Dinasaur Radios

Dinasaurus Radios
I was thinking the other day about how far computers had come in the past 10 years and then hand phones from 20lb bricks you would have to clear a space on the floor for to nowadays when my windows based PDA phone is about the size of two match  boxes and then I looked at my radio collection. There is stuff all difference between the radios of 20 years ago and those on the market today. Sure they advertise more power, (there was 400w valve rigs 20 years ago too) DSP, (Can you really hear anything a well tuned Collins won’t?) and TV screens that won’t pick up much but there has been very few groundbreaking improvements in amateur radios. It is a box with a few knobs and dials that we talk around the world with using a microphone or tap out morse code on a key by hand.
 By comparison on our computers and phones we can tap out the text on a keyboard and send it along with a picture, video clip or whatever. I am talking SMS or MMS  or instant messaging. I believe that you can buy several after market products that you can add to your basic radio and computer, that after considerable study, effortand trial and error may be able to send and receive faxes, emails, slow scan TV  and even small pictures with some HF radios.
Why isn’t this already in one black box? They can put it all into a tiny telephone and sell it for peanuts so all that would be needed for HF is more power and a good antenna. Bandwidth problems? Hardly, the Ham bands are empty most of the time and bandwidth is solved by compression and digitalization techniques and just look at where Skype is at these days and the latest MSN messenger. As far as commercial stuff goes voice communications are a pain in the butt. I would much rather prepare a page or two of text and have that sent and 100% received than try to explain technical stuff with a non native speaker about how things work! Send a document and he can pull up babel fish on his radio/computer at his end and read it in his language. This is where HF radios should be today. Let the computers handle the hard stuff. The technology is definitely out there but ICOM/Yaesu/Kenwood and the rest just don’t want to risk it. I think the market is saturated with radios. There is hardly anything to set them apart. The laboratories can tell that this one is better or worse with their delicate instruments but can our ears? I don’t think so.
I want a new radio and this is what I want! 
It has to be incorporated into or based on a fully functional computer. I want to lift the top up and look at a screen just like I do with my laptop. And no crummy 7” TFT’s I want the whole top to be screen plus a monitor plug if I want to watch it remotely or on a really big screen. I want USB ports so I can plug in keyboard/mouse/printer etc at least 6 of them. For marine use an input for a gps signal so it will always transmit present location with every transmission or as programmed.  The computer will take care of everything, The DSP on transmit, receive and audio tailoring at everystage. Already we have software defined radios coming on to the market so hopefully it won’t be too much longer. See the following links for where they are at…
One thing the radio will incorporate is an automatic decoder for every kind of digital mode (even morse code) currently available and the ability to update it as new ones come along. The TNC and software will be built in from the ground up. If the radio is the size of an Icom 756 then that’s plenty of room and a pretty good screen size. Should be able to get all the radio controls and settings up on half the screen and the rest taken over for the data decoding, but that can be altered as one wants. So can the colour scheme..just like windows.
The radio can retain the normal knobs as required but there should be a removeable cover over them so they don’t distract us and get in the way. Nothing on the cover except input and output plugs…Mics, keyboards, mouse, video and sound, ext speaker and what else? And more than one of each!
Speakers…The speakers on my laptop computer sound great. Put a couple of  decent speakers recessed in the each side of the radio so they can be swung out and faced forwards. DSP audio and all that good stuff.
Voice transmissions can be normal analog or digitized if the distant station can also decode them. Look at where these AOR people are going…Gotta have this stuff built in..
Built in tuner is a must….
And how about this in case you are worried about your antenna…How about a built in antenna analyzer have to use all that processing power for something..Check out the TZ-900 AntennSmith TM  Antenna Impedance Analyzer here..
Power. I think the one thing that should be mounted away from the radio is the final RF stage. Make this one of the variables. It doesn’t have to be part of or built in to the radio..
I think it should be mounted on the antenna along with the tuner unit. And while we are on antennas the package should include one of these:
But for secret squirrel band hopping stuff you will need a log periodic…..
Time to go to work and start saving up!
Have a good day.
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