Category Archives: How To

The NooElec Balun 1:9 v2

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

Hi Thomas, was about to write you about some infos related to the NooElec balun when found that they now offer a v2 model:

https://www.nooelec.com/store/balun-one-nine-v2-barebones.html

The new balun has the same schematic as the previous one:

But it is slightly bigger, has a better connector for the antenna wires and (according to NooElec) uses a transformer which allows the tiny balun to work more efficiently from 0 to around 70 MHz (check out the charts found in the downloads section of this link).

The transformer used, judging from the pics, is a CoilCraft WB9-1, whose data can be found here:

https://www.coilcraft.com/wb_th.cfm

As I wrote the reason for this was the fact that a friend of mine reported that he used the (v1) balun with a Loop On Ground (LoG) Antenna !

If you look at the schematic (above) you’ll notice that there’s a “jumper” labeled R1 (zero Ohm resistor). That tiny detail is important, see, leaving the balun as is, it will work fine with a longwire, one just connects contact #1 to the antenna and #2 to a counterpoise or ground system and there he goes, BUT there’s another way to use the balun, that is, CUT the “jumper” (ok, resistor) labeled “R1”. If you cut it, the balun will become a 9:1 isolation transformer and with such a modification will work just fine with the KK5JY “LoG”
antenna: http://www.kk5jy.net/LoG/

According to what my friend reported, the balun works just fine, and although probably the ferrite core used in the V1 isn’t up to par with the original one used by KK5JY, the difference isn’t so huge.

Oh, and I also suspect that the modified balun may work fine with the KK5JY simpler passive loop http://www.kk5jy.net/rx-loop/ which may be a nice antenna for restricted spaces!

I think it may be of interest to people not knowing/willing to wind their own baluns, at that point one may just need an enclosure to protect the balun and putting up a receive antenna will be as easy as 1-2-3.

Thank you for sharing this! Readers: Grayhat has been encouraging me to deploy a LoG antenna at my home and I do plan to do so in the coming months. Please comment if you use a LoG similar to the KK5JY model and what your results have been.

Thank you again for the tip, Grayhat!

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Guest Post: Decoding WEFAX using an RSP SDR and SDRuno

Many thanks to SLWing Post contributor, Mike Ladd with SDRplay, who shares the following guest post:


Basics to decoding WEFAX using an RSP and SDRuno

by Mike Ladd

SDR I use:
RSPduo from SDRplay using the Hi-Z input. Any model RSP’s can tune WEFAX transmissions. https://www.sdrplay.com/rspduo/

Antenna I use: Megaloop FX from Bonito. In an Inverted delta loop configuration pointed N/E-S/W. Any good antenna placed outdoors should be fine. It’s all about the SNR, not your S-meter reading. https://www.bonito.net/hamradio/en/mega-loop-fx/

Software:

SDRuno v1.32
SDRuno is an advanced Software Defined Radio application platform which is optimized for use with SDRplay’s range of Radio Spectrum Processing receivers.
https://www.sdrplay.com/downloads/

VBcable (donationware) vPack43
Transfers audio, digitally from one application (SDRuno) to another (Black Cat HF weather Fax) with zero loss.
https://www.vb-audio.com/Cable/

VAC (paid for use) v4.60
Transfers audio, digitally from one application (SDRuno) to another (Black Cat HF weather Fax) with zero loss.
https://vac.muzychenko.net/en/
https://www.sdrplay.com/docs/SDRuno_VAC.pdf

Black Cat HF Weather Fax (paid for use) beta 19
Decodes and produces images from the WEFAX transmissions from the output of SDRuno using a virtual audio cable.

Use the discount link available here
http://blackcatsystems.com/register/black_cat_hf_weather_fax_sdrplay_promo.html
https://www.blackcatsystems.com/software/hf_weather_fax.html

Black Cat Uno UDP
UnoUDP allows you control SDRuno’s VFO frequency from within Black Cat HF Weather Fax scheduler. This is done over a virtual com port pair using a virtual com port emulator. http://blackcatsystems.com/download/UnoUDP.zip

VSPE or COM0COM
VSPE is a paid for use app. COM0COM is completely free. Either one of these applications will work. A virtual com port emulator allows you to create a virtual com port. The pair will internally link Black Cat Weather Fax decoder to SDRuno’s using UnoUDP as the transport protocol.

VSPE http://www.eterlogic.com/Products.VSPE.html
https://www.sdrplay.com/docs/SDRuno_VSPE.pdf

COM0COM http://com0com.sourceforge.net/
https://youtu.be/dZg7puQ9Ajk

Introduction:

(some text taken and edited from various website)

This document is not a definitive guide to the WEFAX protocol, the process of decoding WEFAX images or reading a synoptic weather chart https://youtu.be/kzfNSvQREu8. This is only a collection of information that I have found scatter throughout the internet and re-compiled into a document, this document. Expect typographical mistakes, inaccuracies, or omissions.

WEFAX is an analog mode for transmitting monochrome images. It was the predecessor to slow-scan television (SSTV). Prior to the advent of the commercial telephone line “fax” machine, it was known, more traditionally, by the term “radio facsimile”.

Facsimile machines were used in the 1950s to transmit weather charts across the United States via land-lines first and then internationally via HF radio. Radio transmission of weather charts provides an enormous amount of flexibility to marine and aviation users for they now have the latest weather information and forecasts at their fingertips to use in the planning of voyages.

Radio fax relies on facsimile technology where printed information is scanned line by line and encoded into an electrical signal which can then be transmitted via physical line or radio waves to remote locations. Since the amount of information transmitted per unit time is directly proportional to the bandwidth available, then the speed at which a weather chart can be transmitted will vary depending on the quality of the media used for the transmission.

Radio fax data is available from the web on sites such as the ones hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). https://tgftp.nws.noaa.gov/fax/marine.shtml Radio fax transmissions are also broadcasted by NOAA from multiple sites in the country at regular daily schedules https://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/rfax.pdf. Radio weather fax transmissions are particularly useful to shipping, where there are limited facilities for accessing the Internet.

Black Cat HF Weather Fax is a program that decodes WEFAX (Weatherfax, HF-FAX, Radiofax, and Weather Facsimile) transmissions sent from fixed locations around the globe.

A fax is transmitted line by line, typically at a rate of 120 lines per minute, or half a second per line. For example, to send a weather chart, you would start in the upper left corner. You would send the value of that pixel (dot), black, white, or perhaps a shade of gray. Then you would move over one pixel to the right, and send that pixel, and so on, until you reach the edge of the chart. Then you’d move all the way back to the left edge, and move down slightly, one line, and repeat the process.

Each pixel is converted into a certain audio frequency or tone. By convention, a tone of 1500 Hz represents black, 2300 Hz represents white, and frequencies in-between represent shades of gray. So if you listen to a fax transmission, you’ll hear the different tones as each pixel is present. For example, listen to a chart with mostly white background being sent. You’ll hear mostly the high pitch 2300 Hz, and some lower (1500 Hz) blips as each black pixel is sent. When a horizontal line is sent, you’ll hear a long half second burst of 1500 Hz, since the line is all black.

The transmitting station frequency modulates the carrier. That is, when a black pixel is transmitted, the carrier shifts down 400 Hz. When a white pixel is transmitted, the carrier shifts up 400 Hz. For a medium gray pixel, it stays on the assigned frequency. This is how most fax transmissions are made. Since we’re tuning it in SSB, it sounds to us as if the station is transmitting a variable frequency audio tone. The two processes are identical. This accounts for the confusion regarding what frequency to tune the radio to in order to properly decode the fax transmission. Different stations list their frequency in different ways. It is important to remember that a black pixel produces a 1500 Hz tone, and a white pixel produces a 2300 Hz tone within the AUX SP.

The setup works as follows. SDRuno demodulates the received signal. The demodulated audio is piped from SDRuno using virtual audio cable and sends it to the HF weather fax decoder. HF weather fax decoder receives this audio from the virtual audio cable that was demodulated from SDRuno and processes it, producing a picture on the screen

HF weather fax decoder can also set the VFO (tune) frequency of the RSP in SDRuno. This is done over the virtual com port pair using the UnoUDP application as the transport.

SDRuno can internally emulate a Kenwood TS-480, UnoUDP sends the Kenwood TS-480 serial commands via UDP over the virtual com port pair in order to set the frequency selected from the HF Weather Fax Scheduler option over to SDRuno.

You will need to install and configure the following applications.

1: A virtual audio cable.

2: A virtual com port emulator (If you would like HF Weather fax to communicate with SDRuno).

3: UnoUDP (If you would like HF Weather fax to communicate with SDRuno using the virtual serial emulator).

4: HF Weather Fax.

5: A simple wire antenna placed outdoors.

Virtual Audio Cable:

A virtual audio cable allows you to pipe the audio from one application (SDRuno) into another application (a decoder like HF Weather Fax) digitally. I will assume SDRuno is already installed with your device attached and functioning properly.

You can now download a virtual audio cable package.  If you already have a virtual audio cable package installed, you can skip to the next section. If you don’t have a virtual audio cable application installed, you only need to choose one and install only one of the two that are available.

Close any running apps, install the virtual audio cable and reboot your computer. When your computer boots to your desktop, your computer will now have a virtual audio cable pair installed on the system.

You can verify it the installation by going to your Control Panel and double clicking the Sound icon. VB-Cable and Virtual Audio Cable will only install a single virtual audio cable pair, one is for the input (Recording) and one is for the output (Playback). A single pair is all that is needed (as shown below).

Virtual Serial Port:

A virtual com port emulator is only needed if you would like Black Cat HF Fax decoder the ability to tune the station in SDRuno when you double click a station name in the HF Fax Decoder scheduler.

Please use the links provided (additional PDF’s and YouTube videos) on Page 2 of this document for an installation / configuration walkthrough.

You can download my WEFAX frequency bank for use in SDRuno below should you choose not to use a virtual com port emulator. https://signalsacrossthepond.com/download/mike-kd2kog-sdrplay-complete/

Download Black Cat HF Weather Fax and UnoUDP:

Download the latest HF Weather Fax beta package and the UnoUDP application from the link provided on Page 2 of this document. I suggest making one main folder called HFfax and two subfolders within HFfax for each of the applications. One folder is for the HF Weather Fax Decoder and the other folder is for the UNO UDP transport application.

Double click the HF Weather Fax beta ZIP file you downloaded and extract the full contents of this ZIP into the folder you created on your local drive. Right click the “Black Cat Weather Fax” EXE file and send a shortcut to your Desktop.

Double click the UnoUDP zip file you downloaded and extract the full contents of this ZIP into the folder you created on your local drive. Right click the “UnoUDP” EXE file and send a shortcut to your Desktop.

You should have two shortcuts on your desktop, One for the decoder and one for the transport app.

Black Cat UnoUDP:

HF Weather Fax needs a way to communicate with SDRuno, this is done via UnoUDP and the virtual com port emulator.

Launch UnoUDP with the above configuration. Set your UDP Receive port to 58084 and your UDP send port to 58083. UnoUDP must be left running in the background, this will control SDRuno. You can minimize the application or right click the shortcut and have UnoUDP auto minizine on launch.

You should see a Firewall popup prompt asking permission to allow UnoUDP to pass data within the system. You must allow this traffic to pass or external control of SDRuno will not be possible from the HF Weather Fax decoder scheduler.

Assign 1 of the 2 com ports from the virtual com port emulator to UnoUDP (the 2nd com port will be assigned to SDRuno).  My com port pair is Com 1 and Com 2, SDRuno uses Com1 and UnoUDP uses Com 2.

Black Cat HF Weather Fax:

HF Weather Fax needs to be configured in order to communicate with UnoUDP, this is done via the UDP settings. Click “Edit” and “Preferences” Set the UDP Send port to 58084 and the UDP Receive port to 58083.

You should see a Firewall popup prompt asking permission for HF Weather Fax to pass data within your system. You must allow UDP traffic to pass or external control of SDRuno will not be possible from the HF Weather Fax decoder scheduler.

SDRuno:

SDRuno needs its Output assigned to the Virtual Audio Cable. The output can be changed via the RX CONTROL panel, clicking the SETT. button on the top left and clicking the OUT tab.

SDRuno needs a com port assigned so it can be externally controlled. The serial port is assigned via the RX CONTROL panel, clicking the SETT. button on the top left and clicking the CAT tab.

I recommend running the RSP in LOW-IF mode, this is selected via the MAIN panel. This reduces the need to track separation between the Tuned frequency and LO (local oscillator) https://youtu.be/Fsns4P3JxrM

LOW-IF mode also minizines the LO being placed outside of the desired preselect filter of the device in use, Remember the preselect filter is automatically enabled based on the LO frequency https://youtu.be/w-vkiVp7Q4E

I also recommend leaving the IF AGC enabled and placing the RF GAIN as high as possible without causing an ADC OVERLOAD warning within the MAIN panel. If an ADC OVERLOAD warning appears, back the RF GAIN down.

https://www.sdrplay.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Gain_and_AGC_in_SDRuno.pdf

Your first WEFAX decode (Using UnoUDP)

Launch UnoUDP and minimize it.

Launch Black Cat HF Weather FAX.

Launch SDRuno. Set the mode to USB and the filter width to 2.8k
HF weather fax will not set the mode or filter width at this time.

Click the Sked button in Black Systems HF Weather Fax. A current WEFAX transmission schedule will appear. Stations listed in White are either scheduled to transmit or about to transmit based on your computers clock. Stations show in Grey at the bottom of the list are currently off the air or not transmitting.

In the Freq Offset: box enter -1.9 and hit enter (Reason for this is on Page 5).

Click any of the stations listed in the Fax Transmission Schedule and it will automatically tune SDRuno to the correct frequency.

Black Cat HF Weather Fax folder will have a file named “Black Cat HF Weather Fax Docs” Please view this file to understand some of the advanced features available.

Your first decode (Without UnoUDP)

Launch Black Cat HF Weather FAX.

Launch SDRuno.

Navigate to the Memory Panel (MAIN panel and click the MEM PAN button)

Right click the Memory panel and select “Open bank”. Navigate you C drive telling SDRuno the location of WEFAX.s1b

Double click any of the frequencies shown within the WEFAX bank and SDRuno will set the correct mode and tune that station.  My WEFAX.s1b file defaults to the Hi-Z port. If your device lacks a HI-Z input, navigate to the port section within the memory panel, double click the stations port you want to edit and change it to the correct port that’s available or in use for your device. Right click the memory panel and “Save bank” to save the changes.

To use my SDRuno WEFAX frequency bank properly. The MCTR button must be enabled within the RX CONTROL panel, enabling this option allows you to double click and tune a station that is stored within the WEFAX bank. Make sure the LO is not locked in the MAIN panel (LO LOCK).

If a decoded WEFAX image looks blocky or skewed or possibly pixeled, I recommend that the lock output fractional resampler option is enabled in SDRuno. You can enable this from the RX CONTROL panel, clicking the SETT. button on the top left and clicking the OUT tab.

I hope this document helped guide you in getting started with decoding WEFAX transmissions from around the world. I am sure I missed some key features, remember this is only a primer/basics to decoding WEFAX. I do have an accompanying video located here

https://youtu.be/vAYGVimzNX8

Warmest of 73,
Mike-KD2KOG

Disclaimers

SDRPlay modules use a Mirics chipset and software. The information supplied hereunder is provided to you by SDRPlay under license from Mirics. Mirics hereby grants you a perpetual, worldwide, royalty free license to use the information herein for the purpose of designing software that utilizes SDRPlay modules, under the following conditions:

There are no express or implied copyright licenses granted hereunder to design or fabricate any integrated circuits or integrated circuits based on the information in this document. Mirics reserves the right to make changes without further notice to any of its products. Mirics makes no warranty, representation or guarantee regarding the suitability of its products for any particular purpose, nor does Mirics assume any liability arising out of the application or use of any product or circuit, and specifically disclaims any and all liability, including without limitation consequential or incidental damages. Typical parameters that may be provided in Mirics data sheets and/or specifications can and do vary in different applications and actual performance may vary over time. All operating parameters must be validated for each customer application by the buyer’s technical experts. SDRPlay and Mirics products are not designed, intended, or authorized for use as components in systems intended for surgical implant into the body, or other applications intended to support or sustain life, or for any other application in which the failure of the Mirics product could create a situation where personal injury or death may occur. Should Buyer purchase or use SDRPlay or Mirics products for any such unintended or unauthorized application, Buyer shall indemnify and hold both SDRPlay and Mirics and their officers, employees, subsidiaries, affiliates, and distributors harmless against all claims, costs, damages, and expenses, and reasonable attorney fees arising out of, directly or indirectly, any claim of personal injury or death associated with such unintended or unauthorized use, even if such claim alleges that either SDRPlay or Mirics were negligent regarding the design or manufacture of the part. Mirics FlexiRFTM, Mirics FlexiTVTM and MiricsTM are trademarks of Mirics .

SDRPlay is the trading name of SDRPlay Limited a company registered in England # 09035244.

Mirics is the trading name of Mirics Limited a company registered in England # 05046393


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Free download: A Tecsun PL-880 hidden features booklet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, S. Thomas Bradley, who shares the following:

I just upgraded my receiver from my trusty old FRG-7 (I bought it new back in the 70’s) to a Tecsun PL-880. For my own benefit I have gathered together all of the PL-880 hidden features I could find on the web and put them into a booklet which I then printed out for easy reference and put a copy with the PL880 Operators Manual.

I don’t know if anyone else would be interested in this, but I thought I would share, so attached is a pdf copy.

Click here to download the PL-880 hidden features booklet.

Very well done!  Thanks for sharing your quick reference guide. I’ll also add a link to our PL-880 Hidden Features page.


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More advice on avoiding scams

In response to Paolo’s recent post regarding Internet scams, SWLing Post contributor, 13dka replies:

Sellers should be aware too: the same scammers have various schemes to scam sellers as well, and these fake ads play a role in those too, IIRC one popular variant is that the scammers try to buy your item, and offer the same thing on another platform in a different country, then they give their buyer your bank data to let them pay for your item, which gives them the advantage that they don’t even need a bank account to scam you. At the end the scammers have your item, the other buyer reverses the payment because he didn’t get anything.

Anyway, of course the same type of scams can be found with any article on the various “classifieds” platforms, also including eBay and Amazon’s “Marketplace” – RVs, cars, cellphones, computers, anything rare, collectible and/or vintage, pricey and sometimes even more common and cheaper things.

I noticed a serious wave of fake ads for guitars and other music gear on the German “eBay Kleinanzeigen” platform this year. One day I noticed several offers for vintage Gibson guitars usually sold in the $6,000-$10,000 range, each offered around 2,000, of course with pictures and article descriptions stolen from ended eBay auctions and US shops. It wasn’t only the price that wasn’t right, the descriptions being obviously translated from English was quite a dead giveaway. A few days later I found new offers like this and this went on and on, making me curious how many of those might be published every day.

To understand this properly, you need to consider that these “classifieds” are usually searched for local offers people can pick up personally, particularly with musical instruments that people often want to see, touch and try before buying. If I found that many fake offers just in my state, how many of those might show up in the entire country? In short, the amount of fake ads I found on a random sample basis (its impossible to survey the entire thing) was devastating. Even worse, I found that this extended to much less obvious, relatively low-priced current production instruments, also offered at prices that were only “attractive” or “very fair” and not obviously alarming.

A common denominator with all of these scams is indeed the stolen pictures from ended auctions and shops, and original article descriptions translated. You need a bit of “Google-Fu” to retrieve the origins of those and it takes a bit of common sense to distinguish fake offers and offers where the seller was just too lazy to take pics,. However, digging as deep as I could I found out that this musical instrument scamming goes on for at least 12 years now and there are so obvious similarities in the communication between sellers and buyers and shipping addresses that I think it’s the same scammers doing this successfully for that long time. The authorities are apparently over challenged and powerless due to the international character of the scam. Mind you, I checked only this one area of expertise I have and the result was alarming. The dark figure of scam attempts and actually scammed people might be incredibly high if I extrapolate this to all kinds of items.

If you want to stay on the safe side, just don’t try to buy stuff you can’t pick up yourself (or where the seller tries to avoid this by claiming he’s currently in some other country), don’t fall for surprisingly low prices offered by Amazon Marketplace dealers outside of your own country (like the brand new Icom 7300s offered for 599€ a while ago), on everything eBay/Kijiji/Gumtree/whatever try to check the seller’s reputation thoroughly so you don’t fall for 100% reputation scores gained from selling used baby clothing before the account was hacked and used to sell pricy things. If you have the faintest feeling of doubt, just let the deal pass. If you haven’t thoroughly read up on eBay scams et al, keep buying your stuff at local stores.

Thank you for sharing! All very sound advice. As for performing a little “Google-Fu” to find the source of an image, check out this tutorial on Google reverse image searches. Read the entire article as it describes doing this from tablets, phones and PCs. In addition to asking the seller to photograph something specific and unique on the item (like asking them to tune it to a specific frequency or to write their callsign on a card and include it with the item) I also perform a reverse image search anytime I’m purchasing from someone I don’t know.


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Mike’s tips for decoding SW Radiogram broadcasts

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike (KA3JJZ), who writes:

Have you ever heard of the SW Radiogram digital broadcasts? These are produced by Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott and started way back when as the VoA Radiogram. They are now carried on 2 other stations (WRMI and WINB) on a schedule (check every week for a summary of images) that you can find on the SW Radiogram website;

https://swradiogram.net/

These tests consist of both text and images. Currently MFSK32 and 64 have been used, and an occasional ‘secret’ mode has been slipped in at the end of the transmission. The last time this was done, the mode was PSK125R.

You might ask how you can receive these broadcasts, and what you need to decode them. We have 2 wiki articles that go into great detail – one for PCs, and one for Android devices – here;

https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Decoding_the_SW_Radiogram_Broadcasts

https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Decoding_the_SW_Radiogram_Broadcasts_with_TIVAR

Yes, you can copy these broadcasts using an Android powered phone or tablet using an application called TIVAR. John VK2ETA has written a quick start guide which is available on the SourceForge website as well as the RadioReference wiki (the links are provided in the article)

These articles are written for folks who are just getting their feet wet, so the above articles touch on radios (no, you don’t need to use an expensive radio, though many do), antennas, propagation and more. The most popular software is FLDigi, but if you happen to have MultiPSK or DM780 (part of Ham Radio Deluxe), they can be used as well. Links are given for the software and any available support.

Along with Tumblr, SW Radiogram has both a Facebook and Twitter page (where members often post decoded images) here…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/567099476753304/

https://twitter.com/swradiogram

Thank you, Mike! Yes, I’m a big fan of the SW Radiogram–the community that has formed around this particular shortwave program is quite amazing. Thanks for all of the tips!

Click here to view the SW Radiogram website.

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Guest Post: Paolo’s Tips For Avoiding Internet Scams

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paolo Viappiani (SWL I1-11437), who shares the following guest post:


Some Tips For Avoiding Internet Scams

by Paolo Viappiani – SWL I1-11437

pviappiani@tin.it

Recently, I have been amazed by the growing number of frauds that foul up the radio market on the Internet (I was scammed too), so I decided to write a post in order to help anyone who is interested in buying anything on the web.

First, it’s worth saying that most scam attempts involve high-quality items that are offered at surprisingly low prices. One of the most significant examples involves some rare (and discontinued) high-end radios by National Panasonic, typically the RF-8000 and RF-9000 models. In this post, I make an example of the RF-8000, but scams also concern radios of other brands..

Generally speaking, a number of advertisements on the most known advertising/classifieds sites (Quoka.de and ebay-kleinanzeigen.de in Germany, Subito.it, Kijiji and AAAnnunci.it in Italy, Le Bon Coin in France, ComoFicho in Spain, etc.) are mirrors for larks only, and we have to pay a great attention in order not to be scammed.

But… how can we recognize a scam?

The most common scams use the following techniques:

  1. The scammer advertises a very rare radio in like-new condition at an unbelievably low price. The buyer does not want to miss the bargain, so he contacts the seller and promptly transfers the money to him without further ado, but after that he waits in vain for the delivery of his item.
  2. High quality radios offered very cheap. If you contact the seller, the item is suddenly abroad. The alleged seller then proposes to handle the purchase through a “trust company”. The radio should be paid for in advance and the amount sent via cash transfer, but after that you never hear anything from the seller again.
  3. Alternatively, the buyer is requested to to deposit the money to the eBay company account to get the product. But the account is fake (really eBay has no “COMPANY ACCOUNT” and never handles private transactions–!), so the buyer loses his money and receives nothing in return.

Please also notice that often the fraudulent sellers offer a free period for evaluating the item, saying that  if you do not like the device, you can send it back. Please don’t fall into this trap, it is only one of the means the scammers use to entice you to purchase, but it is not true at all!

In the following section I’ll recount some examples of real scams concerning the National Panasonic RF-8000 and RF-9000 radios (but, as I already mentioned, the scams involve many other radios and also high-quality electronic or electro-acoustic devices).

One of the most prevalent (and very dangerous) scams concerning the RF-8000 radio is (was) perpetrated by a Portuguese seller who offered (for about 2.300 Euro on the AAAnnunci.it and Quoka.de websites) a very nice appearing radio, look at the photos below.

Really a radio in like-new conditions, uh?

But it is just a trap: most of the Panasonic RF-8000 radios have the leather covers on all sides cracked like crocodile skin (look at the image below); only a very few units still have the covers in pristine condition and for sure they cannot be found at cheap prices!

Incidentally, all the pictures used by that scammer (including the two shown in the first two pictures above) were stolen from an old eBay advertisement of October 2018 and that wonderful appearing RF-8000 was sold to a radio collector in China for about $ 5,000 USD.

But the same images also recently appeared on some European advertisement websites (in Italy and in Germany too); if you ask for info, you’ll be contacted soon by a seller from Portugal who offers to handle the purchase through a “trust company” of his confidence, named TrafCargo (beware of this, it is a convincing but fake website!).

Then, the seller requests that the amount for the radio and its shipping costs be sent via a bank wire transfer to the fake transportation company.

After that you never hear anything from the seller again.

Very similar scams are also found in various advertisement/classified websites (Quoka.de, ComoFicho.com etc.), look at the images below as examples. If such items are offered cheap, it is for sure a scam:

A similar attempt of fraud is commonly perpetrated by other people, including a female seller from Spain. As you might suspect, she offers something that looks like a real bargain, but it’s only a scam. After you have asked for info on the product, you receive a message in which it is specified that the item is located abroad and you are asked to deposit money to a fake “eBay” account (note that eBay does not accept any payment outside their site!).

In order to be more persuasive, often the scammer attaches a copy of his/her passport of other identity documentation in order to appear as a serious seller–please do not trust them however!

Also, beware of the fake “eBay invoice” that sometimes the scammers send, and for anything that involves eBay, contact the eBay helpdesk, ask for specific info and report them the fraud eventually.

In the following section you’ll find some useful advice on recognizing scams and making secure and safe purchases on the Internet:

  1. Always beware whenever the item is in a place (or a country) different from the one that was specified in the advertisement; also there is a valid reason for suspicion when the name or the address of the advertiser does not match the seller’s ones;
  2. Do not completely trust the pictures sent by the seller (they could be stolen from the Internet) and don’t forget to proceed to a “Google Image” search in order to find the sources of similar ones;
  3. Always ask the seller for some specific pictures or videos (radio precisely tuned on various frequencies and/or modes) and do not accept any runarounds about it (“you can try the radio for some days”, etc.); normally the scammers do not have the items they offer at hand, so they are not able to satisfy your precise requests.
  4. Never pay for the item in advance by rechargeable cards like Western Union or other non-secure ways of payment. Also the Bank Transfer (Wire Transfer) is not a secure form of payment in order to avoid frauds;
  5. Always ask the seller for payment by PayPal “Goods and Services” (NOT “Send money to friends”). If you choose Goods and Services, your purchase will be fully covered by the PayPal warranty.

And, in the case that you are a victim of a scam anyway, please always report the incident to the Police or the Judiciary of your Country, and don’t forget to also warn the site where the announcement was found.

Following the above advice should be sufficient to avoid any scam. So, good luck on your future web purchases!


This is excellent advice, Paolo. Thank you for sharing your experience!

One of my favorite bits of advice above–and one I use anytime I make a significant purchase via a classifieds website–is to ask the seller for specific photos or a video of the item. As you say, they don’t typically have the item on hand, so can’t comply and will make up excuses. That’s a major red flag!

Another red flag? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Trust your instincts and avoid the hassle and headache.

Post readers: Please share any other advice you have about avoiding radio scams. Have you ever been the victim of a scam? How did it play out? Please comment!


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Radio World: Construct an EAS Receive Loop Antenna

The completed antenna, showing the F-connector on the tee box. (Source: Radio World)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares the following antenna construction article from Radio World:

Ken Beckwith is a field engineer with EMF based in Nebraska. Being a hands-on engineer, Ken has done his share of construction over the years. One of his projects was the construction of an octagonal-shaped AM loop EAS antenna using PVC pipe.

[…]The antenna has a broad coverage angle with a deep null when the antenna is broadside to the signal. Aim the “edge” of the loop toward the AM station you want to receive. The strongest signal will be received when the antenna end or edge is pointing to the signal source. The antenna can be mounted on a mast with U-bolts, hose clamps or whatever else works.

Here’s the construction parts list:

A 10-foot length of 3/4-inch diameter, schedule 40 PVC conduit cut into the following lengths:

2 – 4-inch
1 – 2-inch
1 – 2-1/4-inch
2 – 2-1/8-inch
6 – 9-1/2-inch
1 – 23-1/4-inch

Whatever is left over can be discarded, but before making your cuts, cut the flared end off, so all cuts are even.

1 –  3/4-inch 90 degree elbow
2 – 3/4-inch tee
8 – 3/4-inch 45 degree elbows
1 – 3/4-inch cap
1 – 3/4-inch tee box, plastic, with weatherproof gasket
1 – 7-foot piece of Belden 8777 or other three-pair shielded cable
3 – 7-foot single-pair shielded cables can substitute for Belden 8777
PVC primer and cement
Wire nuts or other connectors
1 – 3/8-inch ring terminal
F connector barrel with nut

[…]

Click here to read the article which contains step-by-step instructions.

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