Category Archives: Listener Posts

DXpedition antenna testing: the Bonito Boni whip and a 240 metre barbed wire fence

 

Hi there, a few days ago I posted some reception videos comparing the performance of the Boni whip with a 30 metre longwire antenna at home, with a further check against the performance of the H field Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop. The conclusion of those tests was essentially confirmation that E field antennas don’t usually perform very well under a blanket of ‘electrosmog’ and that only on Longwave, did the Boni whip prevailed over the longwire; otherwise there was no usable difference in performance between the two.

                         Sony ICF-SW55 receiver                                     ‘Quiet’ location for Boni whip test

This prompted a number of my subscribers to ask when I would be taking the Boni whip on a DXpedition for an outdoor test against the Wellbrook and either a substantial longwire, or the 200 metre Beverage. Time is limited right now for a full test, however, I managed to throw together a kit of parts necessary to run a quick set of comparison tests with the whip, against the barbed wire fence I use for ad hoc DXing when out walking the dog! Over a period of an hour or so, I managed to copy a few stations on 31 and 49 metres and thus recorded signals using the Sony ICF-SW55 receiver with the Boni whip and barbed wire fence. Now previously, I have used that fence as an antenna for the excellent little Tecsun PL-310ET, with some nice results. However, after this series of tests, my views on the fence have changed a little. Obviously it might be somewhat directional and earthed along it’s length, neither of which I’ve checked, however, notwithstanding these performance-related factors, the performance of the whip which at home had been terrible, surprised me greatly. Text links to a set-up video and the reception videos on my Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow directly below, with embedded videos at the end of the post. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a well performing, compact and portable active antenna for outdoor use in quiet environments and of course, DXpeditions, I would definitely recommend the Boni whip. Just bear in mind that the SNR it delivers at home might not be usable for anything more than casual listening.

Thanks for watching/listening/reading and I wish you all great DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Urban DXing: testing the Bonito Boni whip against a 30 metre longwire & the Wellbrook ALA15030

Hi there, if like me, you live in an urban environment, chances are QRM is having a negative impact on the quality of the signals you’re receiving at home. The presence of electrical noise makes antenna choice very important, particuarly if you’re planning to spend more than a few £££s on something more sophisticated than a length of wire. Recently I was considering the the purchase of a second compact antenna, for use at home in my shack and out and about on DXpeditions. I already had the excellent Wellbrook ALA1530 H field antenna, but at more than £250, it’s very costly and thus it seemed rather extravagent to buy a second one, if I could find something with similar performance for less expense. Space is at a premium at home and of course I take much of my equipment out on DXpeditions, so the Bonito Boni whip active antenna appeared to be an ideal choice. A wideband active antenna (from 20 kHz to 300 MHz) operating from 12 to 15V DC, with a very compact form-factor definitely ticked all the boxes. Furthermore, with reasonable second and third order intercept points of +55 and +32.5 dBm respectively, the Boni whip, on paper at least, looked like a pretty good buy at around £100.

 

Now, clearly, an E field antenna such as the Boni whip is not going to match the SNR provided by the H field Wellbrook ALA1530 in a noisy, urban environment. I have uploaded a few reception videos to my YouTube channel to demonstrate this, making a direct comparison of the two. However, what about the performance of the whip versus a simple longwire in an urban environment? Is there a delta in performance? The value proposition of the whip is primarliy in it’s performance, coupled with portability I suppose, but that must be considered a secondary requirement. The whip might be 10 or 15 times more expensive than a reel of cheap equipment wire, but will the reception justify the cost delta?!

Text links follow directly below, with embedded videos thereafter; you will find 3 reception videos comparing the whip and a 30 metre longwire, on shortwave and one each for LW and MW. At the end of each video there’s a section with the Wellbrook loop, just to calibrate where the longwire and whip are in terms of a much more effective H field antenna. The result? Well, there’s not much to separate the longwire and Boni whip, except on LW, where the whip prevails. A friend told me recently, if reception is rubbish at home under a blanket of QRM, don’t blame the antenna, the noise is the real problem. He was right. So, the next tests are to be undertaken out in the field, where the whip has a real chance to shine. I’m rooting for it because to have an antenna that performs as well as, or close to my loop out in the woods, yet can be packed away into a small case would be brilliant. Thanks for reading/watching/listening.



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Guest Post: Troy takes us on a tour of his listening post

DoxyTronics 8020CA Antenna

DoxyTronics 8020CA Antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who writes:

I don’t have a “shack”, but I wanted to take the time to share with you my “listening post”. But first, let me start from the beginning.  

I’d call myself an amateur astronomer first – and a Shortwave Listener (SWL’er) second (I have never been a Ham Operator).  

I started my astronomy hobby as a young kid who was enthralled by the Apollo Missions.  I was also fascinated by weather & I learned how to make short-term 12-36 hour forecasts by making cloud observations, following the barometric pressure trend & noting changes in wind direction.  I am still an amateur astronomer (a very expensive endeavor).  I was able to pursue my childhood interest in weather and I became an Aviation Weather Forecaster in the military (I also instructed synoptic meteorology in the military at the schoolhouse).  I promoted myself out of meteorological jobs in my Service but I was able to transition to a deployable job that allowed me to visit 50 countries.  I retired with slightly over 30-years served.

When I was a kid, a buddy had a shortwave radio but we could never hear anything (we had no clue).  I had an Electro-Brand EB2100 5-band radio that had AM/FM, Police, Fire, Aviation & NOAA (if I recall).  We heard transmissions on that EB2100!  I didn’t truly discover shortwave until the early 1990s.  My first shortwave radio was a Panda 2006 (I challenge readers to look-up that model in the 1994 Passport to World Band Radio).  I liked shortwave so much, I sold the Panda to help finance my next radio.  I pre-ordered & subsequently received one of the first Gru?ndig Yacht Boy 400s released in the U.S. (I still have the radio & the receipt).

I think, for a SWL’er, I have a decent collection of shortwave radios & antennae:

  • Grundig Yacht Boy 400
  • Grundig  G6 Aviator Buzz Aldrin Ed.
  • Grundig G3 Globe Traveler
  • Tecsun PL-390
  • Sony ICF-7600GR
  • Tecsun PL-365
  • Grundig Satellit 750
  • Grundig G2000A Porsche
  • RadioShack 140-214 Digital Recorder
  • AMECO TPA Active Antenna
  • Crane Twin-Coil Ferrite Antenna
  • DoxyTronics 8020A Passive Antenna
  • Kaito KA35 Active Loop Proximate Antenna
  • NASA PA30 Wideband Passive Antenna
  • A Helical/Slinky Antenna
  • RadioShack 20-280 Active Antenna
  • Sony AN-LP1 Active Magnetic Loop Antenna
  • Tecsun AN-200 AM Passive Antenna
  • Terk Advantage AM-1000 Passive Antenna
  • TG34 Active Magnetic LoopAntenna
  • Yo-Yo Antennas & various Longwires
  • Extended AM Ferrite Rod for PL-365/360
Slinky, ST3 Scanner Antenna (EB2100 on top of the wall unit library)

Slinky, ST3 Scanner Antenna (EB2100 on top of the wall unit library)

Okay, so what is my “listening post”?  It’s a sitting room attached to my master bedroom.  I have a roll-top desk.  A slinky antenna stretched across one side of the room above the window.  And an ST3 “Sputnik” Scanner Antenna hung in front of the window (for my RadioShack Pro-651).  I use an old-school iPad 1st Gen next to my radios because I found that it emits virtually no RF compared to my iMac, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pros.  Besides using the iPad Gen 1 as an Internet reference, it’s also loaded with every one of my radio & antennae manuals, nearly every copy of Passport to World Band Radio, and many Spectrum Monitor issues.  If I cannot find a pdf version of a manual, I use my document scanner to create my own pdf’s.

Typical set-up (the metal basket bin is completely filled with radios, antennae, adapters, etc., all in their own cases)

Typical set-up (the metal basket bin is completely filled with radios, antennae, adapters, etc., all in their own cases)

Having my listening post essentially in the master bedroom causes conflict because my wife must get up early & drive 60-miles to work thus I am kicked-out and banished downstairs fairly early each night … while carrying a radio or two with me if I wish to continue listening.  Nearly all of my shortwave listening occurs before 8:30 P.M.

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I have all of my radios and antennae neatly organized in padded bags & cases within an arms reach of my roll-top.  Since everything is organized in its own case, I can easily grab whatever combination I want if I were to travel (or go outside, or go downstairs when my wife kicks-me-out of my listening post).

My radios in their padded cases (remember my GPS & Tablet case recommendations many months ago?)

My radios in their padded cases (remember my GPS & Tablet case recommendations many months ago?)

What are my favorites?  I typically use the Grundig Satellit 750 the most – mainly because of its size & large intuitive buttons.  The direct BNC connections make it quick & easy to transition from one antenna to another.  My favorite SW radio feature is Tecsun’s ETM (I wish every radio had it) thus I find myself using the PL-390 & PL-365 especially when out of my listening post.  My favorite antenna is the TG34.  I find that it greatly enhances the signal with a minimal increase in noise.  The Slinky is great in that I can add it to another antenna that I’m using to make a more effective combination (e.g., AMECO TPA with the Slinky & the NASA PA30 with the Slinky on the radio whip work well for me).

The bins and black cases with my gear (those are two Plano Gun Cases … a 2-gun case and a 4-gun case; I have 8 more filled with my astronomy gear but that’s another story).

The bins and black cases with my gear (those are two Plano Gun Cases … a 2-gun case and a 4-gun case; I have 8 more filled with my astronomy gear but that’s another story).

I think shortwave listening is a great hobby that compliments my amateur astronomy.  Why?  No matter the clouds, extreme temperatures, etc., I always have something interesting to do.  But I do miss the days when the wave bands were crowded with international broadcasters.  At least I know that Jupiter, Saturn & the thousands of deep sky objects within grasp of my many telescopes & binoculars will NOT be leaving the sky until long after I leave this planet!

You’ve set up an excellent listening post, Troy! As you well know, I’m a bit of a pack junkie, so I love the fact you have so many padded cases and protective gear for your equipment–no doubt, this is championed by your amateur astronomer half!

SWLing Post readers might recall that, last year, Troy actually put together a shortwave broadcast dedicated to amateur astronomy. We published a full recording of the show on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Thanks, again, for sharing a tour of your listening post, Troy!

Central Alaska: Paul shares photos of his listening post

Paul-Wlaker-Listening-Post-2

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who writes:

You’ve posted shack photos before from other readers.

I guess this is a shack, so here’s mine. By the banks of the thawed and now flowing Yukon River.

Paul-Wlaker-Listening-Post-4 Paul-Wlaker-Listening-Post-3 Paul-Wlaker-Listening-Post-1

Paul braves some pretty cold weather in the winter to snag elusive DX from this very listening post in Galena, Alaska. He’s shared photos and a video of the frozen Yukon before–click here to check it out.

And, once again, thanks for sharing a little part of your world, Paul!

Part 3: SWLing Post shack photos

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Rajesh Chandwani (VU2OEC), Gurgaon (Haryana), India INDIA

Several months ago, we conducted a shack photo contest sponsored by Universal Radio. I’m posting all of your excellent photos as time allows and putting them under the tag, shack photos.

The following is the third set of ten photos along with any notes that were included.

Click on images to enlarge and enjoy:


Robert Gulley (AK3Q)

ak3q-shack

Notes: I have a Kenwood TM-D710G with lots of bells and whistles (center-right), including APRS and packet capability, Echolink, computer control, programming and data output, not to mention the regular functions of a dual-band, cross-band repeat radio. Another rig above and to the left (under the computer monitor) is my main all-mode rig, a Kenwood TS-2000. To the right is an old Swan 350 transceiver and power supply. There is an old manual Dentron tuner above that, and sitting atop of it all is an analog Uniden Bearcat BC898T scanner. There is an amplifier, a 220Mhz rig, several HTs, and on the bottom right my pride and joy Yaesu FRG-7 shortwave receiver. I currently have 6 speakers for various sound outputs. Out of the frame are two more computers, two SDR receivers, another monitor and a sound mixing board. I won’t begin to mention all the portable SW radios and several old DX-160s (my first real SW radio). I love listening/transmitting here, but I also take portable radios around the house and on the front or back porch as the mood hits.


Mahesh Jain (57HS4688)

IMG_20151006_202620_HDR

Notes: I am radio hobbyist particularly my beloved shortwave radio. But it makes me sad to see that most of the radio stations on shortwave in my country India are closing their shortwave broadcast and they are going online and digital, which is available to few not the all people. Hope the radio and specially shortwave radio revive soon. Hope we all have good old days back. 🙂

I love my Graundig Yacht boy 80 radios which I won from DW (german radio) and later i bought Sony ICF SW35. I use telescopic antenna and sometimes I use a reel antenna. I have very little technical knowledge about the radios and antennas used. Still, I keep on experimenting and sometimes found far far away stations, which is obviously a thrilling experience. with this hobby of DXing I have learned a lot about different cultures and nations. Moreover i am using the internet technology to get far away stations which are not targeting my country/region and the WEB SDR is the best source.


Ray Sylvester (NR1R)

radio room 001

Notes: Ray’s main shack rig is the Yaesu FTDX5000MP.


Darwin McDonald (SWL/W8)

Shack2 Shack1Shack4 Shack3

Notes: The Drake Receiver is my best–using a long wire and an antenna tuner.


S B Sharma

my radio_1087 radio & me_1447

Notes: In the photo above, I am listening to radio at world famous Buddhist temple in Barbadur, Indonesia. Photo taken while I was surfing and listening voice of Indonesia and general overseas service of India on the temple. I have been listening to radio for the past 32 years and continue today. Due to this hobby, I won two free foreign tours till date and hope there will be some more.


Clyde Ramsdell (N1BHH)

my_station_004

Notes: My simple station/listening post is the Icom IC-735 using one of three antennas:

  1. Off Center Fed Dipole (130 feet) at 45 feet high,
  2. 160 meter (250 feet long) dipole at 30 feet high,
  3. Random wire, roughly 45 feet draped around my room.

My bedside radio is a Grundig Yachtboy YB-400 with another random wire draped around the room. In the photo (above) you’ll find the Icom IC-735 on the Astron RS-35 power supply, MFJ-949E tuner and Bencher paddle, a Radio Shack Pro-106 scanner, Icom IC-3AT 220 HT and Yaesu FT-2900R.


Jawahar Shaikh

Screenshot_2015-10-06-22-27-45

Notes:  My favorite receiver is none other than Tecsun PL-660 as it pulls a lot of far away radio stations without any external antenna!!! On MW I could log a number of South Korea, Japan, and Australian radio stations.On shortwave, numerous far away radio stations including 1 KW Australian Marine Weather Broadcast station VMW. On longwave…Vow…Ireland radio on 252 khz…What else do I need from a budget Tecsun?

The tinyTecsun PL-660 is my DX magic box !!!! So,This is my listening post!

Location: Tamil Nadu state, India.


José William

image

Notes:  This is my little shack that is located in my backyard.

Features:
Receiver- DEGEN DE 1103
Antenna- RGP3-OC Loop Magnética and DEGEN 31MS active loop antenna
Amplifier- Amplificador Indutivo de RF DXCB-V1
Recorder- Sony ICD-PX312F


Peter Ströhlein

WP_20151010_22_04_21_Pro

Notes: My Listeningt post consists of my fav. Kenwood TS-50 (30khz – 30Mhz) and a VHF YAESU FT-1900.

All night long when my kids are in bed, I spend my time listening to numerous SW Stations.

This is my hobby since nearly 30 years! 🙂 So that’s my little listening post, illuminated with two little LED-Spots for SWL Nights with “Style”. 🙂


Hank Dean (KU8S)

DSCN0918 DSCN0917 DSCN0916 DSCN0915

Notes:  Here are four photos of a portable outing “QRP to the field” op in April 2013. This park is called Bear Pond and is located in the Seminole State Forest, west of Sanford, FL on SR 46, about four miles from my house. I love this place. Great place to have lunch and play radio.

The rig is a Yaesu FT-817ND QRP transceiver, a PAR end fed wire antenna, and SLAB 12v 10AHr battery. Apple IPad does the logging chores. Add some Chinese food, some almond cookies, a little sweet tea, Hmmnnnnnn, life is good!


Life is good, indeed, Hank!  What a great way to cap off this third set of shack photos!

Again, many thanks to all who sent in their listening post photos. I absolutely love the variety! 

Follow the tag Shack Photos for more!