Tecsun PL-990 and H-501: What we know so far about the upcoming production run

The PL-990 released in China last year.

Many of you have been asking me about the pricing and availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 receivers. Both radios were released late last year (2019) in China, but the final export version–and first full production run–has not yet hit the market.

I reached out to Anon-Co to see what updates, if any, we have about these radios. They were able to share the following points:

  • “Tecsun sold a first version of the PL-990 and H-501 in China as a promotion before Chinese New Year, at a promotional price.”
  • “They will launch further updated versions in the next few months, which will also be the international export version. This price will definitely be higher than the promotional prices, but the exact price is not available yet.”
  • “The version for the international market is not finalized yet. It may become available by the end of March or April, but there is no official launch date yet.”

The H-501 version released in China last year.

I think the important take-aways here are that we’re still perhaps a couple months out from the final versions shipping and that the price will be slightly higher than the initial production run in China.

Good news is, it sounds like this radio will get a proper vetting before it ships!  I’m willing to wait knowing this. Also, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, there could be some noticeable changes and updates to the final exported versions.

If you would like to follow updates about these radios as we post them, bookmark the tags PL-990 and H-501.


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On The Air: ARRL’s excellent magazine for newcomers…only available behind their paywall

Cover of the new “On The Air” e-magazine from the ARRL

Today, the ARRL released their new electronic magazine for ham radio newcomers: On The Air.

The ARRL describes On The Air‘s mission:

“On the Air magazine is the newest ARRL member benefit to help new licensees and beginner-to-intermediate radio communicators navigate the world of amateur radio. Delivered six times a year, the magazine will present articles, how-to’s, and tips for selecting equipment, building projects, getting involved in emergency communication as well as spotlighting the experiences of people using radio to serve their communities, and those using it for enjoyment.”

I checked out On The Air and was quite pleased with the scope of the magazine. The first issue covers topics such as: understanding the ionosphere, choosing your first radio, building simple antennas, and much more. I love the fact that the articles are written with newcomers in mind, too; less technical jargon and more explanations.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been teaching a ham radio class to a group of high school students. Most of the students have now acquired their Technician licenses, and we’re even plotting a General class course for the fall.

Last month, I shared some copies of QST (the ARRL monthly member magazine) with my students. While they enjoyed looking through the pages of QST, many told me they simply didn’t understand the articles yet…There’s just not a lot inside a QST issue to grab the attention of a fifteen or sixteen year old who’s just gotten her ticket. Understandable.

Then, I learned about On The Air from a friend with the ARRL.  I was so glad to hear that the League was finally making a bi-monthly magazine aimed squarely at newcomers! I was also pleased it was an e-publication, because it will be that much easier to share with my class and propagate to prospective students.

But today, I discovered, to my dismay, that other than the premier issue, On The Air is for ARRL members only. Here’s a screen grab from the website:

But…”for members only”––?

Alas, in limiting access, the ARRL has essentially insured that most of their target audience won’t ever have the opportunity to read On The Air, and thus they’ve crippled the best ARRL recruitment tool I’ve ever seen. 

What a shame.

I’ve contacted my ARRL representative and asked that they reconsider the decision to hide this brilliant magazine behind a membership paywall. I’m pretty sure that ad revenue and membership fees could readily cover the cost of publishing this electronic edition. After all, On The Air could lead to a lot more ARRL members! And, indeed, I hope it will.

If you feel as I do, please contact your ARRL Section manager. It may be that those making the decisions are, in this case, a little out of touch with the future of amateur radio.

Update – To be clear about this post: I’m not implying anything bad about the ARRL here, I just think it’s a lost opportunity if they keep future editions of On The Air behind the member pay wall. I imagine that ad revenue alone could more than support this niche publication if they simply release it as a free PDF. The real benefit, though, could be an increase in ARRL membership as On The Air readers get a taste of what the League could offer! In other words: this is an opportunity!

What do you think? Should On The Air be free to anyone interested in amateur radio, or for members only? Please comment!

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More Tecsun PL-990 images

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carel Kuijer, who shares the following images of the new Tecsun PL-990:

Thanks for sharing these, Carel!

FYI: I have not heard a solid update yet on pricing/availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and Tecsun H-501. Carel did note that the price in China is 1150 CNY, thus about 150 Euro or $166 USD, but not sure if this price will remain the same for the exported version. I will post updates here on the SWLing Post when they are available!


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Community radio stations help inform those affected by fires in Australia

(Source Radio.info via Michael Bird)

Nearly 80 community radio stations are broadcasting in fire affected areas of Australia.

With around 450 stations in the sector, community broadcasters are represented in most larger towns in Australia. Many of them are staffed by small handfuls of volunteers who keep the station on air in normal circumstances, but during the current bush fire situation, many of those stations are facing severe pressure on their people and resources.

The Community Broadcasting Association (CBAA) has been in contact with many of the stations in affected areas and tells radioinfo that, thankfully, most don’t have a lot of damage to their property or equipment, but they are struggling with exhaustion and reduced volunteers to broadcast live shows from the stations.

Many community stations are located in protected areas at the centre of their town and often have their transmitters atop their building, so the infrastructure threat has not been as serious as might be expected. However the cost to people has been high.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at Radio.info.

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Krasne Antenna Array: Help Rick solve a 22 year old mysetery

The mystery array

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rick Slobodian, who seeks help solving a 22 year old mystery. Rick writes:

[Perhaps you can help me] explain this antenna….a 22 year old mystery antenna (see photo above)? What sort of antenna is this and how does it work? It’s at 49.8994 N 24.685 E near Krasne, Ukraine.

I was at this transmitter site in 1998.

Antenna switch room

I was writing articles for a number of magazines hoping to find customers for airtime and to make this site viable.

I spent all day at the site wrote extensively about EVERYTHING ELSE: the shortwave transmitters, the longwave transmitters, the shortwave antennas, the vertical long wave antennas, and the vertical MW antennas.

Longwave antenna at Krasne

HRS curtain array at Krasne

The transmitters were behemoths: Komintern Burans 500Kw 1000 Kw 1200 Kw

New 1200 Kw transmitter under construction

This antenna was over a km form the main building and they would let me go there:

I took this photo of the array as I traveled past it by train.

Its 36 towers strung in a NE SE line–over 2 km long and each tower is approximately 40 m tall.

[My hosts] were they so evasive about this antenna array yet not the rest of the site.

[There are some peculiarities:]

  1. Do you see a feed line running along the bottom of the towers near the ground?
  2. I do not see any tuning shacks.
  3. Is it fed from one end or the other end or is each tower fed?
  4. If each tower is fed, then where are the tuning shacks/phasors?
  5. iIf it is a beverage then why so may towers and such close spacing?
  6. Is it something completely different?

What do you think it is? How do you think it works and what would be its purpose?

Thanks for sharing, Rick!  My hope is that one of the members of the Post community may be able to shed a little light on this interesting antenna array.  Please comment!

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More BBC Mediumwave Closures

(Source BBC Blog via Mike Terry)

By Kieran Clifton
Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development

In my blog posted in the summer of 2017, I explained the BBC’s plans for local radio and the reasons for the closure of some of our medium wave transmitters – which happened in January last year. This was the first stage of putting into action a plan that the BBC originally announced in 2011. Starting in February 2020, and completing in mid-2020, we will be moving on to the next stage of the plan, closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales. There is a list of services affected at the end of this blog post.

My earlier blog post explained why we are closing some local medium wave transmitters, but I wanted to recap again here. The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow. We want to make our services available to you when and how you want them, but it’s also right that the BBC continues to ensure that the ways we distribute our services represent good value for money for you, the licence fee payer.

The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio, and in the past few years we have funded local DAB expansion, made all local radio stations available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds.  Together with FM (which has recently been expanded for Radio Wales), these ways of receiving our stations now make up the great majority of listening, and as a result continuing to transmit these services on medium wave would no longer represent good value for money.

This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implementing it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change.  We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.

All stations which will be affected will continue to be on FM and digital outputs (such as DAB, digital television, or online). For most people, re-tuning their radios or cars to FM or DAB is likely to be the simplest solution.

You can use our Problem Assistant tool to get more information on how to access all BBC services in your area.

The stations which will no longer be transmitted on MW are:

    • Three Counties Radio (3CR)
    • Radio Merseyside
    • Radio Newcastle
    • Radio Solent (for Dorset)
    • Radio Solent
    • Radio Cornwall
    • Radio York

In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

Radio Scotland

    • Areas in and around both Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright

Radio Wales

    • Tywyn, Forden and Llandrindod Wells transmitter areas

Radio Cumbria

    • Areas in and around Whitehaven

Radio Norfolk

    • Areas in and around Norwich
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Dave updates and adds “light” reviews

The CC Skywave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who writes:

Just FYI, for those who may have missed this :

My light reviews on the CCrane Skywave and Retekess TR604 (AM/FM only set), are now posted on my web page. These are the first 2 reviews on this page :

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/misc.html

Also have updated my V-115 / V115 review. New test sample with the latest 1.4 firmware.

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/v115.html

Thanks for the update, Dave. In your review you note the virtues of the Tivdio/Retekess V-115 (a.k.a. Audiomax SRW-710S) as an mp3 player. That’s how I’ve been using my unit as of late. It makes for a nice portable player with reasonable audio. The last time I traveled to Quebec for a couple months, I used this rig to make a few off-air recordings of my favorite FM radio program: C’est si bon” with Claude Saucier. I only recently re-discovered these recordings on the MicroSD card in my radio and have been enjoying listening to them since.

Listening to the BBC Midwinter Broadcast, with some limited success, on June 21, 2017 in Québec.

I also recommend the V-115 as a very affordable radio that can record off-air broadcasts. As we’ve also mentioned in past reviews–and as Dave notes–it has some issues with internally-generated noises, etc. but for the price it’s hard to complain. It’s currently $24.99 shipped on Amazon (affiliate link).

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