Radio Day at Mount Mitchell State Park

Troy Riedel preparing the Tecsun S-8800 and Grundig Field BT for a comparison review.

Shortly after publishing my review of the Tecsun S-8800, SWLing Post contributor Troy Riedel contacted me and asked if I would consider comparing the S-8800 to the Grundig Field BT. Of course I was very curious how the $130 Grundig Field BT might compare with the $268 Tecsun S-8800, but I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment and didn’t really want to purchase another large portable.

Long story short: Troy found a honey of a deal on a perfect Grundig Edition Field BT via eBay. He ordered it and we decided to bring the two radios together yesterday at beautiful Mount Mitchell State Park the highest point east of the Mississippi river.

Yesterday was an ideal day, too. The weather was picture-perfect, the park was (surprisingly) not too busy and propagation was the best I’ve experienced in weeks.

Troy left early in the morning and embarked on the 6+ hour pilgrimage to Mount Mitchell–I only live an hour away, so it was a casual drive for me. We met at noon.

Parks On The Air

After a quick lunch, we deployed my Elecraft KX2 with EFT Trail-Friendly antenna and made my first Parks On The Air (POTA) activation.

You might recall I was very active during the ARRL National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) program last year, but since then I’ve done few field deployments. It was great fun to get on the air again and do a park activation for the World Wide Flora & Fauna POTA program.

While we didn’t log a lot of stations, I was still impressed we worked stations from Texas to Quebec to the Azores. Not bad for 10 watts SSB!

Sure, I only worked a handful of stations, but this activation was essentially unannounced so chasers had no advance notice. No doubt, many more POTA activations are in my future! The bug has bitten!

Radio Fun

Except for a break to eat dinner at the park restaurant and a short hike to the peak of Mount Mitchell,  we played radio until about 8:00 PM. It was amazing, uninterrupted fun.

Troy spent a lot of time comparing the Tecsun S-8800 with the Grundig Field BT and made several videos. No doubt, he’ll post his thoughts and review in the near future!

Being a bit of radio geek, I couldn’t help but bring a few “extra” radios and accessories. Here’s what I packed:

We were a little disappointed to discover that both my Tecsun PL-680 and Grundig Satellit exhibited flaky behavior.

During my S-8800 comparison tests, a few weeks ago, I did notice that sometimes when I turned on the PL-680, it was absolutely deaf. Next time I turned it on, it worked fine. Yesterday, the PL-680 simply didn’t want to perform. I’m not sure what happened.

The Grundig Satellit, on the other hand, worked great, but sometimes if you touched either the antenna or even brought your hands near the radio body while tuned to a station, it would go deaf. You could correct this by tuning off frequency, then back on–still…very strange! It’s as if the AGC or RF gain were hanging up.

Have any Post readers experienced this before? I’ll look into the issue this week and reset both radios. Perhaps that will help.

A great “Mini DXpedition”

Thank you, Troy, for suggesting the meet up and for making the pilgrimage. It was great meeting you in person! I also thoroughly enjoyed watching someone else do comparison tests and exploring a new radio–Troy certainly has a knack for doing radio evaluations!

This has encouraged me to do more meet-ups, perhaps during my travels. Great fun!

Post Readers: be on the lookout for Troy’s comparison of the Grundig Field BT and Tecsun S-8800 in the coming days/weeks (no pressure, Troy!).

UPDATE: Click here to read Troy’s comparison.

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10 thoughts on “Radio Day at Mount Mitchell State Park

  1. Victor

    Likely soft mute works. There is an intermodulation, and a soft mute perceives this as a noise that needs to be lowered. This problem often occurs with the PL-310, when I listen to a range of 19 m in the evening (when a strong run is on low-frequency bands). Similarly, the sound can be unexpectedly severely limited.
    It is enough to slightly reduce the signal level with the attenuator and the volume is immediately restored.
    If the dynamic range is small, we must continuously seek a compromise. The attenuator is slightly larger – the noise grows due to lack of sensitivity. The attenuator is slightly smaller – the noise increases from the intermodulation, and the soft mute works. Most likely this is the reason.

  2. Victor

    Much depends on the specific electromagnetic environment. Obviously in the mountains, the intensity of the electromagnetic field is higher than in the lowland, and besides, the hands brought to the receiver work as grounding and give an additional boost to the signal.
    I do not know what circuit ATS-909X. It is likely that the differences in circuitry can be. Suppose a small difference in the transmission factor of the input circuits can make a difference. The lack of dynamic range reserves makes the receiver unpredictable.

    1. Thomas Post author

      I think what’s extraordinary about the Sattelit’s behavior is how the proximity of your hands to the radio body or by touching the antenna caused it to essentially go deaf. The only way to remedy this was to tune off frequency, then back on.

    1. DanH

      Thanks, for the schematic! I haven’t seen this before. Si4735-D60 is also used in the Sangean ATS-909X but it doesn’t show hand capacitance issues.

  3. Troy Riedel

    Thanks for the input DanH.

    Thomas and I were at a picnic table, talking, and I noticed the Satellit went “deaf”, per se … it didn’t seem to drift and neither of us were physically near it. I moved the tuning knob +5, then back on frequency and it was fine. Then while handling it, it did it again. I asked Thomas to watch to ensure I wasn’t imagining things. I tuned + or – 5, then back on frequency – and all was fine … then I started touching it, the whip antenna, the grill, I placed my hands on both sides and I could generally make it go deaf either instantly or within a few seconds. Simply detuning +/- 5,, then tuning back on frequency brought the signal back in (as strong as it was before).

    I have a dozen portables & I had never experienced this before last evening with the Satellit. Otherwise, the Satellit appears to perform pretty darn well. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    I hope our friend from Oxford, UK (Clint) will reply, too. He has extensively used, tested & documented his Eton Satellit experiences during his foreign travels & DXpeditions.

    1. DanH

      Thanks for the feedback, Troy. My Satellite will attenuate signals if I put my hand on or near the Satellite body, but this happens only on some frequencies. It hasn’t caused detuning or a complete loss of signal. Every radio has its quirks and I will no doubt discover others as I evaluate this radio over the next few weeks. I have already found some very nice features as well as some things I don’t like so much. It is a very nice radio, one of the best multiband portables available and is a bargain new at $116.

  4. DanH

    Thomas, regarding the Eton Grundig Edition Satellite (the black Satellit). I received one brand new from Radioworld Canada just yesterday. The price was an irresistible $116 US, shipped. I have only spent a few hours with this radio however I have already noticed that it is susceptible to hand capacitance issues when operating on MW and SW. My 2015 Sangean ATS-909X seems to be better shielded and is immune to this problem. I can only assume that the Eton Executive Satellit suffers from the same effects. It is the same radio in a different color with a leather case.


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