RCI Moves Manufacturing
Ranger Communications Incorporated is in the process of moving its manufacturing plants from China to Vietnam. In the never ending cycle of reducing cost, we have seen CB products coming out of Vietnam.
The first product I noticed was the Wilson Silver Load Fiberglass Whips while that brand was under the ownership of Barjan. The second was a batch of Cobra 29 LTD Classic radios which looked like Uniden PC 78 radios on the inside with Cobra bezels. These had to be made by Uniden.
My guess is that Uniden gave Cobra a good deal on radios to use their radios to get their facility up and running. Cobra doesn’t make anything themselves, they are an importer and marketing company, and very good at it.
With RCI radios and noise canceling microphones in short supply combined with Ranger USA closing their office in California, there have been rumors floating around that Ranger has gone out of business.
From what I’ve seen, Ranger is still intent on having a presence in the USA. Recently I tested a SRA-198 microphone that was manufactured in the new plant. It looked and tested as good as their previous production. I’ve been told that their products will come in through the Connex importer.
This may make them more readily available as some distributors that carry 10-Meter radios don’t carry the RCI line because Ranger insisted on larger orders than these distributors were willing to place.
There has been talk of Ranger having a cutoff date on the common through-hole PC boards.
This could be the beginning of this in the other brands they manufacture. (Connex, Galaxy, General, Mirage, Super Star, etc.) Galaxy may be the last, as I was told they had bought components in advance to keep their line in the through-hole technology longer than the other brands.
You may wonder why they are switching to surface mount technology when the radio dealers have resisted this change for so long. It’s because they have to. Every day more through hole components become obsolete.
Almost all other industries have switched the the smaller and more reliable SMD (Surface Mount Device) components.
It reduces the circuit board cost due to smaller size, much less drilling, and smaller packaging. The assembly is easily automated. Component handling and storage is less costly.
The reliability is greatly improved. And more importantly, the new components with better specifications are only available in SMD.
This means that we will never see improvements in these products until there is a switch to this new technology. Meanwhile, the supply of through-hole repair parts is drying up, so repair parts will go up in price as the supply shrinks.
The down side of this technology is that repairing this equipment requires more sophisticated rework soldering stations, a solid background in electronic and troubleshooting, good eyesight, and plenty of patients. These are reasons many dealers have resisted the change.
I am one of the resisting dealers, however until the switch is made, new innovations simply won’t come to this market. We won’t see digital signal processing for interference filtering and audio enhancements in these type radios.
There are low noise components that are only available in SMD that can reduce receiver noise and improve the usable range of you radio.
There are some new products using these new devices in the works which we will release details on as their development progresses. I hope Ranger continues to make good quality products from their new facility.
And when the SMD switchover is completed I also hope that they take full advantage of the more advanced components and improve the radios they build so the radio repair shops have a reason to accept this new challenge.