HFU HF Underground

General Category => General Radio Discussion => Topic started by: Beerus Maximus on October 09, 2018, 1717 UTC

Title: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Beerus Maximus on October 09, 2018, 1717 UTC
Buy that Cobra 29 now before they're gone!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/over-and-out-cb-radio-maker-struggles-to-adjust-to-trump-tariffs/2018/09/23/87cf518a-b6b8-11e8-a2c5-3187f427e253_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.93625116e5f1

Quote
CHICAGO ó Cedar Electronics has been selling CB radios to American truckers since the 1960s, helping connect the workers who keep the U.S. economy rolling. But these days Cedarís business isnít exactly trucking along.

The Chicago-headquartered company is racing around Asia looking for other countries to host its manufacturing, after the radios Cedar makes in China and brings to the United States were hit with one of the Trump administrationís 25 percent tariffs this summer, making them more expensive to import.

Rare that CB radio makes any sort of mainstream media appearance so I thought this was interesting. This situation of course has interesting implications across a variety of electronic products sourced from China, not just CB radios.

No strong political comments, please.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: R4002 on October 09, 2018, 1720 UTC
I recently visited a website of a well-known CB/export radio vendor (Bell's CB) and they had a disclaimer at the top of the page regarding increased prices and reduced availability of both street-legal 40 channel/4 watt radios and 10-meter/export radios due to the Trump Tariffs.  "Heads up- Many China made items are going way up in price due to tariffs."

CB equipment isn't the only type of radio communications equipment that's made in China. 

Trade wars are easy to win???? [strongest political comment you'll get from me]

The Cobra 29 is a classic radio too.  The original trucker's CB.  Best when peeked and tooned for maximum swing ;)  I have a Cobra 29XLR (made in Japan!) with the DigiMod channel expansion kit installed but the radio is otherwise completely stock and sounds great on AM.  It was one of the first 40 channel CBs widely available on the market once the band was increased from 23 to 40 channels in 1977.   CB may be old school technology, but its usefulness cannot be understated - even in the age of smartphones and 4G LTE.

Are the Ranger/RCI radios still built in Malaysia or are they made in China now too?  I have a Galaxy 959 that was made in Malaysia and a Superstar 3900 from the Philippines but the 3900 is probably about 25 years old.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 09, 2018, 1819 UTC
I don't have much sympathy for any of these 1st world companies that are built on the backs of slave labor in 3rd world countries (and thus deny a living wage to 1st world workers at the same time) yet sell their wares in 1st world countries.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Beerus Maximus on October 09, 2018, 2256 UTC
Josh, point taken but..

Quote
No strong political comments, please.

Let's make this a discussion about observation of pricing trends of radios, availability or radios, and assorted and related parts and accessories. Could help people make a decision on a radio they might have been holding off on.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Beerus Maximus on October 09, 2018, 2326 UTC
"Heads up- Many China made items are going way up in price due to tariffs."

I've been buying some export radios recently, out of a CB nostalgia and to gear up for the next solar cycle. Had a nice opening on 27 MHz today I worked with a new Lincoln II+. I also have a Stryker and a Connex new in box sitting on the shelf. I hope the tariff thing doesn't kill off what remains of CB.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Pigmeat on October 10, 2018, 0029 UTC
Luckily I have a sizable collection of junked cb's spanning nearly fifty years. A couple of them still kinda work.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Fansome on October 10, 2018, 0805 UTC
I'm sorry to hear this. In the late 70s and early 80s CB was the most fun I could have with my clothes off, and I had been thinking of trying it again. I'll probably put it off a while longer now...
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Pigmeat on October 10, 2018, 1104 UTC
I'm sorry to hear this. In the late 70s and early 80s CB was the most fun I could have with my clothes off, and I had been thinking of trying it again. I'll probably put it off a while longer now...

That's an awfully disturbing image for the children who may be reading this board, Al. I doubt your love goats will be happy about that statement, either.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: R4002 on October 10, 2018, 1231 UTC
"Heads up- Many China made items are going way up in price due to tariffs."

I've been buying some export radios recently, out of a CB nostalgia and to gear up for the next solar cycle. Had a nice opening on 27 MHz today I worked with a new Lincoln II+. I also have a Stryker and a Connex new in box sitting on the shelf. I hope the tariff thing doesn't kill off what remains of CB.

Apparently the President Lincoln II is a pretty great radio, especially for SSB DXing.  I have a modified Galaxy DX 959 (with the Lescomm 120 channel modification and some RX parts upgraded, does 26515-27855 and screams on AM...is okay on SSB but its a Galaxy and sounds like a Galaxy on SSB) and Cobra 29XLR for AM stuff. Of course there's the Uniden 520XL for throw in the trunk emergency radio stuff and both a Superstar 3900 and CRE 8900 (aka Alinco DR-135CB) for export radio/SSB work. 

The Superstar 3900 is killer on AM too, especially with an amplified microphone.  I usually run the 3900 with an Astatic 636L mic on SSB since it has the fine/course clarifier. Course is +/- 5 kHz, fine is +/- 1 kHz, both fine and course control RX and TX frequency which makes the 3900 a lot easier to use on SSB than the Galaxy, which just has one clarifier knob for +/- 5-6 kHz. 

The Galaxy 959 doesn't really need an amplified mic because those radios have so much audio to spare anyway.  I know the Connex rigs are really similar and are nice and loud on AM (they're all made by Ranger/RCI after all).  Even without DX conditions, there's still an active local AM and SSB CB scene where I live and its usefulness in an emergency is undeniable. 

The more middle of the road Cobras and Unidens are probably what will get hit worse by the tariffs.  Hopefully the Ranger built rigs are still made somewhere that's not China. 

Apparently the new Superstar 3900s are made in China...although the one I have is 20-25 years old (this version: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/FUyEX4chtv4/hqdefault.jpg (https://i.ytimg.com/vi/FUyEX4chtv4/hqdefault.jpg)) with the EPT3600-11B PCB...apparently the 11B was one of the first versions of the EPT3600 series boards which are in dozens of different radios from the Connex 3300, Connex 4300, General Lee, a bunch of different Galaxy rigs and so on and so forth...
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: ThaDood on October 13, 2018, 2107 UTC
I see one of two things that can happen here. 1: A resurgence of classic CB restoration, (Which I have a tendency to do myself.), or 2: a golden opportunity of the other up and coming tech countries to take up the slack, like India, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, etc. China should have never been an all-in-1-basket for cheap tech.  Doesn't anyone remember South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, (And yes!), 1950's - 60's Japan? 
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: redhat on October 13, 2018, 2224 UTC
The sad thing is some of the better low end stuff is now coming from Taiwan....I know, contradiction of terms.  But still...

+-RH
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: BoomboxDX on October 16, 2018, 0927 UTC
I read the article, but the one thing that wasn't really mentioned was the poor CB sales overall, especially when compared to 15 or 20 years ago. A couple hundred thousand truckers just isn't enough to overcome a spike in pricing and keep a company afloat. It's sad, but it's the overall state of the industry right now. I would wager that some of the ham and SWL radio companies are going to be following suit. The ham radio companies will last a bit longer than the others perhaps, only because the remaining hams are generally well-heeled, but the industry overall is probably going to tank.

Speaking of tanks, I still have my Cobra 148. Made in Taiwan. Built like a tank.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: R4002 on October 16, 2018, 1520 UTC
Cobra 148 is a classic CB.  I think the fact that there's just so many radios floating around in the used market as well...I mean how often are truckers, hunters/outdoorsmen and other users of CB buying a new radio?  I have noticed a lot of the newer-style Cobra 29 radios in 18-wheelers but at the same time I've seen older-generation radios (the prototypical Galaxy 99s, etc.)

Even with harsh conditions like daily use in the cab of a semi, I feel like most radios last a while. 
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 16, 2018, 1906 UTC
The HAM makers all have their fingers in multiple pies. Gov, mil, maritime, aviation, Icom even made and sold desktop pcs for a while. I expect the Chinese to follow suit taking up any space gained from the major HAM makers, I'd love to see a Chinese clone of the IC7800. You hear me China?!?!
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Pigmeat on October 16, 2018, 2232 UTC
The HAM makers all have their fingers in multiple pies. Gov, mil, maritime, aviation, Icom even made and sold desktop pcs for a while. I expect the Chinese to follow suit taking up any space gained from the major HAM makers, I'd love to see a Chinese clone of the IC7800. You hear me China?!?!

Or a Knight Ocean Hopper!
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: R4002 on October 17, 2018, 1317 UTC
The HAM makers all have their fingers in multiple pies. Gov, mil, maritime, aviation, Icom even made and sold desktop pcs for a while. I expect the Chinese to follow suit taking up any space gained from the major HAM makers, I'd love to see a Chinese clone of the IC7800. You hear me China?!?!

How about a Chinese clone of an Icom HF marine radio? 

http://radioaficion.com/cms/feitong-ft-808/ (http://radioaficion.com/cms/feitong-ft-808/)

Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood also have their fingers in the lucrative land mobile radio/business radio/professional mobile radio market.  With the widespread adoption of DMR, now even the itinerant construction crew has been told they need to replace their entire several-hundred-radio handheld radio cache with MotoTRBO DMR radios because...digital? 

Yes, we did digital voice to talk to the guy in the tower crane 1000 feet away, even though the analog FM handhelds worked perfectly...

The Chinese are making inroads in that market too....not just when it comes to construction crews using Baofengs but also higher-end DMR (conventional and trunking) systems being offered by Chinese companies, Hytera and TYT come to mind. 

The switch from analog to DMR has had some interesting side effects.  The cheapo Baofeng BF-888 radio (not the "upgraded version" that the vendor has re-programmed with FRS frequencies...) comes with 462.125 MHz as channel 1.  Before they switched to DMR, one of the major downtown hotels used 462.125 as their primary security repeater frequency.  Add a catering company using Baofeng BF-888 radios on the same frequency and hilarity ensues (not the same CTCSS/PL tone, however). 

Now that the hotel in question is using a Motorola MotoTRBO DMR trunking system on their old frequencies, 462.125 is basically unusable [nearly constant digital signal on frequency] for the we-didn't-know-any-better walkie-talkie crowd using BF-888s.  Same with the other default factory frequencies [most of which are carrier squelch 462.225 MHz, 462.325 MHz, 462.425 MHz, etc.), there's DMR traffic on all of them.   Basically the only ones left are 462.625 MHz CTCSS 127.3 Hz [channel 6] and 462.725 MHz CTCSS 136.5 Hz [channel 7].  Ironically, both of these are legal FRS/GMRS frequencies and the users of these radios have more or less been forced to use those two channels as they're often the only clear channels available.

Random tangent aside, I guess the time is now to buy up a bunch of Cobra 29s and Baofeng UV-5Rs.  I read that the FCC issued an enforcement advisory against the sale of Baofeng "ham radios" that transmit outside the ham bands out of the box, have the capability of transmitting the wideband FM on the Part 90 land mobile channels, and aren't certified to operate on the frequencies they can transmit out of the box..

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-980A1.pdf (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-980A1.pdf)
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 17, 2018, 1859 UTC
Yeh if they made something the Handsome Al Fansome liked, the swl public would buy it in droves! IC7800, China. You hear me?!?


One of these bad boys will soon grace my desk;
https://www.amazon.com/RECENT-RS-918SSB-SDR-HAM-Transceiver/dp/B072155421

Not quite a IC7800 but closer than an Ocean Hopper.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Pigmeat on October 18, 2018, 1611 UTC
Look at the knobs on that baby!
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Rizla on October 18, 2018, 2202 UTC
Quote
the remaining hams are generally well-heeled

Gotta beg to differ; well, maybe half of them, the guys with 200 ft towers and $5K SDR's and the latest, always, from Icom/Yaesu/Kenwood...

The remaining hams are _cheap_... cheap, worn as a badge of honor. A truly great American tradition that represents the true hacker spirit. If you buy an antenna, to these guys you are a loser. If you think there are arguments here, you should see Eham and qrz.
In this tradition, I've been enjoying a 1974 copy of the ARRL antenna book, which cost me $3 (too much I'm sure), and the glories of copper wire in spools from HDepot.

Speaking of cheap, that Recent transceiver looks amazing, hell, Baofengs are amazing for the price -- Shenzhen attitude in action.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 19, 2018, 1825 UTC
Look at the knobs on that baby!




just dont tell Al that its a sdr with local control options
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Pigmeat on October 19, 2018, 1909 UTC
You just did, Slick. I feel sorry for you.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: BoomboxDX on October 20, 2018, 1209 UTC
Quote
the remaining hams are generally well-heeled

Gotta beg to differ; well, maybe half of them, the guys with 200 ft towers and $5K SDR's and the latest, always, from Icom/Yaesu/Kenwood...

The remaining hams are _cheap_... cheap, worn as a badge of honor. A truly great American tradition that represents the true hacker spirit. If you buy an antenna, to these guys you are a loser. If you think there are arguments here, you should see Eham and qrz.
In this tradition, I've been enjoying a 1974 copy of the ARRL antenna book, which cost me $3 (too much I'm sure), and the glories of copper wire in spools from HDepot.

Speaking of cheap, that Recent transceiver looks amazing, hell, Baofengs are amazing for the price -- Shenzhen attitude in action.

I beg to differ with you, but your points are well taken. Yes, there are hams who are cheap. But if one can afford a new, or relatively new, working ham rig, you're talking over $1000. And in my world's view, the only people with the cash available to drop a grand on a radio they're going to use once or twice a week is 'well heeled'. Then you have the cost of the linear amplifier to consider. And then some guys need extra electrical wiring to accommodate that.

Wire for antennas is cheap enough. It's the other equipment that's expensive.

I can relate to the cheap guys, the ones who try to make do with less. I once built a wire yagi for my CB hobby, and talked to Mexico with it. It worked rather well. But the guys I hear on the 20 meter band aren't talking cheap. They have money to spend.

73, and peace.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Rizla on October 22, 2018, 2004 UTC
Your points are also well taken. I don't know if it's 50/50, but it seems to me that the ham community that is interesting these days has a lot of action in QRP stuff and DIY. But I've certainly heard tons of the guys you're talking about. I heard a W2 turning his mega fantastic 20 over S9 beam around, just for kicks, to show how bad-arse the reverse beam was... 80 years old. He was very funny. More power to him, I say.

Also, with the long list of "Silent Keys" in each issue of QST, there's a lot of really good gear that's been fawned over, i.e., a Kenwood ts-820 I got for $0 that was barely used, and another person  just brought over coax and an antenna turner, and in these cases my friends thought I was doing _them_ a favor by taking stuff they'd never use. Also, a TenTech Century 21 thrown in... There are ridiculous deals out there if one is patient and ignores Ebay; a lot of the Kenwood stuff from 70's-80's was really well made (not to mention the classic American Swans/Hallicrafters and so forth that I missed out on, from same friend...)

Gotta add that anyone who takes the FCC exams is told that the antenna is the most crucial part of the rig. $1000 transceiver doesn't mean so much with crummy antenna. To really do what I want has meant DIY for me; I don't have an Elmer (yet).

I heard a lot of action on 10 meters during the "Cal QSO party", not so much since, would love to hear more on your home-made Yagi. A CB would be nice to monitor propagation as you and others have (I believe) suggested... As for 20 meters, I hear a lot of guys using 100 watts. The nightly saloons on 80 meters are usually using big amps and God knows what for antennas. YMMV.

73's and best to you!
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 24, 2018, 2009 UTC
A friend stumbled into a IC751a, ic r71a, and ic r7000 like new with boxes for $500 or so due to the owner's suicide. This was in the 90s when this gear was still very relevant on the HAM/radio market, I think he tried to give the widow more but she just wanted them gone.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: R4002 on October 25, 2018, 1233 UTC
I would still love to have a IC-R71A, IC-R7000 and IC-751A, even in today's world of SDRs. 
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 25, 2018, 1748 UTC
The 751A was one of Icom's best hf rigs, and still is going by dynamic range and sensitivity. The 71A is also a very worthy hf rig, three letter government agencies bought em by the pallet load, as well as the 7000. The prob with the 7000 is the weird tuning and it had a spur in the passband for some reason that could be somewhat addressed by a mod. Otherwise nothing did what it could do anywhere near the price.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: ChrisSmolinski on October 25, 2018, 1956 UTC
I have both a R71A and R7000. Both were excellent rigs in their day. The R71A was not a SWLing radio, the audio was not the best. But it was a DXing machine. The R7000 did have its quirks, but was an overall good performing wideband receiver. I'm not sure I could recommend either radio today unless you got a really good deal. Looking at what they sell for, you can get and do so much more with an SDR for the same money.
Title: Re: Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs
Post by: Josh on October 27, 2018, 2008 UTC
I have both a R71A and R7000. Both were excellent rigs in their day. The R71A was not a SWLing radio, the audio was not the best. But it was a DXing machine. The R7000 did have its quirks, but was an overall good performing wideband receiver. I'm not sure I could recommend either radio today unless you got a really good deal. Looking at what they sell for, you can get and do so much more with an SDR for the same money.

And there's the rub. Sdr rigs do so much more it's hard to justify spending as much or more on a rig that will definitely need some tlc in the near future unless the problematic areas are addressed.

That era of Icom rig sufferes from some common issues, one is the lytic caps in the fluorescent display section going bad due to heat. Another is also cap related, the variable trimmers in the pll and bfo circuits become corrupted by the remnants of whatever it is Icom washed the pcb with after soldering, or the caps came with something that would cause corrosion. The pll caps are always under a metal shield so it's a pain. Then there's the heat generated by the psu, if one uses the built in psus, that pretty much age everything in the rig. Hint: don't use the internal supplies. Then there's the common issue of the barrier layer caps going bad in the front end, these caps, due to stress or poor manufacturing become leaky, you get a cap and a resistor in one!
To be honest, at this time, decades after these left the factory, replacing every lytic cap in these rigs is not out of order and likely a very good idea, some folks sell complete recap kits for these rigs on ebay.

So as you can see, unless you fall into a too good to pass up deal on any of the mentioned rigs, hopefully with the problematic areas taken care of, you're way ahead getting an sdr. And don't think that one that is new in box would be any better, without use the dielectric layer goes away after only a few weeks or months of not seeing a charge, some caps may rebuild their layer after being turned on, some might not. Thus endeth the sermon.