The death of the American ham radio industry

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W4ZD, Jul 24, 2019.

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  1. W4ZD

    W4ZD Ham Member QRZ Page

    No one can deny, it is nothing like it once was. That was my point. Spin it like you wish, the facts remain. Aren't they a pain in the butt? :)
  2. K0MB

    K0MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think there may be parallels to the auto industry. America stayed big and heavy when the world's taste was running to smaller and lighter. The NC-303 receiver is a good exampleof this, and it's sales never matched it's performance.
    W4NNF likes this.
  3. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    No. They are historical facts. I don't attribute emotion to them.
  4. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nothing is ever like it once was. I might not like that in several ways, but watcha gonna do?

    If you think the American rig makers should be supported, talk to the nice hams at Flex and Elecraft. Both make great gear and provide great support, and can actually sell you a rig competitive in price (and sometimes one that's more advanced with more features) compared to the Japanese. :)
    K8AI, AG6QR and N0TZU like this.
  5. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Your point was a symptom of a much bigger issue, be it electronics, cars, machinery, steel, etc...
    The electronics industry import market is a $367 billion industry. Ham radio comprises what fraction of that?
  6. W4ZD

    W4ZD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ah well, contribute it to old fashioned nostalgia. I plead guilty as charged. :rolleyes:
    N4NYK and NL7W like this.
  7. NL7W

    NL7W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    He's only aiming for modestly relevant conversation.

    I do believe my next radio purchases will be ham rigs "Made in America." TenTec and Elecraft radios come to mind.

    I do like and enjoy Kenwood rigs though. :)
  8. KJ6ZOL

    KJ6ZOL Ham Member QRZ Page

    One of the first things people from most foreign countries notice about America, if they go out of the tourist areas and to places where "regular people" live, is how huge everything is here. Americans drive gigantic autos, the whole "SUV" thing is almost exclusively an American phenomenon. Houses are gigantic and set on very large lots. Servings at restaurants, including fast food and coffee shops, are many times bigger than the custom elsewhere. If an American wins the lottery, he builds himself a house so huge that it could be a hotel elsewhere in the world, he buys a dozen cars with gas guzzling engines, etc.

    When transistor radios came along, they were pretty much made in Japan, and mainly popular with youths, older people still loved big tube radios. American ham radio manufacturers were building Big Aluminum radios LONG after the Japanese were making all transistor HF transceivers. I've read that Heath was offering vacuum tube radios as late as the first year of Reagan's presidency! By then a ham could buy a far more modern trx from a Japanese company that was easier to use-no tuning the final output tubes every time you went on the air, an integrated digital LED display, etc. (And then, elsewhere, you had American auto makers making giant gas guzzling cars with gas prices that in today's money would probably be in the $6/gal range, and then whining that Japan was kicking their butts.)

    America lost its ingenuity somewhere along the line. Today, we are clearly a culture in steep decline. We are out of sync with the rest of the world.
    AG7CK, K7NDE, KC8YLT and 4 others like this.
  9. W3MMM

    W3MMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Economies are increasingly global these days, and that's not necessarily abad thing.

    Raw, sub components, sub assemblies and final assemblies are all made in various countries. And it is pretty rare, PARTICULARLY with electronics, that any item would have gone from the raw materials to final product in any one country. In fact, it is probably impossible.

    So what part do we care about?

    Who has the raw materials?
    Who does final assembly?
    Who makes the components?
    Who owns the design rights and any patents or other protections?

    The only way extra value comes to any of these steps is if there's some barrier to competition.

    Who has the raw materials?
    - In the case of rare (or very high demand) materials, a country might benefit from being the source. Otherwise this is a commodity priced at the whim of the market without much incremental benefit to the source.

    Who does final assembly?
    - This typically goes to the country with the least expensive labor, or other cheapest costs to run a plant. The U.S. complains about losing this, but this is commoditized and thus there's not much value in it, relative to other countries.

    Who makes the components?
    - There can be value here if a company can make chips (or other components) that have such a high barrier to entry that competition is scarce. Typically these barriers to entry come from automation, so the spoils go primarily to the owners with not much benefit to the host country.

    Who owns the design rights and any patents or other protections?
    - This, where it exists, is where the money is. And the U.S. is holding its own with this, while other countries focus on the mining/manufacturing/assembly. This is the right course, though other countries' investment in research is catching up, and patents aren't always honored. So it isn't perfect.

    So in the long run, you have to look at - do we want more final assembly jobs? If so, are we willing to retain them for $2 per hour? Other countries are willing to do so - and thus we don't end up with those jobs. But often, they are making things that we invented, sell, we get many of the other benefits associated with that product and its availability in the market place.

    As for ham radios - all the components are made elsewhere; and labor is cheaper what's the point in the US making them? What does it matter, so long as we reap the benefits of their existence and continued evolution?
    K6LPM, KU5Q, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  10. KM4FVI

    KM4FVI Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Globalization will go down in history as the biggest mistake ever in consumer electronics when market protectionism hits its climax!
    KB1ILS, W0FS, WD4IGX and 1 other person like this.

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