Bonito’s new catalog in English

Many thanks to Dennis Walter, who writes with this update from Bonito:

Bonito-Catalog

The new Bonito Hamradio / SWL Catalog 2016 in English has been released. We will distribute it on our Shows at Montichiari, Dayton Hamvention, Florence Hamfest, Friedrichshafen Hamradio, UK Hamfest etc.

The Catalog is already available as PDF download here: http://www.bonito.net/cat/Bonito-Hamradio-catalogue2016.pdf

Have fun and keep listening

Dennis

RIP: Dick Smith Electronics

dick-smithMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Dan (VR2HF), who writes:

I must be a radio geek. While listening to Radio New Zealand (RNZ) top-of-the-hour news with my CC Skywave on the 31mb in a bus from Incheon Airport to my hotel south of downtown Seoul, I learned that Dick Smith Electronics (https://www.dicksmith.com.au/) will close all of its stores in Australia and New Zealand with the loss of about 3000 jobs. The complicated, sad saga of DSE which was sold by Dick many years ago, can be found here: http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/dick-smith-to-close-all-stores-3000-staff-to-go-20160225-gn3ios.html

My first encounter with DSE was in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early eighties. I remember buying a few kits from them and Nolan Bushnell’s “Petster” robot cat. They also sold some Bearcat Scanners and Yaesu ham gear, as I recall. It is a far different business today than it was back then. If memory serves, I believe Dick Smith also had a store here in Hong Kong around 1980 when I made my first visit to the SAR.

I hope that someone in the Maker community with money and a vision will try a new, modern version of Radio Shack and the old version of Dick Smith Electronics. Offering a mix of 3D printers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pies, radios, and other items Makers might want could be a profitable business and fill a need.

Tecsun PL-880 fine tuning bug solved by Anon-Co

PL-880-Tuning-BugMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Georges (F6DFZ), who writes:

As you may know, a few [of us PL-880 owners] have documented the extremely annoying bug that affect the Tecsun PL-880 during Fine Tuning of SSB signals.

To sum it up, recently manufactured Tecsun PL-880 tune backward when using the Fine Tuning knob in SSB mode. This result in a very bad tuning feeling, especially for SWL and Ham radio operators, 1 kHz frequency jumps each kHz and a displayed frequency that can be off as much as 2 kHz.

Anna from Anon-Co has been very cooperative, serious, kind, in short: an outstanding person. She never denied the problem, and found a solution to correct it by loading a 8820 firmware just anterior to the buggy one.

Now, all PL-880 sold by Anon-Co have the corrected firmware.

I am extremely pleased with my PL-880 and I need to add that the tuning experience with the corrected firmware is night and day. Now, you can tune continuously using the Fine Tuning knob, without hitch and very smoothly ; the lack of shuffling is also very welcome, as is the Variable Rate Tuning (10 Hz or 50 Hz tuning steps).
This makes the PL-880 an outstanding receiver for its price, considering the 10 Hz fine steps, the choice of selectivity, the long life on its battery, etc…

Be sure to choose a distributor that sells PL-880 with the tuning bug corrected.

Click here to purchase a PL-880 via Anon-Co.

Many thanks, Georges, for the follow-up. I’m very happy to hear that PL-880 retailers like Anon-Co are assisting in such a helpful and effective way.

No doubt, other PL-880 retailers will also begin to offer a firmware upgrade to fix the fine tuning bug. As Georges notes, please check before purchasing!

Reders/Retailers: Please comment if you can confirm that others are now shipping PL-880s with the fine tuning control fix.

Travel discovery: the Telefunken Superheterodyn Caprice 5451W

I’ve been traveling along the coast of South Carolina this week, and on Thursday, I found myself in the historic town of Conway, South Carolina. I parked downtown and strolled into the past via Papa’s General Store, a small local store with a lot of merchandise––and a lot of charm.

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While browsing a display of antiques, I happened to notice a vintage radio perched on a high shelf. Here’s what caught my eye:

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I asked, was the radio was for sale? And, indeed, it was. One of the sales clerks pulled it from the shelf, dusted off the top, and read the price: $74. I noted that it was a West German Telefunken receiver.  I asked the clerk, Chris,  if it worked, and he confirmed that it did; it belonged to his uncle, who had clearly taken very good care of it.

Chris allowed me to plug it in, turn it on, and tune in a couple of local stations…The Telefunken produced beautiful audio without even the slightest hint of a hum. Chris was pleased that I appreciated the radio, and sincerely wanted me to take it home, so he lowered the price a bit further.  I agreed, and purchased it without hesitation. Just couldn’t help it…

That's Chris behind the counter.

Chris behind the counter with his uncle’s classic Telefunken.

The Telefunken Superheterodyn Caprice 5451W covers the AM/mediumwave band and FM. It’s a tube radio produced in the early 1960s in West Germany, and is now the only tube-based radio I own that covers the FM band.

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Of course, I was very eager to get the Telefunken on the air, so that afternoon I headed to our balcony overlooking the Atlantic, tuned around a bit on the mediumwave band…and was simply amazed at all it could receive.  I picked up my smart phone, and with it made a very short recording of the Cuban station, Radio Reloj, on 820 kHz:

My smart phone’s microphone doesn’t begin to do the Telefunken’s rich audio justice, but you can clearly hear Radio Reloj’s ticks and “RR” in Morse Code at the top of the minute (indeed, if you’re listening with headphones, you may also hear crashing waves in the background). Something nearby generated a lot of RFI right on frequency, too , but the rest of the broadcast band had a surprisingly low noise floor.

I also spent some time with the Telefunken on the FM broadcast band; with a simple wire antenna, this worked wonders.

In my humble op, the audio the Telefunken produces is simply beautiful.  And so, I’ve got to add, is this vintage radio. See for yourself.

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Universal Radio: new Whistler scanners and a “QRP corner” page

The Whistler WS1098 Scanner

The Whistler WS1098 Tabletop Scanner

I recently had a conversation with my good friend Fred Osterman, president of Universal Radio. Fred told me about a couple of items on their website I thought might interest Post readers:

  • A QRP Corner page with quick links to products and categories that are relevant to QRPers, portable operators and those interested in communications preparedness. The new QRP corner page can be found by clicking here. Fred notes that he page is a work in progress with regular additions.
  • Fred has also posted preliminary information about new Whistler Scanners: the Whistler WS1088 and WS1098. Fred is impressed with the preliminary product information and should have pricing and availability soon (both units are still pending FCC approval).

I’ve read through the specifications of the new Whistler scanners: I love the fact that they come with frequencies banks that can be loaded by simply entering your zip code (in the US). I find that programming scanners–as well as modern VHF/UHF handhelds–can lead to a serious headache. I’m happy to see that manufacturers like Whistler and Uniden are finally making the process much easier.

Many thanks for the update, Fred!

Buying a shortwave radio in India?

Tecsun-PL660

SWLing Post reader, Muthu Kumar recently asked if I knew of a good source of shortwave radios–specifically, the Tecsun brand–in India.

I’m asked this very question at least a few times each year and have always replied that eBay may be the best option.

I’m curious if any of our readers living in India have good suggestions of shortwave retailers either within the country or who ship to India without many hassles. Please comment.

Ham Radio Outlet now distributing the SDRplay RSP

SDPlay-RSP

(Source: SDRplay Facebook Page)

SDRplay is pleased to announce Ham Radio Outlet as our exclusive authorized distributor in North America. Right now initial stocking quantities are in place at 10 of their 13 stores nationwide and we plan to stock all 13 shortly.

This is excellent news for North American users as delivery will now be much quicker – no more waiting for shipments stuck in customs! This will also allow customers to get hands-on experience with the RSP in HRO’s retail stores.

Click here to go to Ham Radio Outlet’s website.

Click here to read our review of the SDRplay RSP.