Monthly Archives: November 2019

The new Malahit-DSP: A portable all-in-one wideband SDR receiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, H. Garcia (PU3HAG), who writes:

Hey Thomas,

Some very exciting news on the topic of portable all-band receivers comes from Russia! A group of engineers have just released for ordering the new Malahit-dsp. And it’s truly impressive! Picture an Icom IC-R8600 with the size of a Sony 7600G!

It seems it all started in June this year. Back then, RX9CIM George posted a note in QRZ.com forum about a new project he had been working of a standalone, SDR-based, all-band, all-mode receiver called Malahit-dsp.

Fast forward to November and it seems the project is finally complete as new posts started to bubble up in Youtube and in Russian forums. George is now taking orders of the Malahit DSP.

I can’t read Russian, but with the help of Google Translator, we can find some interesting details:

The project authors are RX9CIM George, R6DAN Vladimir and R6DCY Vadim. It seems their goal was to design a low-cost portable SDR radio, using only easily obtainable components and to become the natural successor of the popular Degen and Tecsun radios.

Technical Specifications

  • 1 MHz to 1000 MHz.
  • Bandwidth 160 kHz.
  • Modulation types AM, WFM, NFM, LSB, USB.
  • Powered by one Li-ion cell.
  • Consumption up to 300 mA
  • Main chip ARM STM32H743VIT6 MCU High-performance and DSP with DP-FPU, ARM Cortex-M7 MCU with 2MBytes Flash, 1MB RAM, 400 MHz CPU
  • Printed circuit board is used four-layer, factory-made; for purchase, refer to RX9CIM. malahit_sdr@rambler.ru

PCB only: ~ USD 17.22
Finished receiver delivered inside Russia: USD 195.65

From the forum, there is also this important note: “Attention! Fraud/Scammers detected! You can purchase components or finished devices from George only ”

It seems the project is open source, the schematic, PCB and software are available to download.

I really hope this receivers becomes popular and available world wide. I also hope this new project “shakes” a bit the industry of shortwave receivers. Since the Degen 1102/03, Tecsun 450/600, Tecsun PL310/880, we have been seeing only iterations of the same designs.

Pages

Group dedicated to Malahitdsp
https://vk.com/malahitdsp

Recent discussion on Malahit, annoucement of ordering is now available, pictures and videos
http://hamforum.ru/viewtopic.php?t=193

Videos

Video 1: Shows the soldering of large components (encoders, speaker, SMA jack) on the radio board and installing it into the metal enclosure. Next a demo of receiver working. Prepared by Sergeyenkov Alexander:

Video 2: It shows a bit of the manufacturing process and demonstrates how one can build the receiver at home using kit pre-made board and components acquired in AliExpress. Also includes a test of the receiver barebones. Prepared by R2AJI Vladimir on his YT channel “HAM Radio Channel”

Wow!  Thank you so much for sharing this!  The Malahit-DSP looks like a fantastic little receiver–I especially love the fact that it has a backlit color touch screen with both a responsive spectrum and waterfall display. It also looks and sounds like the built-in speaker is of decent quality and the audio amplification is more than adequate.

I’ll see if I can get one to evaluate. Thanks again for the tip!

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The Sony ICF-7600A at my “happy place”

Yesterday afternoon, the family and I spent some time at my happy place: Mount Mitchell State Park. This might be our last visit there until spring of 2020 since the Blue Ridge Parkway is often closed during the winter.

Yesterday was unseasonably warm at 48F (9C)–a shot of warm weather before an Arctic front moves in tonight dropping temps to about 10F (-12C) and, likely, dropping 1-3″ of snow as well.

The afternoon at Mount Mitchell gave me a little time to play radio, of course, and put my recently acquired Sony ICF-7600A on the air.

How did I acquire the Sony ICF-7600A? Via the generosity of SWLing Post reader, Ed Earps.

Ed reached out to me after I made the following comment in a recent post:

“The ICF-7600A is a cool analog portable and one I’ve thought about acquiring at some point.”

Ed contacted me immediately:

“Thomas, if you would still like to acquire a ICF-7600A, I have one I would give you. This would be in appreciation of all the work you do in writing the SWLing Post blog.”

A few days later, the ICF-7600A with original box and accessories arrived. Wow!

Thank you so much, Ed! Over the years, members of the SWLing Post community have been so kind and so generous, it makes a guy feel humbled and appreciated. Thank you!

I’m loving the ICF-7600A.

There’s something so authentic about tuning a good analog portable. It’s hard for me to describe, but I can certainly say it always takes me back to my radio roots.

The ICF-7600A has a low noise floor and seems to be incredibly sensitive. I easily snagged several stations on 31 meters, but ended up enjoying music via All India Radio while brewing a little coffee with my alcohol stove (handmade by my buddy, Greg–thanks, Greg!).

Hey, when you’re a coffee snob, you brew where you are!

But I digress…

I’m especially impressed with the ICF-7600A’s mediumwave performance. I logged a number of benchmark daytime and greyline stations yesterday. I haven’t opened the ‘7600A, but I imagine it has a decent ferrite bar inside based on its overall performance on the AM broadcast band and its nulling capabilities.

Next time, I’ll bring the AN200 mag loop and couple it with the ‘7600A. I’m pretty sure that’ll make for a winning combo.

All-in-all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day: the weather was wonderful, the coffee freshly-brewed, and the gifted ICF-7600A was the perfect radio companion as our family soaked in the scenery after a hike to the summit.

I couldn’t ask for a better happy place!


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“The BBC and the Cold War”

A vintage radio from Kim Andre Elliott’s collection.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who writes:

With Saturday being the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC OnLine has posted this to commemorate the anniversary:

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/100-voices/coldwar

The Cold War was the defining global conflict of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Fought across multiple terrains, the “soft power” of international broadcasting placed the BBC on the frontline of the information war.To commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we explore the role the BBC played in communicating our understanding and experience of the Cold War, with the help of newly-released oral history interviews with those involved.

Click here to view this collection of stories and memories at the BBC.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Kris!

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Inbound: A Drake SW8 HF/VHF receiver

I’m often accused of being a radio “enabler.” Truth be told, I wear that badge quite proudly. I’m passionate about communications equipment and I suppose it shows especially here on the Post.

But radio “enabling” is a two-way street. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve made impulse purchases based on feedback and tips from SWLing Post readers. Yesterday was one of those days.

The tip

Last week, SWLing Post contributor, Rand (KS4L), sent me a link to an ad for a Drake SW8 on QTH.com’s classifieds site.  Here’s the description and original photo:

Nice Drake SW8 Communications Receiver

Nice physical and working condition Drake SW8 portable communication receiver covering 100 to 30,000 kHz in AM, USB and LSB modes with backlit LCD panels. The VHF aeronautical band is also featured (118 – 137 MHz). For portable or field use, can be powered from 6 D cells and use the internal pivot point 41 inch telescopic whip. Comes with original manual, CD and 120VAC power pack with cable. Has an eHam review rating of 4.7 out of 5. From a non smoking environment.

Asking 250 shipped.

Randy sent this tip mid-week and I tried to ignore it. I knew it might not be a stellar deal, but it certainly wasn’t over-priced either.

The SW8

I don’t think Randy knew this, but I’ve always wanted an SW8. My buddy, David Goren, recommended this receiver ages ago, Each time I’ve stayed at his home he magically made an SW8 available as my bedside radio in the guest room. (That’s some serious radio hospitality!)

Once, many years ago, I actually agreed to purchase an SW8 from a seller in British Columbia, but the deal fell through for some reason. If memory serves, he damaged the radio in the process of packing it. I believe I agreed to pay $450 for it, but that was probably 10 years ago.

I kept Randy’s tip and link in my action items list and decided that, if still available, I’d post it as a radio deal here on the SWLing Post.

Yesterday morning, the SW8 was still showing as available so I started a post. Being the radio enabler I am, I started writing about how much I’ve always wanted to own an SW8…how I love the simple front face plate, the display, the fact it can be powered by batteries, and how I think it’s quite a capable little receiver.

Then I stopped writing, mid-sentence and asked myself… “Will I regret not grabbing this SW8?”

My “radio bux” fund is incredibly low at the moment, mainly due to recent travels and budgeting for no less than three radio conventions next year. Also, this is the time of year when several annual fees/subscriptions are auto-deducted from my account–including hefty hosting fees for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Still, I had *just* enough money to at least make an offer and knew if I “thinned the radio herd” here at SWLing Post HQ, I could probably replenish the amount in a month or so.

Since this was a classifieds ad, my next step was to go through an extensive checklist to make sure the seller was who they claimed to be and that there were no signs of this being a scam. Everything checked out. (I’ll make a note to publish a post about my process in the near future).

I contacted the seller and we agreed on a price of $220 shipped. I put his check in the mail, and he even shipped the radio same day and provided a verified FedEx tracking number.

I’ll admit it: I’m stoked!

I look forward to putting this Drake SW8 through the paces and especially loading it with batteries and taking it to the field. I know–in terms of performance–it won’t be my best receiver, but I know it’ll provide hours upon hours of radio fun, and that’s what it’s all about!

Post readers: What do you think?  Have I made a mistake, or did I get a good deal? I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve been owners of the venerable Drake SW8!

Please comment!


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Adid finds affordable AA to D cell adapters

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adid, who writes:

I just ran across this adapter

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000202530136.html

I don’t know if D type is still available everywhere, but not here in Israel.

So this can be very handy if one needs to revive a D type device occasionally.

Thanks for the tip, Adid! This could be a very helpful product for radio enthusiasts who have some of the classic solid state receivers of the 1970s and 80s, like the Panny RF-2200.

It’s not difficult in the States to find D cells but rechargeables are not as commonplace and are quite pricey, often requiring their own dedicated D cell chargers. Since I almost exclusively use rechargeable batteries, I have two of these Eneloop “power packs” (affiliate link) that have AA to D cell adapters inside. Of course, your option is much less expensive and should yield better overall capacity when using standard alkaline cells.

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EU vehicle digital radio legislation

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who shares the following:

The European Union as asking its member states to legislate the following, which Germany has just done today.

EU Vehicle Directive

This directive requires all new car radios sold in the European Union to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio, in addition to any FM or AM functionality which manufacturers may want to include. The code also grants EU member states the power to introduce rules requiring consumer radios to include digital capability.

Following its adoption by the European Council, the directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and came into force on Dec 20 last year. For the automotive industry, the key section of the European Electronic Communications Code is Article 113, XI:

“Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from … [two years after the date of entry into force of this Directive] shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Receivers which are in accordance with harmonized standards the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union or with parts thereof shall be considered to comply with that requirement covered by those standards or parts thereof.”

The policy commences 21st December 2020 and applies to any vehicle with 4 or more wheels. It does not apply to amateur radio equipment. The radio must be able to display the broadcasters’ name.

Note the way the type of receiver is phrased is digital terrestrial radio, it does not specify what type. It obviously applies to DAB+ because there are many DAB+ transmitters in Europe, but could also apply to DRM. With the advent of Software defined receivers, it is easy to have both standards. This would then open they way for high frequency (short wave) DRM in most vehicle radios. Remember that there are now 1.5 million factory installed DRM car radios in India which has been achieved in 18 months.

This decision will open the way for all new radios to include DAB+/DRM in all markets except the USA/Mexico.

Thank you for sharing this!

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Encore – Classical Music on Shortwave – Sunday – Friday

Encore – Classical Music this weekend is being broadcast as usual by Channel 292 (Europe) on 6070 kHz at 15:00 UTC Sunday 10th November.
And by WBCQ on 7490 kHz at 01:00 – 02:00 UTC Monday 11th November
There is a repeat on 6070 kHz on Friday 15th November at 19:00 UTC.
This week’s programme has a quite a lot of strings – there is a Bach cello suite, a violin concerto, and a couple of modern quartet pieces.  There are two very beautiful pieces of film music and Ma Vlast – my Homeland – by Smetana. Hope you can pick up at least one of this week’s three transmissions.
Both Channel 292 and WBCQ can be pulled live off the internet if the reception is poor in your location. Easy to find their sites with a google search.
Thank you for spreading the word about Encore – Classical Music on Shortwave. And thank you to everyone for letting us know how well the signal is received where you are listening.
Brice Avery – Encore – Radio Tumbril.
Regular Broadcast times are:
15:00 – 16:00 UTC Sunday, and repeated 19:00 – 20:00 UTC Friday on 6070 kHz (Channel 292 Germany).
01:00 – 02:00 UTC Monday on 7490 kHz 9WBCQ – Maine).
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