQ telling us that the combined March/April issue was going to get everything back on track?

Remember the promise the May edition would arrive before Hamvention? Mine didn’t, it arrived after the Hamvention.

Well, here it is June 16th. Still no June issue of CQ. In fact, last Friday, I received the July issue of QST.

You see magazines are supposed to arrive some time the month before the publication date on the magazine.

So if you are a ham vendor who advertises in CQ, see about getting your Christmas advertisement in the October issue so people can see it in November or December when the magazine may or may not come out; who knows for sure.

Also noticed on the May issue mailing label, it no longer shows my subscription expiration date is which is both interesting and concerning.

I hope they make it, I really do. But they have handled this ordeal so poorly that I just don’t think they are going to make it since they have alienated so many of their customers.

If they make it another five years, I will be surprised.

TenTec Advertising, or lack of any

I was surprised when I was paging through the July issue of QST, that there were no advertisements from TenTec!

Usually when someone stops advertising, that is not a good omen. I know they are moving their facility, but that is not until Fall so why stop advertising? A very curious situation indeed.

Within the past few years we saw them bring out a crippled QRP rig, drop their high-end transceiver, add a couple of new open source software based QRP radios, but have added no new kits in quite some time.

I hope this does not mean TenTec is having money issues and therefore cannot afford to advertise.

Radio Shack Earnings

Radio Shack reported earnings today. They were again negative and the loss was almost double what the analysts had expected. The stock now sells for almost $1.00 a share. Actually it is around $1.35 this morning in pre-market.

The CEO blames the loss on a slowing of electronics sales. Well duh.

Did anyone ever consider the possibility that Radio Shack does not have the products people want? I cannot buy products I need if you do not have them in the stores.

Radio Shack lost its way a long time ago and it is suffering a slow agonizing death. Again, I doubt they will be in business 5 years from now.

Important lesson here. When you abandon your customers, your customers will abandon you.

Thinking about buying Ten-Tec? Might want to wait until September!

Ten-Tec is moving their headquarters. As a result, they are saying that they are going to have a big sale in September. Here is the announcement from their website:

Dear Ten-Tec customers and friends,

Hamfest at Ten-Tec has been cancelled this year due to our plans to relocate in early fall.

After enjoying 46 years in our headquarters on Dolly Parton Parkway, we are actively seeking a new location in Sevierville that will offer more modern and energy-efficient facilities, a new showroom, and a much-needed upgrade in working environment for staff.

Our current facility and property are already under contract, and, as a result, they will not be available for our annual Hamfest open house and flea market. And, chances are, in September we’ll be neck-high in boxes and crates preparing for our move.

So, in lieu of our weekend Hamfest, we’re planning to celebrate the entire month of September with a moving sale, offering not-to-be-beat discounts and incomparable specials on Tentec.com.

Stay tuned for more details about the moving sale. And, in the meantime, come see what’s new at Ten-Tec at Booths 548-550 at Dayton Hamvention, May 16-18.

Jim Wharton, NO4A


So my advice if you are thinking of buying one of their radios at the Dayton Hamvention or sometime during the Summer, try and hold off until September and get a discount. Sounds like you’ll get a much better price if you can wait until September.

More reasons for DStar over DMR

I have been following Jerry Wanger’s comments on his work designing a DStar handheld to be introduced later this year. Jerry is president of Connect Systems and has already designed and selling a DMR radio at an affordable price. Now he wants to make DStar radios more affordable.

Jerry hopes to have a radio that can be upgraded to other digital methods so that one hand-held can work on a variety of digital methods including Codec2.

On the Yahoo discussion there were some comments he made about having to pay DVSI for using the codec as well as having to pay Motorola for license fees for Mototrbo (or related technologies) which is Motorola’s implementation of DMR. So apparently DMR is not always DMR and while Mototrbo is DMR, DMR is not always Mototrbo.

Don’t believe me? Take a look here: http://www.motorolasolutions.com/US-EN/Technology_Licensing/Standards-Based+Licensing/DMR+Essentials+Licensing+Program

There are no license fees for DStar other than for the DVSI codec.

So DStar is DStar. A completely open standard.

DMR is open, or maybe not if you have to pay Motorola license fees. But maybe license fees are only if you use Motorola’s implementation of DMR which means DMR is not DMR and can very from manufacturer to manufacturer depending on how someone may want to proprietarily enhance their “version” of DMR. What a freaking nightmare.

But people like Northwest Digital Radio, DutchStar, and now Connect Systems are all making or in the process of making DStar radios proving again that DStar is completely open.

You would expect this since DStar was designed by amateurs for amateurs specifically and only for the amateur marketplace.

DMR was designed by commercial interests for a commercial marketplace without consideration for amateurs. Hence why with DStar you register your call and you can use any DStar Gateway anywhere with any DStar capable radio that you programmed your call into. With DMR you register EACH radio.


A Hamvention Blessing

This was posted by Bill Cahill (AD8BC) on Facebook. Not sure if he wrote it (now verified that yes, Bill actually wrote this) or if Bill reposted something written by someone else. But this “blessing” pretty accurately sums up the Dayton Hamvention. For those of us who attend each year, each line should bring a smile to your face.

A Hamvention Blessing:

Bless the Hamvention, oh Lord we pray,
Heal my feet after walking three days.
Bless the HARA Exhibit Halls,
And the cobwebs that hold up its walls.
Protect me from the lead in its peeling paint,
The McCormick Place it surely ain't.
Bless the old radar detectors that Mendelson’s sells,
Oh my God, what is that smell?
Bless the custom hats in various hues,
And tubes of knockoff Krazy Glue.
Bless the guy with the antenna hat,
And the other guy in the Hat of the Cat.
Bless Gordo giving us exam study tips,
And we pray this year there is no Poopocalypse.
Bless our old friends with whom we chat,
And why are there no Yeasu hats?
Bless the scooters in the lot that roll,
And get caught in the big potholes.
Bless the barbecue sandwiches on which we dine,
Oh God - Remind me to get another PL-259.
Bless the forums about the F.C.Commission,
And Bob Bruninga telling us “it’s Packet, not Position.”
Bless the time I spent with my radio club,
And the beer I drank at the HARA Pub.
With memories of vacuum tubes aglow,
As I drive away down Needmore Road,
Oh Lord I can truly say,
Thank you for these three days in May.

TenTec's Website

TenTec’s website proudly proclaims “Ten-Tec equipment is made & manufactured in the USA!”

Isn’t that the same thing? Shouldn’t it say “Ten-Tec equipment is designed & manufactured in the USA!”

Second, what about the Chinese stuff they are selling now? Where was that manufactured?

Are DX Stations using paper QSLs to generate income?

I am still amazed that after a number of years of successful operation that more DX stations are not using LoTW. In spite of some complaints, it is easy to install and use. Many logging programs now support LoTW so you can easily and quickly upload QSOs from the logging program as the logging programs handle all the intermediary steps.

One example that I use the the logbook program within Ham Radio Deluxe. After I complete a contact, I upload the contact or during contests, I can submit groups of contacts.

It is easy and you only have to pay a nominal fee if and when you request an award like DXCC.

So I wonder if the real reason DX stations are not using it is because they like to get your paper QSL along with a few dollars. Then they can keep the money, and send a card back to you via the bureau. I hope this is not happening, but my fear is that’s why so many are still not using the ARRL LoTW.

Paper QSLs are nice, colorful and cool to receive, for awards LoTW is the least expensive, quick and easiest way to get QSL confirmations.

It’s the 21st Century people, time to change.

CQ Magazine - In a Death Spiral?

Today CQ has announced that the February edition will NOT come out in print at all. Everyone can get a free pdf copy of the February issue from the CQ Magazine website. NOW the March/April issue will be sent out in Mid-April.

This is the third delivery promise as the last two were not fulfilled.

I believe CQ Magazine will not exist in a year. I think the "production problems" are in fact a money issue. They don't have the money to print the magazine. Don't know anything for sure, just my belief and opinion.

The reality is that hams are losing faith. No one who knows about the delivery issues are going to subscribe. Advertisers are not going to pay for ads that people are not able to see. A digital ad does not have the same impact or retention as a print ad.

All this has gone on far too long and as a result, I think it puts them into a death spiral.

I hope it does not happen as I have about two years remaining on the subscription, but that's how I see it. Too bad, they were a great magazine and I enjoyed reading it.

That's my opinion, if they are still a going concern next April, then I will take it all back. We’ll see!

DXCC on 10 Meters

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Great St. Patrick’s Day present. When I got up this morning I checked LoTW and low and behold, I finally got the 100th electronic QSL to give me the needed magic 100 countries for DXCC on 10 Meters.

I immediately submitted the award application. LoTW make is so incredibly easy and fast and no messing around with sending paper QSL cards.

The next DXCC awards I will be working on are 15 Meters only (13 QSLs to go) followed by 20 Meters only and CW only.

That should keep me busy for awhile.

BTW, these awards are all worked with simple antennas (mostly vertical and a few with a tri-band trap dipole installed in the garage attic) and power at 100 watts or less. Nothing fancy is required, just a lot of patience.

Airlink Express - A Hidden Gem for Digital Modes

The other day I was having a QSO with a guy who said he was using Airlink Express for his digital mode work.

Airlink Express? Never heard of it, but I love trying out new software. So I did a search and found the site for the software. How did this little gem remain so elusive for so long?

The software can be found at http://www.airlinkexpress.org and is freeware, but contributions are solicited and appreciated.

The software is very easy to set-up and use. It supports PSK, MFSK and RTTY. It also has a built-in logbook and has some basic radio interface to grab frequency. Like most digital mode applications, you can create all sorts of macros to make it more efficient to use.

Airlink Express seems to be a very capable program and so far I have used it to make several contacts on PSK. I have to still try using it with the other modes but I am it will work equally well.

Give Airlink Express a try as I think many of you will like it.

Getting Back on the Air

Since we moved into the new house, I found little time to get my antennas back up.

I got a VHF/UHF antenna up in the garage attic back in December, but still did not have any HF antennas up. The weather has just been terrible out.....you know, the Al Gore Global Warming lie that gave us seemingly endless cold and snow.

So years ago I bought a three-band trap dipole at a hamfest in St. Charles, Missouri. After the move I just could not find it....until yesterday.

Well I got it put up in the attic today and it does a respectable job. Not great, but at least I am back on the air now on 10, 15 and 20 meters until the weather gets better in a few months and I can get the rest of the antennas up.

Getting there, slow but sure.

The Late Great Radio Shack Store

I once heard a motivational speaker say, “if you don’t like change, then you are really going to hate extinction.”

Never were truer words spoken. Change is necessary and inevitable. In fact, I like change and get nervous when there is no change as that means we are not moving forward.

So it will seems strange when I make my next comments. This is about the change that is supposed to be going on at our local Radio Shack stores.

When I was in school I worked at Radio Shack. Actually worked there for over five years. Still have my Tandy Corporation five-year pin somewhere around the house.

Back then I always felt that Radio Shack was very poorly run. Oh, it was successful, but they could have been so much more successful. They NEVER had enough stock of popular items. Thus forcing the stores to repackage the display unit for sale.

They did change with the times somewhat. When I was there in the 1970’s, they wanted to be the number one retailer of audio equipment. Then, in the 80’s and 90’s it was computers. Late 90’s and currently it seems that cell phones are the big push. So they do change with the times.

Radio Shack used to have repair centers. They wanted to be like Sears and service and repair all the goods they sold. I don’t think they do much of that now as I don’t think they have local or regional repair centers anymore. I guess people just throw away broken electronics now.

Once they had their own brands. The stereos and CB’s were “Realistic” and “Micronta” for test equipment and there were other house brands they sold. Now most in-house brands are simply labeled “Radio Shack” but they have very few in-house branded items now. What they do have that is privately labeled are accessories for the electronics made by others.

There sales have continued to drop. Last time I looked the price of a share of Radio Shack stock was under $2.50. Penny stock status so to speak. Clearly they are now in trouble.

So we all saw with the Super Bowl ads that they are now leaving the 80’s behind and bringing in the new. Frankly, I was confused by those ads. Because I think Radio Shack left the 80’s a long time ago. With it, they left their customer base.

My current company is transforming as it should. They call it “transformation without disruption” meaning they know they have to evolve, but not at the expense of losing our current customers. We need to become something new, and we are, but we will still market and support the products our customers still want today. Therefore we can grow to meet the new demands, but not abandon our current customers.

This is where Radio Shack went wrong. They left their current customers behind each time they made a transformation in the past. They are about to do it again. This time I believe they will not survive. In my opinion, they will be gone within five years, maybe a bit longer, but they will be gone soon.

The reason being they keep forgetting their old customers. Want an audio or entertainment system now; do you go to Radio Shack? Need a computer; do you go to Radio Shack? Need a radio or communication equipment, do you go to Radio Shack? How about a cell phone, do you still go to Radio Shack?

Parts for an electronic project? Accessories?

They still have some items but in general, once they abandoned a product vertical, they dropped their customers.

We all know in business that it takes a lot less money to keep a customer then to get a new customer. With each change Radio Shack makes, they have to spend a lot of money to acquire a new set of customers. This time I don’t think they have the financial ability to do it yet again.

Welcome to hospice Radio Shack.


Ordered a TenTec Rebel

Well I decided to order a TenTec Rebel to have something new and different to try. Seems some of the shortcomings of this radio are being addressed by hardware add-ons and modification to the radio programming by hams who have a lot more programming experience than me.

Let’s hope some third-parties out there will offer mods at the Dayton Hamvention this year.

The radio is sold out right now, so I’ll have to wait for TenTec to produce another batch. Hopefully I will have the radio in the next few weeks as the TenTec website says availability will be in early February.

Old Ham Radio Movie

All hams might enjoy watching this old 10 minute movie clip from 1939 that showcases ham radio.



Hams aren't spending enough on their hobby

Hams are obviously not spending enough money on their hobby.

In recent weeks this has become more evident. As a result, companies are going under. Some are cutting back on products or product introductions.

First, we recently saw CQ Magazine cut back on the number of paper magazines they publish. They even cut back on the electronic editions eliminating World Radio altogether. Now, one magazine remains in paper format - CQ Magazine. The December 2013 issue arrived for most hams around mid-January. Obviously they are having some financial issues.

Second, Tokyo Hy-Power announced it is in bankruptcy and not coming back after a re-org. They are done.

When we look back a little further we see other troubling signs.

Ten-Tec is no longer manufacturing a high-end HF transceiver. Kenwood has yet to introduce a digital radio either in competition to DStar, or an actual DStar radio.

Yaesu cut back on the annual hat give-away at Dayton replacing it with a cheap mousepad instead.

Many vendor booths at Dayton are empty. The flea-market is half of what it used to be.

Radio Shack no longer exhibits at Dayton like they did for years.

All this has happened at a time with the number of licensed hams continues to grow.

People we need to help keep these folks in business. Patronize their businesses or lose them.

Beware of Wouxun and other Chinese Radios

I just received this email from Ed Griffin at Import Communications concerning Wouxun Radios and his dealings with them over the years. I have no reason to doubt the truth in his email.

This makes me wonder why anyone would spend any more than $50 for one of the cheap handheld radios. I consider them throw-aways because if they break, they cannot be practically fixed, and you just throw them away.

Paying almost $300 for a Chinese transceiver is insane. If it breaks, there is no support. Don’t be stupid. Buy quality American, Japanese and European built equipment. Not the Chinese junk unless of course it is $50 or less.

Here is Ed’s email in its entirety:

I'm Saying Good Bye to Wouxun

Dear Customer,

About five years ago we pretty much put the name Wouxun on the US map as the first major importer of their radios, selling three hundred to five hundred per month. Wouxun.US, our web site, still averages over one thousand hits per day.

Wouxun-China has always been a pain in the rear to deal with but I have now had enough. When their flop of a dual band mobile came out, I made a simple announcement on my web site that I would not be selling it because it did not meet my expectations. Even though I didn't say it was the piece of junk it really was, Wouxun still took offense and decided they would no longer have dealings with me. For the past two years, I've continued to sell their radios, buying them directly from the factory under an assumed name.

I wired payment for five hundred radios on Oct 1st, 2013. These radios were supposed to be in stock and shipped right away (before the Hong Kong Electronics Show). After waiting until mid-December on this shipment, I gave up. I asked that the order be cancelled and a refund issued. I didn't know if I'd ever see that money, but they did send it back. Of course they did not pay the transfer fees, so I lost $115 in the process. I guess I'm still lucky considering.

From the beginning, Wouxun has offered no warranty support for defective radios. Although they were willing to repair any radio, they wanted me to bring them to China so they would not have to pay any kind of duty or return shipping. I actually did this with one batch but like so many things, they just don't get it. To my customers, I was replacing a defective radio with a brand new radio. When Wouxun made the repairs, I got a used radio in return. They could never understand that this was a problem to me. Perhaps I'm lucky that I'm only sitting on five hundred defective radios.

ALL Wouxun dual band radios have an internal defect that the factory refuses to address. They know there is a problem, they know how to fix it, but they will blame the problem on everything in the world except what it really is. Without warning, any of their dual band models can "lose memory". One day when the radio is turned on, it will revert to speaking Chinese and the display will show channel numbers instead of channel names. Often the programmed channels themselves will be gone. Reprogramming the radio may restore it for a short time but often it's cured for only one off/on cycle.

I've been told by experts that there is a chip in the radio that gets new data written to it each time the radio is turned off. They say a decent chip will make this cycle a million times before failure. I have many radios returned with this problem that have been in service for as little as two months. Wouxun is aware of the chip but they blame the problem on after-market programming software or anything else they can think of. This problem has existed for years. Before I knew exactly what caused the problem, I suggested they place this chip in a socket for easy repair. That's never happened. They won't spend an extra ten cents to end the problem.

Starting January 1st, I will no longer offer any kind of support or warranty on any Wouxun radio. I assume Wouxun will make repairs to items returned to the factory, but since I've had no contact with them in two years, don't take my word for it. Wouxun.US, aka Import Communications, will continue to sell Wouxun accessories as long as there is a demand. I will warranty these items out of my own pocket as I always have. But no radio support or warranty after January 1st.

All existing KG-UV6Dv2 radios in stock will be sold at a very reduced price to get them out of my way. The link below will direct you to the sale page.

For the past year, I've been working with Anytone to make a dual band HT that is more suited to the US market than most Chinese imports. This radio is now in production and I have a deal with Anytone to be the only US distributor. (bulk orders / dealer inquiries are welcome) This model is the AT-3318UV-A and has some features that everyone will welcome. The AT-3318UV-A is now on sale at an introductory price. Please check it out at the link below.

The AT-3318UV-A model will be followed by the AT-3318UV-C, a true dual band radio. It will receive two signals at the same time and it will even cross band repeat. This radio will sell in the price range of the KG-UV6D.

The X1M-Pro, an all band, CW & SSB QRP transceiver continues to evolve. It is developing a good following so take a look at it on my web site.

Getting something like twelve hundred hits per day, I plan to keep Wouxun.US active. (unless someone makes an offer I can't refuse) So Wouxun.US and ImportCommunications.com will continue to bring you the best products we can find. I will continue to try my best to offer good prices and service and look forward to keeping you as a customer.

As always, thank you for your past support.

Ed Griffin

Clearly from reading the above, there is no support or repair for Wouxun and probably other Chinese made radios regardless of the name on the radio. Buyer beware.