We may be looking at severe shortages of some new ham radio gear due to AKM factory fire

AKM Factory Fire (Image (Strata-Gee.com)

Recently, I’ve received a number of emails from readers who are frustrated because new ham radio transceivers are out of stock and used prices have increased.

At first, I thought this might be due to supply chain and logistics issues due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. If it is, it’s only a partial explanation.

As of this morning, I’ve heard from three trusted sources in the radio industry (from retailing and manufacturing) who tell me that the lack of inventory is a supply chain issue, but directly linked to the October 21, 2020 fire at Asahi Kasei Microsystems (AKM) Nobuoka semiconductor Plant “Fab2”.

According to Converge:

“This factory mainly produces large-scale integrated circuits (LSI) used in audio equipment, home appliances, TCXO oscillator, and other products. Due to the recent fire, AKM has been forced to stop production and delays are to be expected.”

Fortunately, according to the article, AKM has been moving some IC production to external companies, but it could take some time to re-tool. A number of markets have been affected by this disruption including the pro audio industry.

There’s no need to panic

If you’ve been looking for a specific radio model, you may find that retailers have been back-ordered and can only offer a vague shipping timeline; 2-6 weeks out, for example.

Some models (including the popular IC-7300, IC-705, Yaesu FT-DX10, and Yaesu FT-991A) are still in-stock at some retailers.

Several readers have been trying to purchase the popular Yaesu FT-891 and found that no one has inventory at present.  We may be looking at extended delays for this model and others once inventory is depleted.

But again, I don’t think this is a panic situation. This supply chain disruption has been in play for a number of months already and you can bet the industry is already working on solutions.

My advice would be that if you’re getting close to pulling the trigger on a new transceiver, if it’s in stock, I’d jump on it now. Otherwise, you’ll simply need to be patient as new inventory eventually makes its way back to retailer shelves. Used prices on some of these models may be inflated until new inventory returns.

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8 thoughts on “We may be looking at severe shortages of some new ham radio gear due to AKM factory fire

  1. Richard Simpson

    Thank you for your quick and thoughtful reply. I am not looking to collect DX signals, rather I want to use over-the-air CW to help me to learn CW in its native environment. I will also be interested in using the BFO to decode the various digital signals on the ham bands with the aid of PC programs designed for that purpose.


  2. Bill Meara

    This points to another advantage of homebrewing — you are not dependent on some distant LSI factory. A decent stock of simple parts (or even just a good junk box) leads to improved ham radio resilience.

  3. Lou

    The FT-891 is/was still available in the UK . Checked with Waters & Stanton and Nevada Radio. The pound has been making some incredible gains recently against the dollar so roughly $800 delivered….I’m not that eager just yet.

    When I spoke to someone at HRO, they were skeptical that Yaesu would be able to fulfill the delayed backorders being done by other dealers. Maybe it’s bs, who knows.

    As I said in my reply on the recent post about the custom carry case someone made for their 891, plenty of people looking to turn a profit on well worn examples.

  4. Richard Simpson

    I am thinking of buying a Tecsun 330 and want to listen to morse code (among other uses). Can you listen to morse code with any receiver that says it has a bfo? Have you tried that?

    1. Robert Richmond

      Essentially, yes. Ideally you also wound want a narrow filter options so you can limit interference and better dig CW out of the noise floor.

      I have not really checked my PL-330 on CW in regards to AGC performance and similar, as I am not really into morse code, but I can confirm the radio does tune SSB/CW and has multiple SSB filter widths: 0.5kHz, 1.2kHz, 2.2kHz, 3.0kHz, and 4.0kHz. 1.2KHz for skimming and 0.5KHz should suffice for basic CW reception.


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