Ham scams and April Fools

11 April 2016

Throughout the years, amateur radio has had its share of pranksters and hijinks, as well as simple photoshopped images that circulate primarily around April Fools Day, although some have been known to make the rounds at other times of the year. I figured I would have some fun and post a few of the more popular ones here.
In some cases people are so enamored with how a Chinese company can sell such a great little dual band handheld for such a low price, anytime any jokes or pranks or photoshopped images come along, it starts making the rounds as to "new products offered by Baofeng" or whatever other company. One of the first I remember seeing was this great little fake:

fake uv7xd image

While the image itself was very well put together, the list of features and extra buttons begs for a laugh. The need for licensing to use just one of those digital services in a radio much less all 4 of them, even if such a handheld ever did exist, would likely place it close to the $600 range for all 4 in a single unit. There is a DMR capable Chinese model out, the MD-380 made by TYT aka Tytera (same company), although it is not known if they paid for proper licensing to use it, or if they reverse engineered something to create the handheld. Yaesu still has a firm grasp on its digital Fusion service so no budget Fusion models available from China yet, and with D-Star aging plus repeaters being dropped/decommissioned (mostly being replaced by Fusion or DMR repeaters), it doesn't make much sense to make Chinese models for it.
Another that is a more recent photoshop is this one:

fake uv7300 image

This one is actually based on the Chinese KN-920 which first appeared sometime in 2013. It has the unfortunate stance of being overpriced, underpowered, and of especially bad quality, even for Chinese manufactured origin (10W out and typically sells for $400 or more). A much better option that has gained some favorable reviews is the Xiegu X108 (released in 2014) or the newer X108G, despite its premium price. The latest official word from Baofeng/Pofung (early 2016) is that there is not even an HF model on the drawing board, so do not expect any official units anytime soon.

A much more subdued joke that has been making the rounds is based on a blog piece from a satire site (think of "The Onion" for ham radio), where they claim "Baofeng buys Tokyo High Power Labs". Part of the reason this one has been making the rounds is the popularity of the Hy-Power products through the 80s and 90s with the long time hams, some of which were gullible enough to fall for the satire piece. As they were still actively researching and attempting to build new products such as showing a prototype 40m-6m with an internal tuner at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention as reported by ARRL, many thought they may reappear under a different label. Apparently the costs outweighed the sales and they went under in late 2013. This one tugs on the nostalgia factor and the desire by some long time hams for Hy-Power to resurface, even if it may be under the notorious Baofeng company. This is just another piece from a satire website that has no merit, you can be sure that 3+ years later, all of the Hy-Power assets have been bought and scattered all over the orient.

Some other notable jokes, pranks or satire based pieces (typically for US or Canada) include "new licensing levels", bringing back the CW requirement, how a bill up for consideration in the US Congress would force HOAs to allow licensed hams to put up 200 ft towers with massive 160m beams on them, and various others.

Then there are other aspects that people think are jokes but is very real would include fake Baofengs, which is a very real problem. This one is based in fact where the Foscam company (ShenZhen Foscam relies on its US based "Foscam" company based in Texas) who buys failed/broken boards, bypasses the broken part or creates their own illegal custom firmware to lessen the impact of the problem, then assembles them into Baofeng cases, and sells them as new Baofeng radios. Some are based on real models like UV-5R (which was discontinued in early 2014), others are fake names like BF-F9 V2+, UV-5RTP, GT-3TP, none of which were ever made or sold by the real company. Many also illegally use Baofengs Part 90 certification, or illegally filed and was approved Part 90 certification under the Baofeng name for one of their fake Foscam models. They also illegally use Baofengs FCC Part 15 compliance stickers for their fake models. Foscam is only allowed to import and sell official Baofeng radios, not create their own, nor use Baofengs FCC certification and compliance for their own models.

I may update this as others surface, but for now this covers some of the more recent pranks and April Fools pieces floating around out there.

Hopefully this helps and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

73 de K4ISR