Category Archives: Mediumwave

Guest Post: Martin Butera visits Radio Guarujá in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Martin Butera for the following guest post:


Photo: Martin Butera at the entrance of Guaruja Radio AM 1,550 kHz. The house, where Radio Guaruja is located in the Pitangueiras area, Santa Rosa neighborhood, in Guaruja, Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is easily recognised by the huge self-supporting medium wave antenna mast.

Radio Guarujá Paulista AM/FM and Ex tropical waves

AM: 1.550 KHZ/FM: 104,5 (ex-101,7) MHZ
ex Ondas Tropicales: 3,385 kHz – 90 Mts, 5,940 kHz – 49 Mts.
Guarujá, São Paulo – Brazil

Report and research by: Martín Butera

Photographs and Video (under study) by: Ligia Katze

Sudipta Ghose (VU2UT) for adaptation to English and corrections.

Guarujá is a municipality in the state Brazilian of San Pablo, located at a latitude of 23º 59 ’18 “South and longitude of 46º 14′ 32” West.

“Guarujá” is a term of Tupi origin that for some people means “bird master” or “bird chief”.


Table of contents

1. Introduction and brief history of Radio Guaruja

2. Interview with Orivaldo Rampazo (Director of Station Hisory)

3. Interview with Erminio Matos (coordinator of journalism and coordination of the broadcaster in general).

4. In the Short Waves of Guaruja Paulista

5. Study and Technical Control

6. Recording Studio

7. Field of Antennas

8. Final conclusions

9. Acknowledgments

10. Author’s review.


1. Brief Introduction to the History of Radio Guaruja

ZYK 590 (AM)

Radio Guarujá Paulista began broadcasting in the city, according to the data provided by ANATEL (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações – Brazil), between the mid and late 1940s.
Currently the studios and transmitter plant is located in the area of Pitangueiras, a Santa Rosa neighborhood, duly assigned and domiciled in the street, José Vaz Porto, number 175.

The AM service, which operates at 1,550 kHz, covers several frequencies: medium waves, short waves and tropical waves. In shortwave, it operate at 5045 kHz and 3385 kHz.
It was the only radio station of “Baixada Santista” that does broadcast in short waves. The programming on these frequencies are the same as in the medium wave (AM).

Guarujá Radio during all these years witnessed historical moments of the city (political, social, sports) and has beyond the commercial aspect, an invaluable value for the population.

Radio Guarujá AM reached the pinnacle of the audience support. The numbers are impressive. Approximately 40% of the inhabitants of “Baixada Santista” tuned their radios on to Radio Guarujá AM.

FM ZYD 815 (FM)

Guarujá Paulista Radio also has commercial facilities in the neighbouring city of Santos, Sao Paulo, where it operates a station on frequency modulation mode (FM). The FM operations began on the 101.7 MHz, in the mid-1970s, with studios located in Praça da República, in the Santos Center.

At the end of 1987, there was an agreement between a group of businessmen from an Osasco station in Sao Paulo, called Alpha FM, which operated on the frequency of 104.5 MHz. Radio Guarujá, which transmitted on 101.7 MHz, reached an agreement and exchanged between  the frequencies, that way both could significantly increase their coverage area.

With the change in frequency Radio Guarujá FM, came close to the position of the other radio stations on the radio dial which the listeners tuned in regularly: Tribune (105.5 MHz) and Culture (106.7 MHz). In turn, the Osasco station (Alpha FM), would be closer, on the dial vis-à-vis the traditional stations of São Paulo, such as Jovem Pan (100.9) and Transamérica (100.1). The two radios signed into such agreement.

This change in frequency had the much desired effect, because after such an arduous task of consolidating the new position on the radio dial, Radio Guarujá FM has, since 1996, considered as the benchmark of IBOPE (Brazilian Institute of Public and Statistical Opinion), the first place in audience in all Santos.

The “other” Guarujá AM

There is another Guarujá radio station in Florianopolis, a city in southern Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina, established in 1942 and broadcasts its programme on a frequency of 1420 kHz.

The choice of the name was a curious case, at that time as the inhabitants of the city could only tune in to two radio stations. They were: National Radio of Rio de Janeiro and Radio Atlantica, from the city of Santos.

On Radio Atlantica, complimentary messages to the beaches of Guarujá were common, as were comments on the elegance and opulence of their regular listeners. Thus, in Florianopolis, at that time, Guarujá became synonymous with elegant and luxurious things.

The name became fashionable and that way the station, was baptised with the name of “Guarujá”.


2. Interview with Orivaldo Rampazo

After several phone calls, e-mails and follow-ups, I finally managed to schedule a meeting with Orivaldo Rampazo.

It was an interview of only a few minutes, but of great importance. It was not difficult for me to read his mind in that short time to find that Don Orivaldo is truly passionate about radio.

In 1969, Orivaldo Rampazo was invited to take over the management of Radio Guarujá and 5 years later he would become the owner of the station.

Orivaldo Rampazo is a person of great historical importance not only for the Radio Guarujá, but also for the city of Guarujá.

He participated very actively in politics, trying to improve and solve the problems of the inhabitants of the city of Guaruja and he did so without taking up positions.

Photo: Martin Butera at the office of Orivaldo Rampazo.

MB: How did you start in radio?

OR: You see, I started working from a very young age, I worked in a furniture store as a polisher and one day by chance, they sent me to polish some furniture in a radio a station called Clube de Tupa AM 1320 radio.

They started giving me a sort of voice test which I was answering, until someone said, that I had a wonderful voice for radio.

Then I asked what I needed to be an announcer and they told me that I had to know how to read the newspapers very well and exercise my voice and that is how I prepared for the tests and started working as an announcer, going through several stations in Sao Paulo, as an announcer in different areas like information, sports, commercial etc.

At the end of the 60s I proposed to take up the post of manager of Guaruja radio and 5 years later I became its director and here I am since then.

MB: What do you like most: AM, FM or Shortwave broadcasting?

OR: Without a doubt, for me the best of radio is in modulated amplitude, in fact I hardly go to the FM radio as it is in the neighboring city.

MB: However, you are often considered as a supporter for FM?

OR: It was like that in FM, we were the pioneers, the first FM of the “Baixada Santista” was ours, we began to broadcast in 1974, with a small transmitter of 80 W and a single dipole. I dare to even say that we were one of the first FM stations in Sao Paulo.

MB: And how did your relationship with shortwave come into being?

OR: I always love shortwave. I lived in Sao Paolo and as a kid the only way to remain informed was by listening to shortwave radios, both Brazilian and international.

MB: Do you remember what radios you were listening to then?

OR: Of course, I listened a lot to the BBC in London, The Voice of America. I remember when I grew up and was working as a journalist, I learnt about the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on shortwave radio and took the lead in Lins Rádio Clube, an AM station, from the interior of Sao Paulo about 400 kilometers away from the capital.

Of the Brazilian radios, I liked to listen to the radio station Rádio Brasil Central of the city of Goiânia, the capital of the state of Goiás.

MB: Were you also a DXer?

OR: If you really liked the QSL confirmations, I have some very interesting ones. I also participated in several DXcamps of the DX Clube do Brasil. Some of them were very important as one of the Cumprida Island of 2003 (São Paulo, Brazil).

MB: And what was it like having your own shortwave station?

OR: In 2003, I acquired the tropical wave license of the Rádio Clube de Marília, a city in the interior of Sao Paulo, and another city in the interior of Sao Paulo, the Rádio Diffusora of Presidente Prudente, it was a dream come true.

They remained on air for about 5 to 6 years, until for economic reasons and for a little pressure from my home, my family did not think the shortwave operations as something profitable.

I tried to explain to them that one may not have a massive or profitable audience, but those of us who love radio with a capital letter know what the shortwave means.

The short wave is still an exceptionally good radio tool.

MB: Is your radio a family legacy?

OR: I would explain it with a simple word, Guaruja radio is love, the family legacy, five children of mine, the son-in-law and even the grandchildren continue in that.

As this interview ended, I got that word “love”, Orivaldo Rampazo, a radio man who knew how to build his own dream. Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz, a family legacy, that seems to have no end.


2. Interview with Erminio Matos

With a forward-thinking, direct strategy, it’s amazing what Erminio Matos, son-in-law of Orivaldo Rampazzo, achieved in recent years.

The increase in the number of audience and a quantum leap in radio advertising for Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz. Easy task, given to the larger audiences, of the current medium-wave stations.

Erminio Matos, takes care of journalism and coordinates with Simona (daughter of Rampazo Orivaldo), at the current address of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 Khz.

Restless, and having worked in other stations of Guaruja, at the end of the 90s he joined an important station of the great capital Sao Paulo, together with great personalities of the radio of Brazil like: Paulo Lopes, Kaká Siqueira and Eli Corrêa among others.

Since 2009 he is again with Guaruja Radio.

Photo: Erminio Matos, Coordinator of journalism and coordination of the broadcaster in general.

MB: What did it take to work with such important radio figures in Sao Paulo, capital?

EM: For someone from the interior of the country it is always a dream to arrive in Sao Paulo. Without a doubt those people managed to change my mind and thought process as a radio professional. Being always very frank I could understand that I needed to move or change some things.

MB: What things did you change?

EM: For example, here in the downward trend the pace is slower. I had to change my way of thinking and communicating, in Sao Paulo where there are about 12 million people. It is like a country within another country. To be able to perform here one must shoulder greater responsibility. You have to be agile and fast.

MB: Do you now impose that work culture on Radio Guaruja?

EM: Undoubtedly, all that I learned with these radio figures added a lot of value to me. Anyway I don’t allow myself to live in a world of fantasies, now I am aware about the small but great work I do here.

MB: How do you increase the audience?

EM: I have the understanding that the world changes fast. The modern world is trapped in social networks. Today people do not only have radio as “the great means of communication”.

Then using these modern resources with the radio, we set up a television-type computer program and we go out in video format through all the platforms and social networks. The path of radio is that of modernisation, the public is craving for that.

It seems simple and silly, but please think that Guaruja radio is a classic AM station of the “baixada santista”, with 70 years of history. It is not easy to change course.

MB: What did you do to increase advertising?

EM: Although the Internet connects everyone and makes it easier for any business to start their own advertising, people are still giving importance to the brand behind. In this case Radio Guaruja, Is getting duly recognised.

Anyway, it was not an easy task, I had to make the whole radio understand that the listener profile does not exist anymore, here we work for potential consumers, that look had to be transformed and end with the romanticism of the “listener”.

MB: Has programming also changed a lot?

EM: If now the radio is less music and more content, what is the use of making music programming today if the music is on Spotify.

Modernisation does not mean to kill the radio. On the contrary it gave push to the possibility that Orivaldo’s dream will continue to flourish for many more years.

When we understood that the radio must go to a fresh direction, we began to strongly invest in more modern equipment and to hire young people, from whom we can learn the new radio language.

MB: You have almost 40 years of experience in the field, then why change from the original formula that always worked?

EM: it is true I started very early; I am from an artistic era of radio. The movement started with vigour in the decade of the 90s. I did not mind leaving the cassette, to go to the CD and now we are on the mp3 and streaming transmissions.

That is why it was inevitable to change the working formula.

MB: What do you think about technological changes as you see the move of the AM to digital mode?

EM: That move should have been there years ago, without a doubt it will broaden the spectrum of radio consumers even more, but well, unfortunately Brazil is politically late, the migration of AM to digital mode is also late.

MB: Does Guaruja radio listen to other radio stations?

EM: I listen to other things all the time. I am now listening to a radio that has a very creative concept, it is called Wish Radio. It is a station in Philippines!

They broadcast in the format of a reality show and go out in the neighborhoods on a mobile phone and look for talents. The idea seems to me just fabulous.

MB: How do you see the Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz in future?

EM: Radio is content, today everyone discusses everything and radio doesn’t have to be out of that discussion, radio has to prepare for that.

That’s why here in Guaruja radio we are already preparing for that to happen, working with young people, we have a lot to learn from them.

Photo: Martin Butera and Erminio Matos, in the office of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz

Erminio Matos, knew how to interpret the changes in the listeners’ taste vis-à-vis the rate at which the society changes.

The Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 Khz, has a lot in future with the Directors, who understand that sky is the limit !.


4. In the Shortwaves of Guaruja Paulista

In 2003, Radio Guarujá AM acquired the tropical band allocations of Rádio Clube de Marília and Rádio Diffuser of Presidente Prudente. The station signed an agreement with DX Clube do Brasil, which produced the Guarujá Paulista shortwave programs between 2004 and 2007.

The presentation was made by DXCB colleagues Sarmento Campos, Célio Romais, Renato Uliana and Adalberto Azevedo (already deceased), with the participation of the DX Clube do Brasil team. In 2007, Radio Guarujá Paulista joined, for a short period, the Radio Globo System and the program ceased to exist.


5. Studio and Technical Control

The radio station has studio and technical control together in the classic American way, although the announcer is assisted by a technical operator. Without naming brands, we can visualise the following setup:

Studio

The studio is vast so that you can work comfortably. It has a specially designed table, equipped with five condenser microphones and very good ergonomically designed chairs, to work comfortably in a relaxed manner, maintaining good body posture.

The walls and door of the studio are totally isolated from outside noise, with acoustic panels.

Control room

The control room is professional-grade, with all the necessary components to carry out programs.  They have: computers with radio automation software, sound console, several audio processors, monitors, televisions with different information channels.

Video: View of the technical control

Photo: Shift operator and Martin Butera – Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz

Photo: Martin Butera, next to the audio rack of Radio Guaruja 1,550 kHz.

Photo: Rack of processors of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz

Photo: Martin Butera, sitting in the main studio of Radio Guaruja AM 1550 kHz.


6. Recording Studio

Radio Guaruja, has a recording studio that’s ideal for recording, editing and mixing different news, advertising and interviews without the need to occupy the main studio.

Here are details of the equipment that make up the recording studio, without naming brands: a good computer, an excellent DAW (digital audio workstation), program used to record and edit, a very good audio interface, mixing console, two high quality studio microphones, headphones, studio monitors.

Photo: Gateway to the recording studio of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz.

Photo: Microphones, mixing console and other equipments of the recording studio of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz.

Photo: Recording engineer on duty working in the recording studio of Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz.


7. Antenna Field

The AM transmitting plant is on the same site, behind the radio studios.

The antenna is a classic folded monopole over 60 meters high which allows the station to have very good coverage.

On the day of the visit we could not enter the transmitter room.

Photo: Antenna, folded monopole over 60 meters high.

Photo: Radiation alert poster.

Photo: Home alarm (rooster)

Photo: Martin Butera, standing next to the Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz Radio antenna.

Here we can see a brief video of the antenna field:


 

8. Conclusion

I cannot finish this report without congratulating the Rampazzo family. The Guarujá AM 1,550 kHz radio studios are as modern as the major radio stations in São Paulo and even international stations.

Many say that AM radio is becoming extinct, and that is true, perhaps because AM stations haven’t adapted to modern times.

Erminio Matos, knows how to keep Radio Guarujá evolving, bringing news to the air, and insuring this family’s radio legacy will have an excellent future!


9. Thanks 

To the whole Rampazo Family.

Tourism, Municipal Prefeitura de Guarujá – Sao Paulo – Brazil.

To my wife, Ligia Katze (for the photographs).

To my dear friend Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi), in photo editing.

Thanks to the friend and shortwave listener and radio amateur from India, Sudipta Ghose (VU2UT) for his adaptation to English and correction. He is a member of the Indian DX club International http://idxcidxpedition.blogspot.com

To my friend Ivan Dias da Silva Junior, Director of the Regional DX – Sorocaba-Sao Paulo- Brazil, who collaborates in Portuguese translations and publishes this material in the form of a micro book, for the club and directs  https: //ivandias.wordpress.com

To the Colleagues of the DX Club of Brazil (DXCB), Sarmento Campos and Célio Romais https://www.ondascurtas.com/

Finally, my friend Thomas Witherspoon, Director of the SWLing Post, for publishing this exclusive report and collaborating in this way for the world of radio.

Photo: Martin Butera with Orivaldo Rampazo

Photo: Emir Matos and Martin Butera at Radio Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz

Photo: Ligia Katze (wife of Martin Butera), at the Guaruja AM 1,550 kHz radio studios.


10. Author’s review

Martín Butera is a shortwave radio listener and has been an amateur radio operator since 1992. Martin  has participated in DXpeditions throughout South America, with the Argentine radio callsign LU9EFO and the Brazilian callsign PT2ZDX.

Martin is a correspondent journalist from South America for the British DX Club’s magazine, Communication. If you would like to be a member of the Briitish DX Club, you can find information here http://bdxc.org.uk/apply.html

Martin is the founder of CREW called 15 point 61 (15.61), são paulo – Brazil.

Martín Butera is a journalist, documentary filmmaker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina) www.radioatomika.com.ar

He currently lives in Brasilia, capital of Brazil.


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Coastal DXing with the AirSpy HF+ Discovery and a homebrew passive loop antenna

Last week, we packed the car and headed to coast of South Carolina.

The trip was a bit impromptu but through the creative use of hotel points, we scored a two bedroom ocean front unit with a fantastic little balcony.

The vacation gave me an excuse to test the new passive loop antenna my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) helped me build recently.

The loop design came from AirSpy’s engineer and president, Youssef Touil.

This passive mag loop takes advantage of the new AirSpy HF+ Discovery‘s exceptionally high dynamic range. Youssef had reported impressive results, so I had to build one.

Vlado had a length of Wireman Flexi 4XL that was ideal for this project. The only tricky part was penetrating the shielding and dielectric core at the bottom of the loop, then tapping into both sides of the center conductor for the balun connections.  Being Vlado, he used several lengths of heat shrink tubing to make a nice, clean and snag-free design.

The results were truly exceptional. I spent most of my time on mediumwave from the hotel balcony because I was determined to catch a transatlantic signal.

Check out the spectrum display from my Microsoft Surface Go tablet:

Our ocean front hotel was inundated with noise, but I still managed to null out most of it and maximize reception using the passive loop. I simply suspended the loop on the balcony rocking chair–not ideal, but effective and low-profile.

Want to take a test drive?

If you’d like to experience this portable SDR setup, why not tune through one of the spectrum recordings I made?

Click here to download the spectrum file [1.7GB .wav].

The recording was made on November 17, 2019 starting around 01:55 UTC–I chose it at random and have yet to listen to it myself. You’ll need to open this file in AirSpy’s application SDR# or a third party SDR app that can read AirSpy .wav files.

Stay tuned…

I’m writing an in-depth report of the HF+ Discovery, my experiments with this setup and AirSpy’s soon-to-be-released passive loop antenna for the January 2020 issue The Spectrum Monitor magazine. Spoiler alert: I am truly impressed with the wee little AirSpy HF+ Discovery. It’s a powerhouse!


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

FCC proposes allowing AM stations to go all-digital

(Source: Radio Insight)

The FCC approved today the adoption of a rulemaking allowing AM stations to transition to all-digital operation.

Hubbard Radio’s “The Gamut” 820 WWFD Frederick MD has been operating in all digital mode since July 16, 2018 in collaboration with HD Radio owner Xperi. The new rulemaking will allow AM stations to go all-digital and establish operating parameters for doing so.

The FCC today also is opening a comment period on the removal of the programming duplication rule adopted in 1992. The rule limits AM or FM stations from airing more than 25% of total hours in an average broadcast week of duplicative programming. The rule applies to commercial stations in the same service (AM or FM) with substantial contour overlap that are commonlyowned or subject to a time brokerage agreement.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Spread the radio love

A review of the SDRplay RSPdx wideband SDR receiver

SDRplay recently announced the latest product in their line of affordable 14 bit wideband SDRs: the SDRplay RSPdx.

For over two weeks now, I’ve had an early production model of the RSPdx here in the shack operating on a beta version of the SDRuno application.

In the spirit of full disclosure, SDRplay is a long-time supporter of the SWLing Post and I have alpha- and beta-tested a number of their products in the past. This early production RSPdx was sent to me at no cost for a frank evaluation, and that’s exactly what I’ll offer here. To be clear, while I am using beta software, this is not a beta SDR, but one from a first limited production run.

And thus far, I must say, I’m impressed with the RSPdx. 

Upgrades

The RSPdx has been introduced as a replacement for the RSP2 and the RSP2pro receivers. It has been updated and upgraded, with a completely new front-end design.

Here are the highlighted improvements and changes:

  • Performance below 30 MHz has been enhanced when compared to the RSP2/RSP2pro.
  • Performance below 2 MHz has been substantially upgraded. Through the use of the new HDR mode, both dynamic range and selectivity have been considerably improved.
  • There is now a BNC antenna connector on antenna C position instead of a HiZ port. Both A and B antenna ports are SMA like other RSP models.

Let’s face it:  those of us interested in low-cost SDRs are spoiled for choice these days. The market is chock-full of sub-$200 SDRs, especially if you include all of the various RTL-SDR-based SDRs and knock-off brands/models one can find on eBay.

Personally, I invest in companies that support radio enthusiasts for the long haul…those that do their own designs, innovations, and production. SDRplay is one of those companies.

SDRplay’s market niche has been providing customers with affordable, high-performance wideband receivers that cover an impressive 1 kHz to 2 GHz.

Wideband coverage can come at a cost. Unless you pay big money for a commercial-grade wideband receiver, you’re going to find there’s a performance compromise somewhere across the spectrum.  On the RSP2 series, those compromises would have been most apparent on frequencies below 30 MHz.

That’s not to say HF, MW, and LW performance was poor on the RSP2 series–indeed, it was quite impressive and well-balanced; it just didn’t stack up to the likes of the similarly-priced AirSpy HF+ and HF+ Discovery, in my humble opinion. Both little Airspy SDRs have wooed DXers with their impressive dynamic range and overall ability to work weak signals in the HF portion of the spectrum.

Neither of the AirSpy HF+ models are wideband receivers, but still offer a generous range:  9 kHz to 31 MHz and from 60 to 260 MHz––about 11.5% of the frequency coverage of RSP models. (Note that the Airspy R2 and Mini do cover 24 – 1700 MHz.) For shortwave radio listeners that also want to venture into the UHF and SHF regions, a wideband SDR is still required.

It’s obvious SDRplay’s goal is to make the wideband RSPdx into a choice receiver for HF and, especially, for MW/LW DXers. But have they succeeded? Let’s dive in…

Performance

As I say in most of my SDR reviews: doing comparisons with receivers that have so many features and adjustments is never easy. In other words, we want an apples-to-apples comparison, but it can be difficult to achieve, especially with new products.

I compared the SDRplay RSPdx with the WinRadio Excalibur and Airspy HF+ Discovery. Here’s how I set up my comparisons:

The RSPdx, Excalibur, and HF+ Discovery all used the same antenna in my tests––a large, horizontal delta loop antenna, via my ELAD ASA15 amplified antenna splitter. I’ve used this antenna splitter for years and can vouch for its equitable, lab-grade distribution of signal.

The RSPdx is not in full production at time of posting, thus application options are limited. Typically, I’d load comparison SDRs in SDR Console or HDSDR and test them with identical settings as well. At present, the RSPdx is only compatible with a beta version of SDRplay’s own application, SDRuno (which will come out of beta rior to the first major production run). The benefit of using SDRuno is that you unlock the full potential of the RSPdx, plus signal and noise numbers are incredibly accurate.

For each SDR in this comparison, I used their native/OEM application to give them the best possible performance.

I also matched filter settings and made an effort to match AGC and volume settings as closely as I could.

Additionally, I resisted the temptation of comparing my RSP2 with the new RSPdx because I didn’t want to run two simultaneous instances of SDRuno on the same computer––especially considering one was in beta.

Is this comparison perfect?  Probably not, but I did the best with the time I had available. I do intend to make further comparisons in the future.

Longwave performance

Via the RSPdx’s new “HDR” mode, both dynamic range and selectivity have been considerably improved with frequencies below 2 MHz. While I’ll fully admit that I’m not much of a longwave DXer, my very first listening session with the RSPdx started in this region of the spectrum.

In fact, the first evening I put the RSPdx on the air and confirmed that I was, indeed, in HDR mode, I noticed a small carrier via the spectrum display on 171 kHz. I clicked on it and quickly discovered it was Medi 1. The signal was faint, but I could clearly ID at least one song. This truly impressed me because I believe this was the first time I had logged Medi 1 on longwave from the shack.

I didn’t connect the Excalibur at that point to see if it could also receive the faint Medi 1 signal, but I imagine it could have. I’m pretty sure this would have been outside the reach of the RSP2, however.

I tried to explore more of the longwave band, but due to local RFI (I suspect an appliance in my home), most of the LW band was inundated with noise. With that said, I did grab three of my benchmark non-directional beacons.

Obviously, the RSPdx is a capable LW receiver.  I would like to spend more time on this band once I’ve tracked down the source of my local RFI.

Mediumwave/AM performance

In the past two weeks, I’ve spent many hours with the RSPdx on mediumwave.

We’re heading into the winter months in the northern hemisphere, and that’s normally when my listening habits head south on the bands.

In short: I find the RSPdx to be quite sensitive and selective on the mediumwave bands while the HDR mode is engaged. A major improvement over its predecessor.

I primarily compared the RSPdx with my WinRadio Excalibur on mediumwave since I consider the Excalibur to be a benchmark MW receiver. And, as you’ll hear in the screencasts below, the RSPdx truly gives the Excalibur a run for its money:

740 AM – RSPdx vs. Excalibur:

860 AM – RSPdx vs. Excalibur:

Note that my horizontal delta loop antenna is omni-directional, hence the tug-of-war you hear between stations in the clips above.

In truth, I could have done more to stabilize the signal on both of these fine SDRs, but I wanted to keep the comparison as fair as possible.

You might have noticed that both were running AM sync mode. It seems the sync lock on the RSPdx may have also improved––though I would need to do a direct comparison with the RSP2 to know for sure––but in terms of stability, I still found that the WinRadio Excalibur was superior. Mind you, the Excalibur is a $900 – $1,000 receiver and has the strongest synchronous detector of any radio I’ve ever owned.

Shortwave/HF

SDRplay notes on the preliminary specifications sheet that the RSPdx has been “enhanced” when compared with the RSP2 series.

And, after having spent two weeks with the RSPdx on the shortwave bands, I would say this is a bit of an understatement. For although I haven’t compared the RSPdx directly with the RSP2 yet, I do feel HF performance is substantially better than its predecessor. Indeed, in my comparisons, I often found it gave the Excalibur some serious competition. Overall, the Excalibur had an edge on the RSPdx, but the gap has closed substantially. That’s saying something.

For the comparison videos below, I also included the excellent AirSpy HF+ Discovery.

40M LSB – RSPdx vs. HF+ Discovery:

80M USB – RSPdx vs. Excalibur:

31M Broadcast – RSPdx vs. HF+ Discovery:

As you can see and hear, the RSPdx is now in the league of some of the finest HF receivers in my arsenal.

But I’m curious to know what you think after listening to these comparisons. Please comment!

Notch Filters

For those of you living in areas with DAB/DAB+ broadcasters nearby, you’ll be happy to note that the RSPdx has a DAB filter to help mitigate any potential overloading.

Also, if you live near a blowtorch mediumwave station, you’ll be quite pleased with the MW notch filter. It’s so effective at filtering out the mediumwave band, my local blowtorch on 1010 kHz is barely visible on the spectrum once the notch filter is engaged. (Note: I should add that neither the DAB nor the mediumwave notch filter was engaged during any of my previous comparisons above.) Check out the screen shots below showing the mediumwave band before and after the MW notch filter is engaged:

Before:

After:

Summary

For those of you looking for a budget wideband SDR with solid performance below 30MHz, look no further.

For $199 US, you’re getting a quality UK-designed and manufactured SDR in a proper metal housing.  The OEM application, SDRuno, is one of my favorite SDR applications and can fully take advantage of the RSPdx’s new HDR mode. No doubt, with a little more time, most third-party SDR applications will also support the RSPdx.

Frankly, I was expecting classy mediumwave and longwave performance as this was the most touted upgrade of the RSPdx. SDRplay certainly delivered.

In my experience, SDRplay doesn’t oversell their products. Their preliminary product sheet mentioned improved performance on HF, but their press release didn’t even mention the HF upgrades. And this is where I, in particular, noticed significant improvement. Perhaps this is because I am primarily an SWLer, thus spend a larger portion of my time in the HF region.

SDRplay products also have a mature, robust SDR application via SDRuno. Day to day, I tend to use Simon Brown’s SDR Console as my primary SDR application, since it’s compatible with so many of my SDRs and also offers some of the best recording functionality for those of us who do audio and spectrum archiving. Each time I beta test or review an SDRplay SDR, however, I’m more and more impressed with SDRuno. It’s evolved from being a rather cluttered application to one with a thoughtful, cohesive user interface that’s a joy to use––a product of true iterative agility.

Indeed, after having used SDRuno exclusively these past two weeks, I believe I would consider it as my primary SDR application…if only it had audio recording in addition to spectrum recording, and could run multiple instances with multiple SDRs. Again, given a little time, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of this functionality is eventually integrated.

Questions?

Since many SWLing Post readers already own an SDR, I’m sure some of you will have questions. Let’s address a few of those right now.

Question: “I have an RSP2/RSP2pro. Should I upgrade to the RSPdx?”

My recommendation: If you are a shortwave, mediumwave, or longwave DXer, I would indeed recommend upgrading to the RSPdx. If you primarily use your RSP2 series SDR on frequencies above 30 MHz and only occasionally venture below for casual listening, then I’d keep the RSP2.

Question: “I have an RSP1a. Should I upgrade to the RSPdx?”

My recommendation: If you’ve been enjoying your RSP1a and would like to take your listening/monitoring to the next level, then, yes, I would upgrade. Not only can you take advantage of the RSPdx’s enhanced performance, but the RSPdx affords you three antenna ports, and has a more robust front end.

Question: “I have an RSPduo. Should I buy the RSPdx?”

My recommendation: I’m a big fan of the RSPduo. Unless you’re a dedicated mediumwave/longwave DXer, or you’d just like to add another separate SDR to your radio arsenal, I wouldn’t rush out to buy the RSPdx.

And while I’m offering advice, I’d like to offer my standard two cents on the subject of performance optimization: a radio is only as good as its antenna! If you have a compromised antenna, invest in your antenna before upgrading your radio. You’ll be glad you did.

Conclusion

Happily, I can  recommend the SDRplay RSPdx without hesitation. This latest iteration of the RSP series SDR is a proper step forward in terms of performance and functionality––obviously implementing years of customer feedback.

SDRplay also has a proven track record of innovation and customer support. Their documentation, video tutorials, and community are among the best in the industry. Purchase with confidence.

Click here to check out the RSPdx at SDRplay.


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

The new HanRongDa K-603 portable radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mei Tao, who writes:

Yesterday, I received a new radio: the HanRongDa K-603, which was sent to me by the manufacture.They want me to test this prototype machine in order to find any bugs. If there is nothing to fix, I believe this radio will hit the market in this or next month.

K-603 is a small portable radio which also has some great functions. Its major features include:

  • FM, AM, and SW bands
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connection
  • TF Card Player
  • Recording function
  • Line in
  • LCD can display three different languages,English?Chinese and another foreign language.
  • Powered by the BL-5C Li battery
  • MW channnel space can be switched between 9KHz adn 10KHz.
  • Tuning methods: Scan, ATS, and direct key entry

The designer told me that this K-603’s fm coverage is from 87MHz to 108MHz, but they will extend it to 64MHz in the next version. That’s really good news.

In a few days, I will test it carefully. If necessary, I will make side-by-side comparisons with my own Tecsun, Sangean, Radiwow, and Degen radios. Then i will present some text and video reviews.

I would like to share some pictures of this new radio with you and other BCLers

Best wishes to you!

Photos

Thank you, Mei Tao! We look forward to your review of the HanRongDa K-603. Yes, please let us know how it compares to your other receivers. We also look forward to any update regarding price and availability. Thanks for sharing those photos!

Spread the radio love

The Sony ICF-7600A at my “happy place”

Yesterday afternoon, the family and I spent some time at my happy place: Mount Mitchell State Park. This might be our last visit there until spring of 2020 since the Blue Ridge Parkway is often closed during the winter.

Yesterday was unseasonably warm at 48F (9C)–a shot of warm weather before an Arctic front moves in tonight dropping temps to about 10F (-12C) and, likely, dropping 1-3″ of snow as well.

The afternoon at Mount Mitchell gave me a little time to play radio, of course, and put my recently acquired Sony ICF-7600A on the air.

How did I acquire the Sony ICF-7600A? Via the generosity of SWLing Post reader, Ed Earps.

Ed reached out to me after I made the following comment in a recent post:

“The ICF-7600A is a cool analog portable and one I’ve thought about acquiring at some point.”

Ed contacted me immediately:

“Thomas, if you would still like to acquire a ICF-7600A, I have one I would give you. This would be in appreciation of all the work you do in writing the SWLing Post blog.”

A few days later, the ICF-7600A with original box and accessories arrived. Wow!

Thank you so much, Ed! Over the years, members of the SWLing Post community have been so kind and so generous, it makes a guy feel humbled and appreciated. Thank you!

The ICF-7600A fits perfectly in my Red Oxx Hound pack.

I’m loving the ICF-7600A.

There’s something so authentic about tuning a good analog portable. It’s hard for me to describe, but I can certainly say it always takes me back to my radio roots.

The ICF-7600A has a low noise floor and seems to be incredibly sensitive. I easily snagged several stations on 31 meters, but ended up enjoying music via All India Radio while brewing a little coffee with my alcohol stove (handmade by my buddy, Greg–thanks, Greg!).

Hey, when you’re a coffee snob, you brew where you are!

But I digress…

I’m especially impressed with the ICF-7600A’s mediumwave performance. I logged a number of benchmark daytime and greyline stations yesterday. I haven’t opened the ‘7600A, but I imagine it has a decent ferrite bar inside based on its overall performance on the AM broadcast band and its nulling capabilities.

Next time, I’ll bring the AN200 mag loop and couple it with the ‘7600A. I’m pretty sure that’ll make for a winning combo.

All-in-all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day: the weather was wonderful, the coffee freshly-brewed, and the gifted ICF-7600A was the perfect radio companion as our family soaked in the scenery after a hike to the summit.

I couldn’t ask for a better happy place!


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Jack’s Mediumwave Lazy Susan Mag Loop System

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Blanke (WB5LVP), who writes:

I stole this idea from another SWLing Post contributor and I hope he won’t mind.

However, placing the Ferrite Antenna near the center of the loop does enhance its performance and the Lazy Susan was something I had been using long ago to quickly re-orient the radio azmuth to accommodate the signal source. But, like my mentor, minor improvements like this can really enhance performance of smaller portables on medium wave. He used cardboard and I used scrap wood from the work shop. Either way, not much money was involved in this minor enhancement.

These inexpensive additions to the listening post really make the PL380 and the AN200 combo provide hours of enjoyment from medium wave DXing. Now,if only I can find the gent’s name who came up with this little gizmo, I’d love to thank him!!

73’s!

Thanks for sharing your setup, Jack! I can assure you that Rich Stahl (WR3V) will be happy you “stole” his idea. That’s what it’s all about–helping each other! I love the little table/stand you built for the portable and how it perfectly accommodates the loop. Great job!


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love