Icom introduced a new general coverage transceiver this year at the Tokyo Hamfair: the Icom IC-7300.
Icom has released a preliminary spec sheet (click here to download), but no pricing information yet. The IC-7300 will most likely be the least expensive Icom transceiver with a full spectrum display.
At first glance, I like the form factor and touch screen display–the panel appears to be less cluttered than many other large-display models. The ‘7300 has dedicated knobs for passband tuning and AF/RF gain (major plus in my book). It also comes with a built-in automatic antenna tuner.
I’ll post more info once Icom releases pricing and availability.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul Walker, who writes:
I am a radio personality here in the USA as well as a SW and MW DX’er.
I appeared on the 11092.5 USB during Radio Saint Helena Day 2009 and have several short recordings, which are attached. That’s my voice doing the station identification/promotional announcements.
Very cool, Paul! It’s quite amazing to hear studio quality audio from Radio St. Helena Day as so many of us had to strain to hear their signal from across the Atlantic! Glad you were able to be a part of such an amazing little station.
I miss those Radio St. Helena Days and, though I know it’s doubtful, certainly hope the station considers firing up a shortwave transmitter again.
Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations
-Brian Smith (W9IND)
Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974? This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.
But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over on the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.
Hallicrafters S-108 (Image source: DXing.com)
Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.
Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.
The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)
Guide To The Recording
00:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports. 07:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme 09:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.” 09:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain. 09:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast) 10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music. 10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme. 14:12 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Male announcer, poor signal strength. 14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength. 15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.” 17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song. 17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.” 24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location. 30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03. 55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.
Brian, this is a brilliant recording–regardless of audio quality–and we’re very thankful you took the time to share it. Propagation has left something to be desired as of late, so time traveling back to 1974 has been incredibly fun.
Post Readers: If, like Brian, you have off-air recordings on tape that you’d like to share, please contact me! Even if you don’t have the means to transfer your tapes to a digital format, I’m a part of a small community of shortwave radio archivists who would be quite willing to help.
SWLing Post reader, Philip, writes with the following question:
“I want to know if you are aware of any good shortwave receivers that can be used on an Android tablet.”
I am aware of the Android SDR application, SDR Touch (see image above), but have never used it so I can’t comment on compatibility with the various SDRs on the market. I know that SDR Touch is compatible with devices that support USB host mode–but you may need to do research to see if your Android device and potential receiver are compatible. I believe most SDR Touch users connect their device to RTL-SDR dongles.
Readers: Please comment if you have any suggestions for Philip. I’m also curious if anyone has had success pairing an Android tablet to an HF-capable SDR.
Energizer ultimate lithium cells are designed to be a lighter, longer-life direct replacement for the AA alkaline battery.
Lithium primary, lithium ion, lithium polymer…want to know the differences between–and varied uses for–these diverse types of lithium batteries? You’re not alone…so did I.
Recently, a reader asked about the suitability of using AA Lithium batteries in a Tecsun radio. Several knowledgeable Post contributors–including Richard Langley, Ken Hansen, DL4NO, Eric Cottrell, and Mark Piaskiewicz–responded, and a discussion of the differences in various lithium cells and their chemistry followed.
I was quite intrigued by this discussion, and wanted to learn more; a bit of research ensued. The wonderful folks at Zbattery.com came to my aid, clarifying the compositions of these various batteries and enlightening me regarding their unique applications.
Following is a (nutshell) primer describing what I’ve recently gleaned from these experts on the subject of lithium batteries. First, a brief disclaimer: the scope of this article is modest, explaining briefly the roles and compositions of the most common lithium batteries used by consumers and hobbyists/enthusiasts. So, if you’d like an even more detailed discussion of batteries, please check out the Battery University website.
With that said, there are generally three types of lithium cells:
1. Primary Lithium (non-rechargeable)
Though this SAFT battery looks like a typical 1.5 V AA, it produces 3.6V and will fry most radios.
Primary Lithium batteries are single-use and should not be recharged under any circumstances. These batteries have a high charge density (i.e., a long life), and as a result, cost more per unit than other single-use (disposable) batteries, such as alkalines.
Primary lithium cells generally produce 3.6 to 3.7 volts; however, there are manufacturers (Energizer and Duracell, to name two) who have developed cell chemistry that lowers this voltage down to 1.5 volts per cell, thus creating a safe, direct replacement for the common AA alkaline battery.
Unless you are purchasing a battery with a AA form factor from Energizer or Duracell, you should double check the voltage of the battery you are purchasing. There are many manufacturers who produce a 3.6 volt primary lithium batteries that have the same dimensions, or form factor, of an AA battery (see photo right), but are used in specialty medical, military, industrial and testing applications in which voltage requirements are higher. These cannot be used interchangeably with conventional AAs, as they will cause harm to a device.
In other words, do your research whenpurchasing a primary lithium cell! Make sure the voltage matches what your electronic device requires–or as Post contributor, Richard Langley, puts it–“Caveat emptor!” (Buyer, beware!)
2. Lithium Ion (rechargeable)
Lithium Ion batteries are currently one of the most popular rechargeable batteries for consumer electronics on the battery market. There are a number of Lithium Ion variations with their own unique chemistries–and their own unique characteristics–but in general these have a high energy density, a modest memory effect, and exhibit only a gradual loss of charge when not in use.
Generally speaking, Li-ion batteries are not available in voltages most radios and other electronics would need, from, say, AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V alkaline. There are manufacturers who produce Li-ion varieties in a AA form factor (they look like AAs), but which produce more than double (3.6V) the peak voltage of an alkaline AA (1.5V); thus, these lithium batteries, too, can only be used in devices designed around these higher voltages–such as specialty flashlights, military, industrial, and medical equipment.
There are a number of radio manufacturers using slim Li-ion battery packs like the one in the image above.
3. Lithium Polymer (rechargeable)
Most LiPo batteries come in a “pouch” format, designed for specific applications,
Lithium Polymer (LiPo, LIP, Li-poly) are rechargeable battery packs that generally produce 3.6 – 3.8 volts when charged. LiPo packs have much of the same charge and discharge characteristics of Li-ion batteries, however, they are lighter in weight and can be designed to fit almost any shape.
LiPo batteries have a very strong following in the world of radio-controlled aircraft and cars–their feather-light weight as well as gradual discharge curve render LiPos almost ideal for these applications. LiPo packs are also used in consumer electronic, solar, and GPS applications, to name a few. LiPo pack variations are currently being considered for use in electric and hybrid vehicles.
Since I didn’t have a link to the batteries Philip purchased, I assumed Philip might be referring to Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries, which are direct 1.5V replacements for alkaline AA batteries (and why I use an Energizer graphic in the post).
At any rate, it appears that Philip purchased 3.6V primary lithium cells in a AA cylindrical form factor. If he does pop these AA lithiums in his PL-606, it will surely fry the radio as the voltage is more than double what this radio actually requires.
Hopefully, Philip can return these lithium cells and replace them with the Energizer or Duracell 1.5 V AA variety.
Philip, thanks for writing in with this question; learning about lithiums has been most interesting! And hopefully, this primer you’ve invoked will save other radios from harm: readers, do check your voltage requirements before you insert those lithiums.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader “RCXB” who comments:
“Another radio deal, if you don’t mind the writing in Chinese, you can get a Tecsun R-911 for just $15.80… A couple dollars cheaper than its already-cheap re-branded Kaito WRX911 namesake that everyone raves about.”
While the “911” series of analog shortwave receivers (i.e. Tecsun R-911, Kaito WRX911) isn’t going to win any awards for outstanding performance, they are capable little radios for the price.
I have a Kaito WRX911 (above) and often use it as a low-end benchmark for inexpensive portables like the DE321. The WRX911 is a decent little mediumwave receiver as well; I especially love the fact that it does a decent job nulling unwanted signals as you turn the radio body.
Perhaps the best thing about the ‘911 series is that they’re dead simple to use. No manual needed. Just turn it on and tune around!
I just noticed that Universal Radio is featuring the following used Tecsun PL-680 in their used receiver collection. Here’s the description:
The Tecsun PL-680 receives longwave, AM, FM and SW bands plus VHF Airband. It features a backlit digital display, stereo FM (to ear jack), SSB, clock timer, 2000 Memories, Sync. Detection, ATS and keypad entry. The left side features earphone, external antenna and input voltage jacks. The right side features a variable BFO and tuning knob. The rear panel has a battery compartment for 4 AA cells (not supplied). This PL-680 system includes: box, nice carry case, printed manual and earphone.