10 May 2024

Something Pithy This Way Comes*

The 2014 Dayton (Xenia) Hamvention is just a week away. I'm wondering what the over/under is on new HF releases from the big name radio manufacturers. Some, like Flex Radio, have been quite open about their coming new release. Icom has kinda' sorta' hinted something that may, or may not, be announced at Dayton. But Ray Novak has yet to release any of his 'look what I found in my trunk' pictures, so we may not see anything from the 'Big I'.

There are other possible releases or teases that may be coming next week. Let's take a look at what's been hinted/leaked/teased/announced since the last Hamvention:
  • Icom. They've teased out that something is coming in their advertising pages in the last two QSTs editions. Please God, not another UHF/VHF rig. Let's get serious about replacing the IC-7100. The market is there and it's ready to spend the money
  • Yaesu. Yaesu's been dead silent on anything new. But they can't clam up forever. When they killed of the FT-818 last year they abandoned a market segment they once owned. There's a big gap ready to be filled with an FT-857-like replacement (and that ain't the current FT-891)
  • Kenwood. Kenwood recently released their TH-D75 handheld, but there have been rumors of them coming back with an updated HF rig. There's no firm details, just whispers that 'Kenwood is coming back'. I think the best we can hope for at Dayton is an information sheet at their booth
  • Xeigu. Xeigu and Radioddity have been dribbling out information on their new X6200 for several months now. I think it's reasonable to expect a Xeigu vendor to have a working model on display
  • FlexRadio. I don't follow Flex too closely, so I'm not sure just what is coming. My real interest is in the HF digital work Flex is doing for the US Air Force. With this new product, we may see some of that development work trickling down to the Amateur market 
  • Alinco. Who's that? OK, they'll have a booth at Hamvention. I don't think they'll have anything new to announce. A quick scan of their website leads me to think they've pretty much given up on the HF market
  • Elecraft. Elecraft released their handheld KH1 last year, and those sales are going gangbusters. I don't expect them to be announcing anything new
  • Lab599. Russia-based Lab599 has been putting out info on their new TX-500MP manpack HF rig for several months now, but there's no confirmed release date. I would hope there's a pre-production sample on display at the HRO booth (Lab599's US distributor). This radio is much less vaporware than other teased radios listed above. Lab599 actually talks with several ham radio influencers (like Julian, OH8STN at Off-Grid Ham Radio) and responds to questions about the radio. That's a good omen
I won't be going to Hamvention this year, but if I did, there are a few vendors other than what's listed above that I'd be sure to stop and visit:
  • HF Communications Corp. This India-based company makes what looks like some really neat HF radio kits that are very reasonably priced. Most of what they offer are Raspberry Pi-driven SDRs, so they are, in the words of the company, 'hackable, tinkerable, scriptable'. Their top-of-the-line rig, the sBitx v3 is only $429, fully assembled and delivered in the US
  • Codan. Speaking of manpack radios - NVIS Communications, the US agent for Codan, will be at the show. Codan is an Australian-based manufacturer of commercial and military HF rigs, and their products are very highly regarded and in wide use in the Asian, Indian sub-continent and African markets. A lot of MARS and SHARES members have purchased Codan product through NVIS and they've developed a bit of a following. What's interesting regarding Codan's showing is partly about who's NOT at Hamvention - Codan's leading competitors in the market: Barrett Communications (recently purchased by Motorola) and Harris. I believe this reflects NVIS Communications' support of the MARS and SHARES markets and their interest in developing a foothold in the Amateur radio space. I'm particularly interested in their H 6110 manpack radio
  • HobbyPCB. I've built two of HobbyPCBs HardRock50 amps for my QRP rigs, and Jim Veatch at HobbyPCB recently released a 100 watt upgrade kit for the amp. I'd want to talk with Jim about the level of difficulty for the upgrade. I'm fine right now with 50 watts for my IC-705 and KX2, but 100 watts is 'more better' 
We should mention who's not going to be there. Everyone knows by now that MFJ is closing down operations and that leaves a big vendor hole, not just at Dayton but at smaller shows across the country. MFJ was a reliable staple at the Atlanta shows, showing up even when major manufacturers like Icom and Yaesu declined to make an appearance. I think their departure from the market will be felt in ways that most hams can't yet fathom. Martin, I wish you well in your retirement.

That's it! If you go to Dayton I'd love it if you keep your eye out for some of the things I've discussed here. Inquiring minds want to know!

W8BYH out

* A hat tip to Ray Bradbury's classic sci-fi fantasy novel 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'

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