When Kenwood showed off the new TH-D74A tri-band handheld at Dayton earlier this year, many satellite enthusiasts (myself included) were persuaded to hold off on other purchases in the hope that the new handheld would be “all that” with a side of Bluetooth and D-STAR to boot.
The transceiver is not yet ready for sale and complete details are lacking, but there are rumors this week that suggest the new Wunderkind might not support full-duplex operation.
Huh? This functionality was assumed since previous iterations of the TH-72x included it.
Without full-duplex, it would be practically useless for proper LEO satellite operation unless you purchased two of them, so let’s hope these rumors turn out to be false.
Still, satellite enthusiasts have suffered through a couple decades of inattention by most ham radio equipment manufacturers and they’ve gotten by with duct tape and baling wire for so long as to declare it the new normal. Entire Web pages are devoted to explanations of how to interface two 30 year-old transceivers in order to work the birds.
So be it.
The future of amateur radio in space will come in the form of custom SDR solutions that allow enthusiasts to bypass the usual cadre of amateur radio manufacturers altogether and move forward without them. This isn’t news to anyone paying attention. The sands of time continually alter the landscape and the amateur radio marketplace has always been dynamic — with plenty of opportunity for nimble new contributors.
But here’s the difference, the future is quickening.
Players that don’t even exist today will come to dominate our market with unique new products and then quickly exit. Their lifecycle will be measured in months, not decades. Interest in highly specialized niches of our radio hobby will be driven by the Modern Maunder and inexpensive hardware. Look no further than what we’ve accomplished with the Raspberry Pi to see what I mean.
Traditional manufacturers will never keep pace with the rapidly changing interests of those who can “invent” brand new radio toys overnight using only software.