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Issue #35: An Editorial on Copycat Ham Radio Products

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Feb 20, 2024.

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  1. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't feel sorry for KM3KM or RZ1ZR..."Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery";). Successful innovators and their products will always get copied/knocked-off in some way (legally). With a long waiting list and demand, Kenny will do just fine. The difference in a competitive buying decision will be customer service, and so far he shines in that department. Let's see if the other competitors step up to the plate.

    73, Bob K7JQ
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024
    W7DGJ likes this.
  2. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    For $6K (on sale), I wouldn't. No built-in tuner, no QSK (not that I would want either one anyway). Reviews report loud fans, software glitches and needs, some interface problems with radios other than Flex, etc. But a good amp for SO2R contest operators (except those that also operate QSK).

    And I don't trust any spec that states "1500W, 100% duty cycle ICAS". ICAS = Intermittent Commercial and Amateur Service. What does that mean?...It's NOT 100% duty cycle, brick-on-key...just alphabet letters. Basically, it's 50% TX and 50% RX cool down. They might as well state ICAS as "I Can't Actually Substantiate". At least Kenny specs the LUX as 1500W CW/SSB (intermittent modes), but limits a safe level of digital modes (continuous carrier) to 800W, with protection.

    IMO, the PGXL has too many deficiencies to sell for $6K.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024
    W7DGJ likes this.
  3. W5ZIM

    W5ZIM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm on team "no big deal". Neither one has a particularly novel, impressive or unique design. There is plenty of home theater equipment out there that looks essentially identical to this as well. There are only so many things you can do with a black rack-mount chassis with a large screen stuck on the front to make it "unique". Take today's smartphones for example, they all look pretty much the same - just black rectangles with minor differences.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  4. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Michael, appreciate your input nonetheless, Dave W7DGJ
  5. N8SDR

    N8SDR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  6. WT4BT

    WT4BT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dave, I'm sorry but I just couldn't wade through all the comments, too tiring, so some of this may have been posted. Here goes anyway:

    1) "Please make sure there are no personal barbs" - I always use barbless hooks! Lets the fish (and the occasional errant ear) off the line easier. Unless of course some trout really wants to leave the river for my fry pan, then I acquiesce to its wishes.
    2) "...all it takes is one with the right management and great customer service and my losses would have been offset by gains as that company moved into the ranks of an ICOM or Yaesu" - You neglected Elecraft! Arguably one of the most innovative, successful and customer-centric U.S. companies there is in the ham radio world. I don't mean to shortchange any of the QRP and kit-build companies but they are on a different scale.
    3) "Try using optional bright red or silver front plates, something outrageous and never seen" - You forget (or didn't you notice them at Hara Arena?) Hilberling already did that with their, I think anodized, front panels. • Anthracite grey, • Claret violet,• Brilliant blue, • Bronze green and • Telegrey 1.
    4) As for copycats, I don't think they are avoidable. Even the most blatant knock-offs by those wanting to get some of our cash in any manner.
    One of my (now old and long-released back into the maelstrom) pet peeves were the copies of Bud and Chris Drummond's original, and updated, Buddipole (note: Buddipole is properly one word). Once Bud and Chris took the original DIY concept and started making it commercially the copycats jumped into the fray. Again, an innovation that became a success that now sports all sorts of imitations, which may or may not, have enough differentiating factors to call them "new ideas".

    OK, back to my coffee and the build on the bench,
    W7DGJ likes this.
  7. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page


    You don’t have to yell (all the CAPS);). I don’t know, even without the preface, I took it as his opinion…kinda like a review without actually using the product, based on visual looks only. KM3KM, RZ1ZR, VK3AMP, and now Apache/Anan use the same looking touchscreen display….so? It’s what’s inside that counts. I don’t know why you’re jumping all over Dave for essentially pointing this out.

    I believe KM3KM started out around 2018 or earlier, in collaboration with RZ1ZR, going from offering amp kit modules to fully assembled and tested FCC type-accepted amplifiers, and his website grew from there. The reviews on his amps and customer service have been nothing but outstanding.

    I don’t know when VK Amps started up, but his website only shows amp kit modules at this time. I wouldn’t know if he also offers assembled amps by looking at it. Are they FCC type-accepted for use here in the States? There’s only 5 reviews on…four VK’s and one by you. I’m sure it’s a quality built amp and you’re very happy with it. IMO, he’ll have be more visible with his offerings on the website for him to be a viable competitor in the U.S. and elsewhere. KM3KM is already there, and the demand for his products is well known.

    Now Apache Labs/Anan is jumping into the fray, with a *similar* looking amp as LUX, and a similar competitive price to boot. I’d kinda give it a “copycat” moniker as well;). Once it receives FCC type-acceptance and is finally marketed, we’ll see how it compares to the others, performance and customer service wise.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  8. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Dick, the opinion mention (about it being a personal opinion) has been there since moment one of my posting. Also, the title has never changed -- it states "editorial." I did add the "What I've learned" to the bottom of the article which I think is important to the piece, as the forum is critical for reader understanding of the topic, as other voices come in and tie it all together. The articles I write are all editorials, really, but this one in particular was written when I was pissed off and (more than normal) reflects that. All of your posts to me have been written when you are PO'd, and the difference is that it's not clear "why." I don't need attention Dick. You're providing enough here for both of us. Dave, W7DGJ
  9. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Mac, good post thanks. I added Elecraft to that comment in the article. You're right - another good example where innovation and style help a company move up in the ranks.

    I tossed out some ideas just to get them thinking about the mistake in designing something that's an exact copy of something else. Another goofy idea, but I'd buy it, would be if some cool looking transceiver resembled the McIntosh amplifier that Tom W9TR posted on this discussion. Cool stuff. And instead of tubes, as we're talking SS today, they could put Nixie Tubes (now back in production and available) on top with the frequency you're on. That's going over the top into "style" and would have nothing to do with performance, but it would sure look slick. Probably not a big enough market for that, however. I'd love to have THAT in my shack to look at in the evening when I'm on the air. Maybe someone could come up with an SWR/Power meter that has the power output on Nixie Tubes on top and a digital or analog meter for SWR below it. Have you seen those Nixie Tube clocks?

    Agree with you on Buddipole and mentioned it in one of my posts above. Dave, W7DGJ
  10. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for dropping by, Bob. Yes, I had a VK-Amp here in the shack for a couple of weeks and put it through the paces. Very nice product, and it was reviewed on Trials and Errors. Unfortunately, I had to ship it off afterwards to one of his customers. I didn't get the same feeling of "copycat" on that amp, though. Just a black box. I'm really not talking about the use of 7" displays here, although I have a para in my article about that. It's more the whole style of the Anan is designed as a LUX. And if Alex's amp components are inside, than a piece of Mr. Kenny Martinez is inside the unit as well, as Kenny did Alex a "solid" and designed several critical components of the RZ1ZR amplifier for Alex. But, I'd like to keep my comments focused only on style, look and feel.

    Absolutely my opinion as you say, and why that N8SDR keeps coming back with his caps and so on . . . unclear to me. Dave, W7DGJ
  11. WT4BT

    WT4BT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dave/W7DGJ, always dangerous to write anything while PO'ed. I've learned (mostly) to go make a cup of tea/coffee/Arnold Palmer/whatever before I put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. Too many times it has caused unwanted byproduct.
    As for "individuality" in appearance and dials and switches to see and touch...that and the hum and aroma of hot vacuum tubes is what hooked me oh those many years ago. If I had the room...

    W1YW and W7DGJ like this.
  12. WT4BT

    WT4BT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nixie Tubes!!! I'd forgotten that they're back. Maybe I should order some and see what I can cobble together in between PT appointments while I'm laid up after knee surgery. Idle hands and all that...
    W7DGJ likes this.
  13. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Agree, but if you write editorials for a living, sometimes the passion needs to kick in . . . By the way, your mention of the aroma of hot tubes, that indeed makes me long for those "good old days." Maybe someone can figure out what that was and recreate it in an accessory product of some kind for the shack, it would SELL. Dave
  14. WT4BT

    WT4BT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    "Maybe someone can figure out what that was and recreate it in an accessory product"...
    Actually been done! Just a power supply for the filament and an old tube or two. Viola! Instant aroma-therapy :)
    Keep the fingers away though, or you'll learn about electricity ;)
    W7DGJ likes this.
  15. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just bumped up my "Short Takes" column which was to appear on Tuesday, as QRZ will be out of operation for some time on Monday as maintenance is done on the site. This forum, and the article it refers to, will still be "live" -- just down one notch in the lineup. Thanks, Dave W7DGJ

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