Category Archives: News

Building Radio Bridges: Audio Letters between Lockdown NYC and the Zambezi Valley

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Thomas Miller, who writes:

This Saturday at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time / Midnight Central Africa Time, Wave Farm and WGXC-FM present a special radio edit of “Building Radio Bridges: Audio Letters between Lockdown NYC and the Zambezi Valley.” More than 100 people in Africa, North America, and Europe participated in this north-south co-production in radio solidarity, produced by Tom Miller (aka Sonic Anthropology) and Claudia Wegener (aka radio continental drift) with CUNY Brooklyn College students, members of Zongwe FM in Zambia and Zubo trust for women’s development in Zimbabwe.

Feb 27, 2021: 4pm – 6pm
WGXC 90.7-FM: Radio for Open Ears
90.7-FM in NY’s Upper Hudson Valley and wgxc.org/listen everywhere
http://www.wgxc.org/

https://wavefarm.org/radio/wgxc/schedule/2gd7yb

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New Icom IC-7300 and IC-9700 firmware updates add features/enhancements

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ray Novak, who notes that Icom has issued the following firmware updates for the IC-7300 and IC-9700:

Icom IC-7300 Update

Changes from Version 1.30

[Spectrum scope is improved]
– A Scroll mode that can seamlessly change the displaying scope range, depending on the operating frequency, is added.
– A popup screen that displays when SPAN or EDGE change is added.
– The number of FIX EDGE memories is expanded to 4.
– Each band independently memorizes the Reference level.
– Improved the Scope function of the RS-BA1.

[Preset function is added for FT8 operation]
– A Preset function that can set each operation is added.

[Multi-function dial is enhanced]
– A Multi-function dial now works as a memory channel selector in the Memory mode.
– A Multi-function Menus Customization function is added.
– A function indicator for the Multi-function dial is added.

[Other changes]
– A Front Key Customization function that can change the function of [VOX/BK-IN], [AUTOTUNE], [?], and [?] is added.
– A MIC Key Customization function that can change the function of [UP] and [DOWN] is added.
– The Band Stacking Register window is added.
– While operating in the Data mode, the receive tone control is deactivated.
– The default setting of the CI-V USB Port is changed to “Unlink from [REMOTE].”

Refer to INFORMATION IC-7300 Version 1.40 for details.

The Scroll mode for the RS-BA1 Version 2 software will be added to Version 2.30.

Click here for full details and IC-7300 firmware update.

Icom IC-9700 Update

Changes from Version 1.24

[Spectrum scope is improved]
– A Scroll mode that can seamlessly change the displaying scope range, depending on the operating frequency, is added.
– A popup screen that displays when SPAN or EDGE change is added.
– The number of FIX EDGE memories is expanded to 4.
– Each band independently memorizes the Reference level.
– Improved the Scope function of the RS-BA1.

[Preset function is added for FT8 operation]
-A Preset function that can set each operation is added.

[Other changes]
– A Front Key Customization function that can change the function of [VOX/BK-IN], [AUTOTUNE/AFC], and [TONE/RX>CS] is added.
– A MIC Key Customization function that can change the function of [UP] and [DOWN] is added.
– A Touch function is added to the GPS icon.
– The “ddd.dddd°” format is added for the Latitude/Longitude display.
– While operating in the Data mode, the receive tone control is deactivated.
– A menu item that can return to the normal mode is added to the QUICK MENU of Terminal Mode and Access Point Mode.
– Fixed an issue where the time may not be displayed in the GPS POSITION screen.

Refer to INFORMATION IC-9700 Version 1.30 for details.

The compatible programming software for firmware update Version 1.30 can be downloaded here.

The Scroll mode for the RS-BA1 Version 2 software will be added to Version 2.30.

Click here for full details and IC-9700 firmware update. 

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Dan provides an update to his Sangean ATS-909X2 first impressions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who shares the following update to his first impressions of the Sangean ATS-909X2:


Update: Sangean ATS-909X2 First Impressions

by DanH

Sangean USA will offer a free software update to customers who have purchased the first USA mass production version of Sangean ATS-909X2. These radios are equipped with software VER-070. This is the same 909X2 version that I purchased last week and used for my “First Impressions” article. The software update to VER-073 will feature various bug fixes. Software VER-073 will be included with the ATS-909X2 shipment arriving at Sangean USA in March, 2021. These bug fixes are of a technical nature and beyond my ability to describe at this writing.

Sangean USA will offer 909X2 VER-070 owners a software update to VER-073 if they want it and as soon as Sangean USA receives the necessary update device from Sangean Headquarters.

So far, I have noticed no software bugs in 909X2 operation but like everyone else I am still new at using this radio. I hope to start entering saved shortwave station entries from my 909Xs into the 909X2 this week. In other notes, AIR band is working very well with my local international airport some 20 miles away. I also did a test on the 909X2 external antenna jack and confirmed that plugging an external antenna into this jack will disconnect the built-in ferrite bar antenna for MW and the telescopic whip for SW.

To display the 909X2 software version:

1. power up the radio
2. press and hold the INFO button for two seconds
3. turn the tuning dial until VER XXX appears on the display
4. to clear this information wait 10 seconds or hit the C button

Further details will follow as they develop.

May your shortwave listening be good and the geomagnetic field quiet.

DanH


Thank you for the update, Dan! 

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2021 Shortwave Shindig (in Exile) via WRMI

David Goren (left) and Richard Cuff (right) during the Shindig live broadcast at the Winter SWL Fest.

The Virtual 2021 Winter SWL Fest starts today and one of the Fest traditions–the Shortwave Shindig hosted by David Goren–will be broadcast via WRMI at 0200 UTC Saturday (9:00 EST Friday/Today) on 5,800 and 7,780 kHz. Please tune in!

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VisAir HF DDC/DUC Transceiver: Randy purchased one exclusively for shortwave radio listening

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who recently shared a message he received from his friend Randy regarding the VisAir HF DDC/DUC Transceiver:

I recently acquired a VisAir transceiver from Russia. It is an amazing SDR unit developed by two amateur radio operators. It is about the same size as the RDR55, but at about 1/3 the cost. While it does not have FM or amateur 2/6 meter, GPS, and a couple of features, this VisAir has other features not found on the RDR55 such as dual receivers, waterfall, receiving audio equalizer, CW decoder, etc. It is a true SDR receiver. The user manual was in Russian and I had to break it into thirds so that I could get it translated into English. Interestingly, the user interface is completely in English despite its Russian origins. While designed primarily for amateur radio operators, it works especially well on the shortwave bands.

[…]I have really been enjoying this “transceiver” and as you imagine, I use only the receiver portion of the unit. It has two antenna connectors and you can configure these however you prefer. I set one as a receive antenna and the other as a transmit antenna to avoid accidentally hitting the antenna match or some function and sending power into my equipment. I also disabled the transmitter portion to further protect against any accidental transmissions.

Unfortunately, virtually all the YouTube videos and information are in Russian and also its use is shown only on the amateur radio bands, but I can tell you that this is a very nice SW DX receiver with lots of interesting user defined menus whereby the unit can be modified to match the user’s preferences. Here is a website with some information on the unit.

As you know, I have enjoyed using a wide variety of communications receivers from simple beginner’s units to the more complex and highly esteemed units built to exacting standards for government use. This VisAir is built by two guys in Russia and amazingly it was designed by them in 2017 and not a whole team of design engineers such as found at Yaesu, Kenwood, and Icom. From what I understand, the unit sells in Russia in rubles for the equivalent of about $1800 USD. Unfortunately it is not exported to the USA and it only comes with a 220 VAC power supply and so I operate it exclusively off of DC current without any issue. It is my understanding that this low production transceiver has sold between about 200 – 300 units and virtually all of these were in Russia. To my knowledge, I am the only person in the USA with this unit. Further, it is my understanding is that there is a wait list of about 2 years to obtain the unit. The VisAir is upgraded via firmware and my unit has the latest firmware installed.

When I got information about the transceiver to consider for purchase, there was only a Russian user manual available. I have access to an online PDF translator, but it can only accept up to 10 MB files and so I had to break the Russian manual into 3 sections, translate each section into English, and then stitch the 3 sections back together to make a complete English manual (which is too large to email as a whole). Attached are sections 2 and 3 of this English user manual for the VisAir:

You can look at the manual and see what features are available with this transceiver. While the translator worked nicely overall in getting the manual from Russian into English, there are issues whereby the illustrations have Russian language information and these did not translate, but this did not thwart me from understanding and using the VisAir as most of the Russian information relates to connecting the transmitter to microphone and other devices.

As with most all low production units from small producers, the user manual is good at pointing out controls, but lacks in explaining what is the purpose of settings or offering suggestions on the settings other than telling you what is a “default” setting from the factory. I found this same dilemma with the manuals for the Fairhaven RD500, the Reuter RDR55, the Kneisner & Doering KWZ30, etc. But an experienced DXer can generally figure out operations and establish the appropriate settings with a little time. For the first 3 days of operation, it was a discovery for me as I kept learning about new features that I didn’t know about previously and weren’t highlighted in the user manual. It was like reading the user manual for my Toyota Highlander in that there are options and controls that are found in menus and not particularly obvious at first glance or with casual use.

Randy

Thank you, Randy, for sharing your comments about the VisAir transceiver here on the SWLing Post. Looks like a fascinating tabletop SDR.

Click here to check out VisAir’s website.

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Kevin’s care packages for the homeless include a simple radio

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

I often see people on the side of the road at intersections holding signs, “homeless, can you help”, that sort of thing. Like a lot of people I used to ignore them. A few years ago I decided that I wanted to help so I looked up what items homeless people need the most. Clean socks, toiletries, and grocery store gift cards are high on the list, most of which you can get at the dollar store. Now I assemble these items in gallon-sized zip-lock bags and always keep a couple of them in the car, ready to hand out the window.

Being a radio nerd I also stay on the lookout for cheap portable radios from Amazon. I like the ones with big dials and big numbers. You might wonder if a homeless person really needs a radio, but who is to say what joy it might bring? Maybe somebody somewhere is listening to some music or a ballgame on the radio I gave them. Maybe they gave it away, but that’s up to them. I usually toss in a second set of batteries as well.

If you’re in a giving mood consider assembling a few of these bags, especially if you’re reluctant to hand out cash. You could make someone’s life a little better.

We need more people in the world like you, Kevin. What a thoughtful and considerate gift to give those in need. Like you, I’m very reluctant to hand out cash because I dislike the idea that I could inadvertently become an enabler, but I do want to help. Your care package contains items that would only assist those in need: a clean pair of socks, toiletries, basic first aid supplies, and even reading glasses.

Besides news, weather, and entertainment, a radio can provide much-needed local health and wellness information especially during the pandemic.

Besides…all we’ve got on this world is each other, right?

Thank you so much for sharing.

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