Category Archives: Accessories

Tecsun PL-990 Ferrite Rods

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gareth Buxton, who writes:

Hi Thomas

I see that Anon-co have the Tecsun PL-990 Ferrite rod aerial for sale. It even says in the product description “You can use it for your DIY projects.” I thought it might be of interest to your MW/AM radio constructors, especially if they can build a radio that receives more stations than the Tecsun using the same part!

Click here for the product page at Anon-Co.

Cheers
Gareth

Thanks for the tip, Gareth. This would indeed make it easy to construct an external MW antenna. Thank you for the tip!

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Guest Post: Review of the Electronic Specialty Products – Model DD-103 Universal Digital Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Butterfield, who shares the following guest post:


Review of the Electronic Specialty Products – Model DD-103 Universal Digital Dial

by Bob Butterfield

I recently brought out of storage my Yaesu FRG-7 Communications Receiver to use “in the shack” once again.  I have always regarded the FRG-7 as a capable receiver but just did not have space as my radios co-exist with part of my daughter’s over-flowing stuffed animal collection–among other things.  After a couple of dozen members of the plush collection were relocated, I now had room for another receiver!  I checked the FRG-7 out carefully and found everything was functioning well, except for a modification I made decades ago which was the installation of a 100 kHz crystal calibrator kit inside the receiver.

I am the original owner of this FRG-7 which is an early production unit (the one without the small fine tuning knob).  I had always desired an external digital frequency display for this radio and thought now is the time.  I did some research, visited various radio forums, and decided on purchasing an Electronic Specialty Products (ESP), Model DD-103 Universal Digital Dial.  This unit is not cheap, US$140, plus $15 shipping, but seemed to fit my needs.  If technically inclined, one could possibly build an external display for themselves at lower cost.  What may be of interest to many concerning the DD-103 unit is that it comes pre-programmed for dozens of transceivers and receivers (to include the FRG-7).  Plus, if your radio is not pre-programmed it can be set up manually.

The DD-103 is an attractive compact external unit measuring 2”H x 6”W x 4”D with a very easy to read backlighted LCD (white on blue).  The unit comes with connecting cables, U.S.-type power supply, and instruction manual.  In my opinion, despite its size, this is one solid and well-built unit.  As per the ESP web site, new units are not stocked but are assembled upon order.  After ordering I immediately emailed ESP with my receiver make and model (I would recommend this for all buyers).  My unit arrived in a little over two weeks and I received a separate sheet accompanying the unit with specific instructions for my receiver.  Hook up was a breeze.  All that was needed was to set a few DIP switches, connect one lead to the indicated test point on the identified board, and the other lead to chassis ground (alligator clip leads are provided).  The connection to the display is made with the included RCA cable.  I made one simple installation modification, installing a RCA female/RCA female bulkhead connector on the rear panel of the FRG-7 to allow for quick disconnect.

The DD-103 display is programmed into 1 MHz increments.  To operate, you select the MHz range you want (for example 9 MHz) on the DD-103.  On the FRG-7, I then tune its pre-selector and the same desired MHz range, and finally tune in the frequency and watch the DD-103 display change accordingly.  The operational design of the DD-103 fits nicely with the Barlow-Wadley circuit design of the FRG-7.

A key feature of the DD-103 display is that it reads the entire frequency (e.g., 9.940.1 MHz) so you always know where you are with just one look.  In addition to AM mode the DD-103 can be further programmed for CW, LSB, and USB modes, as well as 10 Hz or 100 Hz resolution.  As stated in the unit’s manual, it can also be calibrated on each frequency range so as to correct IF amplifiers that are a little off or errors associated with aging receiver crystals, if applicable.

It is nice to have my FRG-7 up and running again and utilizing the new external numeric frequency readout.  Truthfully, I have been reminded just how good the FRG-7 is.  Though it does not have as many features, it holds its own when put up against my other classic receivers (JRC NRD-545, JRC NRD-535D, and ICOM R-75).

I must say I am quite happy with the Electronic Specialty Products DD-103.  The unit has good accuracy and stability as it utilizes a TCXO reference oscillator.  If I had to nit-pick about anything, I would likely point out that the on/off switch is on the back of the unit.  If your radio is in a confined space this possibly could cause operational issues for you.  Also realize that for the most part this unit is kind of a “one size fits all” package and it would not surprise me if certain receivers or transceivers might require lengthening of the connecting cable.  All in all this professional looking unit is a simple to use, simple to install, easy to read, designed well, and I think worth the cost.  For anyone else who is thinking about adding a digital frequency readout to a vintage radio, you may want to give this model due consideration.

Bob Butterfield

Photo of my FRG-7 with the DD-103 on top:

Web site for Electronic Specialty Products: http://www.electronicspecialtyproducts.com/dd103.html

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any manner in regards to this unsolicited review and purchased the DD-103 unit with my own funds.

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Frans experiments with the MFJ-1026 Noise Canceling Signal Enhancer

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Frans Goddijn, who writes:

“Last week I purchased the MFJ-1026 ‘noise canceling signal enhancer’ and I posted two blogs with video about it. Initially the device seemed as useless as it is good looking but then I found a configuration where the device is not only pleasant to have but also useful for radio listening.”

Here are Frans’ reports which he kindly shares from these two posts originally published on his blog, Kostverlorenvaart:

Part 1: MFJ-1026 deluxe noise canceling signal enhancer

Using a GRAHN antenna, (a VENHORST wire antenna for noise reference), the iCOM R8600 radio and optional bhi DSP audio noise canceling, trying to see what’s the best way to cancel noise — on the antenna entry point of the radio or at the speaker output end.

In this case the MFJ-1026 seems ineffective. The DSP at the audio output end works well and easy.

I have also tried two GRAHN antennas on the MFJ-1026, one for MAIN and one for AUX but that was also not noticeably effective yet.

I will also try the little whip antenna that MFJ supplied with the box. Further tweaking may turn out to be helpful on some other frequencies / signals.

Before installing the MFJ i used the little TECSUN H-501x to scan the room for any devices producing radio noise. It turned out that the two Apple Homepods sit in a dense cloud of radio noise, the Macbook Pro also radiates noise, EVE smart plugs controlling lights also produce radio noise, two little label printers s well and the HP printer/scanner too. So I moved those to the other end of the toom or to another room. Continue reading

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Egil is pleased with his new Belka-DX and Tecsun ICR-100 cases

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Egil (LA2PJ), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

In the middle of march, Steve Allen (KZ4TN) posted this article showing a case for the BELKA-DX.

I found his idea so good that I ordered two of the small boxes, using the Amazon link given in his article.

The boxes arrived here in Norway just twelve days after ordering, and was delivered to my door by a local transporter.

Never before have I experienced that kind of service on any purchase via Amazon!

 

Tecsun ICR-100

While packing the BELKA-DX in one of the boxes, I discovered that my Tecsun ICR-100 speaker/audio recorder fit snugly in the other box. The two boxes also contains a six meters long wire antenna, charging cables for both units, earphones, and even an USB charger, just in case I get the opportunity to recharge the batteries.

Belka-DX and accessories

The attached pictures show my new setup. Two items are not shown in that picture: a wire antenna plus a 20Ah powerbank from Anderson. We are going to an off grid cabin for the Easter holidays, and hope that when leaving home with everything fully charged, the powerbank will keep this setup plus my smartphone happy for a whole week.

73s Egil – LA2PJ

Thank you so much for sharing this, Egil!  It’s absolutely amazing that the shipping service to Norway was so efficient. 

I think you’ll have no problem at all enjoying hours upon hours of DXing with the Belka-DX in your off-grid cabin.  No doubt you’ll be escaping the RFI and enjoying much lower noise floors while on vacation–this will give you an opportunity to truly take advantage of the Belka-DX receiver. You’ll have to report back with your experience and photos (hint, hint!).

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A case for the Belka-DX and cautionary tale!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steve Allen (KZ4TN), who shares the following guest post:


My Belka-DX: A Cautionary Tale

One of the most amazing SW radios I have ever owned and listened to is the Belka-DX. Its size to performance ratio is without equal, IMHO.

Late last year I dropped it on the floor and was emotionally traumatized when I picked it up and found the LCD to be broken (see photo above). It still received but most of the display was damaged and not readable. I tried to open it up with the intent of replacing the LCD myself (if I could source one) but I could not figure out how to remove the circuit board.

I contacted Boris at MobiMax in Bulgaria from whom I purchased the little squirrel. It took a few weeks of back and forth as he worked to get pricing for the replacement LCD. Eventually he had a very reasonable quote put together and I mailed the Belka-DX off to Bulgaria. Now the wait began. It took almost four weeks for it to finally arrive at MobiMax. Boris had the repair turned around in about a week and I made payment via PayPal. Just like before it took about four weeks transit time and I worried that it would disappear somewhere on the way.

It arrived safe and sound and I am very glad to have it back. I’ve been missing my bedtime SWLing.

So…moving forward I will now always store the radio in a hard case. After digging around in my box of assorted cases I found nothing that was the right size.

After twenty minutes on Amazon I found a hard case that was originally for a small point and shoot digital camera. It was a bit larger than the Belka-DX and it also had room for earbuds, the charging cable and power adaptor, and a small wire antenna.

I glued some foam in the case to hold the radio in place and it’s now nice and snug.

Click here to check out the case on Amazonm.com (affiliate link).

Now I can safely carry it in my daypack or other travel luggage without fear of damage.

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Frank finds a Sony ICF-SW7600G/GR replacement antenna

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

Thomas,

I have asked for and received help from your members a couple of times during the last year. I am sending this to you in an effort to “give something back” to your members.

I managed to stupidly break the built-in whip antenna on my Sony 7600GR and looked for a replacement. Several are on eBay for 5- 60 dollars which is a bit steep.

I eventually tried one (for $20) in the link below from eBay:

https://ebay.us/OpHEeP

It arrived very quickly (under 2 weeks from China) and it simply went into the radio with no problems and it works very well.

I am not a radio HAM or electronics expert so it may not be perfect but to me the reception is at least as good as the original.

If anyone needs one, it would be well worth trying.

Regards,

Frank from England

Thanks so much for sharing this useful tip, Frank!

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The new Stampfl MWS-1 Standing Wave Barrier

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Markku (VA3MK), who notes that Swiss manufacturer Stampfl has introduced the MWS-1 Standing Wave Barrier.

Stampfl notes (translated from German):

A standing wave barrier can improve reception. The standing wave barrier interrupts the ground loop and suppresses the interference caused by the cable shield.

This is designed only to work with receivers (not transmitters) between 0.15 – 30 MHz.

I suppose this might be a form of an RF choke, although I’m sure someone else might know better.

Thank you for the tip, Markku!

Click here to check out the MWS-1 at Stampfl.

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