SWLer, Mark Coady, made a post on Facebook today with a message from REE stating that there was a lot of internal confusion and frustration regarding REE suddenly dropping shortwave services. They also mentioned that REE is planning to restore shortwave services again, possibly as soon as this weekend. I just received a short message from an REE contact to the same effect.
So, we will see if they restore services this weekend or early next week. I personally enjoy listening to REE’s services in English and French. I especially love their music, when they play it.
If you’re an REE fan, I suggest you contact them ASAP ([email protected]) and show your support. Though services are being re-established, shortwave broadcasts may be on the chopping block again in the near future.
WRTH has announced that their 2013 edition is now available online. Every year, I look forward to searching a new WRTH’s pages for the first time. What is the WRTH (World Radio and TV Handbook)? Click here to read my reviews of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions of WRTH. In the 2010 edition, I even include an interview with the publisher, Nicholas Hardyman.
Though I only travel with one carry on bag, it doesn’t mean I can’t accommodates my shortwave radio/recording pack.
Having just returned from nearly three full weeks of traveling, I’m more convinced than ever that my just-one carry-on bag approach makes absolute sense. In one bag, I’m able to take everything I need, including casual and business attire, toiletries, first aid and, yes, of course, my portable shortwave radio (never leave home without it!) and my Zoom H1 recorder.
One bag freedom
Years ago, while working for a fiber optics company in Europe, I learned the trick to keeping my cool during frequent air travel was simply to avoid, at all costs, checking in baggage. Over the course of several years, I honed the contents of my travel bag down to the bare essentials, and even for longer trips in developed countries, made the (correct) assumption that any supplies I required could be found at my destination.
My circa 1999 Eagle Creek convertible laptop bag has traveled thousands of miles. It’s just big enough to accommodate everything I need for several days or even weeks travelling.
For twelve years now, I have been using one of three Eagle Creek carry-on convertible bags. Two of these plain black bags look much like the ubiquitous vertical rolling luggage you see every day in major airports, but they hide two secrets: each can be converted into a full-fledged backpack, and each meets the most stringent standards for carry-on luggage. They’re also built to take a beating, which they’re getting, and have a lifetime warranty.
The third Eagle Creek pack is basically a roomy laptop (and radio) bag (see photo on left). It has no wheels, and can be worn with a shoulder strap…or, again, converted into a simple two-strap backpack.
When traveling alone, I can easily get by with only the third and smallest of my Eagle Creek pack: the laptop bag. It has a very roomy, padded compartment for my laptop, a middle compartment where I fit my bundled clothes, first aid, and radio pack (which also holds my Kindle), and a front section with organizers for office supplies and a convenient place to stash my travel docs and passport. It’s also a very simple to make this pack virtually pickpocket-proof.
This laptop bag quickly converts into a backpack–a useful feature when it’s fully loaded and you need both arms free.
The benefit of using this particular Eagle Creek laptop bag (important: the one without wheels) is that–even if I’m being loaded in the last zone of a flight, even if the flight is fully booked, and even if the flight is on a De Havilland Dash 8-100–I always find a place for my bag on board, and never, ever, have to gate-check my bag. It will fit in a small overhead compartment, or at the very least, under the seat in front of me.
Though the compromise is that I travel light, the great benefit is that I never have lost any bags, rarely miss a connecting flight (it typically takes at least five extra minutes to claim even a gate-checked bag), and I zoom in an out of an airport. I have the luxury of sitting back and reading while I watch others panic at a gate, waiting for their appropriate “zone” to load.
From my seat, I watched US Air load wheeled carry-on luggage that they required some unfortunate passengers (who were already on the plane!) to check in.
Over the past decade, air travel has really changed. Most of the domestic flights I took throughout Europe a decade ago used to be only about two-thirds full. Here in the US, it appeared to be roughly the same. Today, however, airlines have cut back their offerings and frequently overbook flights. In fact, on a recent flight returning from Denver International Airport, the airline warned of penalty charges if passengers attempted to carry on more luggage or weight than allowed. The airline was making anyone with a wheeled bag–no matter how small–check it in.
Since I was in the eighth row seat, and I only had my Eagle Creek laptop bag on a shoulder strap, I waited until almost everyone else had boarded before I got in line. I walked straight into the 737, pulled my radio pack out of my laptop bag, stowed the laptop bag in the overhead compartment, and settled into my seat. No sweat. Meanwhile flight attendants were taking extra baggage from travelers in the back of the plane and checking in their luggage on the spot. Though their bags met overhead compartment criteria, there simply wasn’t enough room.
Confession time: So, I am something of a pack addict…!
My wife recently pointed out that, besides radios, I have too many packs. I’m convinced I do this because I’m always searching for the best, most versatile way to travel. Most of the packs I buy these days are smaller ones to compliment my Eagle Creek packs. I’m a choosy pack connoisseur, too: I often save my dollars and seek something made in the US–or in Europe, Australia or South Africa (true of pack-maker Karrimore, at one point). I don’t typically like the mass-produced stuff, which I find is not as well-made. My original three Eagle Creek packs were made in the USA, but after the company was featured on the American TV talk show Oprah, receiving the host’s endorsement, the unfortunate result is that the company’s products have since (in my opinion) been compromised and manufacturing moved overseas, likely to keep up with new demand.
Red Oxx actually designed their Air Boss bag for one-bag travelers like me. It even meets the strictest international carry-on standards.
Since a good friend just sang US company RedOxx’s praises, I’m currently drooling over the RedOxx’s Air Boss and SkyTrain. Both look like they would do the trick, but make me slightly nervous because they are a couple of inches larger than my trusty-if-“rusty” Eagle Creek laptop bag, in two dimensions. If RedOxx’s uber-affordable Extra Small Aviator Bag had a shoulder strap and could accommodate a small laptop, I would even consider trying that bag–perhaps in combo with their Gator Carry-On Bag, this would make sense (but that would make for two bags, not sure about that).
Could I fit all of my stuff in the Red Oxx extra small aviator bag? T’would be a challenge!
I suppose I could also consider the US company Tom Bihn Tri-Star, though it is probably more bag than I really need.
Note that although these bags are pricey, all come with a no-hassle, no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty–the Redd Oxx warranty, in particular, is worth a read–both companies are also noted for excellent customer service and the bags should last my lifetime.
Unless, that is, I find another that I want to test drive. Filled with of radio gear, of course. Ah, well…My wife appears to be right.
Have radio, will travel
I suppose the reason I’m entertaining this slightly off-topic travel subject is not just due to my recent travel, but because I’m now enlightened enough to realize that traveling light never means traveling without a radio. With some careful planning and packing, choosing the right bag–and travel-companion radio–the whole world is waiting for you. And you won’t find yourself spending your travel time–and radio listening time!–watching bulky suitcases drift round on the conveyor belt at baggage claim, as you wait for yours.
Anyone else out there have a similar bag addiction? Got one you like? Radio travelers, share your thoughts!
If you are into one-bag travel, you should check out the following excellent sites (thanks for the links, Ed):
Not even the British spy agencies that inspired James Bond can solve the mystery of a secret World War II message recently found on the skeleton of a carrier pigeon in a house chimney.
The meaning of the encoded message apparently died about 70 years ago with the wayward pigeon that David Martin found in his smokestack in Bletchingley, Surrey County, England.
Martin recently discovered the bird’s remains with the surprisingly intact message inside a small red canister attached to a leg bone.
[…]Hand-written on a small piece of paper labeled “Pigeon Service,” the note consists of five-letter words. Those words don’t make sense: The jumble begins with “AOAKN” and “HVPKD.” In all, the message consists of 27 five-letter code groups.
Indeed, the only hope the UK intelligence agency, the GCHQ, stands in deciphering the message (click here to see the full message) would be to find the appropriate, specific decipher key. Most likely, this message–like numbers station (a.k.a. spy numbers) messages–was a one-time communiqué, with a one-time decipher key. This type of encryption is incredibly effective as they provide little to no context for deciphering.
But again, that’s a part of the magic and mystery many of us find so fascinating about numbers stations. The messages are (still) everywhere and broadcast publicly, yet, we have no clue of the meaning.
Thanks to Paul Thurst on the blog Engineering Radio, I discovered this excellent video of the engineering staff of ABC (Radio Australia) servicing some of their HF antennas and transmitters. Having visited several shortwave transmission sites myself, I truly appreciate this peek inside Radio Australia.
Do any of you know which Radio Australia site this is? I’m curious if it is Shepparton. Please comment!
Early Sunday morning (UTC–Saturday night for many) The Mighty KBC will once again broadcast some of Elliott’s digital messages from 00:00-02:00 UTC on 9,450 kHz. This time, they’ll even broadcast two different messages in two different modes simultaneously (details below). No Johnny, this isn’t your granfather’s shortwave:
(Source: Kim Elliott)
The Mighty KBC, 21 Nov 2012: “This UTC Sunday, 25 November, more digital text during the broadcast of The Mighty KBC at 0000 to 0200 on 9450 kHz. At about 0130 UTC, PSK125 will be centered at 1300 Hz on the waterfall, MFSK32 at 2200 Hz. Decode one from the radio, and the other from your recording. Just before 0200, only one mode, MFSK32, will be transmitted, centered at 1500 Hz. For this message, please have Fldigi and Flmsg (both available from www.w1hkj.com), as well as your web browser, all running on your PC. If all goes well, at the end of this transmission, the message should pop up in new windows of Flmsg and your browser. (In Flmsg, click Configure, then Misc, then NBEMS, then check Open with flmsg and check Open in browser.)
[Elliott’s comments] “UTC Sunday 25 November at 0000 to 0200 UTC is the same as Saturday evening, 24 November, 7 to 9 pm Eastern Time in North America. This transmission on 9450 kHz is via a leased transmitter in Bulgaria.
To decode the two text transmissions, download Fldigi and Flmsg from w1hkj.com. Configure Fldigi to work with your PC’s sound card.
Also, in Fldigi, click Configure, Misc, NBEMS. Under NBEMS data file interface, click Enable. Under reception of flmsg file, click Open with flmsg and Open in browser.
During reception, patch audio from the earphone or line out jack of your radio to the microphone input of your PC. You may have to experiment a bit with audio settings. You should see a “waterfall” on your Fldigi display.
If all goes according to plan, when the text message just before 0200 UTC (9 pm Eastern) is completely received, it should pop up in a new window of your default web browser.
By the way, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of The Mighty KBC. Not only do they broadcast an excellent mix of music on shortwave radio, but they’ll also blast these digital messages to their listeners. Thanks, KBC!
Again, please comment if you decode these messages!
One of the most popular posts on the SWLing Post each year is the annual Holiday Radio Gift Guide. I started this annual post in 2010 when I realized that it would be easier than answering an in-box full of individual emails from people seeking the perfect shortwave radio for their friend or loved one.
In the following, you’ll find a handful of select radios I recommend for this gift-giving season. I’ve arranged this selection byprice, starting with the most affordable. I’ve included a few promising new radios that have recently been introduced to the market, along with models that have proven their reliability and are on their way to becoming classics.
For the benefit of those with less radio experience, this quick guide is basic, non-technical, and to the point. For more comprehensive reviews, please consult our Radio Reviews page.
Updated for the 2012-13 holiday season on 22 November 2012.
Simple, affordable and portable
The Kaito WRX911 is a classic, no-frills analog radio. Turn it on and tune. That’s its game.
Kaito WRX911 or Tecsun R-911 ($33)
I’ve owned this little radio for years. It has been on the market a long time and I know exactly why: it’s affordable and very simple to operate. While it has no tone control, bandwidth control or digital display, the WRX911 performs better than other radios in its stocking-stuffer price range. I find its medium wave (AM band) reception above par–especially its ability to null out interfering broadcasts by simply turning the radio body. The WRX911 is also a great radio to keep in the glove compartment of your car. (Another similarly-priced radio to consider is the DE321, which we recommended last year–also check out our review.)
No matter where you live,you should have a self-powered radio in your home. The Eton FR160 is like a Swiss Army Knife when power fails.
Eton FR160 ($34 US)
A good friend recently sent me a message: she had been without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy for two full weeks. She also added that her little FR160 kept her family informed and provided comfort in the dark days following the hurricane.
The Eton FR160 is a sturdy and useful little radio. This radio features AM/FM and the NOAA weather radio bands (at least, the North American versions do; international versions may have shortwave instead of weather frequencies). The FR160 also features a very bright white LED flashlight and even sports a small solar panel that can effectively charge the internal battery pack. The FR160 also features a USB port that you can plug your mobile phone, iPod or other USB device into for charging. (Note that it takes a lot of cranking to charge a typical cell phone, but I can confirm that it does work in a pinch.)
Over the past few years, these radios have become ubiquitous. I’ve seen them in sporting goods stores, RadioShack (Tandy in some countries), BestBuy, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond–indeed, they’re in practically every North American big-box store and in many mail order catalogs besides. Of course, Universal Radio sells them, too.
The CC Solar Observer has everything you need to weather a power outage
CC Solar Observer ($50 US)
Like the FR160, the CC Solar Observer is a wind-up/solar emergency radio with AM/FM and Weather Band, and an LED flashlight built into the side of the radio. It’s perhaps a nicer option for those who want bigger audio out of their emergency radio. The Solar Observer is rugged and well-designed, like many C.Crane products.
When coupled with another Bluetooth device, this radio doubles as wireless remote speakers
The Tecsun PL-398BT($100)
The Tecsun PL-398BT is a very unique shortwave radio. In fact, it may be the perfect gift for a radio enthusiast who is also very tied to their computer or smart phone. Besides being a very capable shortwave/AM/FM receiver in its own right, when put into Bluetooth mode and connected to a smart phone, PC, or other device, the PL-398BT’s speakers act as its wireless stereo speakers. I believe this may be an ideal way to listen to internet radio from your iPhone, for example. Of course, the PL-398BT comes from a legacy of great receivers, so the AM/FM and shortwave performance will not disappoint. It’s a little on the pricey side for a shortwave radio that lacks the SSB mode (for listening to utility and ham radio transmissions), but the Bluetooth function more than makes up for it, in my opinion. Some people may definitely prefer this function.
The Grundig G3 has a solid reputation and at $100, great value for the performance.
The Grundig G3 ($100 US)
Simply put, the Grundig G3 offers the best bang for your buck in 2012. I have a lot of portable radios, but the one I probably reach for the most–for recreational shortwave radio listening–is the Grundig G3. I wrote this review three years ago and even recently posted this update. Read them and you’ll see why I like the G3. At $100, the G3 will please both the shortwave radio newbie and the seasoned listener.
The Grundig G3 can be purchased from Universal Radio or Grove. Some local RadioShack stores also keep the G3 in stock (though unfortunately, less often than they used to).
If $500 is within your budget, and you’re buying for someone who would love combining their radio hobby with computer technology, a software defined receiver (SDR), like the RFSpace SDR-IQ, will certainly exceed their expectations. There are many SDRs on the market, but the SDR-IQ offers the most bang-for-the-buck in the SDR line (though the WinRadio Excalibur ($900 US)–which we recently reviewed–and the Microtelecom Perseus ($1,000 US) are certainly pricier benchmarks worth considering).
The RFSpace SDR-IQ is available from Universal Radio and is manufactured in the USA.
The Bonito RadioJet
The Bonito RadioJet ($700 US)
The Bonito RadioJet is new to the North American market in 2012. I reviewed the RadioJet this summer and even traveled with it extensively. I was thoroughly impressed with its portability, performance, and it did not task my PC as much as SDRs do. Like the SDR-IQ, it’s a small black metal box that hooks up to your PC to unlock its impressive features. The RadioJet, though, represents cutting-edge IF receiver design, and comes with an amazingly versatile software package. If you’re buying for someone who likes versatility and raw performance–and likes being an early adopter–the Bonito RadioJet may well be the perfect fit.
The Bonito RadioJet can be purchased from Universal Radio and is manufactured in Germany.
We featured the Alinco DX-R8T in last year’s holiday gift guide. We also gave it a full review–in short, this radio thoroughly impressed us. It’s full-featured, performs well, and comes at a very affordable price. If you’re buying this for a ham radio operator, they’ll understand the reason why the Alinco DX-R8T needs a 12 volt power supply and an external antenna. It’s a receiver version of a ham radio transceiver, and as such, does a fine job on SSB modes.