Monthly Archives: February 2018

Portable SSB radios for people who are visually impaired

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Svein Tore, who writes:

I’m blind. The type of shortwave radio I like best, is the analogue type with a tuning wheel, because I don’t need sight to use it, and I have full control over the receiver.

I would like to buy a radio with SSB, but it seems that all of the radios with SSB are digital, and you need to see the display to use the radio.

Are there any analogue radios with SSB?

If not, what is the simplest radio receiver with SSB?

I’m looking for a radio with as few functions and menus as possible, but it should have SSB.

I’m looking for a small or medium sized receiver, but if you are thinking of a big radio that seems to be right for me, please tell me about it.

Perhaps I have given you an impossible question now? I’m sorry for that.

Thanks 🙂

Greetings from Norway.

Svein Tore

Excellent question, Svien. I thought it would make sense to share your inquiry with the SWLing Post community as I know we have other readers who are visually impaired. Readers, please comment with any suggestions you may have.

To my knowledge, there are no analog shortwave radios with a BFO (for SSB) that are in production today. There are, however, numerous analog models from the 60s, 70s and 80s with a BFO (two examples: the Sony ICF-5800H and the Panasonic RF-2200).

My trusty Zenith Trans Oceanic will always be a part of my radio collection (Click to enlarge)

In fact, my first proper radio was a Zenith Transoceanic. I’ll never forget taking it to our local RadioShack, when I was eight years old, to ask one of the employees (who I knew was a DXer) what the heck “this strange BFO knob” does!

There is the analog Sony ICF-EX5MKII that SWLing Post contributor Troy Riedel reviewed, but I don’t believe it has a BFO–only a synchronous detector which can be switched between upper and lower sidebands. Perhaps a reader can confirm this.

Since I can’t recommend a current analog model, I do have a digital solution that I believe may work for you:

The Tecsun PL-660

Listening to Channel Z in a parking lot with the Tecsun PL-660.

Listening to Channel Z in a parking lot with the Tecsun PL-660.

 

Though not an analog radio, the menus on the PL-660 are not “deep”–most buttons simply toggle features. There is no hardware “switch” to change bands, but I think you would find it easy enough to use the direct frequency entry keypad to navigate across the spectrum. The SSB feature works more like an analog radio as it has a BFO dial on the right side of the radio. The buttons and dials are also raised and tactile. Best yet, the tuning sounds like an analog radio since there is no muting between frequency changes.

There are a number of other portables out there that are about as simple to operate as the PL-660, but I like the price point of the PL-660 and its overall performance characteristics. For a little less money, and a similar form factor and function set–minus a synchronous detector function–you might also consider the Tecsun PL-600 as well.

Again, I’m hoping Post readers might chime in with even better suggestions! Please comment!

From the Isle of Music & Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, Mar 3-10 & A18

From the Isle of Music, March 4-10, 2018
Part 2 of 2 parts
This week, Part 2 of our special guest, saxophonist/composer/bandleader Alexey León, 1st Place winner in the Interpretation category at JoJazz 2017. He already has a very impressive musical resume, and in one of our rare interviews in English, we’ll talk about his career to date and listen to some of his new album Cuban Connection, which also features other distinguished jazzistas such as Ivan Melon Lewis and Carlos Sarduy. We will also listen to some of Alexey’s first album Cuba Meets Russia, some of Carlos Sarduy’s first album Charly en la Habana, and a composition by Juan Almeida from the 1970s, Leningrado, a modern Cuban suite dedicated to the Russian defense of Leningrad in World War II.
Four opportunities to listen on shortwave:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on Space Line, 9400 KHz, from Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0100-0200 UTC on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EST in the US). This is running on a backup transmitter due to a recent fire.
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.

Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, Sunday, March 4:  1st Anniversary Broadcast!
Episode 52 of Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, to celebrate the first anniversary of the program, will have a little bit of everything along with our mystery song for the week.
Sunday, March 4, 2300-2330 UTC (6:00PM -6:30PM Eastern US) on
WBCQ The Planet 7490 KHz shortwave from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe

A18 schedules for FTIOM and UBMP
1. FTIOM continues at the current days and UTC times from Channel 292 and Space Line, local times will change accordingly.     WBCQ will stay at current day and current local time (8-9pm Eastern Mondays) and UTC will change to Tuesdays 0000-0100.
2.   UBMP will continue Sundays 6-7pm Eastern and UTC will change to 2200-2300.  Watch for a new option for Europe in April.

 

Mark spots a vintage radio in “Travelers”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who adds the following to our growing archive of radios in film. Mark writes:

I’d spotted this radio in the Netflix time travelling series Travelers early on, but it was never in focus to nail a decent image.

In spite of that, it does have a distinctive design that SWLing readers might recognise.

Click to enlarge.

Sitting in the book case next to the stacked books, I’m guessing it’s ornamental rather than functional.

Mark, you obviously have a knack for detecting radios in film!  Thank you for sharing!

Post readers: Can anyone ID this radio?  I love the design–guessing it’s a Bakelite chassis?

Rams: a teaser trailer

(Source: Vimeo via David Korchin)

A short teaser for the documentary RAMS, about legendary German designer Dieter Rams. A film by Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized), with original music by Brian Eno.

hustwit.com/rams

For over fifty years, Dieter Rams has left an indelible mark on the field of product design and the world at large with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe. The objects Dieter has designed have touched the lives of millions of people––so many of us have had a Braun coffeemaker, shaver, stereo, calculator, speakers, or alarm clock. Or an Oral-B toothbrush. Or a Vitsoe 606 shelving system. Or any of the hundreds of other products Dieter has designed or overseen the design of. His work has influenced the way most of today’s consumer products look and function.

But one of the most interesting parts of Dieter’s story is that he now looks back on his career with some regret. “If I had to do it over again, I would not want to be a designer,” he has said. “There are too many unnecessary products in this world.” He has long been an advocate for the ideas of environmental consciousness and long-lasting products. RAMS is a design documentary, but it’s also a rumination on consumerism, materialism, and sustainability. Dieter’s philosophy is about more than just design, it’s a about a way to live. It’s about getting rid of distractions and visual clutter, and just living with what you need.

The film is currently in production as will be released later in 2018.

Click here to view on Vimeo.