15 July 2022

A Metaphor Of Sorts

Yesterday I stumbled on a YouTube video discussing a new vehicle that's coming to market, the INEOS Grenadier. The concept for the Grenadier was born of serious off-road enthusiast frustration with the lack of purpose built 4x4 vehicles that offered great performance with little fluff and at reasonable cost. I understand the turning point was the 2020 re-introduction of the Land Rover Defender, which is just an uptown 'lifestyle' schlepper better suited to the Kardashians than Katmandu. Land Rover devotees were disgusted with the new Defender concept and turned away in droves.

Not long after the Defender was announced, Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of INEOS and an adventure enthusiast, sat down with some buddies at the Grenadier Pub near London and sketched out the requirements for a true off-road vehicle. The result was the INEOS Grenadier. Based on what I read on-line and find posted on YouTube, the vehicle is getting very strong positive reviews, especially from the Australians, who take their off-roading seriously. According to reviews the Grenadier gets just about everything right:
  • A design that emphasizes ruggedness, off road mobility, reliability and survivability
  • Only a very minimum of 'bells and whistles'
  • Powertrains optimized for rugged off-road performance
  • A conscious selection of lower tech options (ex: coil spring suspension vs suspension air bags) to better fit the vehicle's mission requirements of reliability, mobility and survivability
  • Virtually zero accommodation for 'lifestyle' options: entertainment systems, built-in wi-fi, seat-back entertainment systems, etc.
  • An easily modifiable design
  • A serious effort to keep the whole package reasonably affordable
In the Grenadier's latter development stages, INEOS directly solicited public input by shipping pre-production examples around the world and demonstrating them to off-roading enthusiasts and the automotive press, something that's almost never done in the automobile industry

The INOS Grenadier. When Land Rover screwed up, INEOS stepped up

So what's all this have to do with ham radio? A lot, actually.

How much money have you spent on Icom, Yaesu or Kenwood products over the years? If you are like me, the answer is 'thousands'. Have you ever been contacted by a rep from any of these companies and asked about the features you'd like to see in a new radio? Have you ever offered your input at hamfests and had it seriously considered? Has a manufacturer's rep ever asked for your contact information so they could get back to you for more input? I'm guessing... no.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, and like to play radio on a mountaintop rather in your ham shack, how many IP67, or even just IPX3 HF radios do you own? How many carry a MILSPEC ratings for ruggedness? Sure, today we can buy small portable HF radios like the IC-705, the Yaesu FT-818, or the Elecraft KX2 or KX3, but how many would survive a light rain shower or a short fall from a park bench?

The feature laden Icom IC-705 is the ham radio equivalent of the 2020 Land Rover Defender. Very capable but packed full of fluff, sporting awkward ergonomics, and so expensive that many owners are afraid to take it outdoors.

How about a radio built with user input, that leaves out all the fluff, delivers top notch voice and digital performance in an all-in-one package, and can take a licking and keep on ticking? 

What ham radio needs is its own version of the INEOS Grenadier.

W8BYH out

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