If you gathered a hundred radio hobbyists in a single room and asked them to describe their concept of the perfect amateur transceiver, you’d get more than a hundred different answers. Seeking perfection in this regard isn’t really practical – but wishing for something other than what’s currently available is pretty common.
If you asked me what I think would be the ideal new transceiver, I’d say something that covered 6 meters and up.
There are already plenty of HF transceiver to choose from, and plenty more come down the pike every year. There are small, lightweight jobs that work well in the field, and there are monstrosities that require mortgage-like financing plus an addition to your home – and everything in between.
The very last thing we need is yet another HF transceiver.
What we don’t have is something in a single package that covers all modes on 6 meters, 2 meters, 70cm and maybe an option for 1.2 gHz. And I’m talking about no-compromise performance. I don’t want another HF rig that also manages to squeeze 2M/440 into it by sacrificing performance. I’m talking about a desktop transceiver with a display that can be read by 50 year-old human eyes without the need for 100-level deep menuing to navigate it all on some tiny screen.
Gimme 100W out on 6 and 2 and at least 50W out on 70cm and the ability to power external receiver preamplifiers from the back panel or up the coax. And something from the 21st century to communicate with it, like a fast USB port and Bluetooth, please.
We’ve seen all-mode VHF/UHF gear (without HF) in days gone by but a couple of things happened on the way to the future that has derailed this sort of equipment from the supply chain.
First, the elimination of the Morse requirement for amateur licensing “freed” the masses who had been stranded on VHF and up. Look at it this way, when there were 300,000 US hams who only had privileges above 28mHz there was a big potential market for multi-mode VHF/UHF gear. When Morse testing was removed, most of these rushed to the HF bands as quickly as they could upgrade and that pretty well dinged the market for that sort equipment.
And then there’s the sad state of amateur satellites…
The days of highly elliptical orbiting spacecraft with linear transponders ended a decade ago and it’s likely never to return in our lifetime. When AMSAT first got underway, a few government employees – who were also radio amateur’s, could cajole their bosses to include an amateur payload for free (or on the cheap) for a ham radio ride into space.
These day’s space has become a lot more expensive. A ride to a high orbit (with an eventual HEO destination) for something capable of propulsion along with a sophisticated communication package including directional antennas, attitude control, etc., will set you back $10-$20 million dollars. And that’s if you can find a commercial interest willing to sell a launch slot to an “amateur” organization whose last HEO satellite blew-up on orbit. Literally.
This removes from the market another 10,000 or so potential buyers of sophisticated multi-mode VHF/UHF equipment.
Given all that, there’s probably no reason to expect that we will ever see ICOM, Kenwood, or Yaesu bring my idea of the perfect transceiver to market.
But that doesn’t keep me from pining for perfect.