This QSL card just came today from a broadcast on Halloween, station Undercover Radio. There were a number of broadcasts that night, but this was by far the most unusual that I heard!
This QSL card just came today from a broadcast on Halloween, station Undercover Radio. There were a number of broadcasts that night, but this was by far the most unusual that I heard!
By Robert Gulley K4PKM
The RADDY RF320 is a rather attractive, if not slightly curious-looking radio, which breaks from the more recent offerings from Raddy and other small portable radios. Compact, but not pocket-sized, the radio comes in at roughly 3-3/4” x 4-1/2” almost square (not counting the tuning dial on the side, the slightly raised antenna on top, or the light on the side).
The radio can receive AIR, FM, VHF, MW(AM), SW, and Weather Band signals. (For those interested in the U.S. Aircraft Band, this model does feature AM modulation, so civil aircraft can be monitored). While the radio does have AM SWL bands, there is no SSB reception. SW bands run from 90m thru 13m, with tuning in 5kHz single steps and scan mode.
There are four tuning methods if the user includes the Apple or Android app which feature direct keyboard entry in addition to the three modes found on the radio. As a rather cool feature, the QR scan codes are imprinted on the back of the radio for both IOS and Android apps, so if you are out and about you can easily download the app to your phone or tablet. A nice touch! No having to type an esoteric web address or search for the app. (I tried both codes and they worked just fine.)
In addition to the usual tuning methods, the RF320 has what they refer to as “fine tuning knobs” on the side and front of the radio, with the knob on the side a continuous tuning within a band mode. The knob on the front is something, well, a bit unusual. While it is a fine-tuning knob, it is designed to manually tune in search mode. A little explanation is in order.
Most radios which feature a search mode, this one included, allows the user to long-press a directional button or rotate a tuning dial a given distance to activate a search mode. When the typical radio finds a station, it may stop momentarily or completely, depending on the design. The search modes in this radio all do the latter- they stop completely. However, unlike most radios, this radio features three different methods of searching. The up/down arrows can be pressed for a second or two to start a search, or the tuning knob on the side can be rotated some distance quickly, and a search will begin. The third method is the tuning knob on the front. By manually turning the knob the radio will attempt to find the next signal within the current band or sub-band without stepping through each 5kHz frequency (of course it is doing this internally, but it is not really obvious visually).
For example, when in FM mode, this tuning method will jump to the next usable station. In SW mode, in a given sub-band (13m, 90m etc.), this knob will jump to what it senses as the next usable signal, rather than scanning every 5 kHz as done in the other modes. This allows for a very quick check of a given band (or sub-band).
As with any search mode on a radio like this, there will be false positives. Life is not fair – static crashes and birdies and digital signals can all fool a radio’s search mode.
The radio features excellent sound for its size, with a rather large front-facing 5W speaker, and a bass port on the back. I can crank the volume louder than I would ever want in a room and the audio remains clear.
Reception on all the bands is quite acceptable, keeping up with typical portables its size, and even ones with longer antennas and larger ferrite bars for AM reception. This is not a Panasonic RF-2200 or a GE Superadio, but for what it is designed to do, it does quite well.
The radio also has an abundance of memories, allowing you to save up to 995 stations, including 199 each for AIR, FM, VHF, MW, and SW.
Like some of the other radios from RADDY, this one has Bluetooth connectivity to Android or IOS for the App functionality, and takes a TF memory card to allow for playing music, podcasts etc., as well as having a flashlight and S.O.S. capability. There is a headphone jack and Aux. jack, as well as a USB-C charging port for the replaceable 18650 2000mAh battery (whoo-hoo!). Sleep mode, timer, wake to music and six sound effects are added features.
Lights, lights, and more lights. ‘Nuff said! (See images)
Pros: Good audio, AM receive for aircraft band, good sensitivity, multiple ways to tune, excellent App connectivity on my iPhone with direct frequency entry, good form factor, unit seems solid, replaceable battery, 18-month warranty(!), carry strap, aux. input to allow the radio to act as a speaker, included wire antenna and charging cable.
Cons: Telescoping antenna a bit frail, side tuning knob feels a bit wobbly (but I experienced no problems), back colored lights seem unnecessary (nit-picking and just a personal opinion, YMMV), EQ effects seem weak as only a few seem to make much of a difference (and not needed in my opinion, since the standard audio is quite good), no SSB (not a problem for me but will be a deal-breaker for some), and typical for this type of radio soft muting while tuning.
This is a good, solid radio with lots of options in terms of modes and bands, as well as extras which make it an almost all-in-one radio. This is a radio one could take to the beach or a park, or use in an office or on the coffee table or night stand. It is small, portable, packed with features, and controllable from your phone or tablet. At a price well under $100 ($71.99 special price from Radioddity at the time of publication), this may well be the radio you have been looking for to fill that portable niche!
By Robert Gulley K4PKM
The RF75A is an interesting little radio which (currently) retails on Amazon for ~$53.00 in the States. It can also be purchased via Radioddity directly for $53–if you use this referral code, you can save $15 off a $65 purchase.
Before we get into specifics, two things are worth mentioning right off:
Having those thoughts out of the way, the quick and dirty answer as to the quality of the radio is, I am impressed. For those who have not read anything related to my past experience with radios, I have been a shortwave listener since I was about 10 years old, and now in my early sixties. So, I have seen a fair number of radios in my time (speaking as an old codger, or is that curmudgeon?) and have even moved with the times to incorporate SDRs into my radio arsenal.
Each style of radio has its place, and a pocket radio is designed to be the ultimate in portability and space savings. As light as this shirt pocket radio is, it still manages to feel reasonably solid, and of course, it could be packed into anything one was taking along for a trip.
Here are some specs from the manufacturer’s website (saving you my long-winded descriptions!):
What’s in the box?
I always like to start a radio review by either listening to AM stations first, or WWV time stations for checking out shortwave reception. In this instance I started listening to AM stations in the daytime to see what I could hear on a typical day (no storms nearby, early spring, etc.).
Living in a fairly remote area I was surprised it captured as many stations as it did, making me think the ferrite bar inside must designed well for such a small radio. Evening and nighttime listening brought in many of the usual stations with which we are familiar, particularly the so-called Clear Channel stations. What was more impressive were the many small stations I was able to pick up, not only at night, but early in the morning around 8 a.m.
One in particular caught my attention as I am quite certain I have never captured them before, was WHKY 1290, Hickory North Carolina. That’s a distance of about 285 miles, received in the morning. I am only about 50 miles from Cincinnati and cannot receive some of their smaller stations on any radio! Color me impressed!
Nighttime brought stations in from several thousand miles, as you would expect, yet I was likewise impressed with this little radio’s capabilities on AM.
I confess to not being much of an FM listener, but I did tune around the band for FM stations to test its ability to “lock on” to signals (as indicated by a tiny red light) and to pick up stations from quite a good distance away with clarity and good sound.
This might be a good time to mention the quality of sound from the small 3 Watt(!) speaker and bass boost from the back. Again, this is not my Sangean 909 X2 with a large speaker, nor my CC Radio EP, but it has rather amazing clarity and volume capability for such a small radio. I cranked the volume up quite high with no distortion, and even though the speaker is small, the bass boost seems to round out the sound quite nicely, avoiding some of tinny sounding speakers common in such a small radio.
The radio has coverage of the NOAA weather radio stations and it surprised me with being able to receive 4-5 stations, more than I have gotten with most other radios. All but one of the signals were crystal clear, with the fifth having some noise, but still quite intelligible.
This radio includes the air band frequencies and amateur 2-meter frequencies (30.000-199.975 MHZ). I am usually able to receive some signals, but I am quite far away from any local airports or repeaters, so my main reception is from CVG, Greater Cincinnati Airport. While the radio scans the air band frequencies, like any other radio, it is best to find local frequencies you want to hear and program them into memory so you are not wasting a lot of time scanning dead air (these are country specific). Likewise amateur repeaters or GMRS, marine, or public service channels would be best used in memory channels except when scanning for new frequencies.
Shortwave listening is very respectable, with frequency ranges between 4.750-21.850 MHz (it does not have SSB capability). Tuning can be accomplished by pressing and holding one of the directional tuning keys for about 2 seconds, a long press scans faster. A single press of either directional button will move the frequency increment based on the band/mode chosen.
The radio also features something I have come to really like: a pause button which works not only in music mode, but also when receiving regular radio signals, activated by a quick press of the power button. The frequency is held while pause is active, and then releasing the pause with a second quick press of the power button resumes with all your setting still active.
When comparing this with another radio it was particularly useful instead of having to turn the volume down like most radios. This feature is also nice for answering a call or other interruption, and you resume right where you left off.
I have not covered these features as they do not impact radio reception, but I mention them just for completeness. All of these features are available and can be read about in the user’s manual. I will mention the flashlight feature and the emergency siren features, as these are useful for portable operation. The light is quite bright, and the siren will hurt your ears if you trip it accidentally, especially more than once. Ask me how I know!
There is a sleep timer as well as an alarm clock function, with the sleep timer adjustable by default starting at 90 minutes. Most buttons have multiple functions depending on the mode employed, so reading the manual is important for some of these features. I was able to get up and running without reading the manual initially, but some features were functional only in certain modes, so eventually you will need the manual which can be downloaded from the Radioddity site.
A bit of a novelty in this size and type of radio is the Apple/Android app available to control radio functions remotely through Bluetooth connectivity. I have to say, on Android at least, the app is beautiful and I wish more apps used such a clear color scheme and large controls. Your mileage may vary based on your preferences, but I like it!
As to function, the app gives you more information than the radio screen, such as the Bandwidth, SNR, received signal strength and the volume setting in one display. As a side note, the radio can still be adjusted at the radio, and then changes are reflected in the app almost instantaneously.
Of course, the main use for the app is to operate remotely, and the controls are easy to use, including, most importantly, direct keyboard entry of frequencies! This is always the biggest drawback to small radios without a keypad. There are instructions for using the app, but for the most part the app is laid out so well you can control the radio pretty much intuitively.
Yep, there are a few. When tuning with a single press each time there is some soft muting – fortunately it does not last long, but it is there. The buttons also make a clicking sound, not too loud, but it is there. If something like that annoys you, be aware all the buttons make a mechanical click.
I have noticed on several occasions that the band/mode button may stick slightly and take you past where you want to go. Not a big problem, but it does happen now and again. Of course, this could just be my unit.
Also, naturally, the buttons are small. And while I did not have much of an issue even with fairly large fingers, there were times when I pressed the desired button but also hit the one below it. Not a problem for me, but again, if you have very large fingers you may find the radio a bit tricky to navigate in some places. (This only happened on the front buttons for me, the tuning buttons are adequately spaced for most anyone I think.)
The telescoping antenna is probably the weakest point on the radio – similar to most radios, really. It is thin and could be bent easily. I had no difficulties, but I always took care to raise it gently and watched where I was moving the radio around. Then again, I do that will all my radios with telescoping antennas. Just a heads-up to be careful.
I like this little radio, and will probably keep it in my car for those times when I might want to listen to the radio out and about, check the NOAA weather forecast, use the flashlight, or (hopefully never need) to use the siren. The battery seems to last a long time on a charge when using the radio – I cannot speak to the MP3 drain or a prolonged flashlight/siren drain, but under normal use it seems excellent. It uses a USB-C connection like my phone, so charging is not an issue for me. It will almost fully charge in an hour; the instructions say 2 hours.
Pocket radios certainly have their niche, and I think this one does quite well in that role. If you are in the market for such a radio, I think you will be pleased, especially for the price and the addition of the free remote-control app. 73!
I am sharing an email I received from Jeorg at Klingenfuss.org regarding increased solar propagation and the threat to satellite and wired communications in times of war. For those who may not know, Klingenfuss aggregates utility, shortwave, military and other HF frequency lists in book and CD form. I received this email as a customer having purchased their latest “Super CD” earlier this year. I am not affiliated with them other than as a customer, and this email did not come to me as a sales pitch. I do however think their software is a good value for the money. for what that may be worth! – Robert, K4PKM
Dear friends,solar activity is increasing rapidly and provides excellent HFpropagation conditions on frequencies above 20 MHz as well. Sunspotnumbers have ramped up pretty fast: in February 2023, the NOAA numberalready reached more than 200 – while the maximum of the currentsolar cycle 25 is expected not before mid-2025! See our screenshot of2 April 2023 atwww.klingenfuss.org/kiwikiwi.gifIn these times of war, remember the key fact: shortwave = HF is theonly medium for inter-national and inter-continental communicationthat, unlike e.g. SATCOM, landline connections, and submarine cables,cannot be blocked, censored, or cut off. What’s more, there are nocall costs or monthly fees.Increased vulnerabilities to cyber and SATCOM – coupled with state-of-the-art HF communications capability and capacity – is makingmilitary services worldwide rethink their communications planning.Says DA Reporter atwww.defenseadvancement.com/news/australian-defence-force-upgrades-hf-communications-system“In a modern threat environment, access to local communicationinfrastructure or satellite communication cannot be assured. Having acommunications capability that can work seamlessly with theAustralian Defence Force and its allies is essential. Starting inOctober 2023 under the JP9101 – Enhanced Defence High FrequencyCommunications System program, the new system will provide Australianand allied armed forces with the ability to securely communicateusing voice and other data from almost any location across theglobe.”
HAARP IS ABOUT TO PING AN ASTEROID:
“Researchers from NASA and the University of Alaska are about to perform an unusual radar experiment. They’re going to ping a near-Earth asteroid using shortwave radio. The target is a 500-ft-wide space rock named “2010 XC15.” When it passes by Earth on Tuesday, Dec. 27th, the HAARP array in Alaska will hit it with a pulse of 9.6 MHz radio waves.”
“Radio astronomers ping asteroids all the time. What’s unusual about this experiment is the frequency: 9.6 MHz is hundreds of times lower than typical S-band and X-band frequencies used by other asteroid radars. The goal is to probe the asteroid’s interior.”
This might be an interesting catch on our shortwave receivers?!
(Read the full article at Spaceweather.com)
Robert Gulley, K4PKM, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.
By Robert Gulley K4PKM
(Note: This review was requested by Radioddity, who provided the in-production radio to the reviewer, with no strings attached or pre-approval.)
I confess to have been a little bit skeptical when Thomas asked me to review this radio, not because of past experience with RADDY, but because tiny radios in general don’t usually impress me, and I have had plenty of them over the years and considered most of them a novelty. There are a few exceptions, of course, such as the C.Crane Skywave or the Tecsun PL-368, but for the most part there are simply too many limitations to tiny radios for my listening style (this one can literally fit in a shirt pocket!). Upon opening the box I was still skeptical, despite the rather impressive packaging and extras. But hey, a little skepticism is a good thing, right?!
The radio comes with a thin carry case to protect it from scratches, a rechargeable lithium battery, strap, earbuds and a wire antenna to improve shortwave reception. There is also a Type “C” USB cable for charging the battery. Oh, and a spare set of earbud covers – a nice touch!
Picking up the radio I noticed right away it has a solid, comfortable feel to the unit. I start with that because most tiny radios feel very flimsy, and usually have something of a rough or hard plastic feel to them. This radio has a glossy feel to it, meaning it is comfortable and actually nice looking. Looks aside, I must admit the ergonomics of the radio impress me. I like the feel of it in my hand, and the controls are laid out well for one-handed operation. Being left-handed, that is not always the case, but the controls seem well thought out for either right- or left-handed folks.
As you can see in the images there are two primary rows of buttons, as well as a tuning knob on the right side of the radio. There is also a belt clip on the back which is unobtrusive – I can’t speak to its longevity as I really never clip a radio to my belt, but for those who do, I suspect it will hold up well with a little care.
The telescopic antenna (fixed) is rather impressive as well, measuring ~18 inches in height when fully extended. As one might imagine, at this length the antenna is fairly fragile – I would not walk around with it fully extended while attached to my belt. For hand-holding it should be just fine, and standing upright on a table it does not tip over, but if out in an open-air environment with a strong breeze it will tip over, so a stand would be advisable.
The display is very readable, and the orange background light which pops on when making adjustments is quite nice. The light stays on for ~9 seconds after pushing any of the buttons. Another nice feature of the radio is a press of any button while the radio is off will turn on the display, indicating time, temperature, and battery strength. Yes, it has a built-in thermometer, and it seems quite accurate, at least on the unit I received.
On top there is an external antenna jack, headphone jack, and slot for the strap.
For such a small radio it is literally packed with features. I will not go over all of them in this review, but I will cover some of the highlights as well as make mention of most features at least in passing. I was not expecting so many features in this little radio, so I was pleasantly surprised by some of the more advanced options.
Naturally the radio has AM/FM capabilities, as well as weather, air, VHF above the air band, SW and CB (yes, CB!). There is also a customizable frequency range setting for monitoring a desired set of user-selected frequencies. There are presets available for various modes listed in the manual, including predefined amateur radio bands and shortwave stations (always subject to change, of course!).
There is an attenuate function available if needed, as well as numerous step modes for tuning various modes. One interesting feature of the radio is two separate tuning methods, one by up and down buttons, and the other by a tuning knob on the side. These can be set independently of each other in terms of the step-change on a given band. This is particularly useful when scanning a band with the buttons after a station is found, because sometimes being slightly off frequency can produce a better signal – the scroll wheel can be used to make as little as 1 Hz changes.
Finally, there is a very useful bandwidth feature which can change between 3, 2.5, 2, 1.8, 1, and 6 kHz. Tuning is quite functional both with the scroll wheel and the tuning buttons. Holding down the tuning buttons will start a scan of the current band, and a longer press will speed up the scan if no stations are found initially. Unlike some scanning radios, when a signal is found, scanning stops and does not resume. I like that feature better than the alternative method of some radios restarting a scan after 5 seconds or similar. I want time to figure out what I am hearing, and a short stop does not really allow for that most of the time.
I have to say I am impressed with this little radio. I have listened to amateur frequencies, shortwave frequencies, AM/FM, weather and tried airband (nothing close to me except a minor airfield). I live in a very quiet location in terms of local man-made interference, and this provides a great opportunity to really test out a radio’s sensitivity. My conclusion may surprise you as it did me. This is one sensitive radio, given its small form factor and limited antenna movement. (I did not test the external antenna option. While it has one, I felt it only fair to make tests using the built-in antenna on all the radios I compared it with, thus eliminating extraneous or otherwise hard to compare situations.)
Side by side with one of my favorite portables, the Sangean ATS-909X2, this little guy was right in there with difficult to receive stations. While the Sangean has a much larger speaker and therefore fuller sound, in terms of actual reception, most stations came in about equally. I even used an old, but very reliable Select-A-Tenna to boost AM reception on both radios, assuming the Sangean has a much larger ferrite rod given its size, and yet both performed equally well next to the passive antenna. Impressive!
On various shortwave and amateur stations the RADDY RF760 held its own again, picking up almost station for station what the Sangean and the Sony 7600 GR (another favorite of mine) did, in a package less than 1/3 the size of the Sony, and about ¼ the size of the Sangean. Am I going to dump my Sony and/or my Sangean? Of course not – there are many reasons I prefer those radios for my daily use. But if I were wanting to go extremely lightweight/portable, the RADDY is a keeper with impressive performance and most features one could want in a portable radio, all while still fitting in your shirt pocket. I truly do not know how one could get much better performance or features in another radio this size. It makes one wonder where can they go from here?
FM reception is also quite good, pulling in weaker stations while still being quite listenable. I have heard a few stations on this radio which I have not caught before, and this with some atmospheric noise due to storms in the region. Likewise, listening to AM while there were storms in the general area, still allowed for reasonable reception. As we all know AM broadcasts are highly susceptible to atmospheric noise, especially lightning, but this radio recovered nicely after each static crash. Some radios seem to linger longer in recovery after such events, but this radio was quick to bring back in the signals.
In short, there really are not any glaring negatives to this radio, so allow me to point out some little things which are, after all more about personal preference than any deficiency in the radio. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
If you are in the market for a small, lightweight, but solid radio – this RF760 is definitely one you should consider. It is so light as to be almost weightless, compact but with easily reachable and useful controls, and has more modes and features than almost any similar radio I have run across. As an old-timer I have to shake my head in amazement at what can be packed into such a small radio these days! This certainly isn’t your grandpa’s transistor radio (and it’s even smaller!). Cheers!
Predictions for Solar Cycle 25. Blue is the “official” prediction of a weak cycle. Red is a new prediction based on the Termination Event.
Feb. 26, 2022: Something big just happened on the sun. Solar physicists Scott McIntosh (NCAR) and Bob Leamon (U. Maryland-Baltimore County) call it “The Termination Event.”
“Old Solar Cycle 24 has finally died–it was terminated!” says McIntosh. “Now the new solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, can really take off.”
The “Termination Event” is a new idea in solar physics, outlined by McIntosh and Leamon in a December 2020 paper in the journal Solar Physics. Not everyone accepts it–yet. If Solar Cycle 25 unfolds as McIntosh and Leamon predict, the Termination Event will have to be taken seriously.
(Read the full story here at Spaceweather.com)
Robert Gulley, K4PKM (formerly AK3Q), is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.