Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post and review:
Photo by Chameleon
The Chameleon CHA-RXL Pro: Improved Amp Board Raises the Game
by Dan Robinson
Back in 2021 I reviewed the CHA-RXL loop by Chameleon. This loop antenna is sold by major retailers such as DX Engineering, Gigaparts and Chameleon itself – the company is a well-known name in antennas and other equipment for the amateur radio world.
I compared the CHA-RXL to Wellbrook 1530 and W6LVP loops feeding into a four-position Delta antenna switcher, and then to a Raven 16 port multicoupler which maintains good steady gain.
My Wellbrook is mounted on a telescopic mast about 15 feet above ground level, with a rotor. The W6LVP (using LMR400 coax) is tripod-mounted with an overall height from ground of about 12 feet. It has special filters to prevent strong medium wave signals from bleeding into HF.
I have since added a UK-made loop (essentially a copy of a Wellbrook loop but smaller diameter and made of metal) combined with a W6LVP amp. This W6 amp does not have filtering to block strong mediumwave signals. In all, I have four loops into my Delta switcher, which feeds about two dozen receivers.
There is by the way quite robust discussion at https://groups.io/g/loopantennas about various loops, including the Chameleon. And this past July, Steve Ratzlaff posted news about the upgraded loop amp board which will ship with what is now the CHA RXL Pro, saying:
“Chameleon has completely redone their CHA RXL loop amp board from the previous poor-performing loop amp that I tested some time back, and sent me one of the new production boards to test. I’m happy to say it tests very well especially for LF sensitivity, and I can now give it my “seal of approval”. The new board is a version of the LZ1AQ loop amp.”
Photo by Chameleon
It turns out, according to an email from Don Sherman of Chameleon, that Steve is one of the engineers who helped design the new amp board for the CHA RXL Pro, and on the Loop Antenna group he provides a folder in which he placed previous test results with “new files of the new board (sweep of the new RXL Pro loop amp, and a picture of the new amp PCB).”
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who publishes the following guest post:
Letter to Eton: Cutting Corners on Elite Satellit Won’t Succeed
by Dan Robinson
As SWLing.com readers will recall, weeks before Eton shipped the first group of Elite Satellit receivers I published a commentary that asked a key question: would Eton be able to meet the higher standards of the listening community in 2022 when it comes to new advanced portables?
Unfortunately, we all see what the answer to that question was. Eton was forced to recall Elite Satellit radios that had been shipped to major resellers such as Universal Radio, Ham Radio Outlet, and others as defects became all too apparent.
A radio that had been on its way to me for review was among those recalled. But I recently was able to examine a unit that a friend in the Washington, DC area purchased. What I found I am putting in this commentary as a letter to Eton.
If the company takes these points seriously, I think there is still hope that the Elite Satellit can join the ranks of respectable multi-band portables – after Eton has gone back to the drawing board so to speak. However, if Eton continues to cut corners with this receiver, its future is not bright:
Letter to Eton on the Elite Satellit
MUTING WHILE TUNING
As many who purchased or tested the Elite Satellit have remarked, the fact that you decided to release a radio with this issue is beyond comprehension. Tuning on the Elite Satellit is, tragically, an uncomfortable and frustrating experience. This needs to be corrected/fixed – you only need to take a look at Tecsun receivers such as the H-501 or PL-990x to know what needs to be done.
POORLY-IMPLEMENTED PASSBAND TUNING
Perhaps even more puzzling than muting, the Elite Satellit I tested had an even more mind-boggling issue. Passband tuning should function to adjust the signal pitch without changing the audio frequency. On the radio I tested, PBT was actually TUNING and changing the frequency. Using PBT on this radio was virtually no different from tuning in SSB, with injected tones heard, until a zero beat was achieved. All you had to do was take a look at a E1 receiver, or any other receiver with well-implemented PBT to understand how real PBT is supposed to function.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest commentary:
The Elite Satellit: Can Eton Deliver to Radio Users Who Expect Higher QC and Feature Standards?
by Dan Robinson
It’s been many years since the original E1 took the hobby world by storm. Everyone remembers the issues that plagued the E1, from the rubber coating that degraded over time, to display and encoder issues, and the calibration issues that frustrate some users.
In anticipation of the arrival of the Elite Satellit, I got both of my E1s out of storage — one in the 9xxx serial number range required a de-gooing session, accomplished quite well using Max Pro cleaner and 70% alcohol. It was interesting note, during that process, that the XM module on one side of the radio was more sensitive to color loss than other parts of the cabinet, reducing to an almost silver color when all was finished.
Original Eton E1 XM
Using the original E1s provided a reminder of how good these receivers were and still are, if you have managed to avoid display and encoder issues. The combination of PBT, triple selectivity and highly-effective SYNC was a blockbuster combination. The radio failed only in the area of quality control.
As Universal Radio and other distributors prepare to send out the first tranche of receivers, some thoughts are in order. The first is that one hopes Eton has lessons from the first go around regarding Quality Control. I have a sinking feeling about this based on my experiences in recent years reviewing receivers by Tecsun.
Eton needs to know that those who will buy the Elite Satellit, and that includes old-timers like myself but newcomers to the hobby, now have much higher standards specifically because of the features we have seen Tecsun and some other manufacturers put in portables.
Primarily, the presence of a recalibration capability really poses a challenge where the Elite Satellit is concerned. Discerning buyers no longer have to put up with a radio that has calibration and/or stability problems. This is why I am curious as to whether Eton included an adjustment function through software or an adjustment hole as with the original E1. So far, there has been no confirmation on this question from Eton or anyone else.
Original Eton E1 XM
With an older E1, tweaking of the master oscillator was possible through the small adjustment hold in the rear of the radio cabinet. This was tricky since in many units the hole was inconveniently located directly under one of the plastic ribs on the back.
I solved this problem by gently cutting a small section of one rib with a Dremel or similar tool, providing easier access. Still, adjustment has to be done carefully due to the sensitivity of the pot, and preferably with a non-metallic jewelers flat head screw driver. Even then, movements of the radio would often throw the radio back off.
But again, E1 users were spoiled by the recalibration capability which Tecsun included on receivers from the PL-880 to the 990x and 501s and even the PL-368, all of which provide a software method of zeroing frequency in SSB. Even Malahit SDRs have a fine adjustment setting in software.
If Eton has not taken this into account, and has not made any recalibration possible, I fear that it may face a good number of buyers who will simply return radios that suffer from significant frequency error. In short, a “good enough for government” approach by Eton when it comes to calibration QC is simply not going to be sufficient because for years now, Tecsun has been setting a higher standard.
Physical cosmetic issues too will also be an important indicator as to Eton’s attention to QC. If Eton learned its lesson from the rubberized cabinet fiasco, this should not be a major problem. But I would urge owners of the new Elite Satellit to examine your radio for QC issues, like LCD pixel problems, wobbly knobs and loose encoders, and issues with the telescopic antenna.
All of this becomes even more important because Eton is charging so much for this radio. Even taking inflation into account since the original E1 appeared, $599 for a radio that adds only HD and AIR band as features, but which still might suffer from QC problems is extremely high and I fear Eton may end up with numerous returns if the Elite Satellit fails in any key areas.
So, the clock ticks down to the moment when many of us will receive that box containing the Eton Elite Satellit. The question is will what is inside be able to meet the higher standards we have come to expect from a multi-band portable?
Admittedly, it’s not often you see a Trans-Oceanic in this pristine condition:
Many thanks for sharing this, Dan!
I’m curious: How many here would fork out several thousand dollars for a vintage portable like the Trans-Oceanic–? This is truly a museum piece and I would love it, of course, but that’s a lot more money than I could allocate and stay happily married. 🙂
Radio Waves: Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio
Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers. To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Good news — an Australian parliamentary review recommends a more “expansive” media presence in the Pacific.
Bad news — little of that expansion envisions a role for island media.
Instead, the committee endorsed a proposal for “consultation” and the establishment of an independent “platform neutral” media corporation, versus the existing “broadcasting” organisation.
That proposal was among several points raised at two public hearings and nine written submissions as part of Australia’s “Pacific Step Up” programme, aimed at countering the growing regional influence of China.
Former long-time Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney last month told the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade that Australia was previously leading regional media spaces.
“But the vacant space that was left there when Australia Network disappeared, as people have said, has really been taken over by China,” he said.
“Throughout my time as the Pacific correspondent for the ABC, I saw this Chinese influence growing everywhere.”
[…]Taking up ten of 176 pages, the report’s media section is nonetheless seen as relatively comprehensive compared with the dismantling of broadcasting capacity in recent years.
This includes the literal dismantling of shortwave equipment in Australia despite wide protest from the Pacific region.
Nearly three years previously, a 2019 Pacific Media Summit heard that discontinuation of the shortwave service would save Australia some $2.8 million in power costs.
A suggestion from a delegate that that amount could be spent on $100,000 for reporters in each of 26 island states and territories was met with silence from ABC representatives at the summit.
In the 1890s, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi left a lasting legacy when he sent a wireless telegraph message via Morse Code to a recipient. By the turn of the 1900s, Marconi’s innovation would give rise to an entirely new industry, one focused on creating new ways for people to communicate even across vast distances: radio.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, radio would not only play a major role in the international correspondence of countries fighting in both World Wars but it also became a widely popular phenomenon amongst the general public. By the mid-1920s, there were hundreds of licensed radio stations hosting news broadcasts, comedy shows, dramas, live music, sports programs and other forms of entertainment.
A century later, it’s not hard to spot the parallels between what made radio one of the most popular content mediums in history and the explosive growth of radio’s evolution in podcasting. Though there are some unique differences between the two mediums, I believe podcasters should still pay respect to how the evolution of radio gave rise to the advent of podcasting.
The Rise of Contemporary Audio Entertainment
On October 30, 1938 — the evening before Halloween — Orsen Welles hosted a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds, “converting the 40-year-old novel into fake news bulletins describing a Martian invasion of New Jersey.” While Welles and his team reportedly had no intention to deceive listeners into believing the broadcast was in any way real, Welles would later go on to say in a 1960 court disposition about his desire to release the broadcast, “in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening…and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.” [Continue reading at Rolling Stone…]
Ukrainians are eavesdropping on the invaders and broadcasting on their frequencies
One of the many surprising failures of the Russian invasion force in Ukraine has been in radio communications. There have been stories of troops resorting to commercial walkie-talkies and Ukrainians intercepting their frequencies. This may not sound as serious as a lack of modern tanks or missiles, but it helps explain why Russian forces seem poorly co-ordinated, are falling victim to ambushes and have lost so many troops, reportedly including seven generals. What is going wrong with Russian radios? Continue reading →
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