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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. N9DG

    N9DG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess I'm late to the thread, but some thoughts.

    First I really don't think there is much of anything going on here that can be actually construed as "copying". When products are being built with more or less the same contemporary parts pool, they will almost certainly have many aesthetic similarities. The circuits, fabrication methods, and software they all use pretty much dictate that. Just like all the transceivers of yesterday looked more alike than different when all is said and done.

    And from the PS:

    " ...
    And I also expected a larger share of users who appreciate innovation in Style. I don't mean style over performance, but Style as one element of why we sit down in our shack in the evening and just enjoy the view. Those dials, knobs, lights and LEDs . . . I could sit there and have fun just listening to the radio and looking at the light show.
    ..."


    Put me squarely in the camp of just not caring what the radio hardware box looks like. In my case, I don't even want to see it if I don't have to, looking at a radio box is a distraction to me. Same for the blinky LEDs, swinging meters, and other adornments to most knobs and buttons radio panels. No, what I want to see more or less exclusively is the radio spectrum, and what it looks in the here and now real-time, and at a high resolution. Thus the radio (spectrum) that I watch is continuously changing, it is not just a 'pretty light show', it is real, and is conveying to me all sorts of information about what is happening with the RF of the band or bands that I am watching at any given moment. It's effectively a new 'radio' each and every second.

    And it is not just a RF performance and style issue either, a radio that does a truly good job of showing you the radio spectrum, and also provides you a fast and easy means to randomly access anything that you see which might be interesting, that is a capability edge that more traditional radios simply don't have regardless of how many dials, knobs, lights and LEDs that they may have.. Same for a radio that gives you multi-tasking access to the things that are happening across the bands. Another capability edge. Why insist on restricting oneself to just one mode, one band, and one frequency at a time?

    Seeing the light for both of these things does require a genuine rethink by the user to let go of the legacy ways of driving a radio, and a desire to look for gear that they can use to best explore the radio spectrum with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2024
    KK7PVM, K7JQ and W7DGJ like this.
  2. KY5U

    KY5U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Uncle Dave,

    Much of innovation is based on basic needs too. Two guys separately designing a ball would agree it needs to be round. One may be larger or bounce higher, but admission to the need of the ball to be round seems not to matter to most. A head nod to another designer for ham radio design is more an admission that the other guy got it right. Spend your efforts on feature innovation.

    My opinion, others may vary.
     
    W7DGJ likes this.
  3. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My opinion is that innovation concerns both features and appearance. I'm in the process of publishing this week's column, a story about the history of 150 WPM CW and the ham who solved a mystery that led to WWI. Once I complete that, I'll post here some examples of innovation on design, user feel and build quality that will remind us all that this is INDEED a part of innovation. Thanks Les, Dave W7DGJ
     
  4. W0DN

    W0DN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah Dave and your beard looks funny too !!! OMFG The butt hurts and experts are on here
    by the hundreds
     
  5. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here are a few examples of products that offer not only feature sets appropriate for their users, but style and a sense of "uniqueness" that is critical if you are going to design something lasting and that would be known as an iconic look and feel. Each of these is in a market dominated by dozens and dozens of look-alike products, and yet they somehow manage to have their own style. In the HT category, it's sure hard to do anything different because they've got to have common features that all amateurs want, but they also have to be small, as after all they are handhelds. One company took the strengths of the HT category, the size, and went after that as their unique factor. The PICO APRS is a gorgeous little transceiver, much smaller than your palm, with all the features (and more than most). You pay for those, but as an example of simplicity in design and innovation, it's a good one.

    wmo-picoaprs-vhf_km_xl.jpg

    When ICOM came up with the now famous IC-705 (including a very unique form factor on that radio!) it would have been easy for other companies to just start churning out portable transceivers with the same look. Along comes Lab599 and the TX-500 (reviewed on this site) with a completely unique appearance. The build quality on this radio is outrageous -- carved out of a block of aluminum. They could have spent a lot less in design and simply given users who could "care less about design innovation" another little box more like the IC-705.


    Discovery-TX500-fron.jpeg


    I was in the microphone business for a number of years. I'm ashamed to say that our designers simply copied other companies' designs, just as Anan is doing with the Mercury LUX (and like Heil did with this mic). The famous appearance of this particular mic (not an AR product) led to dozens of copies from China, Japan, and the USA. That famous mic is the Shure SM58. Check it out -- it worked well (that was critical for a musician, who are just as fussy about performance as Amateur Radio operators). But it also looked cool. Now, it just looks like another microphone because it's been copied so often. But the lines, the style . . . functional but beautiful, which is the key attribute of anything iconic.


    SM58.png
     
  6. KG4RRN

    KG4RRN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Apples oranges and now back to apples.
    Something i deal with on a daily basis. Just like fruits and nuts.
     

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