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Re: [TenTec] Obsolescence was: Omni 6 Logic Board Failure

To: tentec@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [TenTec] Obsolescence was: Omni 6 Logic Board Failure
From: "Dr. Gerald N. Johnson" <geraldj@weather.net>
Reply-to: geraldj@weather.net, Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment <tentec@contesting.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 10:40:52 -0600
List-post: <tentec@contesting.com">mailto:tentec@contesting.com>

On 1/14/2011 9:15 AM, Ray Sills wrote:
> Hi Barry:
> True... but those boat anchor rigs were designed to be repairable,
> under the assumption that you could still get the parts/components to
> repair them.  Or, at least find a viable substitute.
> But, over time, we hams as customers, have (requested, demanded,
> voted with our dollars) new features (DSP, performance, etc.) that
> were most economically done using digital and computer techniques.
> Could a boat anchor transmitter be set to 1 Hz frequency accuracy?
> And maintain that frequency for long periods of time?
> Today's radios are much like today's computers:  they are a -
> subscription-.  Periodically, we "renew" the account by buying the
> latest version.  Any day now, my computer is going to fail.  And, I
> won't try to fix it (unless it's something -really- easy and simple
> to repair).  I will then get a replacement for it, most likely the
> latest version of machine and OS.  Same thing with my car.

The computer makers have always believed in making their hardware 
obsolete by new products so they can sell new. The latests versions of 
windoze tend to dislike old working software so they demand new software 
with new user interfaces which sets us all back a year. While computer 
drives do wear out, the CPU that appears to fail probably is only a 
victim of needing its heatsink fins and fan cleaned. The fan packs dust 
into the fins to the point that no air can flow to cool the CPU which 
then gets hot and the resistors change value and can't keep up with the 
clock and it messes up. Its often possible to gain another decade of 
computer use by cleaning the fans and fins every couple years. And far 
less expensive than changing to a "new" computer that lacks floppy 
drives and RS-232 serial ports to connect to existing software and radios.

The computer industry started out 50 years ago leasing computers and 
regularly updating them. Then the PC came along owned by individuals, 
more productive from not being shared with a thousand other users and 
the PC has evolved to be a great deal more powerful than the IBM 360/370 
that were staples of commercial computation in the 60s and 70s. The 
makers still recall those great days of high rents and are trying to get 
back there by a concept they call cloud computing. In cloud computing 
you have a fairly dumb computer that rents their software for each time 
you use it, whether browser, CAD, word processing or whatever, and they 
get perpetual income rather than one time income. You get perpetual 
expense and twice yearly you get to have to learn new software that 
kills your productivity for a week or two each upgrade. And on the 
dozenth upgrade neglects the feature that you need because they didn't 
think you needed it.
> It might be possible for a company to manufacture a radio that could
> be kept operating properly for decades.  But, I bet it would cost -a
> lot- of money.  And, most hams will be quite unwilling to spend that
> amount of money for such a radio.  We might lament the fact that this
> is the case, but it -is- the case so we have to deal with it on those
> terms.
> Perhaps, some radio company might consider engineering the design of
> a radio to future-proof it by finding ways to replace components or
> whole circuits with some generic part.  However, unless there is a
> demand for that, I doubt it would happen, since it would be an added
> cost.  And most companies stay in business by selling new gear, not
> by keeping the old stuff running.  Those companies who support the
> ham community by offering repair service at economically feasible
> rates as long as they can, offer us the comfort of knowing that radio
> we buy should serve us well for a good interval of time.  And, that
> disposes us toward buying their products.

There are many chips still available from the first logic ICs, but 
microprocessors from some companies have disappeared probably because 
they never sold really well.

I was going to look at the Omni VI control board logic, but unless I 
commit to doing a lot, the dozen or 16 schematics turned me off.
> Hams are creative and inventive people, and I also suspect that there
> will always be some of us who will enjoy keeping the old clunkers
> running, and have much satisfaction in doing so.  It's part of the
> hobby!

I'd enjoy creating a new control board, if I could expect to make a 
living selling it for a few years. I have plenty other projects I want 
to do for my fun that are easier.
> 73 de Ray
> FN20kg
> Warrington, PA
73, Jerry, K0CQ
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