Monday, August 22, 2022









I believe AES closed down in 2016. But more to the point, when I first became interested in ham radio (late 70's, early 80's) their catalog was one of the best, with plenty of pages of eye candy, along the lines of the Sears Wish Book. Having been into CB radio since 1968 I'd find 1 or 2 pages of CB stuff: A radio or two, some mobile antennas, and that was about it. Nonetheless I liked flipping through the pages to see what the latest HF rigs were at the time. 




" IMO nothing beat Henshaws..."


Anytime I saw a new AES catalog at the local radio store I picked one up, eventually acquiring a large stack of 'em (along with QST, 73, and Popular Communication magazines).

When I got into CB, in 1968 at Christmas, I had to wait for my Dad's license to come arrive via mail (KDU5960). We lived in, what I call, a small town (under 10k population) and from the local newsstand I became aware of S9 and CB Radio magazines, and through those I discovered Henshaws and Echo catalogs. IMO nothing beat Henshaws.




 "Two weeks ago I became further educated and astounded to find..."


But you never know just when you'll be further educated and sometimes astounded on what you know about various topics - Like CB Radio. Two weeks ago I became further educated and astounded to find out that much earlier than 1979, AES had their own CB catalog, and they didn't skimp on it either. Not counting the ordering, ordering details, and credit option pages (which I left out) this catalog went 78 pages beyond that. Their CB only catalog may be old news to some of you, but it was new to me, and when I finally got it (via mail) this officially became the BIGGEST CB Wish Book on my list of CB catalogs.


 It took a little bit of time to prepare (scanning, page enhancing, and sizing) but it's all done, and if someone already did it, well, that's okay too...










Tuesday, July 26, 2022



What do most of us use our HTs for? Talking on a repeater, operating at a hamfest, and emergency communications. That is... when we use one. I can't remember how many used equipment ads for various HTs that started off with: "I thought I was going to use this for [insert reason here], but actually I only used it once or twice and it's been sitting in the shack for years". Over the years there are literally thousands of used HT ads from eBay, QRZ, and QTH.

The 2 best HT's you can own are: 1). The one someone gave you, or 2). One of those sitting-in-the-shack models at a great price (and honorable mention goes to the much maligned Baofeng, which offers some dirt cheap models. I own one of these, a UV-R5, and it's ten years old now with an original battery that still holds a charge for hours).

My 2nd HT is a Kenwood TH-D7A dual-band analog HT with everything you need inside it to use it for APRS. As well, this unit is the one the you could connect to a Kenwood TS-2000 and run remotely. I bought it, the battery pack, an AA battery pack, desk charger, and Kenwood's PG-4W software and USB cable for $130. The seller told me that the rechargeable pack still held a charge, but only slightly over 90 minutes. It works great! I bought a 3rd party rechargeable battery off Amazon for about 30 buck and I've been very happy with it.

Everything written above is a preface to the main title of this post, but I wanted a little background before I begin the meat of this story.

The year was 2019, and Kenwood's top HT the TH-D74a was a decent seller, it had only been introduced in 2016, and it was the grand pappy of my D7A. The TH-D74A was a tri-bander, with APRS, both analog and digital (DSTAR), modern features like bluetooth, and it came with a beautiful color screen. 


The downside to all of this was it's lofty price, in the mid-$500's. Personally I wouldn't spend over $500 for an HT, but I kept my eye on it because every month or so the D74 (along with many other models) were either sale priced, had a manufacturer coupon, and most rare of all - both sale price and manufacturers coupon. So whenever they got into the mid-$400 range I was almost prepared to get one, but considering how little use my old D7A got, I'd always talk myself out of it.




Shortly after the New Year, and going into January and February, COVID-19 reared its ugly head and as we all know, really screwed with finances as well as Hamfests (they stopped). My wife was sent home in March and worked from home for months. Rumors of problems with supply chains continued to persist, so in July 2020 it was a whole different world.

It was around this time when I began to notice that most, if not all, ham radio stores had stopped discounting their products, and manufacturer coupons had all but dried up.

A peculiar thing happened to the D74A though - even as its list price rose, but they were very hard to keep in stock! In a few instances I'm aware of, 2 new hams jumped from having ZERO radios to paying around $600 for a D74A, adding a few accessories, then sales tax, so these ended up being $700+ purchases. With a little more thought, or guidance, a ham may have bought a Yaesu FT-991a, or an ICOM IC-7100 (the 7100 maintained it's $700 price range for several more months until it too saw its manufacturers suggested price rise to where it currently sits: $1095.95), or heck... A Yaesu FT-818. Put a dual-band antenna on it and you have your HT along with a bunch of other features!

Another cruel hand was dealt on October 20, 2020 when a fire broke out at a plant owned by Asahi Kasei Electronics Co., Ltd. (and Asahi Kasei Microsystems Co., Ltd.). They made digital sensors, LSI's and even supplied the TXCO used by several vendors. These parts were not obtainable elsewhere.

Subsequently, on December 24 2020 Kenwood announced the discontinuation of it's premier HT, the TH-D74A. -


"JVC KENWOOD Corporation announced on December 24, 2020 that it will complete production of the 144 / 430MHz band D-STAR compatible handheld device "TH-D74" on its official website in December this year. The reason is not clear. Optional items will continue to be available for purchase and will continue to be repaired and supported. It was also announced that the company's amateur radios other than the TH-D74 will continue to be produced as before."


 As we entered 2021, COVID-19 was still with us. Hamfests continued to cancel themselves, and the D74A (or whatever stock could be found) continued to sell for an artificially high price, compared to where it was in 2019. In Fall of 2021, all we heard on the news was about the broken supply chain, ships sitting off docks for weeks or months, and ham radio prices remained high; not falling back to where they were only two years ago. Users who had bought the D74A's were trying to sell them on the used market, hoping to recoup their money, but there weren't many takers for a used HT with accessories in the $700 and up price range. I fell a tad sorry for those who had to sell it and lose hundreds, as well as those who just kept it.

As this article winds down to it's conclusion, IMO I have several thoughts: A $700 HT still isn't worth $700 (unless that HT has not only VHF-UHF, but HF as well), and I can't point a finger at the ham radio stores (yes, I can, but no, I won't) for selling equipment either higher than they were two years ago, or holding fairly insignificant sales (i.e. - "Buy this rig and get a free hat")

 Unless these stores were getting stiffed with higher wholesale prices, this is probably one of the few times in their history where they could make serious money, and not bread crumbs. Profit on the typical $1000 ham rig is less than $25 with their bread and butter being service, and accessories. I'm happy that they may be making more off equipment than they were in 2019, because we've seen too many radio businesses fold.

BTW, it's all not doom and gloom - A small amount of manufacturer coupons have returned!


I really like my D7A, and there have been a few HTs that caught my eye from time-to-time, but never an HT for over $500.











Thursday, April 14, 2022










 It's hard to believe that this is my first post of 2022. Regular readers know of my Dad's passing last Fall, and except for a few half hearted posts - I decided to take a break. So, sorry for this Blog's silence since last Fall (and that's all I have to say about that).

As many of you know I'm a proponent for using a Magnetic loop antenna, not only for portable use, but as an indoor base antenna as well, should you live inside the walls of an HOA neighborhood. Do Mag Loops work? You bet they do. I've used mine to check into the Texas Traffic Net on 3.873, maritime nets on 20m, as well as QSO's on 10m and (gasp) 11m. If you use a legal CB radio you'll never overload a QRP rated loop, and "Skip" within the states is perfectly legal.

Yes, there is a narrow bandwidth when tuning a loop, but that bandwidth increases as you move up in frequency, especially 11 and 10m. I've tagged stations in New England from Texas on 10 meters with relative ease, and having a band scope/waterfall really helps me determine which way to manually adjust my loop next (the variable capacitor knob is turned either left or right to move down or up frequency).


" Forest Gump once said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.”


Even if I'm on 28.480USB I can see activity up/down frequency which often determines where to tune next - and this makes using a mag loop super easy (in fact, many times I'll sit on a frequency for 10-15 minutes, watching the waterfall for activity before tuning my loop).

On 11m it's a totally different animal. I usually use my CPI-2000 base, and there's no way to determine if I should go up or down a channel. Each channel holds its own surprise.

Today was a great example. Using my IC-705 on 10m it was easy to see station activity 70khz in either direction, and (as I said), if I didn't see anything on the waterfall I'd sit there like a WWII Submarine rigged for silent running - waiting for something to happen on the scope.

Back on 11 meters, all I could do with the CPI was change the channel selector "click-click-click" UP & Down until I heard a station worth a shot at calling. It was... as I once wrote in regard to having a CB with a frequency counter vs. one without, akin to flying blind - or as Forest Gump once said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.”


"I had a lot more fun accidentally discovering stations on the CPI versus watching the waterfall/band-scope on the 705"


As I flipped around my 40 channel 11m band today I never knew what to expect on the next channel (unless it was a channel or two above and below the "Super Bowl"). Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised, while other times not so much. 

Yes, I could have used an A/B switch to watch the band scope on the IC-705, switching to the CPI and tuning the loop in the direction of where the action appeared to be, but I continued to keep the rigs separate: My 705 for 10m and the CPI-2000 for 11. That's when it dawned on me that I had a lot more fun accidentally discovering stations on the CPI versus watching the 705's waterfall/band-scope on 10m.

(it was like fishing with a rod/line/bait vs. fishing with dynamite) 


CPI-2000 (not mine)


I had a similar Gotcha moment in the 80's when my ham rig with it's digital display was in for repair, and I was given a Yaesu FT-101b loaner to keep me on-the-air (the advantage of having a somewhat local repair shop, with a heart 'O gold - Thanks Sonny).

Other than knowing where the band limitations existed for my class of License, everything in-between was up for grabs and it became a really cool experience hunting for stations. It didn't matter if I was on 28.305 or 28.314.5, as long as I was tuned in to the other station we'd have a QSO.

 Finally, when my rig with it's digital display was repaired, I was sorry to let the loaner go back to Sonny's shop. Thinking deeper than I usually do, this is similar to using a radio @ it's legal output level, versus putting an amp in-line to make sure you're heard.

I guess that's why I like QRP so much - it's a real challenge to land the big one, and when I do, my heart's racing like it had a case of "Buck Fever"...









So, here's the end of my first post for 2022 - Happy New Year!








Thursday, October 21, 2021

VAMPIRES IN BOSTON? IN 1896? TBT [Throw Back Thursday]








I took a week off to get my head straight over the events of last month, so I missed last weeks "THROW BACK THURSDAY". I thought I could take one week away from radio and have something more in line with Halloween, so I dug up this gem from 1896 - Enjoy!









Sunday, October 03, 2021

SWR (i.e. - where does that lost power go?)



Yep, Halloween is right around the corner so it's time to change my Blog pic to something more seasonal. The video I have posted below is another fine (albeit short) example of what Waters & Stanton's Peter Waters, creates each week (usually posted on Friday)

It's a short one about SWR (or as some call it "Swerr"), followed by 2 longer videos, one by K0LWC and the other by the "Wizard of Og" - KE0OG, Dave Casler, about using the SWR meter on your ICOM IC-7300.


Thanks so much for taking a little time out of your day to visit this Blog, and special thanks to those who sent condolence emails about my Dad's passing. Shortly after posting that page I brought it back to Draft status until a setup a permanent link, however, this page I've created will slowly grow as more photos are found, and more memories re-surface.




Thursday, September 30, 2021

TBT [ThrowBack Thursday] VI









 CB IN 1967 -  

"Citizens Band radio, a boon and a headache"