I read a nice entry on KE2YK's Random Oscillations blog today entitled, "LID Operator With the $10K Rig - or - Which way to the inlet?. It caused me to think about a minor revelation that I had the other night.
I am not in the market for a new radio. I repeat, no new radio for me. In fact, I'm starting to think that it will be a very long time before I'm going to even entertain the idea. Why? Because of something that I realized recently while reading a copy of DX Power, written by Eugene Tilton, K5RSG. And here's where I had a revelation, so to speak.
First, I bought that book back in the mid-1980's. It isn't current. I found it the other day while digging through a bunch of old boxes that hadn't been unpacked in...well...20-plus years. I'm not sure if it has been updated or not. But the interesting thing was that it mentioned several popular transceivers of the day...Drake TR-7, Kenwood TS-930 and Ts-940, Yaesu FT-One, Collins KWM-380, and others. All of these are fine radios and still draw a lot of interest and have a very faithful following. Some will swear that they're still among the best.
Second, given the timeframe, there was certainly no mention of the internet and only a brief acknowledgement of computers as an operator's aid. A cursory discussion of packet spotting was given.
It isn't one of my all-time favorite books, but it is well-written and it isn't a bad read at all. If you're interested in chasing DX, it's certainly worth the time. In fact, certain parts of it were extremely intriguing. It was very interesting to read about chasing DX just 20-some years ago and to think about how that's changed. It's akin to reading The Complete DX'er...only the first edition, and without the great operator stories. You know, back when separate transmitter and receivers were the way to go. You do remember that, don't you?
So how does this relate to not buying a new radio? Well, I'm not in the market for a radio to begin with, but it got me to thinking. It made me realize that here were all these fellows who worked all this DX without DSP. Without internet spotting networks. Without up-to-the-second updates on DXpeditions. Without Twitter. Without dozens of conveniences that we take for granted now (and, yet, it was JUST 25 years ago). But they still had to battle pileups, still had to battle QRM and QRN, still had to contend with antenna problems, still had to contend with LIDS, and still competed in contests. And they did it with radios that might be considered good in today's world, but no longer great. Certainly not regarded to be in the class of the top radios of today's offerings, despite what some might argue.
And I bet they could have the same DX success today, with the same old radios. Why? Because many of them were real, world-class operators. It isn't the radio, it's the operator that makes the difference. A great operator can hear more on my old Heathkit receiver that I used as a novice than a LID with a K3.
I'm certainly not at all opposed to getting the latest and greatest. And before you say that I'm just jealous of people who can run out and buy super expensive radios, I dream about it the same as you do. And one day I'm sure I will be plunking down a sizeable chunk of change for something new. But for the time being, I think I'm going to concentrate on trying to hone my skills and appreciate what I have. And coming to the realization that I don't really NEED a new radio - and not for a good long time either - has given me a nice feeling.
Now, what about a new antenna? Hmmmm....