Category Archives: Ultralight DX

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.

Oxford Shortwave Log: Sony ICF-SW77 vs ICF-SW55 vs Tecsun PL-310ET

Hi there, I recently posted an article regarding a couple of recent DX catches with the Sony ICF-SW77 receiver and went on to explain the background to a multi-receiver test I had started conducting, comparing it with its stablemate of the time the ICF-SW55 and, just for the hell of it, a more modern, yet modest portable in the shape of the brilliant little Tecsun PL-310ET.                                                Sony ICF-SW77

The initial results confirmed the performance of the Sony receivers to be very similar and thus the justification for the original price delta of £100 in the UK to remain in question. The first target signals chosen and in the original post were ABC Northern Territories on 4835 kHz and Radio Mali on 9635 kHz.

Sony ICF-SW55                                                        Tecsun PL-310ET

The initial results reinforced my view that the PL-310ET is a great portable for relatively small money; it managed to copy both signals, something you might not expect from what is essentially a budget receiver.

Below are links to the next 6 reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel and once again, featuring all three radios. I have used two different antennas during the testing – a 75 metre longwire and the Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop, running on batteries. The accompanying text description to the videos indicates which antenna was used.

Although the PL-310ET clearly struggled with the more ‘hard-core’ DX signals amongst those detailed below, the fact is, for less than £40 in the UK (and I’m certain even less elsewhere), Tecsun have delivered us a portable radio that really is capable of real DX. With DSP, a number of audio bandwidth filter options and great sensitivity, it’s a winner for beginners to DXing and to ‘old hands’ who want a radio in their pocket when they take the dog for a walk for example (something I do all the time – you never know when you’re going to come across the next barbed wire fence!). As for the Sonys, well I’m still not convinced one way or the other that the £100 price delta on the original price of the ICF-SW77 was worth the money – the ICF-SW55 is pretty close to it in terms of delivering discernible audio across all of the below reception videos. I’d be interested in your views and note there will be a final posting on this 3-way receiver comparison to wrap things up. In the meantime, thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you good DX!

Enbedded videos follow below.

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.

Video: Gary DeBock’s “Baby FSL” antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock (N7EKX), who shares this video and notes the following on YouTube:

This is the new 3.5 inch (89mm) “Baby FSL” antenna, designed to provide a powerful DXing gain boost for Ultralight radios (or any other portables) despite its very small size. It has 32 Russian surplus 140mm x 8mm ferrite rods and 31 turns of 1162/46 Litz wire. In the demonstration video it provides a daytime DX gain boost for 750-KXTG (Tigard, Oregon, 50 kW at 160 miles) from inaudible up to about S7 on the Eton Traveler III Ultralight radio.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Gary is certainly a first-rate DXer and an ambassador of our radio hobby. Gary shows us here that, with a little ingenuity, we can take a $50 radio and turn it into something exceptional! Homebrewing at its best.  Thank you, Gary!

Also, I had never considered that a high-gain FSL antenna would require very precise placement of the receiver for proper inductive coupling. It makes sense, though. This loop is tuned for razor-sharp precision!

Some day, when I have a little free time, I’m going to build one of Gary’s FSL designs.

The brilliant little Tecsun PL-310ET: serious DXing on a budget – part 2

Hi there, here is part two of my original post containing various reception videos for the amazing Tecsun PL-310ET pocket shortwave receiver. I continue to be amazed at the sensitivity and selectivity of this rather modest and diminutive receiver, particularly at it’s price-point of around £40 in the UK and less elsewhere! Here is the second half of the reception videos, with some nice signals from Brazil, Guinea, Ethiopia, Swaziland and India. You might notice that some of these catches involve the use of a 240 metre (approx.) length of barbed wire fence! I’m not sure how beneficial the electrical properties of the fence were, probably somewhere between not great and not good lol, but some pretty decent DX was had with the PL-310ET attached to it via the external antenna socket and a crocodile clip!

The barbed wire fence extends almost to the treeline on the horizon; about 240 metres

I hope you enjoy this set of reception videos, they certainly help to demonstrate the great performance of the PL-310ET and in addition of course, it’s ability to handle large antennas quite well. Embedded videos and text links follow below. Lastly, there are now approaching 1,200 reception videos on my YouTube channel Oxford Shortwave Log and I would like to take this additional opportunity to thank everyone for their support, friendship and advice.  In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and excellent 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.

 

 

Medium wave SDR spectrum with over 20 transatlantic signals: a quick tour

 

Tour of a medium wave spectrum with over 20 transatlantic signals

Hi there, I thought some of the readers of SWLing Post might be interested in a review of a MW spectrum with multiple transatlantic signals – all with audio. This is one of the recordings I took with the 200 metre Beverage antenna and although I haven’t properly counted, I believe it generated about 50 catches that were either personal firsts or best-ever receptions. You will note that this video is nearly 20 minutes long, whilst the recording is only just over 5 minutes, thus to capture the signals listed below and demonstrate audio to you, it was necessary to effectively ‘rewind’ a few times. I haven’t annotated the video, however, the stations I’ve paused on to demonstrate audio are listed below. There are actually more catches in this spectrum, but hopefully the video will give you a good idea of propagation on the morning of 10/10/16 and the effectiveness of the Beverage/Elad FDM DUO combination. Also note, I didn’t have time to fully optimise the demodulation settings, so for example, I haven’t used AM SYNC in this demonstration. Individual videos of all catches, with optimised settings appear on my YouTube channel Oxford Shortwave Log. I hope you enjoy it! Recorded in Oxford UK on 10/10/16 at 02:00 hrs UTC. Thanks for watching and I wish you all great DX!


590 kHz VOCM Saint John’s
600 kHz CBNA Saint Anthony
620 kHz CKCM Grand Falls-Windsor
660 kHz WFAN New York
710 kHz WOR New York
730 kHz CKAK Montreal
750 kHz CBC Radio 1 Bonavista Bay
790 kHz WAXY (presumed)
800 kHz VOWR
970 kHz WBGG
1010 kHz CFRB Toronto
1030 kHz WBZ Boston
1130 kHz WBBR New York
1190 kHz WLIB New York
1280 WADO New York
1390 WEGP Presque Isle
1400 kHz CBC Radio 1 Gander
1440 kHz WRED Westbrook
1510 kHz WMEX Boston
1520 kHz WWKB Buffalo
1570 kHz XERF La Poderosa, Mexico
1580 kHz HJQT Verdad Radio 1580 kHz, Bogotá, Colombia
1610 kHz Caribbean Beacon, Anguilla
1660 kHz WGIT Puerto Rico


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.