Category Archives: AM

Dan’s in-depth review of the new Raddy RF-919 shortwave portable radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following review:

[Note that all Amazon and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support the SWLing Post.]


Raddy RF-919 Receiver: Best Portable in Years – Held Back Only By Soft Muting While Tuning

by Dan Robinson

It’s quite extraordinary that in these days of reduced use of shortwave some manufacturers continue to develop portable receivers for the worldwide community of radio listeners.  We have the Choyong LC90, which for the first time attempted to combine HF, MW, FM and Internet radio (still a work in progress). And now out of nowhere comes the Raddy RF919.

Like many receiver enthusiasts, I was excited when I saw the first photos and videos of the 919, by Shenzhen Hanrongda in China.  The company has an amazing number of portables in its lineup–in addition to the 919 there are the:  RF320, RF760, RF747, RF75A, and RF750 along with various hand crank emergency sets.  The RF919 under the Raddy label also sells as the Retekess TR113 (which can be seen on its Amazon page).

It is interesting that the RF919 (TR113) appeared on the market just as the Choyong receiver continues to experience growing pains, but obviously both had been in the planning stages for some time.  One of the strengths is its very decent SSB performance, though see my comments below about one of the issues with the RF919.

The number of reviews of the 919 by YouTube influencers is rapidly increasing as the radios get into the hands of more users.  For the purposes of this commentary I won’t go into every single feature other than to observe the high points.  And here’s a headline – from a software standpoint this is a very complex radio with a steep learning curve requiring regular looks at the manual.  But enough use brings familiarity with the many features it offers:

Displays

The RF919 has two superb displays:  a main information center under which there are buttons for activating various functions and options, and a second beautiful signal level screen that has a lot of information on its own, under which there are four buttons for TIME SET, ALARM, DISPLAY, and SLEEP.   These displays are probably the best we have ever seen in a portable, offering 7 colors selectable from the front panel!  The Eton Elite Satellit (no longer made) offered a few colors on its display but it was nothing like this.  Raddy publicity materials focus on this:

“Unlike other radios, you can choose and set your favorite backlight color to match your style or mood, all while staying updated with a clear 3.54-inch main screen that shows reception status. It’s not just a radio; it’s an extension of your personality.”

Body Design

The 919 is quite a throwback to such classic receivers as the SONY ICF-5900W and other “military style” portables from decades ago – one user noted the similarity to the old National Cougar 877.

The 919 has a solid, confident, body with a space at the top rear that functions as a hand grip.  On top are two jacks for a LOOP ANTENNA, and a mobile WHIP style antenna with an OFF/ON rotary switch.  That switch is awfully close to the LOOP jack.  On the back is a 3.5 mm antenna jack with a three position slider control for specific tuning ranges.  The backstand is basically the same type found on the Tecsun H-501.  One wishes that there would have been a rubber friction grip placed on it and that it had some additional tension to allow it to hold the radio up in other degree positions.

Antenna

The telescopic whip antenna is impressive – robust, and notably designed to work while the radio is positioned on a desk using its backstand, something that the Choyong LC90’s antenna is not able to do.

I will note that the whip antenna cannot be extended up and out of the radio cabinet which limits it to a single angle when the radio is used with the backstand – placement of the 919 left carrying strap hook on top left is the limiting factor here. 

Again the 919 telescopic design is a contrast to the LC90 which both lacks a backstand, and flexibility in the antenna.

A major headline is the manual antenna tuning feature on the RF919. Utilizing the rear antenna jack and switch with MW, SW 1, and SW 2 options, along with the side adjust knob, the user can fine-tune signal strength, with the secondary screen providing real-time viewing of signal strength changes.  On top of the radio, there is a mini jack input next to an ON/OFF switch that, according to the instruction card explanation, enables selection of the LOOP (they call it “ring”) position.  Wow.  The last time we saw this kind of peaking capability on a portable was the SONY ICF-2001 back in the late 1970’s and perhaps the Grundig Satellit 700.  Hats off to Raddy for this design!

Controls

The RF919 has a large central concentric tuning outside “shuttle” knob for fast tuning, and a smaller center knob for fine tuning – the center shuttle doubles as a selector with a push function.  I am not a fan of encoders that rock back and forth as the outside concentric ring does.  At least one user remarked that this feels flimsy.  Time will tell whether these hold up in daily use.  The keyboard, which is nicely backlit, appears to be quite good.  Frequency entry is accomplished by hitting ENT, then the frequency, then ENT again.  You can enter in MHz or kHz.  There are buttons for VOLUME UP/DOWN, and for TUNE/NEXT, TUNE/PREVIOUS.

One curious thing:  if you’re tuning to 22 MHz you can just hit 22 and ENT.  But you can’t do that at 23 MHz and above – you have to enter 23.000 and ENT.  If you don’t, you get 2.300 MHz.  At least that is what I notice on my 919 – perhaps Raddy will be able to clarify why this is so.  Another point on controls: the MW/SW1/SW2 switch on the back of the radio is very flimsy and should be improved by Raddy.

Audio

The huge front-firing speaker on the 919 produces superb audio in all tuning ranges.  Rated at 20 watts, it rivals the wonderful audio of the Choyong LC90 and combined with the 10 position EQUALIZER makes the 919 even more attractive for someone purchasing it for this level of sound production not to mention a receiver that tunes from LW all the way up to 999 MHz.

Fire up the BLUETOOTH on the 919 and you can not only use it as a speaker linked with your phone, but it will play tracks from the microSD.

ATS/Memories

We have all become accustomed to the convenience of ATS, from the excellent performance on Tecsun radios, and the 919 falls right in line.  A scan conducted on FM here in Maryland stored 23 stations and I found sensitivity to be excellent. 

Though noise levels were still high from the recent solar activity, a scan on HF yielded a number of stations.  It did take quite a long time to complete ATS on shortwave – about 15 minutes, so one hopes this could be improved in future firmware versions.  And there is this:  when scanning with ATS, the 919 scans the entire HF range rather than just bands.  In comparison, ATS on a Tecsun S-8800 takes about 3 minutes, and includes only the main SW bands. 

I am not yet sure if the 919 can be made to scan this way, but if not it’s something Raddy should consider.  Both displays remain on during ATS.  This avoids the need to mess with the display functions while scans are ongoing.

Presets

There are 1600 memory channels on this radio!   Once stations are memorized, they can be accessed by hitting the PRESET button on the lower right edge of the main shuttle dials and using the TUNE/NEXT and TUNE/PREV buttons on the keyboard.  Note that when going from one present to another the first thing that appears on the display is the CHANNEL number, followed by the frequency.  That seems logical but it prevents the user from seeing first exactly what frequency has been memorized without having to wait for the display to shift to the frequency itself.

Bandwidths

The 919 provides bandwidth options not only on shortwave, varying depending on whether one is using AM or LSB/USB, but also in FM – a truly great feature for a portable, and something seen on Malahit SDRs.  Bandwidth clarity in SSB is excellent.  Maximum bandwidth in AM mode is 6 kHz, similar to portables by Tecsun, with 4 kHz the maximum in SSB.  Some users have observed that they would like an 8 kHz AM filter position.

Manual

An extensive manual goes over all of the controls, modes, etc. – the drawback here is that the printing is so small as to make reading it impossible, so better to download the manual in pdf form from the Raddy website and print it out.  A bonus is that a three page card guide comes with the radio showing the circuit design and tips for manual antenna tuning and the antenna switching on the back.  A very thoughtful addition to the package!

Battery

The 919 continues the trend of radios using 18650 batteries, familiar to professional flashlight users and also seen in Tecsun and other receivers.  It takes not one, but two 18650s like the Tecsun H-501.  I recommend purchasing a good quality multi-bay battery charger in addition to the ability to charge the radio directly on its USB-C port.  Keep in mind that using these radios while charging will create noise, so don’t expect to have the best reception doing it that way.

Recording Capability

Wow!  After years of seeing radios with a microSD slot but no recording function, Raddy has gone ahead and done it. You can record any audio to the card and play it.  Seems like we could have seen this feature years ago from receiver manufacturers, but we didn’t.  Thank you Raddy!  That said, I have not yet been able to get recording to work on my unit, using a 64 GB microSD (see below).

Reception Performance

I am very impressed so far with the 919.  Sensitivity on HF and AIR appears to be excellent.  MW reception is good as well and can be further improved using the antenna tuning feature and the ability to use a loop antenna connected to the receiver.  FM reception appears to be quite good.  On long wave I was able to hear beacons at levels equal to what I hear on some premium communications receivers.

One observation:  when using the RF919 inside my home here in Maryland, I noted what appeared to be some break-in on shortwave from AM or FM signals.  I am still investigating this and will report later.

There are many more details to discuss for the RF919.  But I need to talk about what I would call the elephant in the room on a relatively short list of CONS, but this is a big one and a bit of a disappointment.  The 919 suffers from the issue that is so familiar to us from other portables:  MUTING WHILE TUNING.  See my video discussing this at:

This is more noticeable when in 1 kHz and 10 Hz increments, and at times of the day when signals are less strong, and seems to be a bit better in the evening when signals improve.  But it is there nonetheless.

It’s not the worst soft muting I have ever heard on a portable. It’s certainly survivable.  But for those of us who value what I call a continuous listening experience, even the slight muting experienced on the 919 is annoying.  It may well be that this can be improved with a firmware update – it’s unclear though whether firmware can be updated via the microSD if new versions were made available on the Raddy website. 

Ironically, what soft muting on any receiver does is make the receiver more useful for those of us who over decades of shortwave listening have memorized multiple SW frequencies – using the 919 I prefer to use the keypad to go directly to a frequency rather than put up with the frustrating experience of using the two shuttle knobs specifically because of the soft muting problem.

I should note that there is a harshness one hears from this radio when using the shuttle dials to tune – what I would describe as AGC crashes when going from frequency to frequency.  This is nothing new for DSP radios, though some do a better job than others, such as the Tecsun PL-990 and 501 and Data/Sihuadon D-808.  It’s clear that when a manufacturer decides to build a radio around these chips, such as the Si4735, there is very little that can be done to smooth out how the chip handles AGC, though I do not claim to be an expert in this area.

Zero Beat Variations

The other issue I observed on the unit sent to me is also familiar – in SSB, the radio isn’t calibrated well enough, so zero beat in LSB or USB vary quite a bit off the actual tuned frequency.  While we don’t usually expect DSP portables to be exactly on frequency, this can be annoying as well since in an ideal world we don’t want to have to off-tune from a known frequency of a broadcaster, or amateur operator, to achieve clarity.  Tecsun provided a recalibration feature on its portables that enables the user to adjust zero beat.  One wishes that other manufacturers would do the same – if the 919 were to have this it would be a welcome addition.

Other Issues

Though the 919 manual states that the receiver accepts up to 256 GB microSD, my first attempt to get a 64 GB card did not succeed.  The card is correctly formatted so I am at a loss to determine why this is.  Obtaining the Radio-C app was also an adventure – it comes up as an APK file which then installs.  Two Bluetooth connections appear, but understanding the process is complicated.  I was finally able to get the app working with the radio and continue to experiment with the flexibilities it provides.

Overall, the app provides some great controls over the radio, but the fact that it does not appear on Google Play and has to be downloaded via a QR code may give some users pause.  Additionally, temperature appears to display only in Celsius – something I am sure will be corrected in future firmware updates.  Also, on the phone app, pressing CB brings the radio to 25 MHz rather than the CB range.  When initiating a scan inside one of the SW bands, the scan does not stop at the top of that band.  And there does not appear, based on my first tests, to be a way to control SQUELCH from the phone app.  Hitting V-UHF on the app screen brings the radio to 20,000 kHz.  So, there need to be refinements to the app to clear things up.

Conclusion

So, here’s my summary of the RF919:

Swooping down on us out of the blue, this is an extraordinary entry into the portable category, taking us by surprise with its thoughtful design, seemingly high quality construction, and features that set it apart from other radios on the market today. 

Whoever designed the 919 surely had to have some significant experience as a listener because the features included in the receiver move it straight to the top of the list of portable receivers available in 2024.

Comparing the 919 with a receiver such as the Sangean ATS-909X2 there really is no contest.  Where coverage is concerned, the 919 blows Tecsun and Sangean offerings out of the water – on this receiver you can listen from LW all the way up to 999 mHz, along with AIR band, weather frequencies, public service, and CB (though as observed by users there is no FM mode reception for CB).

I have not been impressed by other Hanrongda (labeled Raddy/Retekess) offerings.  At one point I tried a 747 only to be thoroughly disappointed with its hard-to-see display, terrible SSB, and thin telescopic antenna along with laborious thumb wheel tuning.  I was cautious when I saw initial videos of the RF919.  But this receiver truly is a major step forward for a portable:  superb displays, wide coverage, excellent SSB (aside from the zero beat/calibration issue), wonderful audio, bluetooth capability and phone app control, microSD recording capability – all of these add up to one hell of a radio.

In response to my initial comments on the soft muting and calibration issues, Raddy responded:

“We would like to thank you for bringing two important concerns to our attention: muting during tuning and frequency accuracy. Please rest assured that we are actively discussing these issues with our technical team to gain further insights and potential solutions. We value your input and will keep you updated on any progress made.”

At a price of $269 as this is being written, the RF919 could be a 5 star radio were it not for the aforementioned issues of soft muting while tuning and calibration variation.  We can only hope that the designers can address these issues with future firmware updates and possibly make updating something we can do after purchase.  The 919 website by the way also offers antennas for the 919 including the Radioddity RD-771 which is described as an upgrade of the popular Nagoya NA-771, and the Radioddity RD-371 “Tri-band” antenna for 144-220-440 mHz.

As of this writing I am not aware of any reviews of the Retekess version of the 919, the TR113, but have to assume that there are no differences.  It will be interesting to see how firmware updates occur and again, one would hope that this will be a simple process of being able to download the updates from Raddy/Retekess and be installed on the radio.  But so far, there is no sign of this so clarifications from the manufacturer would be appreciated.

It is amazing that in 2024 we still have ANY radios coming to market as advanced as the RF919.  This is a receiver that obviously was influenced in design by someone who knows their stuff and included numerous features such as antenna tuning, decent SSB, and the ability to record content.  It is frustrating that there have been no advances in chip technology that would allow SSB performance that more closely matches what we had in many classic portables of decades past.  But for those who don’t mind things like soft muting while tuning, and can tolerate harsh AGC characteristics of DSP, right now there isn’t anything on the market that matches the RF919 in terms of just wide tuning range and reception tools as well as superb audio.  

As for BUY or DON’T BUY, I would edge toward the former with a caution to perfectionists like myself who would be bothered by muting.

If Raddy can fix that issue, and ensure a calibration process that brings LSB and USB closer to zero beat on frequency, and/or include a recalibration function as Tecsun has on its radios, the RF919 would then be an easy YES recommendation.  Right now it gets a 4.5 from me, but could easily be a 5.0 if those issues are resolved.

Retailers

    • Amazon.com
    • Radioddity (note: using this link will include a $15 discount for you and a commission to the SWLing Post)
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Why AM Radio in EVs Could Cost Billions

Photo by Patrick Langwallner.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following video via the Geerling Engineering YouTube channel:

Description:

The Center for Automotive Research says it would cost the industry $3.8 billion dollars to solve interference problems in EVs to put AM radio in new cars.

It’s a wonder any EVs on the road today have AM radio tuners, then! But they don’t seem to happy with new legislation, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. We dive into this spat between the radio industry, automotive manufacturers, and the US government.

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Announcing the new SDRplay RSPdx-R2 software defined radio!

Many thanks to SWLing Post sponsor and supporter, SDRplay, who shares the following announcement:


SDRplay announces the RSPdx-R2 

SDRplay Limited is announcing the launch of the RSPdx-R2 which is an enhanced version of its highly popular multi antenna port SDR, the RSPdx.

Jon Hudson, SDRplay Sales and Marketing Director said “Global supply chain support issues have prompted some  redesign of existing products to ensure continued supply for our UK manufacturing partners. With each new member  of the RSP family, SDRplay tries to include improvements. This has given us the opportunity to offer performance  enhancements at the same time as assuring supply”.

The RSPdx-R2 provides up to 10MHz spectrum visibility anywhere from 1kHZ to 2GHz with no gaps. It features:

  • Improvements to the RSPdx for MF frequencies and below:
  • Improved noise performance below 1MHz
  • Improved dynamic range below 2MHz both in tuner mode and HDR mode
  • 3 Software selectable inputs, including a BNC input for up to 200MHz
  • A 500kHz LPF for LF/VLF
  • HDR mode for enhanced performance under 2MHz
  • Notch filters on all inputs
  • A rugged steel case

More details on https://www.sdrplay.com/rspdxR2/ 

The suggested retail price is £188.00 GBP (excluding VAT), $235.00 USD (excluding tax) or €225.60 EUR (excluding tax).

SDRplay recently launched their free multiplatform SDRconnect software which as well as running on Windows, will  also run on MacOS and Linux/Raspberry Pi. As with their SDRuno windows software, the emphasis is on “plug and  play” making the SDRplay receivers an easy-to-use and low-cost way to discover (or rediscover) the radio hobby for  anyone who already uses a computer.

The UK manufactured RSP family of SDR receivers are available directly from SDRplay Ltd. or from authorised resellers  worldwide. More details on https://www.sdrplay.com/purchasehome/ 

For more information visit the SDRplay website on www.sdrplay.com

About SDRplay:

SDRplay limited is a registered UK company, with registered offices in the UK and Ireland. UK: SDRplay Limited, 21 Lenten Street, ALTON, Hampshire, GU34 1HG, UK, Registered Number: 09035244 Ireland: The Black Church, St Mary’s Place, Co. Dublin, D07 P4AX, Ireland, Registered Number: 3591295EH Correspondence Address: PO Box 1180, Princes Risborough, HP22 9TD, United Kingdom

Video

Click here to view on YouTube.

Data Sheet

Click here to download the RSPdx-R2 Data Sheet. (PDF)

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Radio Waves: HEBA Antenna Approval, Eclipse Time Signal Shift, A Novice’s Guide to Amateur Radio Astronomy, and Voyager 1 Sending Data Again!

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Alan, Dan, and Rich Cuff for the following tips:


WQVR(AM) Is Granted CP to Use HEBA Antenna at Night (Radio World)

Developer believes antenna’s smaller footprint can help reduce property needed for AM operators

The FCC in March granted an application for a construction permit filed by WQVR(AM) 940 in Webster, Mass., requesting licensed nighttime operation.

This is noteworthy because WQVR has been licensed to operate during daytime hours with a High-Efficiency Broadband Antenna or HEBA, developed by Worldwide Antenna Systems. [Continue reading…]

Global ‘time signals’ subtly shifted as the total solar eclipse reshaped Earth’s upper atmosphere, new data shows (Live Science)

During the historic April 8 total solar eclipse, a government radio station in Colorado started sending out slightly shifted “time signals” to millions of people across the globe as the moon’s shadow altered the upper layers of our atmosphere. However, these altered signals did not actually change the time. [Continue reading…]

Nathan Butts: A Novice’s Guide to Radio Astronomy (YouTube)

NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Engineering Updates to Earth (NASA JPL)

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA

After some inventive sleuthing, the mission team can — for the first time in five months — check the health and status of the most distant human-made object in existence.

For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars).

Voyager 1 stopped sending readable science and engineering data back to Earth on Nov. 14, 2023, even though mission controllers could tell the spacecraft was still receiving their commands and otherwise operating normally. In March, the Voyager engineering team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed that the issue was tied to one of the spacecraft’s three onboard computers, called the flight data subsystem (FDS). The FDS is responsible for packaging the science and engineering data before it’s sent to Earth.

The team discovered that a single chip responsible for storing a portion of the FDS memory — including some of the FDS computer’s software code — isn’t working. The loss of that code rendered the science and engineering data unusable. Unable to repair the chip, the team decided to place the affected code elsewhere in the FDS memory. But no single location is large enough to hold the section of code in its entirety.

So they devised a plan to divide the affected code into sections and store those sections in different places in the FDS. To make this plan work, they also needed to adjust those code sections to ensure, for example, that they all still function as a whole. Any references to the location of that code in other parts of the FDS memory needed to be updated as well.

The team started by singling out the code responsible for packaging the spacecraft’s engineering data. They sent it to its new location in the FDS memory on April 18. A radio signal takes about 22 ½ hours to reach Voyager 1, which is over 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and another 22 ½ hours for a signal to come back to Earth. When the mission flight team heard back from the spacecraft on April 20, they saw that the modification worked: For the first time in five months, they have been able to check the health and status of the spacecraft.

During the coming weeks, the team will relocate and adjust the other affected portions of the FDS software. These include the portions that will start returning science data.

Voyager 2 continues to operate normally. Launched over 46 years ago, the twin Voyager spacecraft are the longest-running and most distant spacecraft in history. Before the start of their interstellar exploration, both probes flew by Saturn and Jupiter, and Voyager 2 flew by Uranus and Neptune.

Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.


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Raddy RE40 Emergency Radio

By Robert Gulley (Guest Post)

The Raddy RE40 is another portable shortwave radio offering from Radioddity, but with a twist – it is intended to be an emergency radio first, and a listening-for-pleasure radio second. In this review I will cover the emergency options incorporated into the unit, as well as discuss operability and its overall functionality as a radio.

As always when I do a radio review, I will point out what I believe are the radio’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as where this might fit in your radio arsenal. The usual disclaimer applies for any product I review – I tell it like it is, good or bad. While the radio was provided to me without cost by Radioddity, that does not affect my opinions one iota. With that out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the rig!

As we have come to expect from other Raddy portables, this has a lot of features packed into a relatively small package. I say “relatively small” because it is thicker than many vertical portables, and heavier. This is a solid bit of kit, and the size and weight are the first clue that this radio is not just intended to sit on a coffee table. It is definitely designed to work outdoors, as well as finding a place in the car or boat for when you need to check on the weather, or be out in it.

Specifications

    • Frequency Range: FM: 87-108MHz, AM: 520-1710KHz, SW: 5.7-17.9MHz, WB: 162.400-162.550MHz
    • Bluetooth: Version 5.0
    • Card Type: MP3/WAV/FLAC/APE
    • White Noise: 7 different natural sounds
    • Max. Capacity of Micro SD Card: 256GB (not included)
    • Size: 81x52x132mm / 3.2x2x5.2in
    • Weight: Approximately 350g / 0.77lb
    • Operating Voltage: 2.7V-4.2V
    • LED Light: 1W/120LM
    • Max. Power: About 5W
    • Speaker: 4? 5W
    • LED Flashlight: 1W/120LM
    • Battery Capacity: 4000mAh / 3.7V (non-replaceable)
    • Operating Temperature Range: -10? to 60??14°F to 140°F?

What’s in the box?

    • 1 x RE40 Radio
    • 1 x Type-C Cable
    • 1 x Wrist1 x User Manual

Power Options

This radio can be powered by an internal battery charged by a USB-C port, solar powered to charge the battery, or by a hand crank. Here is the manual description of the emergency power options:

A. Solar Charging

  1. Put the solar panel directly towards sunlight. When the green charging indicator lights on, it indicates that the solar panels charging the internal battery.
  2. The charging efficiency depends on the solar exposure: the stronger the sunlight, the better the charging effect.

B. Hand Crank Charging

  1. Turn the hand crank clockwise or anti-clockwise and the green charging indicator will light up to indicate that it is
  2. Speaker has no sound: Hand crank at 130-150 rpm for 1 minute, the flashlight can be used for more than 30+ minutes or play the radio (medium volume) for 3

NOTES:

  1. The hand crank can be turned for 3-5 minutes before using the product to activate the internal battery.
  2. The hand crank is normally used in emergency situations when the power is out.

Solar Panel

The radio has a compass built into the volume control knob on top, a flashlight, analog tuning dial, and switches for moving between playback modes (Radio, Bluetooth, and media) and desired operations (SOS, Standard battery or solar/crank charging modes, and USB charging). As an aside, the SOS feature is LOUD!

Almost the whole back of the radio is devoted to the solar cell. This is much larger than other solar cells on portable radios that I own, and presumably will recharge the internal battery faster. There is a rubber flap over the headphone, USB and memory card jacks/slots.

The unit has another interesting feature: you can charge your phone or other USB device from the standard USB slot under the flap. To use this feature the mode switch on the back of the radio has to be in the right-hand position under the charging symbol. When set to charge another device all other functions are disabled, so if you turn your radio on and can’t get anything to work, you might just have pushed the button over to the right accidentally, or intentionally the last time you used the radio.

Radio Performance

I’ll not spend a lot of time here, not because the radio performance is poor, but because as I have already noted, that is not the primary focus of this radio. There are plenty of portable radios by Radioddity and others which have better performance. However, I found the FM reception to be exceptional for a radio in this class, and AM radio reception to be reasonably acceptable for a radio with a lot going on inside. I did not test the AM radio reception with one of my loop enhancement units, mainly because I am not looking to use this as a regular radio receiver. This is going in my car for emergency/safety issues, and to grab when I am having a picnic lunch or the like.

Shortwave reception is on par with other radios of this size, and a pleasant feature is a sturdy telescoping antenna. Unlike several other small Raddy radios which have very fragile antennas, this one is much more solid.

Weather band reception is decent, but not quite as good as other radios I have tested. I can pick up one very strong signal, and a usable/readable second signal, but some other radios I have give me 4 or 5 stations. Of course, as long as you can get one strong signal, it is likely that is the one most important to you in your immediate location. With at least a second station you have the chance to pick up information should the one nearest you experience difficulties.

Sound and White Noise

As for the sound quality, it has a nice large speaker and delivers good sound, and I have found this typical of most all of the Raddy radios I have tested. In addition to the typical sleep timer radio option, this radio features a “white noise” option which allows the user to select between 7 different white noise options for those who prefer to go to sleep that way.

Compass and Flashlight

Pros

  1. Feature-Packed in a small footprint
  2. Loud SOS
  3. Sturdy Antenna
  4. Large Solar Charging Cell
  5. Ability to charge phone
  6. Multiple ways to power radio/flashlight
  7. Strong FM, acceptable AM and Shortwave (no SSB)
  8. Price ($49.99 from Radioddity, $44.99 plus 10% off coupon from Amazon at time of writing. There is also a bundle offer from Amazon which includes an SP4 4W Portable Solar Panel for $59 plus 10% off coupon) [Note that these are affiliate links that support the SWLing Post at no cost to you.]
  9. 18-month(!) warranty

Cons

  1. Weather band not as impressive as some other radios, but hardly a deal-breaker
  2. Analog tuning dial very sensitive (if you have shaky hands this is probably not for you, except perhaps for the emergency functions)
  3. Multi-colored striped analog dial is sometimes hard to read (then again, I need my reading glasses for a lot of things!)

Wrap-up

This little radio packs a lot of punch for the money, adding features similar emergency radios do not have. If you are like me, emergency radios are a necessity given our unstable weather and power grids, and I like knowing I can use solar power to recharge a radio, or crank it when the sun is not available. Some folks expect more power from a hand-crank generator than these small radios produce, but my main goal is to be able to quickly check weather conditions, use the flashlight, or make use of the SOS function if needed. These do not require massive amount of time spent cranking the generator, and to me that is a plus.

I would recommend one for each car or boat, or to take with you on outdoor trips just in case of an emergency. Of course, you could always listen to the ballgame on your front porch, too!

Cheers, Robert K4PKM

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How to DX the 2024 Solar Eclipse!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Hall-Patch, who shares the following article originally published in the IRCA’s DX Monitor:


2024 Solar Eclipse DXing

by William Scott, WE7W

DXing the mediumwaves promises to be an exciting event on April 8 during the 2024 total solar eclipse.    I’ve been mulling over the DX possibilities a lot lately and have come to some conclusions. I think it boils down to three promising DX scenarios:

  • Scenario 1. For those who live within or very near the path of totality (see Figure 1), I believe best chances of DX would be first to listen to your southwest, along the path where totality is approaching. Darkness will already have happened in that direction, and a certain amount of residual de-ionization of the ionosphere will still remain. After the point of totality passes your location, I would swing my attention to the northeast.
  • Scenario 2. For those living within about 800 km (or about 500 miles) of the path of totality I believe best chance would be a perpendicular path across the totality path to a point roughly equidistant on the other side. This puts the signal reflection point right at the center of the totality path, or the deepest point of darkness.
  • Scenario 3. For those living more than about 800 km from the path of totality I believe best chance would be along a line from your receiving site to a perpendicular intersection to the totality path. This should define the greatest shaded path.

I think that scenarios #1 and #2 have the best possibility for DX.

Figure 1 (Click to enlarge)

Across the U.S. and Canada, from its entry at Texas to its exit through NE Canada and into the Atlantic Ocean, the totality path width varies from a maximum of 199 km at U.S. entry to about 160 km at Atlantic exit, or 123 to 99 miles.

Important to keep in mind – skywave signal strength analysis is based almost entirely on the condition of the ionosphere at the reflection point, not at the receiving site. For single hop propagation, normally the reflection point is at the halfway point to the station along the great circle route.    That 800 km distance from the totality center I wouldn’t hold as gospel. I’m throwing that figure out as a point where scenario #2 may start to transition to scenario #3.

Timing is of the essence for DXing. The shadow velocity exceeds 1000 mph, increasing from 1587 miles per hour at Eagle Pass, Texas to 3176 mph at Houlton, Maine. You may have only minutes to DX.     I’ll be in Rochester, NY at the time of totality, and we are right at dead center. I’ll be scenario #1. My plan is to listen to my southwest initially, where totality is approaching. I’ll be listening particularly for WLW-800 in Cincinnati, OH, WHAS-840 in Lexington, KY, and others along or near that path.

Scenario #2 possibly holds the most promise. Calculate your distance to the path center line and look for stations on a direct line across the totality path and at an equal distance on the opposite side of the path from you. One such scenario might be WSB-750, Atlanta to a reception point in northwestern Illinois, central Iowa, or southern Wisconsin or southern Minnesota. Many possibilities on cross-paths exist here. I feel best results would be with a signal path that crosses the path of totality closest to 90 degrees.

A question was raised about the possibility of DX from Spokane, Washington, an extreme distance from the path of totality. That particular scenario would be scenario #3, more than 800 km to the path of totality. Maximum obscurity should be when northeast Texas (let’s say the Dallas area) is experiencing full totality, as the great circle line to the totality path intersects at approximately 90 degrees to the line at that point. This would be at about 1848 UTC. I would listen for any signals along a great circle path between Spokane to anywhere from the Dallas area and northward.     Obviously, Spokane to Dallas is an extremely long one hop path, at about 2450 km. At that distance, the reflection point is near Denver, which will have a solar obscuration of 65.1% at maximum.

A Dallas area reception would be next to impossible I would think, but there are many more stations along that great circle path one could try for. Closer stations will obviously move the reflection point closer and start to reduce the solar obscurity. I did a scan along that path and there are some 340 stations within 200 km either side of the line of the great circle path between Spokane and Dallas.

A presumed Scenario #4.

Another scenario was suggested by Nick Hall-Patch, that of reception parallel to the path of totality and outside the 100% totality band. The 2017 solar eclipse across the northern part of the U.S. was DXed extensively and produced some interesting results, which are well documented in IRCA Reprints.  Check their document repository here:

http://dxer.ca/images/stories/2019/irca-reprint-index.pdf

Nick reports: “The receptions of KSL-1160 described in IRCA Reprint # G-096 showed the results of 3 DXers listening across the path of the eclipse (Scenario #2), but the fourth, Dave Aichelman, was monitoring KSL from a location parallel to the eclipse path ( sort of Scenario #1?) and got very good enhancement as well.”    We might name this “Scenario #4”.

I checked out # G-096, that documents the KSL reception from the solar eclipse of 2017. It looks like the Dave Aichelman (at Grants Pass, OR) reception of KSL had a mid-path reflection point of about 95% solar obscurity. The distance was 971 km (602 miles). Graphing KSL, I see it has a nice fat low angle takeoff and impressive skywave strength at 900 km, some 1.3 mV/m for that distance. (ed. note: A map of fractional solar obscuration is in Figure 2, easily converted to the percentage figures quoted in this article. )

Better yet, the article indicated Aichelman also received XEPE-1700 across the Mexican border from San Diego too. That was a mid-point reflection obscurity of only about 83% as far as I can deduct from the maps. The distance was 1238 km (769 miles). The mid-path reflection point there was in the neighborhood of 700 km from the central path of totality.

So, DX is indeed possible where both the station and the receiver are off center from the totality path. It’s looking like anything from at least 80% obscurity at mid-path reflection may have some real possibilities, particularly if you are at the end nearest the path of totality. Lower obscurities, perhaps down to 50% or so may even produce results.

Check out these links.

https://nationaleclipse.com/cities_partial.html

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEpath/SEpath2001/SE2024Apr08Tpath.html

https://eclipse2024.org/eclipse_cities/statemap.html

Using my pattern mapping program which has extensive area search capability, I’ve compiled a list of all US and Canadian stations that fall within the 2024 Solar Eclipse path of ~100% totality. There are 456 stations. Results are drawn from the March 20 FCC LMS database and Industry Canada database. Sorry I don’t have Mexico available.

If you would like this list, download from this link. https://www.mediafire.com/file/125ih5yrmw4puib/2024-eclipse-stations-by-longitude.zip/file

Across the US and Canada, from its entry at Texas to its exit through NE Canada and into the Atlantic Ocean, the totality path width varies from a maximum of 199 km at US entry to about 160 km at the Atlantic exit off Newfoundland, or 123 to 99 miles.   456 stations are found in this eclipse path. I purposely set the path width to 210 km from start to finish. This gives a few km slop on both sides of the 100% totality path for good measure.

Unzip the downloaded .ZIP file, where you will find 3 files. The stations in each file are sorted by longitude, from west to east. This gives us the progression of the eclipse path, with the eclipse starting at the first station in the list and ending with the last station.

File #1 is a simple text file.

File #2 is in .CSV format. You can easily input it to an Excel file.

File #3 is in .HTML format. It includes links to each station’s Google Map latitude-longitude coordinates for the satellite view of the transmitter tower array.

Another link takes you to the FCC AM Query link for that station.  I hope these files are beneficial. There should be many propagation path possibilities outside of this list as well.

(reprinted from the author’s blog at https://radio-timetraveller.blogspot.com/ )

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Further sources of information concerning the eclipse include the following websites:

http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2024_GoogleMapFull.html?Lat=43.66400&Lng=-76.13690&Elv=88.0&Zoom=6&LC=1

(Clicking anywhere on this map page will give all the information you need about obscuration, length of eclipse etc.at a given location).  Also:

https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/april-8-2024

https://eclipsewise.com/2024/2024.html

Animations of the path of the eclipse versus time can be seen at:

https://eclipsewise.com/solar/SEanim400/2024_04_08_TSE_400px.gif

http://7dxr.com/4all/100km8Apr-movie–Frissell-HamSCI.mp4

The latter is particularly interesting, as it shows the moon’s shadow at 100km height above the earth, an area of special interest to DXers, as it is the lower edge of the E-region of the ionosphere.  Note especially that as the eclipse ends over the North Atlantic Ocean, that there is a temporary darkness path between Europe and North America, because night will already have fallen in Europe.  So will there be blips of TA DX in eastern North America as the eclipse passes by?   Listen, and find out!

Finally, our DX could be of interest to ionospheric physicists also.   The rapidly changing listening conditions will be indicating a similarly turbulent ionosphere, and DXers’ documenting those listening conditions through SDR recordings could provide information that will be useful to scientists who want to gain a better understanding of the Earth’s ionospheric dynamics.

HamSCI is an organization of volunteer citizen-scientists and professional researchers who study upper atmospheric and space physics, and will be interested in examining MW DXers’ wideband SDR recordings made during the eclipse period, and indeed, in having DXers assist with HamSCI’s research. (see https://hamsci.org/eclipse.  Especially if you are an amateur radio operator, there are several other ways that you might also contribute to the project.)

(This first appeared in IRCA’s DX Monitor and is used with permission.   See https://www.ircaonline.org/default.php for club details)

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