Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and producer, Peter Atkinson, who shares the following review of the new Sangean PR-D17 AM/FM radio:
Sangean PR-D17 review
by Peter Atkinson
I’ve been visually impaired all my life and a radio enthusiast for over 40 years. I was intrigued when I learned that Sangean was offering a radio for the visually impaired. I purchased one, and wanted to share my thoughts about the Sangean PR-D17 from the perspective of a visually impaired listener.
For those readers who are mainly interested in the performance of this radio, please stay tuned, while I talk a moment about the features geared to the visually impaired.
First of all: the manual, [see photo above] while it is comprehensive (as most from Sangean are), it is odd that it’s printed in the smallest type I’ve seen from this manufacturer.
The yellow controls on a black radio are easily seen. I like that the preset buttons on the bottom row of the front panel, are in Braille. The raised symbols, however, on the upper row, may be too complicated to be easily discerned by touch alone. The yellow-on-black motif, is reminiscent of my Sangean HDR-16.
When the 6 C batteries are first inserted, or AC power is connected, the radio announces that it has entered the setup menu. The voice prompt menus (whose volume can be adjusted independently of the radios’ main volume but cannot be disabled) make setting up this radio somewhat straightforward. The setup might have been easier, if the clock setting function was available as part of the menu system. The voice prompts are surprisingly comprehensive. The voice not only speaks the frequency, time & menu options, but will also tell you when something is connected to (or disconnected from) the AC input, headphone or AUX-IN jacks.
When the radio is turned on, it announces that the radio is on, the battery level & the frequency to which it is tuned.
When tuning, the voice gives the frequency at each change. It’s especially helpful when using the seek function, knowing where the next station was found.
The same information is given when recalling a preset. One quirk of the voice prompt, is that when announcing the time, it speaks full numbers (e.g. “twelve thirty-seven’), but when giving the frequency, each digit is spoken (e.g. “one two three zero” or “nine six point one”).
This radio is the same cabinet as the HDR-16. Aside from the voice prompts, it operates similar to the PR-D5. Therefore, I’m comparing its performance to that model. Like the PR-D5, the AM tuning steps can be set for 9 or 10KHz, but the FM tuning steps are fixed at 100KHz (0.1MHz).
There are 5 presets per band. The display also shows RDS information for any FM station that transmits RDS. The clock can be set from the RDS signal, as well. I’ve found several stations, in my area, that are sending the wrong time.
The sound from the twin 2-1/2” speakers is very balanced. The bass is substantial, but not overpowering. The highs are good for definition, without being too brassy. There are no provisions for customization, though.
There is a 3.5mm AUX-IN jack for connecting an external sound source, such as an MP3 player or smartphone.
While the AM sound is a bit muffled for my taste (the bandwidth cannot be changed) it makes for excellent selectivity. There was no hint of my nearby 50KW 620, on 610 or 630. Like many Sangean radios, the noise floor is very quiet. The long 200mm internal ferrite bar antenna does a superb job at snagging those weak stations. I was able to get a noisy, but readable signal on a 50KW station on 700, at 350 miles, during the day. That one is my benchmark for a great DX machine. The top end of the band is no slouch, either. Another benchmark station (10KW 1690 at 75 miles) came in loud and clear. The long ferrite antenna also helps to better null unwanted signals. This is a greater benefit for nighttime DXing.
The PR-D17’s performance on FM is stellar. It has shown to be very sensitive, pulling in stations as well as my PR-D5 & PR-D9W. I easily hear FMs at 60 miles. The selectivity is also amazing. I can listen to stations on 95.9 & 96.3, with a 6KW station on 96.1 less than 10 blocks from my window. Even though the PR-D17 pulls in those weak stations with ease, it requires a stronger signal to receive stereo.
The RDS is quick to display station information. It starts off by showing the 8-character PS information of the RDS signal, then switches to the scrolling display of the RT segment.
Overall, I am very happy with the Sangean PR-D17. It is a superior radio, now with the added benefit of voice prompts. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the annoyances visually impaired listeners may have with operating a digitally-tuned radio.
It looks like the Sangean PR-D17 is an excellent choice for those radio listeners who would appreciate voice prompts, high contrast controls and tactile keys. I’m also happy to hear you rate AM selectivity as excellent. When radios only have one chosen bandwidth, I’d rather give priority to selectivity than audio fidelity for the purposes of nighttime AM DXing.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marty, who shares the following article by John Schneider in Radio World:
In the early years of AM radio broadcasting, all stations utilized non-directional antennas. Most all of these were wire antennas suspended between towers or buildings. Interference, especially at night, was severe. An interfering signal of 5% or less in signal strength was enough to disrupt reception of the desired station, and if the frequencies of the two stations were slightly separated, there would be a heterodyne beat note. As a result, only a few widely-spaced stations could operate on each of the AM broadcast channels in the entire country at night. This limited the number of stations that could coexist to about 500 nationwide, with many of them sharing time on a single frequency.
As antenna technologies were developed and improved in the early 1930s, a few progressive stations began experimenting with multi-element directional arrays. This approach offered two attractive benefits: 1) It could reduce radiation towards other stations on the same or adjacent frequencies, permitting more stations to share a frequency; and 2) a broadcaster could direct more signal towards the desired coverage area, and away from wasted areas such as open water in the case of coastal stations.
The first known use of a directional antenna was by a pair of stations in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. In 1927, the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce acquired station WGHB and changed the call sign to WFLA. A companion station, WSUN, was operated by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. The two stations shared the frequency of 900 kHz, broadcasting on alternate evenings to promote tourism and business opportunities in their respective communities. In reality, they operated with two station licenses, but there was only one transmitter and one antenna.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following guest post and update from the August 2019 Rockwork DXpedition:
Gary DeBock DXing with Craig Barnes at the Rockwork 4 ocean cliff near Manzanita, Oregon, USA
Once again the largest FSL antenna collection on the planet made its way across the Columbia River bridge during an overnight trip to NW Oregon, finally being deployed at the original Highway 101 plunging cliff turnoff– Rockwork 4. There has been a drastic decrease in the squatter population, so that Craig Barnes and I were able to easily set up all four PVC bases for all-out DU-DXing at the dream site this morning (see photo). Unfortunately Chris Black came down with a health issue at the last minute, and needed to cancel out.
Craig and I had some excellent signals from the regulars (including 531-More FM, 558-Fiji and 1017-Tonga), although it wasn’t quite a stellar morning for rare DX. We were kind of spoiled last year with 1017-Tonga staying a S9 practically throughout the session, but this morning it was “only” at S9 for a few minutes at a time. This meant that as soon as I notified Craig of 1017’s potent status, the signal tended to nosedive. Maybe the cumulative effects of humidity and salt water exposure are beginning to take their toll on the Tongan big gun? 558-Fiji showed up with decent signals for a couple minutes at a time, which meant that Craig got the short end of the stick after I notified him of the potent signal. 531-More FM hit an awesome S9 peak around 1312 (including the usual split-second female ID), making it once again seem totally bizarre that no trace of the 2 kW modern rock station has ever been received at Grayland for the duration. The Rockwork Cliff is typically focused in like a laser on New Zealand, and this was a typical morning!
531 More FM Alexandra, NZ 2 kW Potent S9 modern rock signal from this Rockwork regular, with female “More FM” ID at 19 seconds:
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