MFJ Ceasing Production

Boombox

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I'm not convinced it's a simple numbers issue. Based on what I hear over the air along with what I read here (and on other forums) I think the issue has to do with a lack of technical interest--many hams today are complacent to be appliance operators
If, by "appliance operators", you mean FT8, perhaps you have a point.

But aside from that, I'm not hearing as many hams on the air as I did 15-20 years ago, appliance operator or no appliance operator. I'm sure many of the ones I used to hear in the 2000s and 2010s were 'appliance operators', and there appear to be less of them on the air.

On one hand, it frees up more frequencies for digital and experimental ham operations. On the other, it's just more dead air.

As far as MFJ went, I just don't think there is quite as much call for a lot of outboard stuff as there was 20 years ago. From what I understand, a lot of the modern ham rigs don't need as much outboard equipment, unless a computer is considered outboard equipment.
 

MTS2000des

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Very interesting post from what seems to be a small business, ham-radio related perspective. Very informative.
The post really draws out how the pandemic and "supply chain" issues killed many industries. The poster is experienced in building electronics and really goes into detail how and why the flow of parts stopped. Combined with an already limited industry, it really was the final blow to a decades old business building old school electronics.
 

N4KVE

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The stuff they sold was a mixed bag. I have a few MFJ power supplies that are made in China by Nissei & sold here under several brand names. Since MFJ didn’t make it, but simply imported it, the quality was good, & they’ve never let me down. But if a Mirage amp was on a for sale site, the first question to the seller would be “was this built before, or after MFJ bought Mirage”. Once they bought a company, those products were garbage. I won’t miss them.
 

KF5LJW

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It was over 780K in 2021. So it's dropped by 50K since then. In 2023 it was 755,368, so it's dropped by over 4K in the last year.
Ham radio is on life support and being read its last rite. It has been dying since the 70s. Ham radio is no longer a technology, just a link in the cloud. In the 50/60/70's, ham radio was a stepping stone to an electrical degree. It is now a mature technology and is going nowhere. Youth have no interest in the hobby. Today, microcontrollers and robotics are where the action is at.

The overwhelming majority (greater than 70%) of licensed hams are aging baby boomers dying off fast. The membership has nowhere to go but down. Ham-oriented businesses are going out of biz; there is no growth potential. Today, even the coax market is dying. Commercial operators moved the radios and antennas on top of the tower. Ham Radio will join the 8-Track Tape exhibit in a museum near you. Soon, the manufacturers will stop making ham radios without demand or profit. If MFJ's business were good, someone would have bought it. Unfortunately, MFJ's reputation is well-earned, and there is no future for it or its products.
 

N4KVE

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The CCR ham industry doesn't seem all that in decline
I wonder what the ratio of buyers of the CCR’s are between hams, preppers, & people who want a radio but have no license? There was just a guy on a Facebook radio forum who bought a XPR6580IS. A very specific Canadian oil field 800/900 DMR radio that takes a special $150 CSA approved battery. So he orders a regular 6500 style battery, & of course it doesn’t fit. He simply bought the radio because it was cheap, not realizing he’s now needing to purchase a $150 battery. So rather then have a need, & look for a radio that fills that specific need, these people buy a cheap radio first, & then come here asking what they can do with the “great deal” they just got. Great entertainment.
 

a727469

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Ham radio is on life support and being read its last rite. It has been dying since the 70s. Ham radio is no longer a technology, just a link in the cloud. In the 50/60/70's, ham radio was a stepping stone to an electrical degree. It is now a mature technology and is going nowhere. Youth have no interest in the hobby. Today, microcontrollers and robotics are where the action is at.

The overwhelming majority (greater than 70%) of licensed hams are aging baby boomers dying off fast. The membership has nowhere to go but down. Ham-oriented businesses are going out of biz; there is no growth potential. Today, even the coax market is dying. Commercial operators moved the radios and antennas on top of the tower. Ham Radio will join the 8-Track Tape exhibit in a museum near you. Soon, the manufacturers will stop making ham radios without demand or profit. If MFJ's business were good, someone would have bought it. Unfortunately, MFJ's reputation is well-earned, and there is no future for it or its products.
On topic…I assume you know the old saying about MFJ, mighty fine junk…I never bought any. I hate to say this but all business
in any field either adapt or disappear..if the ham market declines then so be it. Things change.

On ARRL…While I may not care for your classification since I am “dying off fast”, I do agree with most of your thoughts…I would suggest you do not arbitrarily catagorize any group of people…However, I too understand your observations. I have actually expressed similar feelings as to the usefulness of both arrl and ham radio, even though I have been licensed for 25+ years and have been told by many that I just did not understand what arrl was all about, but I have participated in the past in many aspects and found most to be at best semi productive and at worst very political..their work in disaster areas is helpful, but again not enough to make it worth while…again politics. Some will defend everything and they are welcome to participate…each to his/her own.
I will say arrl has tried to make some efforts to recruit younger members with some success when they try to sell more current technologies and I wish them much luck since I hate to see failure in anything. Again, adapt, change or you will not be around, either business or arrl.
 

nokones

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I think if ARRL was willing they can be very instrumental in keeping this hobby from dying off. If they ARRL initiate the action to either introduce an Operator License, with restrictions and limitations, or eliminate the need for a written examination for the Technician License, this would no doubt help recruit new people into the hobby. What harm would it do if the Technician License Examination was eliminated, the entire examination process is a joke and has no meaning anymore?

The Hobby is dying, it needs to be saved and that may be a way to help recruit to licensees.

The sad HAMS need to step aside and get out of the way or help resolve this or the FCC just might refarm the spectrum for other uses since frequency resources are a scarce commodity.
 

chrismol1

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It won't die off as long as there are nerds. There are nerd kids today still interested in ham radio. But they want nerdy new technology stuffs. That's why I think the CCR and advancing tech has put some life into it that wouldn't happen still clinging to the old days. The vacuum fluorescent display days are over and they want color screens loaded with features
 

a727469

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And around here, MFJ doesn’t stand for “mighty fine junk”.
Unfortunately that may have been a northeast thing?! I did not invent the term since I never owned any…heard it used many times by hams in Connecticut at Lentini’s…I kept quiet…….!😵‍💫. there were a few things I would have been happy to try but never got around to it. As I stated above, I do not want to see any company fail, and hope they can continue in some form.
 

BillMaui

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Unfortunately that may have been a northeast thing?! I did not invent the term since I never owned any…heard it used many times by hams in Connecticut at Lentini’s…I kept quiet…….!😵‍💫. there were a few things I would have been happy to try but never got around to it. As I stated above, I do not want to see any company fail, and hope they can continue in some form.
For a lot of new hams, myself included in the 1980s, MFJ offered equipment that helped us get on the air at an affordable price. To this day, when I have some MFJ equipment that I no longer need, someone is happy to have it. And yes, it still functions.
 

nokones

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For a lot of new hams, myself included in the 1980s, MFJ offered equipment that helped us get on the air at an affordable price. To this day, when I have some MFJ equipment that I no longer need, someone is happy to have it. And yes, it still functions.
Because of the inconsistent readings I got with my 269D Antenna Analyzer and after they (MFJ) recalibrate it and the readings were worse, I gave it away.
 

AK9R

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For a lot of new hams, myself included in the 1980s, MFJ offered equipment that helped us get on the air at an affordable price.
While I believe that statement is true, most of what MFJ sold could be found from other vendors. The advantage of MFJ was that they were a "one-stop shop" for amateur radio accessories and they had national exposure though their advertising in amateur radio magazines, stocking at many amateur radio dealers, and large presence at major hamfests.

That said, in my personal experience, MFJ quality was hit or miss.

I've had a couple of MFJ antenna analyzers. They ate batteries. I use a Rig Experts analyzer now. An MFJ tuner I bought rattled when you shook it due to a loose washer inside. An MFJ DC power strip I bought had solder bridges across the fuse holders.
 

Boombox

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Ham radio is on life support and being read its last rite. It has been dying since the 70s. Ham radio is no longer a technology, just a link in the cloud. In the 50/60/70's, ham radio was a stepping stone to an electrical degree. It is now a mature technology and is going nowhere. Youth have no interest in the hobby. Today, microcontrollers and robotics are where the action is at.

The overwhelming majority (greater than 70%) of licensed hams are aging baby boomers dying off fast. The membership has nowhere to go but down. Ham-oriented businesses are going out of biz; there is no growth potential. Today, even the coax market is dying. Commercial operators moved the radios and antennas on top of the tower. Ham Radio will join the 8-Track Tape exhibit in a museum near you. Soon, the manufacturers will stop making ham radios without demand or profit. If MFJ's business were good, someone would have bought it. Unfortunately, MFJ's reputation is well-earned, and there is no future for it or its products.
I don't know if ham radio was dying since the 1970's, being that the no-code Tech and other incentives grew the hobby, especially among CBers who had whetted their appetite with 11 Meter skip, and wanted to use other frequencies legally. But I definitely think that ham radio, and all hobby radio (SWLing, MW & FM DXing, and the like) are slowly dying off, being overtaken by internet technology.

Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. There is indeed a certain satisfaction with using the ionosphere, or troposphere, to hear signals from a distance, and work them. I don't see ham radio disappearing within the next 10-15 years, but I would bet that the big rig makers may end up combining before that happens. There obviously is still a big enough market for companies like Icom, KW, Yaesu and Elecraft to sell $1K+ radios. And there are new, younger hams appearing on the scene. The hobby is fading, but I don't see it on life support yet.

Chinese makers seem to be competing against the smaller US companies like MFJ.
 

Token

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It was over 780K in 2021. So it's dropped by 50K since then. In 2023 it was 755,368, so it's dropped by over 4K in the last year.

Is the number of US ham radio licensees on a downward trend lately? Yes, slightly, but no more so than several short duration corrections at several times in the past, in the 70's, 90's, and 00's. The general trend, since 2007, has been up significantly.

In Dec 2021 there were ~779,500 licensed US hams. As of Dec 2023 (5 months ago) there were ~754,500. This is a change of ~25,000 hams, or a dip of about 3.2%. As I said above, historically there have been periodic dips similar to this in ham licensees, so this is not unprecedented or even uncommon. From June of 2001 to June of 2007 there was a reduction of ~30,000, from the 2001 high of ~684,000, making that a dip of about 4.4%, more than the current dip so far. Before the current dip the number of ham licensees had been in a steady increase since 2007, or roughly 14 years of continuous increase. That is an unusually long trend in historic ham radio licensing numbers.

And then look at who those licenses that went away over the last 2 to 3 years were. 1,000 Novices, a license class that has not been issued for ~23 years. 4,000 Advanced, also a license that has not been issued in over ~23 years. ~22,000 Technician licensees went away. Extra and General licensee numbers increased (roughly 1,000 each).

So some, by definition, older hams aged out, for one reason or another. Some entry-level hams went away. And the number of, arguably, more serious hams increased (slightly).

The current reduction in ham licenses also follows a substantial increase in the cost of getting a ham radio license. It currently averages about $50 to get a license (~$15 for the VECs, and $35 for the FCC fee). This means that since April 2022 the cost to acquire a ham license has, for most people, more than doubled. I strongly suspect this has had some impact on ham license numbers, driving away some casual licensees. It would not surprise me if the majority of ham license losses were simply driven by this fact, casual ham tickets acquired on a whim or as part of a “prepper” plan, tickets that now cost substantially more money to renew.

Some argue that a $35 fee is not enough to keep someone from getting or renewing a ham license. Typically, they use the argument that ham radio is an expensive hobby, so that small a fee should have no impact. But, that ($35) is the cost of a new radio (CCR) for someone just experimenting with the hobby, someone not sure they want to be in the hobby but it was cheap to get into, so lets see where this takes us.

If all you have into the hobby is a $35 CCR, then a $35 renewal fee probably hurts.

And, just to keep it more or less on topic, this end of the ham radio use spectrum is the end MFJ plays in.

T!
 
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