The death of the American ham radio industry

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

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  1. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  2. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    None of the components are made in the USA
    N2EY likes this.
  3. N9AED

    N9AED Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suspect the biggest factor is the re-focus by American companies (eg Motorola Solutions, Harris) on high-margin markets, shifting from low-cost/high-volume amateur manufacturing to developing high-tech and very expensive radios for government. The shift will come in the surplus market, assuming laws can be updated to make the equipment usable by amateurs without it being destroyed.

  4. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm afraid not.

    Motorola and Harris were never major Amateur Radio manufacturers - and Amateur Radio has never been "high volume".

    The shift away from Made In USA ham gear being dominant in the marketplace took place more than 40 years ago. It would not surprise me if the majority of US hams licensed since 1979 or so had never owned a US-made rig.

    What surplus market?
  5. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The transition from American to Japanese radios was roughly around 1970 give or take a couple of years. Drake still did well, Hallicrafters and Hammarlund seemed to be backing off of their old desk monsters, Galaxy was getting cold. Collins was still there for the wealthy guys. Heathkit wasn't a PnP product. I'm probably missing a couple more.
    The market in the early 70s was literally flooded with the likes of the FT401/560, Tempo One, FT101, TS520 etc. They were very competitive and shiny :) And they were all good rigs and quickly gained an honorable reputation.
    But what did a Tempo One or FT101 offer that wasn't available on a Drake TR3/4 or even an HW101? Nothing really. Built-in PS maybe?
    The automobile industry seemed to change around the same time.
  6. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    It’s just Economics 101.

    As economies advance, wages increase, the standard of living improves, education improves, expectations get higher, people demand safety and environmental regulations, etc. So people won’t work for peanuts anymore, and want to do higher level work. Costs go up, so low level manufacturing isn’t profitable anymore so more complex, higher profit margin manufacturing is done. And so on it goes, ratcheting up.

    Over time it happens to all countries including the US, but so long ago here that hardly anyone alive today remembers. Now China is going through it but at warp speed with the fast technology of today. Already much low level manufacturing has gone to other Asian countries as China becomes more developed and that’s before the whole tariff thing, though that’s now accelerating it ( and no, they aren’t coming to the US because we’re too expensive).

    Also, countries can be slow to react to competition, technology and other changes which is partly what happened vis a vis Japan.
    WD4IGX and W3MMM like this.
  7. W3MMM

    W3MMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You the consumer pay the tariffs. The lawmakers knew and intended this.

    The idea is that if the import artificially costs 25% more, an enterprising company might begin production in the US, if they are now able to be a bit less.

    A tariff is an estimate of what it would take to make that import non-competitive. But make no mistake, you pay the tariff when you buy that import.
    K7TRF and K4KYV like this.
  8. W3MMM

    W3MMM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Yes, Flex owns rights and does final assembly. But we know that the components and underlying raw materials are not all from the U.S. They simply can’t be.

    The best you can really say about any product is that a higher % of the supply chain is US based vs. an alternative. And no doubt Flex wins in this regard.

    But it is not 100% manufactured from raw materials in the US. It is only 100% final assembled in the US. It qualifies for a “made in the USA” sticker but there’s plenty of money ultimately headed offshore when buying any such product.
    N2EY likes this.
  9. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    All true - and there's more!

    Go back 50 years or so, and most "Made In USA" amateur gear was made almost completely from components and raw materials that were Made In USA. There might be some Brazilian quartz in the crystals and some other imported raw materials, but they were only a small percentage of the total.

    Tubes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, inductors, switches, wire, connectors, hardware, etc. - all Made In USA from US materials.

    Great stuff - and EXPENSIVE!

    73 de jim, N2EY
    K8AI likes this.
  10. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    What's going to happen if the whole world ends up with a good standard of living? Who's going to do "low level manufacturing" then?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
    WU8Y likes this.

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