Tecsun PL-380: Murray’s new travel radio

Tecsun PL-380 in the Morocco desert.

SWLing Post reader, Murray, recently took the Tecsun PL-380 with him on a trip to view the solar eclipse and then to Morocco for an extended excursion. He writes:

We flew out of Billund Denmark for the [solar] eclipse flight. A couple of days after the eclipse we flew to Cassablanca Morocco, where we were to join our 2 week excursion.

Here is a shot of the radio [above] at our camp in the dunes south of Erfoud in south central Morocco. In total we spent 2 1/2 weeks in Morocco and the desert was the nicest Radio quiet location I have been in. No interference what so ever! And lots of stations. It was great. The battery consumption of the PL-380 was very good. Nice unit.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on the PL-380, Murray! It must have been bliss listening to the shortwaves in such an RFI-free area.

Like you, I think the PL-380 is a brilliant travel radio and one I often recommend (click here for my travel radio review). I also travel with the Tecsun PL-310ET and the new CCrane CC Skywave--all great compact portables.

Posted in News, Radios, Reviews, Shortwave Radio, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Unlocking the trapped FM receiver in your smart phone

RadioDialWhile Norway prepares to shut down FM, one group–the National Association of Broadcasters–is trying to unlock FM receivers in smart phones; receivers built into smart phones, but not allowed to be activated.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Benn, for sharing this report from NPR’s All Tech Considered:

Posted in FM, News | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Norway: first country to shut down FM analog radio

The City Hall (Radhus) in Oslo, Norway.  (Source: Public Domain)

The City Hall (Radhus) in Oslo, Norway. (Source: Public Domain)

(Source: Radio.no)

NORWAY TO SWITCH OFF FM IN 2017

Within two years from now, the shutdown of national FM-networks begins in Norway. The switchover will begin in the North and will be implemented region by region.

Thursday, the Ministry of Culture announced a national FM-switch off, to complete the transition to digital radio. Norway is making an historical move into a new radio era, being the first country in the world to decide upon an analogue switch-off for all major radio channels. With DAB and digital radio, listeners will be provided with more radio channels and greater diversity in content.

[Continue reading on Radio.no…]

Posted in Digital Modes, FM, News | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Dan compares the McKay-Dymek DR33-C6 to three other benchmark receivers

DanRobinson-RadioComparison

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this YouTube video comparing four of his receivers: the McKay Dymek DR33-C6, the East German made RFT EKD 515, Japan Radio Company NRD-301A, and his Watkins Johnson 8718A/MFPWJ WJ .

Posted in News, Radios, Shortwave Radio, Shortwave Radio Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ed Royce to champion “new approach” to US international broadcasting

US Representative, Ed Royce

US Representative, Ed Royce

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Michael, for sharing a link to this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Ed Royce (R), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Here is a short clip from the piece:

“Vladimir Putin has a secret army. It’s an army of thousands of “trolls,” TV anchors and others who work day and night spreading anti-American propaganda on the Internet, airwaves and newspapers throughout Russia and the world. Mr. Putin uses these misinformation warriors to destabilize his neighbors and control parts of Ukraine. This force may be more dangerous than any military, because no artillery can stop their lies from spreading and undermining U.S. security interests in Europe.

Neither can the U.S. international broadcasting services that performed such a valuable service during the Cold War. They have withered until they are no longer capable of meeting today’s challenges. Until this changes, Russia’s president and his propaganda will flourish.

[…]From its inception, the BBG has drawn criticism from right, left and center. A part-time board that is supposed to oversee and spend $740 million a year, it has a fundamentally flawed structure. A 2013 Inspector General report for the State Department found the BBG to be dysfunctional. The same year, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the BBG as “practically defunct.” No wonder the agency isn’t coming close to competing with Mr. Putin.

Righting this ship must be an urgent foreign-policy priority. I will soon introduce bipartisan legislation to do just that. The bill would charge one U.S. broadcasting organization (VOA) with reporting U.S. policy and other global news, and another, including RFE/RL and similar services, to act as the free press in repressive societies like Russia. Each organization will have its own CEO and its own board, with accountability that is clear to all[…]”

Read Ed Royce’s full Op Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal online.

Update: Dan Robinson also points out this piece, by Ron Nixon, published in the NY Times.

Posted in Articles, Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sangean WR-15: great looks, but poor performance?

Sangean-AMFM-RadioJeff, over at the Herculodge, writes with some disappointing news:

What a shame John bought the WR-15 and thinks it stinks: http://herculodge.typepad.com/herculodge/2015/04/john-cannot-recommend-the-sangean-wr-15-radio-due-to-subpar-am-and-fm.html

Oh, that is a shame. An AM/FM radio with poor AM/FM sensitivity has little appeal (even if it has a great chassis).

John (the reviewer) mentions what sounds like a squelching effect during tuning as well–when a strong signal is received, volume increases with the “lock.” Perhaps a sign this Sangean receiver is powered by a DSP chip and isn’t analog at all?

I expected something better from Sangean. At least the WR-15 is one thing I can safely pull off of my Amazon wish list!

Posted in AM, Mediumwave, News, Radios | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Tinkering with the Credit Card Crystal Radio

Credit-Card-Crystal-Radio-2

A few weeks ago, we published a short post about a credit card crystal radio from an eBay seller in the UK.

I purchased a kit–at $17-18 US shipped, it’s quite a modest investment for what might be a fun little project.

Credit-Card-Crystal-Radio

The crystal radio arrived while I was traveling during Easter break, but my free time has been so (extremely) limited lately, I was only able to unpack and try out this new arrival yesterday.

Credit-Card-Crystal-Radio-1

The biggest surprise for me was the fact that this isn’t really a kit–the board is fully populated and requires no soldering whatsoever. The board feels of very good quality.

All that is required is connecting the high-impedance earphone, earth/ground and aerial/antenna to the board. Since all of these components can be connected with the supplied alligator clip cables, getting it on the air took all of 20 seconds. I simply hooked up the ground and connected the aerial to my sky loop wire antenna.

I instantly heard a signal and station ID which confirmed it was our closest local broadcaster on 1010 kHz.  This station isn’t of the blowtorch variety, but is the strongest one I receive on the MW band simply due to its proximity. Audio was quite faint through the earpiece, but I believe if I tinkered with antenna length and the two variable capacitors, I could improve reception.

SWLing Post reader, Richard Langley, received his crystal radio and had a very similar experience with reception.

Credit-Card-Crystal-Radio-4

With any crystal radio (especially one this small), performance is directly correlated with antenna length, availability of a good ground connection and, of course, strong broadcasters in your vicinity.

I plan to spend an evening tinkering with this little receiver and see if I can pick up some of the night time powerhouse AM stations on the east coast.

I can say this: if you’re looking for a simple, uber-compact emergency receiver for your go-bag, bug out bag or emergency kit, this one will certainly fit the bill. This crystal receiver and all of its components weight no more than a few ounces and could easily fit in compact pouch or sleeve.

Have any other readers have enjoyed tinkering with this little emergency crystal radio?

If you would like to purchase one, try searching eBay with one of the links below. The product will only appear in the search results if currently available.

Posted in AM, How To, Kits, Mediumwave, News, Radios, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments