What are the future classics?


A classic can be defined as something that’s the best of its kind and no longer available. There are other definitions, most of which usually require the object under scrutiny to be from a bygone era.

Making matters murkier, there is bound to be disagreement of which specific items within a category qualify as classics.

The classic ham radios have been listed, blogged about and traded on eBay with the classic verbiage no doubt adding (successfully or not) to their asking price.

But what are the future classics? What might they be?

As a CW-only op, I’m not qualified to even hazard a guess across the broader spectrum of radio gear that is available overall but I can’t imagine the Elecraft K2 not eventually falling into this category. I’ve never owned a K2 but have operated two of them and don’t like them at all, but many do and many have been (and continue to be) sold.

But more than their popularity, what may add them to the Classics heading of some future list is that after a 20 year hiatus, the K2 finally allowed the solder-capable ham to once again build his own fully featured, 100-watt, 10-160m main rig from a kit. Prior to the K2, you had to go back to 1982 and Heathkit’s SB104A.

In QRP, I can think of three possible classics: the QRP+ from Index Labs, the ATS series from Steve Weber and the DSW series from Small Wonder Labs.

The QRP+ was the first and smallest 10-160m portable go-anywhere rig. Its cubical form adds to its uniqueness. Its specs don’t touch what came later, but the QRP+ was the first in its league and remained so for many years.

The ATS-series of kits redefined portability. The first generally-available kit to utilize SMD components, the features and size of this rig put it in a category that no one else even comes close to occupying. It truly is in a league of its own. In fact, I’d call this rig a classic even though it still available, albeit intermittently.

The DSW was (I believe) the first, small QRP transceiver kit that was DDS-based and the first to use Morse code for frequency annunciation. Their availability didn’t last long, thereby enhancing this rigs classic status.

No doubt there are many other rigs, QRP and otherwise, that fall under the Future Classics heading.



  1 comment for “What are the future classics?

  1. March 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    How about the FT-817 for a future classic? It’s the only “true” (5 watt) QRP rig manufactured by one of the big 3. Because of it’s popularity over a long period of time, it could be said to have brought the enjoyment of portable and QRP operating to the ham radio masses. It spawned a very healthy market for accessories and add-ons. You only have to look at the Yahoo Group to see how many owners love their 817’s.

    I agree with all of your suggestions John, but many of them are radios that appealed to those who were already QRP’ers. The FT-817 was for many their first QRP rig and thus can be said to have brought many into the QRP fold.

    The ATS series still blows me away. I agree with you – completely in a class of it’s own.

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