Last night I successfully passed the Element 3 exam for the General License. It has been just under a year since I got my Technician License. In this short period of time, I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people. I prepared for the exam by taking the FARS General License Class and we met one night a week, for 6 weeks. I'm sure we would have spread the class out longer, but there was a desire to get the tests taken before the July 1st question pool change. I'm not sure of the actual statistics, but it seemed like most people passed the exam. Now I need to decide what kind of HF rig I want/need.
It appears as if DL6KAC of ham-blog.de has come up with an interesting idea. He has created HAMigg, which is a social bookmarking site like digg.com but dedicated to ham radio! I think this could be very successful, as long as people get the word out. The name of the site doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but gets the purpose across to those familiar with its inspiration. I'll be watching the site, and likely submitting to it as well.
After writing “Kenwood Amateur Radio Division in Trouble?”, I decided to make a call.
I just spoke with Phil at Kenwood USA. I had called him, because I’ve been curious if a new 1.2Ghz HT would be coming out anytime soon. Unfortunately he said that their current task list is as such:
– Revampin current product lines to be RoHS compliant. One driving force to be RoHS compliant, is to be able to sell some of the equipment in Europe.
– Finish work on a new HF rig and release it (~1yr out).
– Start working on other new equipement.
Overall he said that I shouldn’t expect a 1.2Ghz radio for another 3 years. Phil’s suggestion was to use SkyCommand (or similar) from my HT, to connect to a TS-2000 at home (if line-of-sight was available).
An interesting side-note was that originally the Kenwood TH-F6A was going to be a quad-band with 1.2Ghz. Apparently the engineers were not able to get the radio to be quad-band with anything more than .5 watts on 1.2Ghz. The team decided to remove the quad and leave it as a tri-band, which ended up being one of their best selling HT’s ever.
I am confident that RoHS is important, and a good thing for Kenwood. Unfortunately this may cause them to slip behind the competition in the process. At the same time, it may provide them the excuse to skip a “generation” of technology.
Michael S. Higgins (K6AER) wrote an interesting article on eham.net regarding the possible demise of Kenwood's Amateur Radio Division. I am personally very happy with my Kenwood HT, and would be very sad if they closed the division. K6AER's comments do seem valid, and he certainly has some very specific things to point to. I can only imagine that it is a difficult market to cater to, since development costs are likely high… small market… and high consumer expectations.
I doubt that this is really a problem just for Kenwood, but for all the manufacturers. The amateur radio is not exactly the booming hobby it has been in the past. I would imagine the best way to solve these issues is to get more people involved with the hobby, and for all ham's to personally contact the manufacturers to show interest.