Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Hughes, who shares this article by WRMI’s Jeff White in Radio World magazine. Besides covering updates in the A19 broadcast season, and Radio Exterior de España’s increased broadcasts, Jeff notes frequencies and updates for the International Radio for Disaster Relief initiative.
International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR)
Humanitarian Aspects of HFCC Activities
From its infancy since 1920s shortwave radio has been associated with its potential of being a communication tool in emergencies. This use of shortwave radio is still very much present among amateur radio enthusiasts for example, who discovered its long distance properties early in the twentieth century. Amateur radio provides a means of communication on shortwaves and other frequencies “when all else fails”. This role of amateur radio is well recognised, valued and appreciated both by the public and by the world institutions managing and regulating the use of the radio spectrum.
In contrast the huge technical potential of international shortwave broadcasting that operates transmitter facilities tens, or hundred times, more powerful than those of amateur radio, remains almost unused in emergencies. At the moment when local and even regional communication and information networks are needed most, they are destroyed or overloaded and the population suffers from an information blackout. Shortwave radio is capable of remaining the only source of information.
Although the life-saving role of radio broadcasting is widely recognised by the public, and confirmed by surveys conducted after the recent disasters – and even acknowledged by world leaders – no concrete projects have been ever designed and no regulatory framework has been developed.
That is why the HFCC – International Broadcasting Delivery in co-operation with the Arab States and Asia-Pacific broadcasting unions are working on an International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR) project that is based on the system of online co-ordination of frequencies managed by the HFCC in accordance with International Radio Regulations.
The HFCC is aware of the humanitarian aspects of international broadcasting. It pointed out in 2012 – as the UNESCO partner for the preparation of the World Radio Day – that terrestrial shortwave radio in particular is still considered as a powerful communication and information tool during emergency situations. Read more >>
Receivers are inexpensive and require no access fees. Shortwave radio is important for people living in remote and isolated regions of the world. It reaches across the digital divide to the most disadvantaged and marginalised societies. This is also in keeping with the Declaration and Action Plan of the World Summit on the Information Society.
The annual edition of the World Disasters Report of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued in October 2013 stressed again that with only 6 percent of people in low-income countries using the internet in 2011 the digital divide is still stark, and access to low cost media technology is really the key.
The HFCC is a strong advocate for incorporating terrestrial broadcasting permanently on the disaster risk reduction agendas of the ITU and other UN agencies and institutions. It submitted two documents for the ITU-R Working Party 6A November 2013 meeting:
Both documents are annexes in Section 8 of the ITU-R Study Group 6 Report BT.2266 “Broadcasting for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief”. The report can be downloaded via this link.
A workshop was held during the November 2013 meeting addressing these issues. The web site of the Emergency Broadcasting Workshop can be accessed here. The web site also contains copies of all the presentations that were made at the workshop, and a Video interview with Christoph Dosch, Chairman of ITU-R Study Group 6 (Broadcasting service)
The HFCC has applied for membership in the CDAC (Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities) Network in keeping with the conclusion of the debate on emergency communication during the Bratislava B13 Conference. Read more >>
The HFCC is staying in touch with the Information and Communication Sector of the UNESCO agency on the preparation of the World Radio Days that are celebrated each year on February 13th.
Humanitarian aspects of terrestrial broadcasting were also on the agenda of the Global Kuala Lumpur conference in January 2014. Read Opening Remarks.
Many attempts have been made to tell the story of the Bulgarian National Radio but usually, in an effort to present a concise version, we fail to mention some curious details that would sparkle the interest of anyone keen on the history of this country. Over the course of its existence, the Bulgarian National Radio has resisted many changes that transformed Bulgaria over the past eight decades.
What is considered to be the official start of radio broadcasting in Bulgaria? It happened in the remote 1929 and consisted in the construction of a 60-watt radio transmitter by a group of engineers. The desire of the enthusiastic members of the radio amateurs club called Rodno Radio (Native Radio) to create a radio program was supported by the state authorities, which allowed them to use a small building on the corner of the central Sofia streets Moskovska and Benkovski.
Soon, however, it became clear that the available equipment was insufficient to reach a larger audience, and a team of local engineers took up the challenging task to build a more powerful transmitter. Another problem arose as the people working on the radio programs increased and the building soon turned out to be too small to accommodate all. Therefore, with the permission of the state, the amateurs moved and occupied an entire floor of a building on 19 Moskovska Street. After radio broadcasting was made a state monopoly with the decree of Tsar Boris III in 1935, the Bulgarian radio began developing at a rapid pace. In addition to the Bulgarian language broadcasts, the year 1936 saw the start of overseas emissions – first in Esperanto, and several months later, also in French, German, English and Italian, the foreign service department of the radio known today as Radio Bulgaria. […]
Radio Bulgaria reaches users in more than 150 countries through its internet pages in Bulgarian and nine foreign languages, which is an excellent achievement, Boyko Stankushev who works as analysts at the Programme Department of the Bulgarian National Radio pointed out.
Highest number of people using Radio Bulgaria’s web sites is registered in Germany. The users in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen are most active. In the United Kingdom highest number of users is registered in London, followed by Manchester-apparently the people living in these two British cities show specific interest in the information published on the web sites of Radio Bulgaria’s foreign language sections. When it comes to Bulgaria’s neighboring countries Turkey is the undisputed leader in terms of the number of visitors in Radio Bulgaria’s site. I would underline that many people in this country visit the Bulgarian pages of the Bulgarian National Radio, including the Bulgarian web page of Radio Bulgaria. Istanbul is the leader in this ranking, followed by Ankara, Bursa and Izmir. Radio Bulgaria has users in some smaller Turkish towns such as Mu?la and Tekirda?. I believe that the Bulgarians studying at the local universities are regular users of Radio Bulgaria’s content and read both in Bulgarian and Turkish.
In 2018 the interest in Radio Bulgaria’s content by US users increased. The number of visits in publications in English was very high, followed by visits in Radio Bulgaria’s Greek and Spanish page from North and Latin America. In the USA the highest number of visits was registered in Illinois, which is not surprising, because of the huge Bulgarian community living in Chicago. In California huge internet activity was registered in areas with large technological parks and highly-educated people, i.e. we are talking in this case about a very high-quality audience.[…]
It’s been a while since I posted a video on my YouTube Channel (but I’ve gotten the urge to make several more videos as I’ve been recently comparing my equipment – 16 portable receivers & many antennas).
I try to tune in to Radio Prague via WRMI on many weekday East Coast USA mornings from 1300-1325 UTC. Yesterday I encountered bad propagation but today was much better. The video linked to this post is from today – 30JAN2019 recorded around 1310 UTC.
Without repeating the debate, just take a look at this one example. As stated, reception was pretty good today off the little whip – but – there is an improvement using an amplified antenna. My question: is there a difference between the two amplified antennas? And if so, is the difference worth the price?
My TG34 is a clone of the DE31MS – purchased from Tquchina Radio & Component (ebay user: Tao Qu … they used to have an eBay store “Sino Radios” if I recall, but they stopped selling on eBay when the Post started cracking down on shipment of batteries – I actually exchanged an email with a frustrated Tao Qu when they closed the store).
I paid about $21 if I recall for my TG34 (the DE31MS is available today on eBay for as little as $17.28). I paid over $100 for the Sony AN-LP1 (out of production now and can be listed for as high as $300 on eBay). So … $21 versus “over $100”. Is there a difference – and if so – is it 5x the difference – 5x better?!
You be the judge.
P.S. Just a quick slightly over 1-minute video recorded inside my house (sitting in my breakfast nook) … typically “okay” reception but not my usual Listening Post.
From the Isle of Music, February 3-February 9, 2019:
This week, our special guest is vocalist Emilia Morales, who will speak with us about her career and share some music from her new album Sentimientos. Also, some charanga for dancing.
The broadcasts take place:
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 SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0100-0200 UTC (New UTC) on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EST in the US).
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC (New CETs) on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.
Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, February 3 and 5, 2019:
Episode 98, Boricuas, presents some wonderful Puerto Rican & Nuyorican music of the 60s and 70s.
The transmissions take place:
1.Sunday 2300-2330 UTC (6:00PM -6:30PM Eastern US) on WBCQ The Planet 7490 KHz from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe
2. Tuesday 2000-2030 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe. If current propagation conditions hold, the broadcast should reach Iceland AND Western Russia due to a long skip.
Marion’s Attic, a unique program produced and hosted by Marion Webster featuring early 20th Century records, Edison cylinders etc played on the original equipment, comes on immediately before UBMP on Sundays from 2200-2300 UTC on WBCQ 7490 Khz.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, for sharing the following guest post:
November 2018 Poipu, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition
A Thrilling Sample of Forward Pacific Propagation
By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA January 2019
In late September my wife and I stumbled across an outstanding 6-day Costco Travel package to the Aston at Poipu Kai on Hawaii’s Kauai island, the westernmost of the main Hawaiian islands (and closest to Asia). Included in the $2.3K cost was roundtrip airfare for two on Alaska Air (nonstop from Seattle both ways, with no “red-eye” flights), 5 nights at a gorgeous, beachside 2-BR condo with a patio area ideal for TP-DXing (and within easy walking distance to the island’s best snorkeling beach), a full sized new rental car and a $50 Costco cash card to use for a little spending $$. This was far and away the best travel bargain we have ever had to the Hawaiian Islands– and right in the middle of the DX season!
The location at Poipu Kai was at the extreme southeastern tip of Kauai Island, which offered a clear, unobstructed salt water path to Asia, ANZ, the Pacific islands and both North and South America. Unfortunately, it also offered a clear salt water path to the RF Zoo of Honolulu (more about that later).
Of course, before you can chase DX in Hawaii you will need to bring along some kind of radio and antenna– whether it is a hot-performing portable, an SDR along with a small broadband antenna or an Ultralight with a “Frequent Flyer” miniature FSL. Whatever you bring will need to go through TSA inspections both ways– so try not to get too complicated or extravagant. Fragile items can be taken in hand-carry luggage, so use this for radios, FSL antennas, digital recorders and anything else that could be smashed. Also keep in mind that many large motels and condos do not allow external antennas to be set up on their property– and most of them generate enough indoor RFI to make DXing indoors a lost cause. Before leaving for the Islands, be ready with a DXing plan that you know will work!
For me, TP-DXing with a modified CC Skywave SSB portable and TSA-friendly 5 inch (127mm) diameter FSL antenna in the large open patio area right outside our condo meant chasing enhanced DX right in the middle of a gorgeous beach side garden (click here to view on YouTube).
These 2-BR condo complexes were overbuilt somewhat, and the mainland owners of these condos badly need the tourist rental income to pay their mortgages. The competition for this rental income is high. As such, the cost per night for a stay at one of these newer 2-BR condos on Kauai is about the same as for a well-worn 1-BR motel room in Kona (on the Big Island).
So, what can a TP-DXer expect from the transoceanic propagation at Poipu Kai? First of all, there is so much enhanced DX coming from so many different areas of the world that you will need to carefully choose your priorities. What is your main DXing thrill? For me, it was chasing exotic Asian DX that was unlikely or unavailable at home in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, when I tried to do this during the evening hours on Kauai (0700-1000 UTC) there was so much enhanced transoceanic DX coming from North and South America that the frequencies became a snarling maze of languages and heterodynes. During a check of 801 for kHz Pyongyang BS at 0922 UTC the frequency was completely hijacked by 800-Radio Transmundial in the Caribbean (near South America). The same thing was going on all over the band, with North and South American stations on the 10 kHz band plan fighting it out with Asians and Pacific Islanders using the 9 kHz frequency system. Honolulu QRM added its own distinctive touch to this jumbled fiasco, and eventually I was forced to concentrate on sunrise DXing sessions in order to track down any really exotic Asian DX. The bands were so much quieter during the sunrise sessions starting around 1500 UTC. Of course, if a DXer was mainly interested in North or South American DX in Kauai he could have made out like a bandit around local sunset, when the Asian and Pacific Island stations would not yet have faded in.
The Asian propagation to Kauai Island during the sunrise sessions was like having constant exposure to the best possible TP-DXing signals that ever show up on west coast ocean beaches– except that far more of Asia was in play. Big gun Middle East stations like 702-BBC (in Oman) can show up at decent strength, and not too many TP-DXers have familiarity with Arabic. Stations like 918-Cambodia which are rare DX on the west coast often thunder in at S9, and by necessity a DXer quickly learns the Vietnam parallel frequencies for its various networks. The Chinese propaganda blasters on 666, 783 and 909 pound in like locals, and a DXer needs to wait out their sign off times in order to receive anything exotic on their frequencies. The entire situation is a crash course in surviving and thriving in the middle of nonstop exceptional propagation, which can easily overload your abilities to sort out languages, stations and programming. Depending on your TP-DXing experience, you will either find this situation thrilling or bewildering.
If you have extensive TP-DXing experience on west coast ocean beaches you will probably feel like you are on Cloud Nine, but without this experience you will probably wonder where to start. The usual Asian big guns on 594, 747, 774 and 972 are either buried in Honolulu splatter or have trouble holding down their frequencies. Language recognition of Chinese, Korean and Japanese becomes essential in sorting out unfamiliar stations, and at least basic recognition of Vietnamese, Thai and Taiwanese is helpful. In addition, knowledge of exotic station frequencies is necessary before a DXer can hope to track these exotic stations down. Many exotic station frequencies (like 576, 594, 657, 693 and others) are jumbled with Honolulu splatter, and you need to know which ones are not (702, 729, 918, 954 etc.).The amount of TP-DXing experience that you can bring to the island is directly related to the results that you can expect from DXing on the island. Fortunately, because of two previous Hawaii trips and an April visit to the Cook Islands, I was able to track down some thrilling TP-DX on Kauai– 693-Bangladesh, 702-BBC (Oman), 729-Myanmar, 918-Cambodia, 927-AIR, 954-AIR plus Vietnam stations on 675, 702, 711 and 729. An S9-level 800-Radio Transmundial in Bonaire (next to South America) jumped over to 801 during an evening session. As an example of the outstanding ocean-enhanced propagation, for the first time ever in any DXpedition I was able to receive 7 transoceanic DX stations on one frequency alone (702 kHz).
Hawaiian station splatter is a major issue in Kauai, but depending upon the location of these pests, their signals may taper off just before TP propagation collapses (around 1705 in November). On my last session I was able to finally track down the 1000 kW Asian big gun 693-Bangladesh through wicked 690-KHNR (Honolulu) spatter, probably because the pest was farther into daylight than my more westerly Kauai location. The Hawaii pests on Maui and the Big Island also display the same behavior.
Propagation slowdowns on the west coast seem to be fairly irrelevant in Hawaii, with the only difference being S9 Australian and NZ signals showing up in the null of the S9 Asians. During regular sessions the big gun ANZ stations are usually around at S5 levels in the null of the Asians, but I didn’t really go after the DU’s during the Kauai trip. The Pacific island exotic stations on 621, 1017, 1098 and 1440 were usually at S9 levels about 2 hours after local sunset, but once again the North and South American transoceanic DX stations were turning their frequencies into a pretty wild fiasco. Originally it seemed like a great idea to have a straight salt water shot to all these areas, but be careful what you wish for– you just might get it 🙂
Finally, In consideration of the exceptional value of the Costco travel package and the superb transoceanic DX propagation prevalent on the Kauai beach, this 6 day Hawaii vacation proved to be as much of a lifetime hobby thrill as visiting the exotic Cook islands in April– at less than half the cost. My strong advice to anyone who is feeling bored with his AM-DXing hobby is to step out of your comfort zone, and try something really new. You can certainly chase DX at home or at the same flat ocean beach for decades, but you are unlikely to experience anything radically different from what you have already experienced. Breakthrough results require breakthrough innovation, exploration and experimentation, and the commitment to overcome all challenges until you get the results you desire.
DXing on Kauai Island makes it easy for you. All the comforts of home are within a 20-minute drive. A Walmart, Safeway, Costco and Home Depot are all in the local area, close to your gorgeous 2-BR beach side condo. You don’t even need to change currency or bring a passport (well, at least if you live south of the border). An outstanding snorkeling beach is a 5 minute walk away, and the “Garden Island” is one of the most beautiful in the entire Hawaiian chain, waiting for you to explore it in your new, full-sized rental car. What more could you ask for? So go ahead and take the plunge… and discover the exceptional thrill of forward Pacific TP-DXing!
Listed below are 94 transoceanic DX receptions made in Kauai with the related recording links, including stations in Oman, Egypt, Iran, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and many others. Sincere thanks is given to all who helped identify mystery stations, especially the Finnish DXers like Mauno, Mika, Jari L. and Jari S. with their awesome language identification skills. You guys really rock!
540 UnID-Spanish During a search for Samoa at 0738 on 11-6 this strong mystery Spanish station monopolized the frequency; both North and South America had a clear salt water path to my DXing site, making it tough to chase the Pacific islands after sunset https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vm0datfx40j4ie2mxyioby62in9v81wl
693 Bangladesh Betar Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1000 kW The super power exotic station finally broke through wicked 690-KHNR Honolulu splatter (10 kW at 113 miles) at 1639 on 11-8 with an apparent Islamic sermon (having mentions of “Allah” at 27 and 31 seconds) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/haye98bfrypbt1cdb1wgma2mx01wskpx
702 BBC Arabic Service A’Seela, Oman, 800 kW One of the big surprises of the DXpedition, this station was amazingly strong for the 8,586 mile (13,818 km) distance at 1604 on 11-6. Thanks to Mauno and Mika for the language and station investigation https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/cwgqhpm3hy0thmthw4o018i7c70y0b8i
720 UnID-TP Mystery Asian station (apparently not in any east Asian language) mixing with the Chinese opera station at 1536 on 11-4; Mauno and Jari S. mentioned VOIRI (Iran) as a possibility, but the Tajik and Uzbek languages being broadcast around that time are tough to identify https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/8l5utr5yxvybjzb2wrmaxvkoazuqmdf9
729 Myanma Radio Yangon, Myanmar, 100 kW Male-female speech in unique Asian language with clear mention of “Myanmar” at the 46 second point at 1541 on 11-4 (thanks to Chuck for deciphering). Unfortunately 576 and 594 were wiped out by Hawaii splatter https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/yq7uqray3bq93a6zu76kb92enk46wvq6
729 Myanma Radio? Fading up all alone at 1625 on 11-4, this male speaker’s language and voice sound a lot like the ones in the previous recording (thanks to Bruce for language suggestion, and to Ken Alexander, a Canadian retiring in Thailand, for the improved audio file) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/24c46lrjjm2329x4e1h634u3m7swn3f5
783 Voice of the Strait Zhangpu, China, 600 kW A major propaganda blaster to Taiwan, this was the strongest Asian station during the trip. All kinds of carefully selected music were broadcast– pop, opera and even rap (which, as Chris Kadlec says, is banned in China but is fair game to broadcast to Taiwan, where it is popular). This big gun was totally immune to any propagation downturns, as demonstrated in this local-like sign off message at 1600 on 11-7, which was actually a DU-slanted morning https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6cbton9gqiqvqiwe6ewfc8u0aoztv4dm
800 PJB Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, 440 kW Hijacking the 801 frequency at 0921 on 11-3 with an S9 signal and “Transmundial” ID at 6 seconds, this signal was typical of powerful North and South American stations that would mix with the Asian and Pacific island stations each evening in a wild competition. Received at 5.981 miles/ 9,627 km https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/wiotqzpyghyinwl4o1f0c3vw2s1brtbw
819 KCBS Pyongyang, N. Korea, 500 kW This Asian big gun wasn’t quite as strong as it was in Kona, Hawaii a year earlier, and suffered some minor 830-Honolulu splatter. There was no sign of the Seoul area jammer, though. Its orchestral music was at good strength at 1606 on 11-3 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/zmtr8yqln8lqg9419a842u802w86pryx
909 CNR6 Quanzhou, China, 300 kW Another of the Taiwan-directed propaganda blasters, this one tended to play classical or choral music, and (like 783-Voice of the Strait) it was usually at overwhelming strength. This sign off message at 1602 on 11-7 has it all– S9+ strength, a “Shenzhou zhi Sheng” female-voiced ID at 35 seconds, and even a suggestive-voiced female from 49 to 58 seconds. Current sign off is at 1604 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/urhk66t4mqunezupi99r0red0pt4u7ub
918 ERTU Bawiti, Egypt, 10 kW Some awesome investigative work by Mauno determined that this modest signal at 1628 on 11-6 was Egyptian Arabic– one of the biggest surprises of the trip (otherwise it would have remained an UnID). Thanks for the extra effort! (8,921 miles/ 14,357 km) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/hhdwsw42ok5pcevh41amx9i7ln3cxmag
918 RNK Phnom Penh, Kampuchea, 600 kW One of the biggest stars of the DXpedition, with S9-level Kampuchean pop music almost every morning around 1630, burying Shandong completely. Apparently there is some special propagation between Hawaii and Southeast Asia around this time in early November. This music was at 1637 on 11-3 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6ohs2orw3o1w5oiqyfyfxcczsrvykazq
927 AIR-South Visakhapatnam, India, 100 kW India news in English by female announcer at 1531 on 11-8 (mixing with China); with mentions of “also approved Indian…” at 9 seconds and “for India to express” at 25 seconds. Thanks very much to C.K. Raman of India for matching the recording to the AIR archives https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/ozrw09zrlayks7nt3dxt95zeaibqmwd7
972 HLCA Dangjin, S. Korea, 1500 kW The Korean big gun played the part during most sessions, although the Chinese co-channel rarely left it alone. Here was a typical S9 signal at 1532 on 11-3, over the Chinese and accented English news co-channels https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/v3ojq208x2pmrajzgrv5uqjh1cxu2xa7
972 UnID– AIR (East)? Accented English news from 10 seconds to 25 seconds in the following recording under HLCA at 1532 on 11-3, but there was no chance at the time to check the other AIR frequencies for a parallel. Unless Henan Economic was broadcasting in English this was most likely the 300 kW Cuttack transmitter in eastern India, with no other accented English possibilities on the frequency at the time https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/v3ojq208x2pmrajzgrv5uqjh1cxu2xa7
1575 Iranian Jammer Causing severe interference to VOA-Thailand’s Bengali program at 1620 on 11-8, the “official” target of this prolific Jammer is Radio Farda in the U.A.E. The transmitter location is unknown, but likely distance to Kauai is around 8,000 miles/ 12,875 km https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/pn1iwgnxq3vzgf5tj9b2ek0pb6p14qg3
As most transoceanic DXers are aware, the Hawaiian Islands offer an exceptional opportunity for AM-DXing hobbyists to chase enhanced, salt water-boosted signals from around the world. A recent Ultralight + FSL antenna trip provided all the DXing excitement anyone could hope for, with potent signals received from Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and both North and South America. But this was all live DXing– one frequency at a time. Is a similar trip possible using a broadband loop antenna, and an SDR to record spectrum in one of the world’s most enhanced environments?
Normally such a challenge would be unthinkable, due to external antenna restrictions and the impossibility of carrying large loop antenna components on major airlines. But the unique situation at Poipu Beach on Kauai Island is definitely worth mentioning.
First of all, there is a fully stocked Home Depot store about 15 minutes away by car, offering PVC pipes, concrete bases and antenna wire– along with any tools necessary for antenna assembly. The 2-BR condos on the Poipu Kai beach are not part of a motel, but are individually owned and rented out by a management company for owners on the mainland. I never saw a single management company official on the property during the entire 6 days, except for the night when we checked into the complex management office (and he seemed to stay right there). Each morning I set up my FSL antenna on a 5′ PVC base in the large open patio area behind our condo from 0400-0700 local time (1400-1700 UTC), and never was questioned by anybody– let alone anybody from the management company. I’m pretty sure that small, breakdown versions of broadband antennas (such as the type that both Chuck and Tom have become skillful in setting up at the Rockwork cliff every August) would be fully acceptable during these sunrise enhancement sessions in Hawaii. There is excellent, free Wi-Fi available at the site for checking parallels and web streams, and fragile items like the SDR receivers and Wellbrook amps could be carried in hand carry luggage, similar to how I carry the Ultralights and FSL antennas. After such a broadband DXpedition the antenna parts could be probably be returned to the local Home Depot store, possibly with a chance of refunds.
Of course with a such a pioneering effort there will always be challenges and surprising discoveries, and a sense of optimism and adventure will prove to be most useful. But the opportunity certainly is there– as well as the chance to conduct a breakthrough DXpedition that could be of legendary success.
What an amazing report, Gary! I’ll admit, I’m just a wee bit envious of your Ultralight DXpedition locations! Thanks for sharing the details an, especially, your recordings! Inspiring!
Two months ago, SWLing Post reader Paul Adler wrote to ask:
“Any reviews and comparisons of the Sangean DT-800?”
The Sangean DT-800? This caught my attention, as I wasn’t, at the time, familiar with this recent addition to the Sangean product family. So I promptly began investigating the new product, and checked out the manual; I found it has a few features that really intrigue me, namely:
The ability to turn off soft muting
The ability to internally recharge NiMH AA batteries
Multiple bandwidth on AM and FM
Weather band with weather alerts
No telescoping antenna––rather, an included wire antenna
In my mind, these features seemed to set it apart from other similar portables. And with the ability to defeat the soft mute, I wondered if it could make for a formidable Ultralight DX radio?
I contacted Sangean, and they kindly sent me a review sample of the DT-800. It comes in two chassis colors: standard black and and a bright fire yellow. I chose yellow, which makes it easier to spot should this handheld be lost or dropped in an outdoor setting.
Thanks for the suggestion, Paul!
Giveaway! By the way: since this is a product sample and was sent to me free of charge, I’m going to give it away to a lucky SWLing Post Coffee Fund or Patreon supporter next week, just to say thanks!
Now, let’s get on with the review…
As with almost all Sangean products, the DT-800 arrives as a complete package, with all accessories. Inside, you’ll find the radio, a full-length multi-language owner’s manual, a warranty card, an AC adapter (with in-line RF chokes, nice touch), in-ear headphones, an external wire antenna, and a belt clip.
The DT-800 fits nicely in the hand, and the matte finish on the sides and bottom of the radio make gripping it quite easy, lessening the chance of dropping or losing the unit.
The front panel is simple: five multi-function preset buttons and a Page/Menu button. All of the buttons are tactile and have a matte finish, as well; they feel of good quality and have a great response.
The right side of the radio (see side view, above) has a tuning/select up/down jog switch, a mechanical keylock button and a MicroUSB DC in port.
On the left side of the radio (see left side view, above) you’ll find the volume up/down buttons and a stereo/mono/speaker mechanical switch which you can use to switch between the internal speaker and headphones.
On top of the radio (above) you’ll find the power button, band selection button and the headphones port, which doubles as the external antenna port.
On the back of the radio you’ll find the DBB bass-boost slider switch, the battery compartment, and a belt clip.
One thing you’ll quickly notice is a lack of any telescoping whip antenna. Instead, the DT-800 ships with a wire antenna that’s almost three feet long. I suspect that this is the same type of FM antenna that shipped with the Sangean WR-7 (click here to read review).
All in all, I’m very pleased with the DT-800’s design: it fits well in the hand, the buttons and controls are easy to use, and it’s small enough––and flat enough––to easily slip in a pocket, go-bag, or carry-on. A great portable for one-hand operation. It’s also lightweight, even with the batteries inserted. Truly, this appears to be a quality little radio.
Tuning the DT-800 is a simple process: simply utilize the up/down rocker switch on the right side of the radio to increase by specified frequency steps (selectable 50/100 kHz FM or 1/9/10 kHz AM), or push and hold it in one direction to skip across the band. While the DT-800 does mute between frequencies, it’s not annoying––in fact, muting is brief and audio recovery is rapid so you can actually carry out meaningful band-scanning, actually hearing stations between the steps. If you press the rocker switch, it will initiate an auto-scan in the direction you’re tuning.
While the DT-800 lacks a keypad for frequency input (in truth, I would not expect such a thing on a walkman-style receiver) it does make tuning to your favorite stations quite easy with 20 FM, 20 AM, and 5 WX presets. Saving a station to memory is truly a breeze: simply select the page you’d like to save it to, then press and hold the preset button to save it to one of the numbered presets. Really, it couldn’t be easier.
To change the volume on this radio, you use rocker buttons on the left side of the radio to increase or decrease volume up to 25 levels. I particularly like the fact that level 1 is very quiet and 25 is as loud as you would ever want from a small radio. I mention this because, in the past, I have reviewed radios that had coarse volume steps, and the lowest setting is louder than I prefer: not so with this little rig.
Entering menu items on the DT-800 is quite easy, too. Some are accessed by pressing and holding the Page/Menu button and then cycling through and selecting items with the tuning up/down switch. Others are accessed by pressing and holding the Page/Menu button, then selecting one of the five buttons on the front panel (note that each menu function is listed below the numbered button).
The DT-800’s display is backlit and large, thus very easy to read at any viewing angle.
I can’t think of the last time I gave an included AC adapter its own subheading in a review, but the DT-800 power supply deserves one.
Not only does the DT-800 ship with a power supply (AC adapter), but it’s a quality one: the cord jacketing is thick and feels exceptionally durable––and though I’m not going to cut it apart to find out, I expect the wiring within it is a heavier gauge, as well. This adapter also has no less than two in-line RF chokes.
In a day and age when included “wall wart” power supplies are often of the cheapest quality and spew so much radio interference that they render attached receivers useless, the DT-800 adapter is a very welcome addition to this radio’s kit.
Well played, Sangean! I hope other radio manufacturers follow your lead.
Lately, it seems most new radios are being designed to accommodate slim Lithium Ion battery packs. So, another welcome sight was opening the DT-800’s battery compartment to find slots for two AA batteries.
While Li-ion batteries have advantages in terms of weight and size, I prefer AA batteries for pocket and travel radios, as AA batteries are so ubiquitous on this planet and are available in all but the most remote regions of the world.
And better yet? You can internally recharge NiMH batteries with the DT-800. The DT-800 ships with a default setting for alkaline batteries. But to internally recharge NiMH batteries, simply open the battery compartment and change the battery type switch from “Alkaline” to “NiMH.”
This is an amazing and useful feature, but just be sure if you ever use the NiMH internal recharging function and then switch to alkaline cells, that you change the battery selection switch back to the alkaline setting. You certainly wouldn’t want the DT-800 to attempt recharging your alkaline cells!
As you can see in this photo, I’ve been using Panasonic Eneloop NiMH batteries in the DT-800. I use a special charger for Eneloops, so have kept the battery selection switch set to alkaline so the DT-800 doesn’t attempt to charge them. I might even put a small piece of colored tape on the switch to keep it in place for now.
The audio via headphones? It sounds great on the DT-800!
Indeed, the DT-800’s included in-ear style stereo earphones are a cut above most other included-with-a-product earphones, and as a result, produce more pleasant audio.
With the headphones engaged, FM offers selectable mono or stereo; mono, of course, makes marginal stations more stable since the stereo lock isn’t struggling.
Like the Walkman radios of days gone by, the DT-800 uses the headphone cord as an antenna when it’s attached. If you’re using the internal speaker, you’ll need to attach the included external wire antenna for FM and WX bands.
The DT-800 internal speaker produces decent audio for the size of the radio. The speaker is tiny, so the audio is somewhat tinny (narrow in range) when listening to music. But the DT-800 also has a DBB (Dynamic Bass Boost) switch––engaging this will increase the bass response a bit, most noticeable when using headphones.
The DT-800 has three bands: FM, AM (mediumwave), and WX (weather). Let’s take a look at each.
The DT-800 sports a unique feature on the FM band: the ability to select between a wide or a narrow filter. Since the dawn of the DSP chip, many a portable radio has enjoyed selectable bandwidth filters, but it’s a rare portable that has FM filters. I do pretty much all of my FM listening with the wide filter engaged, but if you live in an urban area with a crowded FM band, choosing the narrow filter, even if it compromises audio fidelity a bit, will give you better selectivity. Nice touch, Sangean!
In terms of sensitivity, with the external antenna inserted, I’ve been very pleased with the DT-800. It receives all of my benchmark FM stations. With headphones inserted (used as an antenna) and stereo engaged, it has ever-so-slightly less sensitivity than several of my other DSP portables. With the headphones inserted and FM in mono, I find that it’s on par with––or surpasses––my other reference DSP portables.
Here’s a little wrinkle, though: when listening with the internal speaker, you must insert the external wire antenna to use this receiver on FM. Without the external antenna, sensitivity decreases by a good 70-80%, as you essentially have no antenna. If you live in an area with strong FM stations, you’ve nothing to fear, but if you live in a rural area, you’ll certainly want to keep that wire antenna handy.
On one hand, the wire antenna is easier and more flexible to deploy than attached telescopic antennas, which can be bent or broken. But on the other, an external wire antenna is just another item you’ll need to pack and take along with the radio if you plan to listen via the internal speaker.
If you plan to listen with headphones, however, no worries! I find the sensitivity with headphones inserted to be just as effective. In fact, instead of taking along the wire antenna you could bring the included headphones, and they’ll double as an external antenna while listening via the internal speaker. In my tests, the headphones performed about as well as the external wire antenna.
My advice? If you purchase the DT-800, either keep the small wire antenna or a pair of headphones nearby to insure you’re getting the best FM reception.
The same notes above about the necessity of an external wire antenna apply on the weather band as well as the FM band.
With the wire antenna or a set of headphones connected, weather radio reception is good. I was able to receive both of my local NOAA weather reference frequencies.
To be clear, the DT-800 is not as sensitive as my C. Crane CC Skywave or CC Skywave SSB––which are truly WX band benchmarks––but it will likely receive your local NOAA or Environment Canada broadcasts as well as most other weather radios.
The DT-800 also includes a Weather Alert feature, but as Sangean notes, you should only use this feature while the radio is plugged into mains power, as it will drain batteries about as effectively as if you were listening to an FM radio station.
If there’s a weak point on the DT-800, I would say it’s the AM band.
Don’t get me wrong: at first blush, the DT-800 looks like a little Ultralight DXing dream, as it’s loaded with great features, such as:
multiple bandwidths (wide/narrow),
9/10 kHz spacing,
well-balanced AGC (auto gain control),
as well as the ability to turn off soft muting.
Yes, the DT-800 has the ability to disable soft mute.Thank you, Sangean! So far, Sangean seems to be one of the only radio manufacturers that enables this DSP chip option in their product line. Another receiver with the ability to disable soft mute was the Sangean ATS-405 (check out our ATS-405 review). I wish other radio manufacturers would do the same because soft mute is what often makes listening to weak mediumwave signals so fatiguing. With soft mute disengaged, weak signals enjoy better audio stability as they’re not fighting to stay above the muting threshold.
But, I’m sorry, DXers: unfortunately, the DT-800’s weakness on AM is the same as the ATS-405 on AM (and shortwave): a higher-than-average noise floor. Somehow, internal noise is being generated and not being contained by shielding and grounding.
I made a short comparison video to demonstrate the noises heard via the DT-800. Before you ask: yes, these noises are present regardless of radio location, or whether or not there are other radios nearby. In addition, I made this video on a folding table far away from my house or any other potential sources of noise (with the exception of my iPhone which was used to make the video). This is the same low-noise spot I use to do comparison tests of all my portable receivers:
As I note in the video, the noise floor isn’t consistent across the band––some parts are lower, other parts higher. One of the noise peaks is around 1600 kHz which, unfortunately for me, is where my favorite local AM station resides.
So is this a deal-breaker? No…not necessarily. For the casual AM radio listener––a listener primarily focused on listening to local AM stations––I think the DT-800 will please. In fact, I might not have noticed the elevated noise floor had I not: 1) listened to weaker AM stations, and 2) compared the DT-800 with other radios.
Since I’ve been using and listening to this radio for the better part of a month, I can state with confidence that most of my other portables outperform the DT-800 on mediumwave. I compared it with these rigs:
CC Skywave SSB
To be clear, I believe the DT-800 has average MW sensitivity for a radio this size, but the noise floor sort of spoils any hopes of doing marginal or weak signal work, thus also making that awesome soft mute toggle less effective.
If you pair the DT-800 with a loop antenna like the AN200, which I highly recommend doing, it will help those weak signals rise above the noise. Otherwise, if your primary goal in purchasing the DT-800 is to listen to mediumwave, I regret to say, you might want to take a pass on this one.
Every radio has its pros and cons. Each time I begin a review of a radio, I take notes from the very beginning so that I don’t forget my initial impressions and observations. Here’s the DT-800’s list, from the first moments I turned it on, to the time of writing this review:
Great overall performance on FM
Quality construction and thoughtful ergonomics
Both clock and alarm for the traveler
Ability to switch between FM stereo/mono with headphones in use
Wide/narrow AM and FM filters
NiMH AA batteries can be recharged internally [make sure switch inside battery compartment is set to “NiMH”]
FM RDS (one mode)
Mechanical keylock switch
Ability to disable soft mute (other radio manufacturers take note!)
Small internal speaker providing quite decent audio
Comprehensive gear package includes radio, manuals, quality earphones, quality AC adapter, wire antenna
DC port is standard MicroUSB
Dynamic Bass Boost
While listening via the DT-800’s internal speaker without antenna wire or headphones inserted: FM performance is lacking, while weather radio performance is very much lacking
AM band: Noise floor is higher than on comparable radios
The Sangean DT-800 is a solid little radio: it’s simple to operate and feels like a quality piece of kit. It’s perfect for hiking, or any sport or task where you’d like one-hand operation.
The DT-800 also has a surprising amount of features and customization through the menu settings––much more than one would expect––which puts it firmly into what I would call the “enthusiast-grade” radio category.
It’s for this reason that it’s a bit disappointing AM reception on this Sangean isn’t better.
The DT-800 has a lot of icing on the cake, otherwise: FM RDS, the ability to internally recharge AA batteries, built-in speaker, Dynamic Bass Boost, multiple bandwidths on AM and FM, the ability to disable soft mute–all of these are essentially pro features.
So, if you’re looking for a quality portable radio primarily for FM and WX band listening and perhaps catching the odd local AM broadcast, the DT-800 is a great choice.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Emilio Ruiz, who writes:
I [note you] have published movies scenes with radios and I remember one of my favorite movies about nature, science, silence, wolves and Inuit culture called “Never Cry Wolf” I’m sharing with you and all readers of SWLing Post blog a radio (I don’t know what brand is, I think is military radio) appear in Never Cry Wolf movie.
I love this scene because the heterodyne sound is a particular sound that drives us crazy to everyone who loves radio!! jaja 😛
The video was extracted from the original Beta format movie, sorry for
Thank you for sharing, Emilio!
That heterodyne sound leads me to believe they obtained it using a regenerative receiver. I’ve heard that squeal so many times tuning regen receivers!