FREQ 300 #25: TX7T – Marquesas – First Big Milestone

TX7T was strong for the first time since they have been on the air, and it was an easy Q

I’m still amazed at how easy most of my QRP QSO’s have been. Sure – there are stations that didn’t hear me at all or tried hard to get my full call and didn’t – but I expected a much higher “frustration level”. It has not been frustrating at all. I have even competed successfully in quite a few pileups – nothing like if it was a Top 10 DXCC entity – but DX IS DX.

I’ve even had a few nights now where whatever was causing all bands to get wiped out – stopped, and I have been able to use the rig. Luckily, there are enough hours during the day and here in the wee hours of the morning – where DXing is possible.

Optibeam OB2-40M-P 40M Moxon – 77 pounds and only ~35′ wide

Its funny, I keep looking at the various gear – like I used to – and while there are several things that look nice, the cost for these things are too high as far as “bang for the buck” goes. I have never had a problem spending money on ham gear – in the past – but all of a sudden, the high price of the new gear is just too high for what I do ham radio and DX wise. The Free Range QRP DX 300 Challenge was created so I would have a very interesting and fun challenge – and it is really paying off – both figuratively and literally. My Elecraft KX-3 and SteppIR UrbanBeam are just PERFECT for the FREQ 300.

The Yaesu FT101MP 200 watt transceiver – great ratings and nice ergonomics

The nicest laid out transceiver I ever had was also the worst performer – the Yaesu FT-2000D. I was so angry because of that PEP upgrade bullshit – all of the advertised “QRM fighting features” just didn’t work. Having to modify the rig with that AC0C mod made me angry since I feel I was duped into buying a rig that was flawed in its design from the get go. But I will say – the Yaesu heavy weighted tuning knobs in their newer gear are the best. Much better than the Elecraft gear – which have always felt “plasticky”. The problem – when you need those “QRM fighting features” – they trump nicer ergonomics.

My favorite camera is a “New Old Stock” Lumix GX-85 – sold for a song

After our Colorado trip in September, I got back into photography big time. I had a couple of digital cameras – one from about 5 years ago, and the other 9 years ago (yikes!). Since I have had no desire to make large photo prints for more than 10 years, and since I only use photos in my blog, I realized I could skip the expensive larger sensor “new” cameras and buy something new that has been discontinued for years now – and also concentrate on a really good lens (also on a bargain basement sale). You could say that this is the photography “QRP Equivalent” – just like purchasing a QRP rig like the KX-3 and the SteppIR UrbanBeam – the combo cost me a LOT less than other options, and I am getting all of the fun and a great value – or bang for the buck. Gone are the days where I “clamored” for the latest and greatest – in fact – I now see what a trap that is (was). BTW – my Lumix GX-85 plus the 20MM prime lens is way more fun than the bigger sensor Sony A6000 that I have. I really should sell the A6000 . . . I use the GX-85 all the time now.

The Elecraft K4 – great looking rig – I am sure a great performer

Its still fun to drool anyway – and doesn’t cost anything – heh heh. I had that weird nostalgia “jag” last year and while I still love my National SW-3, I guess the Gold Dust Twins were a “bridge too far”. They were fun to get up and running – and I learned how to use test equipment – especially my oscilloscope – but beyond that – I guess I’m not as nostalgic as I thought I was – that was a passing phase. Oh well – the money I have in these is the same as one of the 1500 watt amp’s I have owned over the years. And the value proposition is about the same – I can only recoup about 50% of what I put in them. I do have have one person very interested in the Twins – and fairly close to what I paid for them – so they might be gone by the end of the year.

I’m probably not going to help the DX ham radio market much any more – as I have in the past. QRP rigs are very cost effective – I can do all the DXing on the cheap (the KX-3 was $900 used) – and even the UrbanBeam – which I purchased for $1700 has turned out to have great bang for the buck. I also am not donating to DXpeditions any more – I have even been having a hard time opening my wallet for the 3Y0I – I guess I really don’t care much any more – even the little voice in my head that says “follow through and finish DXCC #1” has faded almost into oblivion. I guess once someone say they really are going to Bouvet or Glorioso – my wallet will creak back open. But I won’t be buying new gear for these last two – I will go to a neighbors house. Yes – I’m at that point now . . .

I noticed that the Yaesu FT101MP has had a price drop (already). I am wondering if the market for high end rigs will start dwindling. I have found out that the Gold Dust Twins market has dropped out – there just aren’t many who cherish these old rigs any more. The ham radio population continues to age – and these “niche” aspects of the hobby seem to have fewer and fewer hams interested.

I wonder if the high end DX rig market is on the wane. I kind of think so. There are so many used K3’s and even older Ten Tec rigs – all still very good rigs in their own right – that it almost seems like we are saturated with high end gear.

I think watching prices will tell the story – when prices drop significantly, that will be a clue and a marker.

2 Comments on “FREQ 300 #25: TX7T – Marquesas – First Big Milestone

  1. I think SDR killed the superheterostar. Specifically, the IC-7300. When you can get so much radio for so little, why pay more for less? When I got mine, my first thought was, “there goes the market for used kit.” I have an unused (also disappointing) FT-DX3000. I paid $2200 for it five years ago I think, now down to $1500 new, and would anyone seriously choose that over the $900 Icom? So I’m guessing that rig has lost 2/3 or more of its value in 5 years. Not bad for regular consumer electronics, but terrible from a ham radio perspective.

    Now that the value is almost all in the software, and a lot of that is open source, I expect it will become possible for some cheap Chinese manufacturer to emerge and wow us all with a really inexpensive product. I don’t know whether that will actually happen, because I believe the market is drying up at all price points, for any number of reasons. Either way, if I were a legacy manufacturer, I’d be sweating bullets right about now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The elite DXer market was never that big to start with, and I wonder how many will stay in this market.

      Elecraft was very smart to also cater to the portable QRP market as well. The Chinese seem to be “almost there” with something like a KX-3

      Liked by 1 person

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