The new LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver is essentially general coverage

LNR-Precision-LD-11

A couple weeks ago, LNR Precision sent me their new LD-11 Digital Direct Conversion QRP transceiver on loan for review.

The LD-11 is basically a small, tabletop SDR transceiver. It’s like a miniature, simplified version of the Icom IC-7100 I’ve also been evaluating.

The LD-11 is an all-mode and all-band transceiver–meaning, it includes SSB, CW, CW-R, Digi, AM and FM modes on all amateur radio bands (160 – 10 meters).

Though the LD-11 isn’t advertised as having a general coverage receiver, it will indeed tune the entire HF band.

You do this by entering the LD-11’s administration mode. LNR describes this in the LD-11 product manual, but suggests you contact them for help the first time you do this. In the admin panel, you’ll find functions that allow you to set the band edges on each amateur radio band.

For a preliminary test of broadcast reception, I moved the lower band edge of the 30 meter ham radio band to 8.2 MHz.

LNR-Precision-LD-11-front panel

After saving the settings and re-starting the LD-11 in normal operation mode, I could then tune the entire 31 meter broadcast band on the LD-11.

Hypothetically, you could either widen each amateur radio band to include adjacent broadcast bands, or you could simply set one of the ham bands to include the entire HF spectrum. To make it easier to navigate and tune through the bands, I’m choosing the former method over the latter.

Since the LD-11 has a proper AM mode, broadcasts sound great–especially via headphones!

Proper AM filters for broadcast reception!

Better yet?  The AM filter width can be widened to an impressive 9.6 kHz! Woo hoo!

LNR-LD-11-Shortwave-AM

The LD-11 has four filter slots: F1, F2, F3 and F4.

The F1-F3 slots can be set to a fixed user-defined widths (common widths are default).

F4 can be altered to any available filter width without having to enter the admin mode of the transceiver. Simply press the “F” (blue function button) and the FILTER button simultaneously and use the encoder/tuning knob to specify the filter width in .1 kHz steps. Pressing the F and FILTER button simultaneously again, will save your filter width for the F4 position.

I’ve been using the F4 filter position for widths between about 8.2 and 9.6 kHz in AM.

It’s still early days with the LD-11, but I’m enjoying this little transceiver immensely. It reminds me of one of my favorite QRP transceivers of yesteryear: the Index Labs QRP Plus (though the LD-11 is much smaller, more versatile and has a much better front end than the QRP Plus!).

LNR Precision sold out all of their first run LD-11 units within moments of having announced availability. I’m willing to bet they’ll bring a few LD-11s to the upcoming Dayton Hamvention, though.

Check inventory status and view LD-11 details on LNR Precision’s website. 

Guest Post: Tracking High Seas Pirates on Shortwave Radio

Suspected pirates surrender to crew members of the CGC Boutwell. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Suspected pirates surrender to crew members of the CGC Boutwell. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


Tracking High Seas Pirates on Shortwave Radio

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

(All photos taken by author–click to enlarge)

Ahoy! After spinning a radio dial for over a half-century, shortwave listening still provides a source of adventure and interesting intercepts. While major broadcasters continue to move to the Internet and dwindle in number, there nonetheless remains plenty of utility intrigue to be had; you just need to know where to look, and be comfortable with other modes of communication such as RTTY (Radioteletype).

RTTY remains on HF (3 – 30 MHz), albeit mostly encrypted, but there are some stalwarts of this mode that transmit important and interesting information for ships at sea. The information can take the form of weather broadcasts, hazards to navigation, information on ships lost at sea, and pirate activity. Yes, pirate activity but not radio pirates; real honest-to-goodness modern day pirates looking to loot, plunder and prey upon commercial ships making an honest living or other leisure watercraft just out having fun.

SignaLink-AOR

Who knows what dangers lurk behind that dial? Trusty AOR AR-3000 receiver and SignaLink™.

Has your interest been piqued? When avast mateys as I spin ya’ a yarn on how to find out where these sea-faring scoundrels lurk from the Caribbean all the way to the South China sea!

Pirate activity is not something of the past; it exists today and is a threat conducted by ragtag armed ragamuffin groups. To keep abreast of the action you’ll need the following gear: a shortwave radio with single sideband (SSB), a decent antenna, a means of decoding RTTY, and WLO, a station from Mobile, AL that transmits information to ships at sea.

You’ll do well to add WLO’s frequency to your receiver’s memory list as it’s a pretty active station that faithfully serves the sea-faring community and is one of the gems on HF.

First, tune your receiver using USB (Upper Side Band) to around 8.472 MHz and listen for that warbling sound. You will also need a way to pipe the audio from your shortwave receiver to a computer (I use a SignaLink™ USB) and a decoding program for RTTY, such as MMTTY.

To decode you’ll need to set the baud rate (45.45) and shift (170 Hz) on MTTY (or software program of choice) and tune your radio slightly up and down frequency until the software starts decoding.

You may have to press the “Reverse” or “Rev” selector at times. MMTTY is my favorite for RTTY decoding, and a picture of it is below.

WLO, Mobile AL, with RYRY idling loop, MMTTY decoder, 45.45 bauds, 170Hz shift, “Rev.”

WLO, Mobile AL, with RYRY idling loop, MMTTY decoder, 45.45 bauds, 170Hz shift, “Rev.”

MMTTY is available as a free download from Makato Mori, JE3HHT. I’ve used his program for over a decade and it performs well.

You can also use MultiPSK or FLdigi to decode RTTY so it’s the user’s choice as to which is a better fit.

Anyway, what are these pirates up to? Well the next few screenshots (click to enlarge) show some interesting activity as per WLO’s RTTY transmissions:

Pirates use element of surprise with guns and knives as armaments.

Pirates use element of surprise with guns and knives as armaments.

Somali pirates reportedly armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Yikes!

Somali pirates reportedly armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Yikes!

pic5

Give ‘em hell boys! An alert bulk carrier crew aborted hijacking with teamwork and water cannon.

Ships are encouraged to report pirate activity via FAX or phone.

Ships are encouraged to report pirate activity via FAX or phone.

Well mateys that’s enough high seas adventure for now, so first shove off to the galley for some grub (or grog) and then head to the radio room, turn on that rig and get ready for action on HF, you’ll find plenty to choose from, it’s out there for you.

I would like to thank the operators of WLO for providing such a valuable service to mariners and for providing us radio aficionados with interesting reception! And thanks readers!

P.S. Note that WLO alternates from RTTY to Sitor B so just make sure you are listening to the RTTY broadcast. If the transmission is in Sitor B then you can use a NAVTEX (e.g. YAND) decoder instead.


Thank you so much, Mario, for sharing yet another fascinating aspect of our radio world! FYI: I’m planning on purchasing a SignaLink USB at the Dayton Hamvention this year.

Readers, you can read all of Mario’s posts by clicking or bookmarking this link.

Cold War Spy Radio: Videos of the FS-5000

FS-5000-Spy-Radio

In response to Guy Atkin’s recent post, Psst, Buddy! Wanna Buy a Spy Radio?, @Cipherguerrilla comments via Twitter with the following videos of the FS-5000:

Click here to watch the FS-5000 being unpacked and assembled, and here to watch the FS-5000 in operation. I’ve also embedded both videos below.

Many thanks for sharing these videos,@Cipherguerrilla! The FS-5000 is certainly a fascinating purpose-built radio.  I’d love to have one.

Avion AV-DR-1401V firmware v1.2 now available for download

81-58a+inIL._SL1500_

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Harald Kuhl, who notes that a new firmware update for the Avion AV-DR-1401 DRM receiver is now available for download via the following link:

http://www.avionelectronics.in/support.html

A QS1R replacement in the works?

qs1r_front_sm1

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken McKenzie, who noticed the following message from Phil Covington (of Software Radio Laboratory LLC) on the QS1R Yahoo group:

I am working on a replacement for the QS1R that will be less expensive, yet
use updated components. I am hoping to have them in production by the end of March.

Regards,

Philip A Covington
Software Radio Laboratory LLC
Columbus, Ohio
http://www.srl-llc.com

Ken noticed that the message was originally dated about one month ago, so I’ll follow-up with Phil and see how much progress has been made. The QS1R was a well-respected SDR that had been on the market for several years. It would be great to see an updated version on the market.

Look what just landed on my desk: the new Icom IC-7300 direct sampling transceiver

Icom-IC-7300-Front-2 I have a new toy in the shack: the Icom IC-7300.

Last night, a good friend handed over his brand-spanking-new IC-7300 and is allowing me to evaluate it over the next week or so.

The IC-7300 is Icom’s first “entry level” RF, Direct Sampling System HF transceiver.

I’ve only had the IC-7300 on the air for a few minutes, so can’t comment about performance. I can say that it has one of the most intuitive interfaces I’ve seen on a transceiver with so many functions. I also love the spectrum display–small, but large enough to see all of the pertinent information:

Icom-IC-7300-Front-Display

It’s a slick machine, indeed!

Time permitting, I plan to post a few audio clips and get reader reactions much like I did for in the portable shoot-out.

I’ll compare the IC-7300 to my Elecraft KX3 and a few SDRs as well. Of course, I’m evaluating this during one of the busiest times in my life, so we’ll see how quickly I progress–!

Simply follow this tag for updates: IC-7300.

Psst, Buddy! Wanna Buy a Spy Radio?

This unusual Ebay posting is one of the most interesting I’ve seen in a long time: a genuine, new spy radio transceiver!

Given its rarity and new condition, the $1,900 asking price seems reasonable to me for what a well-heeled collector might pay. The set is referred to as a “FIELD SET MODEL FS-5000 SHORT WAVE SPY RADIO”.

It comes as one carton containing four larger fiber boxes and three smaller fiber boxes, all containing modules that are combined to make a digital radio transceiver system.

spy_radio

spy_radio_xmtr

The seller says that the equipment (complete with shock-absorbing transit containers) bears no manufacturer marks, but was likely made in Germany by Telefunken. The various components look to be extremely well made, and the seller has provided these links for more information on this unusual 0.5-30 MHz transceiver:

http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/fs5000/index.htm

http://www.tuberadio.com/robinson/Information/FS5000/

http://www.prc68.com/I/FS5000.shtml

Be sure to check out all the clear photos provided by the Ebay seller of this fascinating transceiver.

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.