Tag Archives: Troy Riedel

Herrington sale features Grundig shortwave radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, for sharing a link to this sale at Herrington, where a number of Grundig models have been discounted.

Looking through Herrington’s selection of Grundig radios, I feel the best deal is the Grundig Edition Field Radio above. It’s on sale for $99.95, but you must also account for shipping which could add an additional $15.95 (for a total of $115.90).

Amazon is selling the same Grundig Edition Field Radio for $129.99 shipped, but is also selling the upgraded version, The Grundig Edition Field BT–which includes Bluetooth connectivity–for $98.92 shipped.

I have not reviewed these receivers, so can’t comment on performance.

Click here to view the sale at Herrington.

Troy reviews the Audiomax SRW-710S

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, for the following guest post:


A Mini-Review of the Audiomax SRW-710S

by Troy Riedel

Why would someone want a sub-$20 shortwave radio? Wait … I guess I should be answering questions & not asking them, right? But I’ll give you my answer to “why I want a sub-$20 shortwave radio”: I have many nice radios, but I wanted one that I consider “disposable”. I define “disposable” as something I won’t be upset if I lose, get it splattered with paint, or leave it outside only to get rained on. Taking the family of four to the movies nowadays costs upwards of $100 (the three ladies I live with can really throw-down pop & popcorn!) so a sub-$20 radio, even a “disposable one”, is a true bargain.

I have seen the SRW-710S badged under three different names: Audiomax, VITE and TIVDIO. There very well may be other badging. I paid $18.52 for my Audiomax badged device direct from a vendor in China. I’ve subsequently seen it as low as $13 on eBay and as much as $37 on Amazon. So much for a sub-$20 radio, huh?

The SRW-710S comes with only a USB charging cable in the box to recharge the Li-ion BL-5C battery (no earbuds, no case or pouch – just a very simple set of basic instructions). The 710S features a small LCD screen that offers menus in three languages: English, Spanish & Chinese.

The screen greets you with “welcome” (lowercase) when turning it on & “Bye Bye!” when you power-off. There is a Sleep Timer function that I have yet to use. All of the ports are on the right side of the unit (nothing on the left). It has a TF Flashcard Slot – no card provided – for recording off the radio & for playing pre-loaded mp3 & wma files from the flashcard.

It has 100 memories, a Line-In port, a built-in mic, and a headphone port. There is no ANT-In port. This radio has AM, FM & SW (no LW) with the appropriate international tuning steps. Lastly, there is no folding stand on the back (one is provided and is attached to the wrist strap – it is inserted into a small slot just above the battery cover).

One Chinese web site listed the SRW-710S as having an “AKC6951 DSP chip”. Until now, I had never heard of this DSP chip and I frankly know nothing about it. Maybe some more informed readers can comment?

Operation is easy (except for one quirk that I will detail later). There are two rows of numbers for direct input of a frequency. Simply input the frequency … and then wait (there is an approximate 3-5 second delay from input to the radio actually tuning to the frequency … I am still getting used to this pregnant pause). You also have an option of tuning directly to a meter-band.

Of course, there is no SSB for this low price.

The one speaker is a bit “tinny” but adequate (stereo via user-supplied earbuds). And considering the price point, the RF shielding isn’t too bad. I can actually use the shortwave band of this radio in my kitchen and breakfast nook (I cannot say that for my more expensive receivers).

The biggest limiting factor in reception is the size of the telescopic antenna (15.5”). However, for its size I am quite impressed (it’s exponentially better than the old Grundig G2000A Porsche that has a 21.25” antenna – but that radio is notorious as needing a reel antenna). Just via the telescopic whip, I can actually tune the major broadcasters to NA (e.g., Radio Romania), I can adequately tune to the VOA 15.580 MHz signal to Africa during the North American East Coast AFTN, and the time signals are easily audible (of course, frequency appropriate for the time of day).

I do not plan to open the radio’s chassis, but AM reception seems to be limited due to the obvious small size of the ferrite antenna (the radio itself is essentially palm-sized, approximately 4.75” x 3” & less than 1” thick). My postal scale indicates it weighs 5.5 – 6 ounces including the battery. The radio must be propped to support it when attaching the telescoping whip to a Slinky Antenna (even the weight of the Slinky’s alligator clip causes balance problems)
One quirk I have found: there is a “Lock” key. However, it only seems to lock the radio power “on” (locks are used to lock the power “off” during transport so the power remains off and the battery doesn’t drain). The “Lock” feature is not discussed in the instructions and at present I have not figured-out if this switch works in the traditional way. I find this to be quite amusing because it’s either an odd quirk or I’m just not smart enough to intuitively figure it out.

I am quite satisfied with my new “disposable” $18.52 Shortwave Radio (I have no information whether the quality I have considered is consistent through a production run or between badging). For those who wish to listen to a local AM or FM station – or listen to one of the “major” shortwave broadcasters with a booming signal into your part of the world – you can’t beat it for this price point. I can see myself using this radio while I complete outdoor household repairs or while cleaning-up the garage. Too bad it’s so close to Christmas, this would make a great stocking stuffer to introduce someone, young or old, to the world of shortwave.

Update: Searching for the SRW-710S

Note that the lowest prices omit the model number in eBay search results.

Click this link to search eBay for the SRW-710S on eBay. 

Scroll through search results to find a matching receiver.


Thank you, Troy, for mini-review of the SRW-710S! Like you, I have very low expectations from shortwave portables at this price point. Still…for the glove compartment of your vehicle, for outdoor listening, for small gifts? These fit the bill! I’m most impressed you could receive the number of stations you did from inside your home. 

Review of the DoxyTronics 8020CA magnetic loop antenna

8020ca-assembled-1

(Image source: DoxyTronics)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following guest post:


Review: DoxyTronics Portable HF Magnetic Loop 8020CA

-by Troy Riedel

Before I purchased the DoxyTronics 8020CA antenna, I emailed the owner/manufacturer and asked if he felt this antenna would be a good choice with the radios that I own. He promptly and courteously answered my question and I purchased the antenna on September 30th. I received the antenna approximately 6-days after I ordered it.

The DoxyTronics 8020CA magnetic loop antenna

The DoxyTronics 8020CA magnetic loop antenna

I have been evaluating the antenna for 5-6 weeks mostly on my Grundig Satellit 750 and my Grundig G3. I have used other portables but the two aforementioned Grundigs were the radios I used most.

The antenna control box has a ¼-20 hole on the bottom so it can be mounted to a video camera tripod. The assembled antenna weighs 3 lbs. I tried using a light duty DSLR tripod that I own, however that was nowhere near sturdy enough. I had to use a heavier duty tripod (Ravelli AVT) that I use for astronomical purposes. This Ravelli has a weight capacity of 16 lbs and it easily supported the antenna. I’m confident a much smaller and lighter duty tripod than the Ravelli could be used, I simply don’t own anything in-between as my astronomical binoculars and binocular telescopes weigh 5 – 14 lbs.

The 8020CA Antenna consists of a large tuning knob and control box. The control box has switch settings of 3-5 Mhz and 5-15 Mhz. In testing, I found that I could “tune” up to 17.840 MHz.   No batteries are needed to operate.

The antenna worked equally well with all of the “portable” radios that I tested (I am a SWL’er, not a ham).

I can summarize the antenna’s performance as this: it is not a magic elixir that will allow you to capture signals too faint to recognize without the antenna attached, but it definitely enhances the signal and “stabilizes” it to the point where the level of the signal remains relatively constant (less peaks & troughs in signal strength).

img_1908

Hopefully you can hear what I have summarized and concluded. I have included a two and one-half minute recording of the following:

Radio: Grundig Satellit 750
Recorder: RadioShack 140-214
Freq: 7.310 MHz
BW: Wide
Broadcaster: Radio Romania International
Date of Recording: 15NOV2016
Time: 2309 – 2313 UTC

Click here to download as an MP3.

00:00 – 00:30: 8020CA Antenna Attached
00:30 – 01:00: Radio’s Whip Antenna
01:00 – 01:30: 8020CA Antenna Attached
01:30 – 02:00: Radio’s Whip Antenna
02:00 – 02:30: This last 30-second segment is with the 8020CA attached, however I am panning the Ravelli tripod 360-degrees in the horizontal. You will hopefully notice that there is a “sweet spot” where the signal and reception is the best of the entire 2:30 recording. I had set-up the antenna and I completed a quick, test recording of Radio Romania. But conditions changed slightly and the best signal during the recoding was approximately 50-60-degrees away from where the best reception was earlier. This is a positive for the antenna: you can pan the tripod head where the antenna sits to null and/or find the best signal.

Note: this is my first shortwave and radio-related review I have ever done. I have done many astronomical reviews – where I have much more experience – so please be kind towards this first attempt.


No worries, Troy! We’re kind and appreciative here–especially since guest posts are all about sharing our experiences and experimentation!

I must say, the DoxyTronics loop is doing a fine job mitigating the local QRM/interference that is easily heard when only the telescopic whip is being used. I’m also impressed that a passive loop this modest in size has so much gain without amplification. 

Thanks, again, Troy for sharing your review! 

Click here to view and/or purchase the DoxyTronics 8020CA magnetic loop antenna.

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.

img_1855

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!

FM DXing: Troy’s unexpected catch

Troy-FM-DX

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

Thomas, if I were to read this on your blog, I would not have believed the following.

I live in Virginia nearly equidistant from RIC/Richmond Int’l AP (east of Richmond) and PHF AP (in Newport News). I had a 1:40 P.M. doctor’s appt. [July 12] and I took to I-64 East en route to the doctor near Newport News. My Silverado has an XM Radio that I typically listen to, but the reception is bad in the summer because of the wooded nature of the interstate.

I hit the “FM” button and I quickly found a station at 105.7. There were two other 105.7 stations that periodically interfered, but one station was dominating/booming. After music I heard commercials about concerts in Iowa. I heard an Iowa Lottery Commercial. And a Lasik commercial – yes, all from Iowa. I heard a weather forecast that definitely wasn’t for Virginia. After 10-12 minutes I got a station I.D.. It was KSUX Sioux City, Iowa. Sioux City, Iowa is 1,332 miles away or an estimated 22-hour drive!

KSUX dominated the airwaves until I got very close to my Newport News, VA appt. By then (around 12:55 P.M.) I had picked-up one of the other two stations that were competing on 105.7. It was a station on the Outer Banks, NC (about 2.5 hours by car away).

When I went back to my Silverado at exactly 2 P.M., the KSUX was barely audible as the Outer Banks, NC station was now the most clear. I drove back towards my home on I-64 West and after a few miles (5-10 at most) the third of the three stations became clear. The third station was “Kiss 105.7” originating in Richmond, VA. That means the Sioux City, Iowa station, 1,332-miles away, had obliterated the Richmond, VA signal from 12:30 P.M. to almost 1:00 P.M. even though at this juncture of my drive Richmond was 45-55 miles away.

The KSUX Sioux City, IA station … even though weak on the drive home … still occasionally popped through the airwaves to cause interference with the Richmond, VA signal.

If I hadn’t heard it, I would have never believed it. I did a quick check and I didn’t see anything regarding closer stations possibly simulcasting the KSUX signal. It appears to be 100% legit.

I’m dumbfounded. It’s a head scratcher for sure.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Troy. You, sir, were the recipient of some excellent FM DX openings!

FM DXing conditions

There are a few conditions that make for proper FM DX:

  1. Sporadic-E and tropospheric ducting (DXers often call this, “Tropo”)
  2. Meteor scatter, where signals bounce off of ionized trails left by meteors
  3. Also, when there is exceptionally high sunspot activity, FM signals have been known to bounce off the ionosphere (like shortwave signals)

I strongly suspect you were enjoying FM DX from sporadic E. If memory serves (and keep in mind, I’m currently vacationing in an off-grid cabin without Internet), we had a K Index of 5 or so on July 12–at least, I believe I heard a ham radio operator report this on 40 meters that day. I can confirm that the HF bands were absolutely obliterated parts of that particular day. Conditions were very unsettled for the HF (high-frequency) bands, but potentially excellent for sporadic E.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Fred Osterman writes about Sporadic E on DXing.com:

Sporadic-E propagation is caused by patches of intense ionization in the E-layer of the ionosphere (approximately 35 to 60 miles above the Earth’s surface). Signals on frequencies above 30 MHz normally pass through the ionosphere and into space. However, sporadic-E “clouds” are capable of refracting such signals back to Earth. The term “clouds” is an apt way to describe the patches of highly charged particles that form during a sporadic-E event. Like clouds, these patches move and are highly irregular in size and shape. It is possible to track the movement of a sporadic-E “cloud” by noting the locations of stations that fade in and out on a frequency as the cloud moves.

Sporadic-E propagation can occur any time of day or year. However, sporadic-E is most common from about mid-May to late July, with another peak a week before and after the winter solstice. Sporadic-E seems to be most common from about mid-morning to noon, local time, and again from late afternoon through the evening hours.

If you’re interested in chasing a little FM DX (’tis the season–!), read Fred’s full article about FM and TV DXing on DXing.com. What I like about Fred’s article is that it’s simple and easy to understand.

Post readers: Has anyone else enjoyed a little FM DX this summer? Please comment! This is a part of the DXing hobby that I rarely feature on the SWLing Post, but would love to highlight more often. Let me know if you’d like to write a guest post on this topic!