Category Archives: Radios

XHDATA-608WB

XHDATA Weather Radio D-608WB

Review By Robert Gulley, K4PKM

This is my first experience with an XHDATA radio, and my initial impressions are quite positive. This weather radio has an impressive set of features and appears to be built quite solidly. I say “appears” because I have not done (nor intend to intentionally do) a drop test! But my sense of the radio is that it can withstand some knocking about while still functioning (but please do not test this theory! YMMV!).

Standard torch but with 3 brightness levels

Standard torch but with 3 brightness levels

From the manufacturer’s site, here is a listing of features:

Features & Specifications:

FM: 64-108 MHz / 76-108 MHz (Stereo at Earphone Out)
87-108 MHz / 87.5-108 MHz
MW:522-1620khZ (9K Steps) / 520-1710 KHz (10K Steps)
SW: 1711-29999 KHz (5K Steps)
ATS Scanning with Auto Save
NOAA Weather Band with Scanning Alert Mode
VF/VM Tuning Modes
Bluetooth Playback & Calling
Memories: 100 AM – 100 FM – 300 SW (Add Automatically or Manually)
Clock with Alarm & Sleep Timer
TF Card Playback (Supports Up To 32 Gb Card)/Prev/Next Track/Loop & Fast Scan Modes
Flashlight with 3 Brightness levels
Flip Up Lighting Panel with 3 Brightness Levels
Earphone Jack 16 – 32 ohms (Stereo)
SOS Alarm Button
Enhanced Audio with Ported Enclosure
Lock Mode
Battery: Li-ion 18650 3000 mAh (Charges via USB C Port, Crank, Solar Panel)
Low Battery/Charge Indicators
USB Output for charging Cell Phones
Reset Button
Dimensions: (Approx) 6” W x 3” H x 1 ¾” D

Solar Cells

Solar cells with a twist – the cells along with the LEDs can be rotated up and down

 

LED lights

Three brightness levels for these LED lights – a nice touch!

 

 

 

 

 

Let me start with the items that impressed me.

  1. Weight. This is not a typical light-weight radio. It feels solid, has some bulk to it, and I like the feel. It weighs in at 11.5 ounces, which is comparable to the two other solar powered weather radios I own, which come in at 12 and 12.25 ounces respectively.
  2. This radio has both a torch and an LED panel, each with 3 levels of brightness. While you will not light up a room with either, they are both quite sufficient for their intended purposes. The LED is particularly useful to light up the immediate area around the radio, and on it’s brightest level puts out a good amount of light. Being LEDs, the power drain is very reasonable.
  3. The radio is powered by multiple sources of course, as is typical with today’s weather radios, but a unique feature compared to my other radios is an articulating solar cell (and LED) panel. This allows you to follow the sun for quite a while as it rotates in the sky.
  4. The antenna, while not very long, is very solid and should last a long time if not subject to abuse (and looks to be easily replaceable if something does happen).
  5. The battery is easily accessible and replaceable with the now-common 18650 rechargeable battery. (As an aside, for those who, like me, prefer to charge batteries outside a radio when possible, there are charging units available from the usual sources if you want to minimize heat and charging wear-and-tear on your radios and flashlights.)
  6. The ATS function works quite fast on FM, finding 21 stations in my very rural area just off the built-in whip antenna
  7. Keypad layout is minimal and functional. For those wanting a direct-entry frequency keypad, this radio is not so equipped. However, running through the memory channels is easily done, without multiple menu hoops through which to jump.
  8. Tuning is both a blessing and a curse (see cons below for the negatives) – the tuning can be accomplished at two different speeds, allowing for a slow tune and a bigger jump depending on how fast you turn the tuning dial. This can be particularly useful with SW, but also when manually scanning the MW band or when finding tracks on a memory card.
  9. The crank can be extended as a stand at a few different angles. I am not sure if this was intended, but it works nicely!
  10. When in SW mode, the band is displayed as you tune (i.e. 41mb, 25 mb, etc.)
Crank can act as a stand

I am not sure if this was intended or not, but the crank can act as a stand

Less impressive (but see conclusions):

  1. Tuning can be slightly erratic, making bigger jumps at times than intended. This can happen in slow mode (one click of the tuning wheel at a time), or it can happen when the tuner switches between slow and fast mode and you didn’t think you were turning it fast enough for the switch. On the plus side, there is one arrow displayed when tuning in slow mode, and two arrows when in fast mode, so it is easy to see when it has switched modes.
  2. There are rubber strips glued into slots on the bottom of the radio to give it a little more resistance to sliding, but I feel it makes the radio slight more unstable – you may disagree since the effect is minimal.
  3. Soft muting when tuning – I know this is a biggie for many folks, so I mention it (again, see conclusions)
  4. No SSB (not that I expected it).
  5. Three NOAA stations come in for me which is typical, but I do have weather radios which can receive 4 well enough to copy, so not quite as sensitive. However, two or more is adequate to catch weather forecasts for your area in case your closest station is down for some reason
  6. ATS on SW and MW was not impressive – perhaps moving too quickly? Many stations come in with good audio, but the scan did not find them. Again, YMMV.
USB and Power Connections

On the side are the input and output USB connections, along with the TF card slot.

Conclusions

I find this to be a good radio for its intended purpose – a Weather Alert radio with solar, lights, and multiple charging power options for operating, and an option for charging small devices if needed. This is not, nor should it be compared to, stand-alone shortwave radios. This is a bonus, and it works well for AM shortwave stations. That it does not have SSB is not an issue for me – I have plenty of radio options to enjoy during a power outage which are capable of SSB upper and lower sidebands.

The soft muting will no doubt bother some, but again, this is is primarily a weather and emergency radio, not a radio designed for pleasurable shortwave listening. As for the audio itself, the speaker produces a good clean sound, and there is even a type of bass boost which helps the audio even more. AM, FM, and SW stations sound good, and I find the audio to be quite strong out of this compact unit.

A replaceable/removable battery is a real plus for me both in terms of charging and for popping in a fresh battery while charging a drained battery. I like having backups for my backups, so this is right down my alley.

The unit is a good size, compact but solid, and has all the useful controls easily reached/manipulated. The antenna is solid, the LED lights are a nice touch, and it is a radio I believe could be counted on when needed. (Oh, and it is reasonably priced as well!)

As always, these are my personal, honest opinions. While the XHDATA folks approached me for the review and sent a unit to me free of charge, I always call it as I see it, good or bad.  I happen to think this radio is a keeper!

Cheers! Robert Gulley (All photos by the Author)

Click here to check out the XHDATA D-608WB on Amazon.com
(note: this is an affiliate link that supports the SWLing Post at no cost to you. Thank you!)

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Adi spots two rare receivers on eBay. What are they?

FURUNO RH1-1 Radio Receiver

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

Hi Thomas, I was just browsing eBay when I decided to see what was “new” in the receivers section.

These popped up:

https://ebay.us/iRSC87 [eBay partner link]

RH1-1? [See photo above] Google doesn’t know much about it.

Pfitzner – Teletron type TE712B

https://ebay.us/RNQEy3 [eBay partner link]

The seller from Poland writes, “The receiver was produced specifically for reconnaissance purposes.” I wonder what was heard through its circuits…? ?

I guess a few readers can tell us more about them.

Regards,

Adi

Thanks for sharing, Adi. I’m not familiar with either of these receivers, but I’m sure some of the experts in our community can shed some light on them!

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Calling all radio enthusiasts, calling all radio enthusiasts

FastRadioBurst 23 letting you know of a forthcoming project from DJ Frederick called The Radio Enthusiast e-APA. It looks very interesting and will cover subjects we all love radio-wise! As the flyer above states the main purpose of the project is “for fun, to connect with other radio enthusiasts, to share information & creativity.” It’ll be available via email and a print edition and also a possible audio program. It will go out three times a year: Spring, Summer and Autumn starting Summer 2024. So please send you submissions to: [email protected] Send anywhere from 1 to 10 pages per mailing by email (Word docs) please!

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Check out the new Lego Retro Radio!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who shares a link to this blog regarding the new Lego Retro Radio:

LEGO’s buildable Retro Radio actually plays music thanks to a sound brick

Thank you, Dan! I’m mighty tempted to put in an order for this radio!

Lego also has a page with more information here: https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/retro-radio-10334

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Raddy RE40 Emergency Radio

By Robert Gulley (Guest Post)

The Raddy RE40 is another portable shortwave radio offering from Radioddity, but with a twist – it is intended to be an emergency radio first, and a listening-for-pleasure radio second. In this review I will cover the emergency options incorporated into the unit, as well as discuss operability and its overall functionality as a radio.

As always when I do a radio review, I will point out what I believe are the radio’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as where this might fit in your radio arsenal. The usual disclaimer applies for any product I review – I tell it like it is, good or bad. While the radio was provided to me without cost by Radioddity, that does not affect my opinions one iota. With that out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the rig!

As we have come to expect from other Raddy portables, this has a lot of features packed into a relatively small package. I say “relatively small” because it is thicker than many vertical portables, and heavier. This is a solid bit of kit, and the size and weight are the first clue that this radio is not just intended to sit on a coffee table. It is definitely designed to work outdoors, as well as finding a place in the car or boat for when you need to check on the weather, or be out in it.

Specifications

    • Frequency Range: FM: 87-108MHz, AM: 520-1710KHz, SW: 5.7-17.9MHz, WB: 162.400-162.550MHz
    • Bluetooth: Version 5.0
    • Card Type: MP3/WAV/FLAC/APE
    • White Noise: 7 different natural sounds
    • Max. Capacity of Micro SD Card: 256GB (not included)
    • Size: 81x52x132mm / 3.2x2x5.2in
    • Weight: Approximately 350g / 0.77lb
    • Operating Voltage: 2.7V-4.2V
    • LED Light: 1W/120LM
    • Max. Power: About 5W
    • Speaker: 4? 5W
    • LED Flashlight: 1W/120LM
    • Battery Capacity: 4000mAh / 3.7V (non-replaceable)
    • Operating Temperature Range: -10? to 60??14°F to 140°F?

What’s in the box?

    • 1 x RE40 Radio
    • 1 x Type-C Cable
    • 1 x Wrist1 x User Manual

Power Options

This radio can be powered by an internal battery charged by a USB-C port, solar powered to charge the battery, or by a hand crank. Here is the manual description of the emergency power options:

A. Solar Charging

  1. Put the solar panel directly towards sunlight. When the green charging indicator lights on, it indicates that the solar panels charging the internal battery.
  2. The charging efficiency depends on the solar exposure: the stronger the sunlight, the better the charging effect.

B. Hand Crank Charging

  1. Turn the hand crank clockwise or anti-clockwise and the green charging indicator will light up to indicate that it is
  2. Speaker has no sound: Hand crank at 130-150 rpm for 1 minute, the flashlight can be used for more than 30+ minutes or play the radio (medium volume) for 3

NOTES:

  1. The hand crank can be turned for 3-5 minutes before using the product to activate the internal battery.
  2. The hand crank is normally used in emergency situations when the power is out.

Solar Panel

The radio has a compass built into the volume control knob on top, a flashlight, analog tuning dial, and switches for moving between playback modes (Radio, Bluetooth, and media) and desired operations (SOS, Standard battery or solar/crank charging modes, and USB charging). As an aside, the SOS feature is LOUD!

Almost the whole back of the radio is devoted to the solar cell. This is much larger than other solar cells on portable radios that I own, and presumably will recharge the internal battery faster. There is a rubber flap over the headphone, USB and memory card jacks/slots.

The unit has another interesting feature: you can charge your phone or other USB device from the standard USB slot under the flap. To use this feature the mode switch on the back of the radio has to be in the right-hand position under the charging symbol. When set to charge another device all other functions are disabled, so if you turn your radio on and can’t get anything to work, you might just have pushed the button over to the right accidentally, or intentionally the last time you used the radio.

Radio Performance

I’ll not spend a lot of time here, not because the radio performance is poor, but because as I have already noted, that is not the primary focus of this radio. There are plenty of portable radios by Radioddity and others which have better performance. However, I found the FM reception to be exceptional for a radio in this class, and AM radio reception to be reasonably acceptable for a radio with a lot going on inside. I did not test the AM radio reception with one of my loop enhancement units, mainly because I am not looking to use this as a regular radio receiver. This is going in my car for emergency/safety issues, and to grab when I am having a picnic lunch or the like.

Shortwave reception is on par with other radios of this size, and a pleasant feature is a sturdy telescoping antenna. Unlike several other small Raddy radios which have very fragile antennas, this one is much more solid.

Weather band reception is decent, but not quite as good as other radios I have tested. I can pick up one very strong signal, and a usable/readable second signal, but some other radios I have give me 4 or 5 stations. Of course, as long as you can get one strong signal, it is likely that is the one most important to you in your immediate location. With at least a second station you have the chance to pick up information should the one nearest you experience difficulties.

Sound and White Noise

As for the sound quality, it has a nice large speaker and delivers good sound, and I have found this typical of most all of the Raddy radios I have tested. In addition to the typical sleep timer radio option, this radio features a “white noise” option which allows the user to select between 7 different white noise options for those who prefer to go to sleep that way.

Compass and Flashlight

Pros

  1. Feature-Packed in a small footprint
  2. Loud SOS
  3. Sturdy Antenna
  4. Large Solar Charging Cell
  5. Ability to charge phone
  6. Multiple ways to power radio/flashlight
  7. Strong FM, acceptable AM and Shortwave (no SSB)
  8. Price ($49.99 from Radioddity, $44.99 plus 10% off coupon from Amazon at time of writing. There is also a bundle offer from Amazon which includes an SP4 4W Portable Solar Panel for $59 plus 10% off coupon) [Note that these are affiliate links that support the SWLing Post at no cost to you.]
  9. 18-month(!) warranty

Cons

  1. Weather band not as impressive as some other radios, but hardly a deal-breaker
  2. Analog tuning dial very sensitive (if you have shaky hands this is probably not for you, except perhaps for the emergency functions)
  3. Multi-colored striped analog dial is sometimes hard to read (then again, I need my reading glasses for a lot of things!)

Wrap-up

This little radio packs a lot of punch for the money, adding features similar emergency radios do not have. If you are like me, emergency radios are a necessity given our unstable weather and power grids, and I like knowing I can use solar power to recharge a radio, or crank it when the sun is not available. Some folks expect more power from a hand-crank generator than these small radios produce, but my main goal is to be able to quickly check weather conditions, use the flashlight, or make use of the SOS function if needed. These do not require massive amount of time spent cranking the generator, and to me that is a plus.

I would recommend one for each car or boat, or to take with you on outdoor trips just in case of an emergency. Of course, you could always listen to the ballgame on your front porch, too!

Cheers, Robert K4PKM

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Paul is impressed with the XHDATA/SIHUADON R-108 Shortwave Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Jamet, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

Near my home, there’s a small pond where shortwave reception is often very good…

Receiver: XHDATA SIHUADON R-108 with single telescopic antenna (No external antenna)
Recording with a smartphone placed close to the receiver, which explains the ambient noise, especially the wind noise in the microphone.

Here are two recordings:

1 – The Voice of Korea in English; at the end of the recording, the frequencies are announced. Note that the Voice of Korea broadcasts to Europe in English from 3 pm to 4 pm UTC on 12015 kHz … But I got the best reception on 12020 kHz; this is not due to a defect in the receiver. At the same time, I also received 5/5

2 – RFA (Radio Free Asia) in Tibetan from the island of Tinian precisely on 12125 kHz; Cf. attached file; very strong signal

[…]Voice of Korea is becoming commonplace, but what’s interesting is to be able to pick up these distant stations with a little 45€ receiver! I’m very happy with this little receiver for listening to shortwave.

Click her to check out the XHDATA/SIHUADON R-108 at XHDATA.

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Radio Waves: International Symposium Focuses on Broadcasting, Last Morse Station, Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency Kit, and Remembering Bob Heil,

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul Jamet, Bob Butterfield, and NT for the following tips:


International symposium: Université Toulouse Capitole, 14 and 15 November 2024

From COVID-19 to armed conflicts: radio faced with a multiplicity of crises

https://radiography.hypotheses.org/files/2023/12/Appel-a-communication-Colloque-international-Radio-et-crises-Toulouse-2024-version-anglaise.pdf

Deadline: April 25th, 2024

America’s Last Morse Code Station (The Atlantic)

Maritime Morse code was formally phased out in 1999, but in California, a group of enthusiasts who call themselves the “radio squirrels” keeps the tradition alive.

Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.” With that, in January 1997, the French coast guard transmitted its final message in Morse code. Ships in distress had radioed out dits and dahs from the era of the Titanic to the era of Titanic. In near-instant time, the beeps could be deciphered by Morse-code stations thousands of miles away. First used to send messages over land in 1844, Morse code outlived the telegraph age by becoming the lingua franca of the sea. But by the late 20th century, satellite radio was turning it into a dying language. In February 1999, it officially ceased being the standard for maritime communication.

Nestled within the Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, KPH Maritime Radio is the last operational Morse-code radio station in North America. The station—which consists of two buildings some 25 miles apart—once watched over the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Both KPH sites shut down in 1997, but a few years later, a couple of radio enthusiasts brought them back to life. The crew has gotten slightly larger over the years. Its members call themselves the “radio squirrels.” Every Saturday, they beep out maritime news and weather reports, and receive any stray messages. Much of their communication is with the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a World War II–era ship permanently parked at a San Francisco pier. [Continue reading, noting that much of The Atlantic’s content is behind a paywall…]

Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency and S-meter Readout Kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Butterfield, who writes:

Readers who own a Yaesu FRG-7 and are interested in a digital frequency readout/S-meter kit that replaces the original analog S-meter may be interested in this item from Marcel Jacobs, PA8MA, Netherlands. It is available on eBay:

https://ebay.us/ji2zp7 [Note: this eBay partnership link supports the SWLing Post.]

I have not personally tried out this unit, however, it does look pretty slick. Further information can be found in the FRG-7 groups.io user group.

A video is also available on YouTube:

Audio Innovator Bob Heil Dies (Radio World)

Gave a unique sound to Frampton and was known in radio, audio and ham radio

Bob Heil has died, according to the company he founded. He was 83.

“Bob fought a valiant, year-long battle with cancer, and passed peacefully surrounded by his family,” Heil Sound posted on Facebook.

“Driven by a lifelong passion for sound, Bob’s pioneering work revolutionized how concertgoers experienced live sound.” [Here’ his official obituary.]

Heil was the inventor of the famous Heil Talk Box used memorably by musicians like Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Slash, Richie Sambora and others. He was invited to exhibit his innovations at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also was an active member of the amateur radio community.

In 2022 Bob and Sarah Heil transferred ownership of their company to President/CEO Ash Levitt and Director of Operations Steve Warford, Radio World reported at the time. “Sarah Heil has retired, but Bob will continue to do outreach work and product design within the amateur radio space under the title Founder and CEO Emeritus,” it stated then. [Continue reading…]


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