Category Archives: News

Dan spots an Icom IC-R71A in Narcos

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

I like to note appearances by shortwave receivers in TV programs…here’s the latest…at the 14 minute mark of the new season of NARCOS (one of the best TV series there is by the way) a ICOM IC-R71A makes an appearance. At the point in the show, a key character is listening to reel-to-reel tapes, so it’s not quite clear why they stuck in a 71A tuning to a shortwave frequency….ah, the drama! Another show, The Americans, features numerous shots of various receivers, including Zenith Transoceanics and Hallicrafters…

Great catch, Dan–thank you for sharing! I’ll add this find to our growing archive of radios in film.

Going By the Numbers

For those who follow numbers stations or, like me, enjoy seeing articles about numbers stations, below are a few paragraphs from a recent article in Radio World by author James Careless:

“6-7-9-2-6. 5-6-9-9-0.” Tune across the shortwave bands (above AM/MW), and chances are you will come across a “numbers station.” There’s no programming to speak of; just a mechanical-sounding voice (male or female) methodically announcing seemingly random groups of single digit numbers for minutes on end.

Congratulations! You are now officially a spy-catcher, to the extent that you may have tuned into a spy agency’s “numbers station” transmitting one-way instructions to their minions worldwide.

Numbers stations are unidentified radio broadcasts that consist usually of a mechanical voice “reading out strings of seemingly random numbers,” explained Lewis Bush, author of “Shadows of the State” a new history of numbers stations and the spies who run them. “These are sometimes accompanied by music, tones or other sound effects.” He said. “There are also related stations broadcasting in Morse Code and digital modes.”

The article goes into some of the history of numbers stations, but also talks about modern stations from all over the world. A worthwhile read for those so interested!

Do Shortwave ‘Numbers Stations’ Really Instruct Spies?

Cheers! Robert AK3Q

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

Looking under the hood: Comparing the XHDATA D-808 and Digitech AR-1780

Last week, I posted a few photos of the new XHDATA D-808 and Digitech AR-1780–two of the hottest portable shortwave radios to hit the market in recent months.

Several readers have requested “under the hood” photos of each radio, to compare internal designs. This morning, I had a few minutes to crack open each radio and take a few shots. Note that I didn’t pull off the circuit boards from the chassis or try to take a look behind shielding. I have yet to do proper performance comparison tests with these radios and didn’t want to accidentally compromise one (especially since the XHDATA D-808 is getting complicated to purchase here in the US).

Inside the XHDATA D-808

Opening the D-808 requires pulling off the encoder knob and removing a total of  six small screws. Note that one of the screws is located in the battery compartment. Click photos to enlarge:

Inside the Digitech AR-1780

Opening the AR-1780 requires pulling off the encoder knob (not an easy task on my unit) and removing a total of seven small screws. Note that two of the screws are located in the battery compartment. Click photos to enlarge:

Radio Deal: C. Crane CCRadio 2 at NPR Shop

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kevin Turinsky, who notes that NPR is having a “final” clearance sale on the excellent C. Crane CCRadio-2. The price is $110.11 US plus shipping.

Click here to view the CCRadio 2 on the NPR Shop.

Want a gorgeous 1940 RCA 50 kW shortwave transmitter from the RCI Sackville station?

Many thanks to Amanda Dawn Christie who contacted me this morning regarding a message she received from Marc Goldstein, who is seeking a home for a beautiful piece of international broadcasting history. Marc writes:

We have been dismantling equipment at Radio Canada in Sackville, New Brunswick since July of last year. Most of the contents have been removed.

The original 1940 RCA 50 KW transmitter is still intact. First Nation’s–the current owner of the site–is looking for a home for this piece of history. […] I am hoping you may know someone, or an organization who may help preserve the radio. First Nations has requested $5,000 Canadian for the radio, and will remove and ready it for shipping at their expense.

Thanks for passing this information along, Amanda!

I actually snapped photos of this very transmitter when I visited the Sackville site in 2012–a few months before the site shut down. It’s an elegant piece:

I have no idea if this RCA transmitter is serviceable, but I did contact WBCQ with details just in case (if you recall, they’re in need of a 50 kW transmitter).

If you’re interested in purchasing this transmitter, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Marc Goldstein.