Re: K3 K3S Parts

Bob McGraw - K4TAX

Most car parts today are "after market parts".   Rarely does a company have factory parts available after 3 to 5 years.  Factory tooling and retooling prevents this from taking place.   Maybe Maserati, Ferrari or Lamborghini can keep original parts but it is likely the reason they charge $250K to $500K for their vehicles. That's a bit different than my Chevrolet to which I paid $65K, and that was and inexpensive one.   Many original parts are not available but are after market parts.   Plus, I find factory parts are very expensive and understand the reason for that fact.

If a company buys a custom part and the supplier of that custom part closes its doors, which is often the case, where is one to turn?   I've seen companies discontinue parts while a product was still in the  design cycle.  Quantity demand drives the business.   We must realize in the scope of electronics, ham radio is a very small business, looking at the overall parts demand. Plus it is a hobby, unlike the cell phone  business or the medical equipment business.  It is an issue of perspective.   In other words  "mine is most important" regardless of the price.  So you spent $12K on your ham station.  That's lunch money compared to much of the equipment in a single cell site.  Sure I know you stretched the family budget for that radio.  I did too, digging into some of my retirement funds,  but I can afford it and I do enjoy my Elecraft K3S station and associated support equipment. Otherwise, I would have purchased a $1200  transceiver and resurrected an old Heath amplifier and be done with it.    Oh, there is no factory support or service for either of those items.

So with the USB card failure, most instances are the result of nearby lightning strikes causing a voltage step between the radio and the computer.  How does one assure, from the companies point of view, the unit will not fail under those conditions?   They can't control the installation site parameters.   That is up to the user.   From my experience and study, most ham stations have questionable lightning mitigation conditions.   In fact, nearby strikes are typically more detrimental to equipment than power line surges or operator errors.  Even if you disconnect antennas and ground them.  The issue is the station ground being at a difference potential than the AC Mains ground.  The path of least resistance is from the radio to the computer and the USB card in in that path.

Ya see....I built my first transmitter from parts salvaged from 3 or 4 old TV chassis.  And my S-38C receiver was purchased used.  I later built from scratch a Q Multiplier from a Heath schematic. That was fun to integrate into the AC-DC S-38 receiver.   At the time I was a sophomore in high school.   I've climbed the ropes. I learned to repair many different radios including those made today with surface mount parts and lots of data paths.

I don't expect every ham to understand the depth of circuits and electronics in today's ham radios.  I do expect one to understand their limits and the complexity of today's radios and be able to either find the problem, find the parts required and do the repair themselves.   OR.....expect a company to support it as long as profitable to them.  New models and technology comes along daily. It is a challenge to keep up with current trends and technology. Keeping support for a 10 year old product is a loosing proposition.   Due to the nature of the general customer, there is very little profit in ham radio products today.

As one other stated, much of today's electronics is use and throw away items.   I've suggested to more than one ham, that 10 to 20 year old radio is best used under the back wheel of the truck to keep the truck from rolling out of the driveway.   I know that hurts but please don't complain about manufactures support for something like that.

I know folks may not agree with what I've written.  I've spent 20+ years performing repair and support for ham radios. This includes the major 3 brands and a few lesser brands.   We have to face the music today, sorry to say, the lyrics aren't too appealing.


Bob, K4TAX

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