Category Archives: Shortwave Radio Reviews

The Sony ICF-SW100: a miniture DX marvel, never likely to be repeated

sw100s

Hi there, I’ve owned my Sony ICF-SW100S for about a year now and in that time it has demonstrated a level of performance way beyond my expectations. Notwithstanding it’s incredibly small size (about the same as a packet of cigarettes, give-or-take), the DX results I have obtained with it are simply incredible. A fully featured ultra-portable receiver, complete with synchronous detection, selectable side bands, SSB, CW and coupled with sensitivity that has my (wonderful) Sony ICF-SW55 beat – and knocks on the door of the legendary ICF2001D. I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. Plug in some headphones or connect an external speaker such as the Bose SoundLink Mini 2 and you effectively have table-top receiver performance and audio in a very compact package.

Originally introduced into the market in 1993 and discontinued in 2005, this little radio covers the broadcast FM band from 76 to 108 MHz and AM from 150 to 29999 kHz, continuously. There are numerous other features that I won’t list here as they’re available on the web, but suffice to say, this (now vintage) ultra-portable DXer’s box of tricks is likely never to be repeated. They are available on eBay and prices remain robust for a radio that will be one to two decades old. Of course there’s also the issue on the first generation models with the ribbon cable connecting the lid of the set with the LCD display etc. to the base, which would fracture after some time, but this was rectified in later models with a notch cut out of the hinge to reduce the stress on the cable – see photo. They are also repairable and in fact I believe Thomas has a posting on here detailing how the ribbon cable on his example was replaced. In my opinion, it’s worth this receiver is worth the hassle of a repair, because it’s quite simply unique.

Below are selected reception videos from my youtube channel Oxford Shortwave Log using the Sony ICF-SW100, which I believe epitomise the performance of this great little portable. Thanks for watching/ listening.


Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log youTube channel

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log Youtube channel

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel

Direct Link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log reception video

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel

Direct link to reception video on Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel

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.

Tropical Band DXing at home with Elad FDM DUO and Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop

2-jungleRecently I have spent a little more time listening out for Tropical Band stations from my shack in Oxford UK, attempting to emulate some of the very nice signals I have previously recorded out on DX’peditions. The obvious problems with this (and they are numerous) include the relatively weak signal strength of many tropical band stations, the ubiquitous blanket of QRM, resulting in generally poor SNR, lack of space for a large antenna……need I go on?! Fortunately, the Elad FDM DUO has proven to be a very senstive and selective receiver, capable of, at times, incredible SNR, coupled with almost limitless signal conditioning options and SSB, SYNC, ECSS etc. Throw the Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop into the mix (not literally!) and you have a very powerful Tropical Band receive set-up. The Wellbrook is able to null most (although not all) QRM in my shack and that really can make the difference between simply observing a carrier and actually hearing audio. Clearly one cannot expect to hear DX at home under heavy QRM as well as you might outdoors, however, the following stations were logged in the past month or so, with respectable signals, with the ALA1530 indoors:

Video links also follow below, thanks for reading/ watching.

Direct link to Oxford Shortwave Log video; Radio Logos 4810 kHz, Peru

Direct link to Oxford Shortwave Log video; Radio Cultura Ondas Manaus 4845 kHz, Brazil

Direct link to Oxford Shortwave Log video; AIR Bhopal 4810 kHz, India

Direct link to Oxford Shortwave Log video; Rádio Educação Rural 4925.2 kHz, Tefé, Brazil

Direct link to Oxford Shortwave Log video; Radio Mosoj Chaski 3310 kHz, Bolivia

 

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.

Ivan’s preliminary review of the new RTL-SDR dongle on shortwave/mediumwave

RTL-SDR-RTL2832U-e1471375714199Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ivan Cholakov (NO2CW), who shares the following video review of the new RTL-SDR dongle on the shortwave and mediumwave bands.

Ivan notes:

This is daytime reception comparison. Nighttime could be a different picture. [The RTL-SDR dongle] tunes and frequency is 100% on spot.

Using SDR Sharp you have several AGC settings to play with and find the best combination. The best setting seems to vary with band and signal strength.

The [SDR receiver] comes with a short (20 cm) and long (120cm) telescopic antennas. Neither one is usable for HF or Medium wave.

When ordering the radio you have to get a USB extension cord for the dongle. When plugged in directly into a laptop and then antenna coax it can become bulky. You also will most likely need an SMA adapter to BNC and SO 238.

I hope this helps.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many thanks for sharing your video, Ivan! For a $25 SDR, I’m pretty impressed so far! I’m also very curious how it will hold up to stronger nighttime signals and, especially, adjacent signal interference. I imagine it may be prone to overloading as well. Please keep us posted!

Have any other Post readers tested the new RTL-SDR dongle on HF? If so, please comment! 

Francis loves the Sony ICF-SW11

Sony_ICF-SW11_4

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Francis, who left the following reply on our Battery Endurance Contest Results post:

Dear Thomas,

I have been using a Sony ICF-11 for 5-6 years now, still sold new at 50-70 euro. It’s analog and rather well featured: FM (stereo on earbuds), LW, AM, and 9 SW bands. It runs on 2 cheap AA batteries I get in low-cost supermarket, for sure not the best ones.

Sony_ICF-SW11_3

Using it at least one hour a day on the speaker, I have to change the batteries after 9-12 months. I am convinced a set of good Duracell or Energizer batteries would last some more months.

Sony_ICF-SW11
I am not a radio expert, but I am quite pleased with its audio performances, specially on LW (used most of the time ) and AM, where it is vastly superior to my Tecsun PL-660. SW looks OK for what I can say from listening quite occasionally these bands. I would be curious to see a serious review of this Sony to know how it compares with others, but I didn’t find any on the web so far (hint?). [Yes, Francis, hint taken!]

Sony_ICF-SW11_2
I am so pleased with this small radio that I recently bought a second one as a spare.
Thanks for your very interesting blog and reviews.
Francis

Thank you, Francis, for sharing your thoughts on the Sony ICF-SW11 and your photos as well!

It appears Amazon.com (US) has a few options for ordering a Sony ICF-SW11–click here to show search results. Prices vary between $50-$55; Amazon even has replacement telescopic whips available.

Of course, an eBay search will also uncover a number of SW11’s.

I searched the web, but couldn’t find many other retailers selling new ICF-SW11’s. It appears many of the ones on Amazon are imports from Japan.

At $50 shipped, it seems like a bargain to me, so I just pulled the trigger on one.

Bruce believes the CC Skywave is an ideal travel radio

The C.Crane CC Skywave

The C.Crane CC Skywave

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bruce Atchison, who recently shared his positive comments about the CC Skywave. Bruce writes::

This is a lot of radio for such a small size. The CC Skywave is a great travel companion because of its portability and price.

Moreover, it’s rich with features. The receiver tunes in AM and FM as well as all the shortwave bands, NOAA weather channels, and the aircraft band. The latter comes in handy while you’re waiting for flights so you can find out immediately and directly what is delaying them.

It also has a built-in alarm clock so you needn’t miss the next morning’s activities.

The Skywave runs on 2 AA cells and can be set to charge NiMH rechargeable batteries. Its mini-USB port lets you use the AC adaptor or 12 volt cigarette lighter adapter. You can even use one of those cell phone solar panels to power the set.

This radio’s reception is excellent and its filters allow for eliminating adjacent channel interference. Apart from its rather high noise floor on AM, the receiver pulls in stations at night very well.

The Skywave can also add local stations to its memory pages automatically. This comes in handy in foreign cities when you don’t have time to manually scan the AM and FM dial.

This is truly a globe trotter’s accessory. You can set it to European AM channel spacing and the Japanese FM band. The radio even has a fine tuning setting for oddly-spaced stations.

The three amber LEDs light up the dial nicely and they turn off automatically after about ten seconds to conserve battery life. In fact, the Skywave is amazingly energy efficient.

Whenever I travel, this radio is one thing I’ll be sure to pack. It’s all I need when I travel away from home.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bruce.  Yes, I believe the Skywave is a great little travel radio, too. One of the Skywave features I used extensively while off-grid in Canada this summer, was the weather radio function (Environment Canada and NOAA frequencies are the same). Without Internet, it was an excellent, handy source of weather information.