Tag Archives: Belka-DX DSP

Egil is pleased with his new Belka-DX and Tecsun ICR-100 cases

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Egil (LA2PJ), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

In the middle of march, Steve Allen (KZ4TN) posted this article showing a case for the BELKA-DX.

I found his idea so good that I ordered two of the small boxes, using the Amazon link given in his article.

The boxes arrived here in Norway just twelve days after ordering, and was delivered to my door by a local transporter.

Never before have I experienced that kind of service on any purchase via Amazon!

 

Tecsun ICR-100

While packing the BELKA-DX in one of the boxes, I discovered that my Tecsun ICR-100 speaker/audio recorder fit snugly in the other box. The two boxes also contains a six meters long wire antenna, charging cables for both units, earphones, and even an USB charger, just in case I get the opportunity to recharge the batteries.

Belka-DX and accessories

The attached pictures show my new setup. Two items are not shown in that picture: a wire antenna plus a 20Ah powerbank from Anderson. We are going to an off grid cabin for the Easter holidays, and hope that when leaving home with everything fully charged, the powerbank will keep this setup plus my smartphone happy for a whole week.

73s Egil – LA2PJ

Thank you so much for sharing this, Egil!  It’s absolutely amazing that the shipping service to Norway was so efficient. 

I think you’ll have no problem at all enjoying hours upon hours of DXing with the Belka-DX in your off-grid cabin.  No doubt you’ll be escaping the RFI and enjoying much lower noise floors while on vacation–this will give you an opportunity to truly take advantage of the Belka-DX receiver. You’ll have to report back with your experience and photos (hint, hint!).

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A case for the Belka-DX and cautionary tale!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steve Allen (KZ4TN), who shares the following guest post:


My Belka-DX: A Cautionary Tale

One of the most amazing SW radios I have ever owned and listened to is the Belka-DX. Its size to performance ratio is without equal, IMHO.

Late last year I dropped it on the floor and was emotionally traumatized when I picked it up and found the LCD to be broken (see photo above). It still received but most of the display was damaged and not readable. I tried to open it up with the intent of replacing the LCD myself (if I could source one) but I could not figure out how to remove the circuit board.

I contacted Boris at MobiMax in Bulgaria from whom I purchased the little squirrel. It took a few weeks of back and forth as he worked to get pricing for the replacement LCD. Eventually he had a very reasonable quote put together and I mailed the Belka-DX off to Bulgaria. Now the wait began. It took almost four weeks for it to finally arrive at MobiMax. Boris had the repair turned around in about a week and I made payment via PayPal. Just like before it took about four weeks transit time and I worried that it would disappear somewhere on the way.

It arrived safe and sound and I am very glad to have it back. I’ve been missing my bedtime SWLing.

So…moving forward I will now always store the radio in a hard case. After digging around in my box of assorted cases I found nothing that was the right size.

After twenty minutes on Amazon I found a hard case that was originally for a small point and shoot digital camera. It was a bit larger than the Belka-DX and it also had room for earbuds, the charging cable and power adaptor, and a small wire antenna.

I glued some foam in the case to hold the radio in place and it’s now nice and snug.

Click here to check out the case on Amazonm.com (affiliate link).

Now I can safely carry it in my daypack or other travel luggage without fear of damage.

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Looking back: What radios did you use the most in 2021?

I’m not sure why, but near the end of the year I always like to look back at my radio routine and figure out which radios I used the most. Often, the answer is surprising.

This year, I realized there was a very clear winner…

The C.Crane CCRadio3

The C.Crane CCRadio3 has taken lead position as my daily driver. I have it turned on most days for as much as 4-5 hours at a time depending on how much I’m at home.

Here’s why it has become my daily driver:

  • Benchmark AM/FM reception: The CCRadio3 grabs a solid lock on my favorite local and regional MW and FM stations. At the end of the day, my favorite news program (Marketplace) is available on a local WCQS and distant WFAE. The CCRadio3 can lock onto both equally well. I’ve very few portables that can do this. In addition, I use the CCradio3 for casual MW DXing when I’m not using the Panny RF-2200 or my Chuck Rippel-restored SRII.
  • Audio: The audio from its internal speaker is superb for voice content, but also robust enough for music. I love the dedicated Treble/Bass controls. The audio can be turned up to the point that it can be enjoyed throughout our house.
  • Bluetooth: I listen to a lot of content online and pipe it via Bluetooth from various devices to the CCRadio3. I stream the CBC, FranceInfo, ABC, and/or the BBC most mornings from my laptop. I use Radio Garden on my iPad to explore a world of local radio. I also stream Apple Music from my Mac Mini to the CCRadio3. When I do workouts on my stationary bike, I’ll often listen to both podcasts and music on the CCRadio3 via my iPhone.
  • Battery life: The battery life on the CCRadio 3 is simply stellar. It takes four D cells which offer up a lot of capacity. There are so few digital display radios today that can quite literally play for a few months on one set of batteries. I invested in a set of EBL D Cells and Charger (this package–affiliate link) and have been super pleased. When in the shack/office, the CCRadio3 is plugged into mains power via the supplied AC adapter. All other times, it runs on rechargeable battery power.

It’s ironic, too, because the CCRadio3 doesn’t cover shortwave which is, without a doubt, my favorite band. Thing is, now that so many of my staple news sources are difficult to reliably get on shortwave in the mornings (oh how I miss Radio Australia) I turn to FM and online sources for news content. I still listen to the BBCWS, RNZ, RRI, and at least a dozen other news programs on shortwave, but due to my schedule, it’s mostly casual listening.

On the go: The Belka-DX

Speaking of shortwave, though, the portable I’ve used the most this year for SWLing has been the Belka-DX. Besides it being a super-performing DX machine, it’s also incredibly compact and portable. I keep it in a small Tom Bihn zippered pouch and it lives in my EDC bag which accompanies me on all errands and travels.

The Belka-DX is so small, I forget it’s there. Even some of my smallest compact portables are nearly three times the size of the Belka-DX.

In the field: The Icom IC-705

If you follow QRPer.com, you’ll no doubt see that I spend a lot of time in the field doing QRP amateur radio activations of summits and parks. As I’ve pointed out in my review and 13DKA has pointed out in his reviews, the IC-705 is a benchmark shortwave, mediumwave and FM DXing machine. At $1300 US it’s pricey for sure, but it offers up a usable spectrum display/waterfall, audio RX controls, customizable filtering, HF/VHF/UHF coverage, and built-in audio recording/playback.

You don’t even need a 13.8V power supply with the IC-705 as it’ll charge from most any USB source via a Micro USB plug and run in receive for at least 5 hours without needing a recharge. Of course, you could invest in a second, higher-capacity battery pack and get even more battery life.

When I take the IC-705 on a field activation, I’ll often do a little listening after I finish the ham radio portion of my outing. It’s a great reminder of how important it is to take your radios to the field these days. With no QRM, it’s amazing what you can receive.

How about you?

What radios did you use the most in 2021? Please comment!

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Guest Post: A synchronous detector crash course!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, 13dka, who shares the following guest post:


Revisiting the Belka’s “pseudo-sync detector”: A sync detector crash course!

by 13dka

“It’s usually hard to assess whether or not a sync detector helped with a particular dip in the signal or not, unless you have 2 samples of the same radio to record their output simultaneously and compare.”*

That’s what I wrote about the “pseudo sync detector” in my review of the Belka DSP last year.

Since I was recently upgrading to the Belka DX in order to pass on the Belka DSP to a friend, I had briefly two examples of almost the same radio on the table at the dike. I tuned them to the same stations and recorded some audio clips with one radio on sync detector, the other in regular AM mode, to answer the question whether or not sync has “helped with a particular dip in the signal”. Then I thought that demonstration would be an opportunity to try an explanation on what exactly (I think) sync detectors are all about anyway, hoping to find a middle ground between “technical” and “dumbed down beyond recognition”.

The trouble with sync detectors

Perhaps no component of a shortwave receiver is surrounded by so much misconception and confusion as sync detectors. Full disclosure: Until quite recently, I had an, at best, vague concept on what they do myself. It seems it’s not so much that people don’t know how they work, what they actually do when they work is where the ideas often diverge. Continue reading

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Greg’s Uniden stand works perfectly with the Belka-DX

Belka-DX StandMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Greg Hathaway, who writes:

Hi there –

I bought a Belka-DX recently and am really enjoying it! The stand from my Uniden Home Patrol 1 scanner works great with it. The stand is sold separately by Uniden for those who may be interested.

Best,
Greg Hathaway

Thank you for sharing this, Greg. You’re right: that little Uniden stand fits the Belka perfectly!

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Radio Waves: Josh reviews the Belka-DX, Sinclair Fraunhofer DRM Partnership, Clear Net Frequencies Requested, and

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

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors TomL, Alan, Bruce Atchison, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Belka DX Shortwave Receiver – Closest Thing To A Spy Radio? (HRCC via YouTube)

Sinclair Launches ATSC 3.0 Test Site; Partners With Fraunhofer On Mondiale Service Integration (ATSC)

HUNT VALLEY, Md.—Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100w transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters here with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) in its broadcast app.

The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)

“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” says Aitken. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”[]

Clear Frequencies Requested for Net Providing 24/7 Coverage of St Vincent Volcanic Eruption (RAC Newsletter)

For immediate release:
April 20, 2021 –

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) has been providing round-the-clock coverage during the La Soufriere volcanic eruption on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Several neighbouring islands are also being affected by the disaster.

When responding to disasters and emergencies such as this, the CEWN utilizes 3.815 MHz LSB and 7.188 MHz LSB. CEWN is requesting that Radio Amateurs not involved in the volcano response to keep these frequencies clear.

Geomagnetic storm warning (Spaceweather.com via Southgate ARC)

A CME is heading for Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives on April 25th.

NOAA forecasters say moderately strong G2-class storms are possible, which means auroras could dip into northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

Full story and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

 


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Belka-DX: Installing the new speaker and battery pack from Mobimax

Last month, Mobimax announced a new speaker option for the Belka-DX DSP receiver. This speaker is slightly different from the original Belka-DX speaker in that it has a full-size battery pack and fold-out legs to prop up this pocket-sized receiver.

Mobimax sent one of these speakers to me to install and evaluate at no cost to me–I received it last week and installed it yesterday.

Installation

The installation couldn’t have been more simple: the only tool needed is a small Phillips-Head screwdriver. Note that my Belka-DX already had the original speaker option installed.

All I needed to do was remove the lower two screws on both sides of the Belka chassis.

After doing this, the bottom section of the chassis simply pulls out (do this slowly since there are both battery and speaker jumpers).

Next, I unplugged the speaker and battery jumpers from the original speaker option.

Installing the new speaker section was simply a matter of plugging in the speaker and battery jumpers (each plug is a different size so they can’t be confused), then attaching the new pack to the back of the Belka-DX using the same four screws that had been removed.

The whole process might have taken four or five minutes (mainly because I took photos!).

How does it play?

Since I can’t really do a side-by-side comparison with the original speaker and this one, I simply listened to the original speaker tuned to WWV, WRMI, and the Voice of Greece for a while before installing the new speaker.

Both speakers are obviously very small as the Belka-DX is the most compact shortwave portable I’ve ever laid hands on.

Audio quality

I believe the original speaker has better audio fidelity, likely due to the fact it uses the body of the Belka-DX as an enclosure or resonance chamber. The new speaker has a dedicated enclosure, but it’s maybe 40% the size of the Belka-DX body.

In the end, though? Neither speaker will give you the audio fidelity of a traditional portable. The original speaker is just slightly better than the new one. With the Belka-DX, I see the speaker as a wonderful convenience, but frankly, I reach for earphones or headphones if I want to do DXing or proper broadcast listening.

Battery

The new speaker option allows for a full size battery pack in the Belka-DX. This is probably the biggest selling point of the new speaker. The original speaker option fits both the speaker and a smaller LiIon battery pack on the bottom plate of the radio.

The original speaker and smaller battery pack (top section of this photo)

Since the new speaker option adds a dedicated speaker section, it opens up the full real estate of the bottom plate for a full size battery again.

 

I should also add that the new speaker section matches the original Belka-DX enclosure and speaker in that it’s incredibly durable. Frankly, it feels military-grade and over-engineered. I love it.

Fold-out legs

I really like the fold-out legs on the new speaker. They actually have two indented sections that click into place as you fold them out. This allows for two different stable viewing angles. I prefer having them folded out all the way.

Size

The new speaker option adds a bit of weight and bulk to the Belka-DX.

Again: we’re talking about a wee little radio here, so I can’t imagine someone complaining about the size or weight. The new speaker makes the radio slightly deeper or thicker if you look at it from the side or profile. Frankly, it’s a negligible amount, but worth noting.

Should you buy it?

In my opinion, the main reasons to buy the new speaker option are to take advantage of the longer play time from the full size internal battery and to gain the two fold-out feet.  The Belka-DX is so efficient that even the smaller battery pack in the original speaker option will power this radio for many hours without recharge.

Still, if these two factors are important to you, this is a no-brainer.

I would simply pick the speaker option that best suits your needs.

I must say again that it’s a real pleasure evaluating products that are engineered to the degree of the Belka-DX (and Belka-DSP) and both speaker options. These feel like they’re built to last a lifetime and could really take a beating in my various radio packs and kits.

Many thanks again to Mobimax for dispatching one of these for my evaluation.

Click here to check out the new speaker option from Mobimax.

Click here to read about the original speaker option and its installation.

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