This past weekend was one of those to be marked in red on the DXer’s calendar! Certainly not for a worldwide contest, but for the most important event of our hobby that takes place every year in Dayton, Ohio, United States.Indeed, three venues are able to physically concentrate a plethora of OMs from all around the world. After Dayton in late June there will be the German Convention (Messe) in Friedrichshafen and then in August in Tokyo, it’s the JARL Ham Fair!
At these events there is always the opportunity to meet and get close to a lot of innovations that, year after year, enrich the “state of the art” of our historical, but also ever evolving hobby. Especially this year, with months having past, there’s been been a lot of waiting around owing to the anticipation that radio manufacturers have gradually created . The increasingly extensive use of digital technology, of DSP processors and SDR technologies have led to developments unthinkable until a few years ago when it was thought that a radio with PC interface and integrated FSK modulator for digital modes was the highest aspiration for the amateur of the third millennium.
Instead, mention must be made of manufacturers who have been able to move forward in the era of digital technology at the risk of not being rewarded by a growing niche market like ours. Let us watch together to see what 2012 will bring to the market of HF transceivers!
For sure this year will be remembered as one of the limelight for Kenwood (JVC -Kenwood inc.), The launch of the TS-590 in 2011 after many years of absence from this brand has been supported by an interesting element of the market, with subsequent positive opinions on this product. So here, the long awaited big brother, based on the glorious history of the House of Kenwood, sees birth this year to the TS-990S, fit to rub elbows with high-end HF radio equipment at the same level, such as the dated IC -7800, the YAESU FTDX-5000 and always loved or hated Elecraft K3. We don’t know prices and features in detail, but it most certainly will have dual receivers, dual LCD display, the main with an S-meter and spectrum analyzer and the second for the control of the two VFO frequencies.
Kenwood has not yet provided a table of technical specifications of the radio. We read from the official website (http://www2.jvckenwood.com/en/news/2012/20120418.html) that the the radio, gaining exposure at the three main events mentioned before, starting with that of Dayton, will be a prototype. Therefore, it will still be subject to revision and not yet commercially viable. So, we can assume that the TS-990S will make its appearance on the market by the end of the year and not by July as some sellers repoer, already accepting pre-orders… It’s conceivable that, as was the case for the TS-590, the price will be competitive with its direct competitors. We’ll watch and wait!
Surprisingly, YAESU, following production of the FTDX-5000, is presenting the smallest FTDX-3000. Yaesu thus makes its family complete. If the 5000 was the natural evolution of the much sold FT-2000, this new 3000 is the legitimate son of the FT-950. The Japanese company, unlike Kenwood, will directly launch the new radio onto the market. Prices are unknown. However, a brochure with specifications was recently released by the company and is available here.
News made by the introduction of the 5000 model, is that of the first “down conversion” to 9MHz. This feature hopelessly denotes the first IF and therefore the first mixer as an essential stage of the single receiver circuit of this radio. New crystal roofing filters featuring high quality management of dynamic range is applicable to this mixer. In a general way it can be said that Yaesu has accepted much criticism, also as to the difficult changes to the previous series (FT-2000 and 950). All this, of course, is surrounded by a modern 32-bit DSP and a wide spectrum screen, making this an absolute innovation for Yaesu brand. A second smaller LCD display shows frequency.
A powerful boost to innovation and more extreme, comes instead from FlexRadio Systems, American manufacturer of the only radio using SDR technology. At this point, having and using an SDR transceiver is no longer an issusion, but a concrete reality, supported by enormous versatility, compact size and performance beyond all limits!
The FLEX-6000 series has beeb presented to us in Dayton. With the promise to revolutionize our hobby forever, the new SmartSDR technology introduces a new concept of a direct sampling digital receiver based on the SCU (Signal Capture Units) that can capture the RF signal and virtualize directly to make it available for digital sampling for multiple simultaneous applications. This therefore permits receiving on more bands of spectrum simultaneously on multiple sub-receivers created at will, as it will be possible to network multiple devices and use them as if they were one.
Certainly this family of devices (6500 and 6700 at the time) marked the real technological revolution in the world of amateur radio. We are at the stage of definitive abandonment of the classical superheterodyne receiver with all the modern possibile variants, to finally embrace the Digital Down Conversion (DDC) acting directly on the RF signal input from the antenna. We can therefore apply filters and the stage transmitter with direct digital integration with a potential far greater and more versatile than the well-known defects of the superheterodyne.