Radio travel: Rob enjoys a shortwave-capable rental car in Namibia

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Gray, who writes:

I recently returned back from a three-month trip in Africa (Namibia, South Africa, and Morocco) and had a couple of shortwave-related items that you might be interested in.

The rental car in Namibia had shortwave capabilities in the in-dash radio! The rental company was oblivious to the option when I mentioned it as a huge perk, I really don’t think they understood or cared. The radio was a Sony CDX-G1200U, and while I find this radio for sale in North America, I don’t see any mention of shortwave. I suspect shortwave is either an option for foreign markets (at least Namibia in this case), or possibly activated via a modification or firmware upgrade. Perhaps any shortwave enthusiasts travelling to other regions of the world might keep an eye out for this model.

There were two ‘bands’, low (SW1) included some of the tropical bands up to 41 meters, and high (SW2) covered 31 meters through about 19 MHz or so. Decent coverage for casual mobile listening.

I found the performance of the radio quite satisfactory in Namibia, the BBC came in very well in the mornings and evenings. There was a little more on shortwave during the day in English, Channel Africa, etc., but the BBC was by far the best offering for listening.

Another equipment data point from around the world, this time in Morocco.

Several vendors in the Medina’s sold various radios (of questionable quality). The photo [above] was taken in Tetouan (which isn’t a touristy area) in March, but I did note similar for sale in Fez.

Brilliant, Rob! It sounds like you’ve visited some gorgeous parts of the world in your travels. I imagine on the long stretches of rural roads in Namibia, you could enjoy a proper low-noise environment for shortwave listening as long as the car itself didn’t produce RFI!

Post readers: Have you driven a car recently that sported a shortwave radio capabilities?  Please comment!

Spread the radio love

9 thoughts on “Radio travel: Rob enjoys a shortwave-capable rental car in Namibia

  1. SP6WJM

    This is version for the Middle East market. Some receivers of the CDX series have SW bands in versions for the Middle East market. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find this version in Europe.
    Best regards

  2. Paul

    I have a Kenwood car stereo that is shortwave capable, in Christchurch New Zealand all I seem to be able to get is China Radio International. It would work a lot better if it had a decent aerial attached to it. The standard 1 metre car whip just doesn’t do it justice.

  3. 13dka

    Coincidentally I caught some not too bad DX with my car stereo on Saturday a week ago. It has only the 49m-band (they were still selling these stock radio/satnav systems 10 years ago BTW) and I was out to try a new listening post at the North Sea dike in a nature reserve. I was there to try turning a 1000m/3,000′ wire fence into a Beverage antenna for medium wave DX, or more specifically, to find out how much directionality I could get out of this contraption.

    At some point I switched to shortwave (not expecting much, really) and picked up RNZI on 6,170 kHz with their Sunday morning program beamed at 30° for the Pacific. I should add that this is a somewhat more difficult time and frequency for RNZI in Europe, than e.g. their reliable 25m transmissions.
    RNZI is using that frequency 1 hour longer on Sundays, so they were still on while the greyline connected us nicely, with their signal likely coming in from NNE (the “Beverage fence” pointing N), well that’s at least my theory. This was the first time I could hear RNZI on 49m, and if there hadn’t been some thunderstorms the signal quality would’ve been quite OK.
    Here’s a video:

    I checked my D-808 with the whip and the online SDRs in my neck of the woods and they all had nothing or just some unreadable rest of a signal on 6,170 kHz. That doesn’t mean this “sheeptenna” is particularly good on shortwave (it can’t be) but I’m happy it worked anyway. I think it’s likely self-terminating after a few wavelengths, forming an appreciable (unidirectional) lobe along the wire, which pointed in the right direction by chance. Of course it has no gain, just less losses there, but the excellent sensitivity of that radio is apparently making the most of it.

  4. Johannes

    Shouldn’t be a problem to get those car radios working on SW by change/ patch software. For example my cdx-640ui uses a PLL chip TEF6617T/V1/518 produced by NXP used in many car radios. Has anyone Datasheets of it? Or somone a freak in hacking flashed software?

    1. Rob

      You certainly may be right about getting extra frequencies out of the PLL, but that may not be the full story. If the manufacturer didn’t include the needed radio hardware for the new bands, you may display the frequency but hear little to nothing.
      Just a thought………

  5. David

    Wow! I have never seen or heard of a shortwave radio in a car since the 1980s. What luck to rent a car with short wave!

    1. Rob

      Thanks David, I sure enjoyed the option, and was happy to hear the BBC’s programming so clear on shortwave- just like the good ‘ol days!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.