Tag Archives: Dan Robinson

ZOE: More Tristan Da Cuhna QSL cards in the wild–?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following guest post:


SWLing Post readers may recall the story we published last year about the appearance of a rare QSL card from Tristan da Cunha. ZOE Tristan was for decades one of the most sought after stations — it used 3,290 kHz and had a power of 40 watts.

Recently, I received correspondence from a former editor of the old SPEEDX club bulletin who provided copies of two pages from the bulletin from decades ago. These pages make clear that the QSL I obtained in an Ebay auction was not the card that Dave Sharp received:

Dave was, at one point, editor of the DX Montage section of SPEEDX. As can be seen, the ZOE card that he received was signed by a A.L. Patterson while the one I obtained through auction contained a different signer consistent with a QSL received by South African DX’er Eddie de Lange in 1973. However, the card I received was NOT the one pictured in a story about Tristan published in 2010 — the postmark date is different.

That story noted that three DX’ers from South Africa “did manage to receive and QSL ZOE Radio Tristan – Ray Cader, Gerry Wood and Eddie de Lange were among a handful of fortunate Radio Tristan QSL recipients. I am aware of only two other verifications – UK DX’er Anthony Pearce received a QSL in 1973 and Florida DX’er David Sharp received a verification in 1983.”

Since Dave Sharp noted that his QSL collection was unfortunately lost, the ZOE card I obtained through the eBay auction in 2019 was most likely one received by others in the South African group or possibly by the UK DX’er noted in the 2010 story about Tristan.

The headline out of all of this is that it’s quite possible that other Tristan QSLs are floating around out there.

– Dan Robinson


Wow! Thank you for sharing this follow-up story, Dan!

Readers: Please comment if you have a Tristan Da Cuhna QSL card in your collection! These are rare indeed!

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Tecsun PL-990x Initial Assessment

SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, and I have been evaluating a pre-production model of the Tecsun PL-990x portable shortwave radio–the same model which will be soon sold by Anon-Co.

Dan has just completed his initial assessment and included a long-format video. Many thanks to Dan for sharing the following:


Tecsun PL-990x:  An Initial Assessment

by Dan Robinson

Recently, Thomas Witherspoon posted the first photos of the Tecsun PL-990x – we both received units from Anon-co in Hong Kong for testing.

I was able to spend some time outside my house here in Maryland, running the 990x and comparing it to the older receiver by Tecsun, the PL-880.

Tecsun undertook a thorough re-design of the PL-880, which among other things was known for its superb sound through a large speaker.

The 880 was available both on its own, or in a hard-case kit that also included (or includes assuming these are still purchasable) a separate Tecsun-branded solid state recording device, spare knobs and other accessories including Li-ion batteries.

So, the long-awaited PL-990, which we have been seeing in YouTube videos being tested by various individuals who purchased pre-production versions from Asian sites such as AliExpress, is finally here – or will be in coming weeks and months.

Those who view my videos know that I like to do fairly long hands-on tests of receivers, and this is no exception, at about 50 minutes.  My test did not include medium wave or FM, focusing only on shortwave performance and using only the telescopic whip antenna.

Throughout the video, I do put the 990x up against the older PL-880, which had the well-known issue of poorly-implemented synchronous detection (SYNC was not an official feature in the older receiver).

IMPORTANT NOTE:   On the 990x, hitting the “4” key while the radio is powered on activates DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction) which then activates auto-bandwidth switching, a feature I found quite annoying in the PL-880 and would no doubt find just as annoying in the 990x.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want bandwidths auto-switching on their own.

I always tell people who come to me for advice about radios that you don’t always have to have the latest receiver to enjoy what’s left of shortwave.

I am a big fan of classic older portables such as the SONY ICF SW55s, 7600GRs, SW100s, SW-07s, SW-1000Ts, SW-77s, etc along with other classics such as the Panasonic RF-B65.  I own one or more of most of these – they’re a joy to use assuming they are in good condition.

One more thing – I did not compare the 990x to the Tecsun S-8800.  I think they are really different radios – the 8800 has that gorgeous remote control and fantastic audio . . . I really don’t put it in the same category as the 880/990s or even the 600 series Tecsuns.

I will leave extensive tests of the 990x on medium wave and FM to others – there are already quite a few YouTube demonstrations online showing this.  In the tuning I did on MW and FM, the radio did seem quite sensitive.  I noted that whereas the 9 kHz bandwidth is not visible on shortwave, it is on MW.

Here is my list of high points and low points for the 990x.  Since this receiver, and the still-to-be-released H-501, may in fact be the last we will ever see from Tecsun, it’s up to the individual to make a judgment as to whether to buy.

PL-990x High Points

  • A thorough physical re-design of the old PL-880
  • Tecsun has mostly fixed the problem with synchronous mode which is now a regular as opposed to a hidden feature.
  • Selectivity options are still excellent.
  • Calibration function retained (but see below)
  • Audio is fairly full and powerful.
  • Sensitivity seems good
  • Tecsun has added mp3 play capability and a microSD slot
  • Tecsun has added bluetooth capability (NOTE:  This is activated by pressing the RADIO/MP3 key in powered off state, and then toggling Bluetooth on or off with the PLAY/PAUSE button).
  • Tuning and other knobs remain of high quality as on the PL-880
  • Bandwidths given their own separate buttons
  • Line out retained and hidden feature can adjust line out level
  • Claimed “Triple Conversion” in AM mode
  • Timer functions
  • ATS (automatic station tuning) retained
  • Nice faux-leather case retained

PL-990x negatives:

  • Re-design appears to have come at expense of speaker real estate.
  • Synchronous mode improved, but there still seems to be some distortion which is more noticeable on some frequencies and in some reception situations than others.
  • PL-880’s wide AM bandwidth of 9 kHz is no more at least on SW, but it does appear when using MW.
  • Sensitivity seems good BUT in some situations, PL-880 sounded better and seemed to bring in stations better
  • MicroSD capability does not provide recording from broadcasts (likely due to copyright issues)
  • Method for re-calibrating radio is puzzling – more information needed on this
  • Birdies are present
  • Top element of telescopic antenna is VERY thin, vulnerable to bending and breaking
  • Number keys seem to be not as good as they could be – the white paint on the keys is certain to fade over time.  On my test unit part of the “W” on the MW/LW key was already beginning to disappear.

Selectivity comparison of the PL-990x and PL-880

PL-990x

Selectivity Options on SW:

2.3, 3.5, 5.0, 6.0

Selectivity Options LSB/USB:

0.5, 1.2, 2.3, 3.0, 4.0

Selectivity Options LW/MW:

2.3, 3.5, 5.0, 9.0

PL-880

Selectivity Options SW/LW/MW:

2.3, 3.5, 5, 9

Selectivity Options LW/MW:

0.5, 1.2, 2.3, 3.0, 4.0

Video


Many thanks, Dan, for sharing your initial review with us. As always, your expertise as an experienced DXer is incredibly valuable. 

I’ve tested every function on the PL-990 save some of the hidden features (yes, there will be hidden features). Dan and I are both trying to sort out the calibration sequence so that when these units hit the market, there’ll be a documented procedure in place. 

We’ve been comparing notes along the way and are in agreement on all of the major points with this radio. Still more testing to do, but updated with be posted here with the tag: Tecsun PL-990x


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Radio Waves: Switzerland’s Move to Digital, Guyana Rejects USAGM’s Request, Ham Records China/US Encounter, and Farm Radio International Endorsement

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 Mike Terry, Dan Robinson, Ulis Fleming, and William Lee for the following tips:


Switzerland Inches Closer to FM Switch-Off (Radio World)

GENEVA — Switzerland is embarking on the next phase of its digital radio switchover strategy. In May René Wehrlin, media specialist at Switzerland’s Federal Office of Communications (Ofcom) announced the country’s next steps toward the country’s total transition to DAB+.

Ofcom officially confirmed in 2019 that the nation would say “adios” to all FM radio programs by the end of 2024 at the latest. At the time, the “Digital Migration” (DigiMig) working group, set up by the Swiss private and public radio sectors and Ofcom in 2013, stated that 68% of radio listening was digital, 37% of which was via DAB+ and 15% exclusively via FM.[]

Guyana refuses US’ request to facilitate radio broadcasts to Venezuela (Demerara Waves)

Guyana’s President David Granger late Friday said his administration rejected a request by the United States (US) to use the medium wave radio frequencies of this South American nation to broadcast Voice of America programmes to Venezuela.

Mr. Granger said Guyana turned down the request because of security, health and political risks that Guyana could expose itself to with Venezuela which is claiming the Essequibo Region that makes up about two-thirds of this former British colony.

“Given the length of an unpoliced western border, the influx of refugees, the unsettled territorial question and the public health risks, it would not be in our national interest to do anything to contribute to destabilising relations at this time,” the President said.

A US Embassy spokeswoman said the American government was no longer interested in the project. ” The U.S Agency for Global Media is not actively considering this anymore. It is important that the people of Venezuela have access to uncensored news from credible Venezuelan and international journalistic news sources. Guyana has shown leadership in the past, in defense of representative government by joining other Lima Group members from the Americas to strive for a democratic resolution to the crisis in Venezuela,” she said.[]

Close encounter between US-China militaries captured by radio amateur (South China Morning Post)

The Chinese navy has warned off a US military plane that briefly flew close to the southern coast of China, north of the Taiwan Strait, according to a Beijing-based think tank.

In a 34-second scratchy radio recording released by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a think tank based in Beijing, a man – purported to be a Chinese naval official – can be heard saying in English: “This is China Naval Air Force on guard, you are approaching Chinese air domain, change your course immediately or you will be intercepted.”
He then repeated the warning in Mandarin Chinese.

The institute said on its Twitter account that the recording was captured on Thursday morning by a radio amateur. It remains unclear which aircraft was involved, or if there was any face-off in the air.[]

Charity Intelligence recommends Farm Radio International (Charity Intelligence)

Charity Intelligence is recommending donors support Farm Radio International for the coronavirus pandemic. Farm Radio has a network of over 1,000 radio programs reaching more than 250 million people in 41 countries across Africa.

To donate to Farm Radio’s covid-response

Communication is critical in the early stages of a disease outbreak to give people information. Rumours swirl that Africans cannot get coronavirus. Tanzania’s president, Magufuli, said churches should stay open because the coronavirus is “satanic” and “cannot survive in the body of Christ.” As all have witnessed, fake news has harmful consequences with the quick coronavirus.

Farm Radio International is a Canadian, medium-sized charity with donations of $3.9m in 2018. Typically, a charity of this size would not be front of mind in a global response. Yet Farm Radio has the existing platform and local operations to play an effective role reaching millions quickly in a coronavirus response. Early communication is an urgent need. []


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Pentti Stenman’s impressive collection of SWL recordings, QSLs, and pennants

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

Just ran across this guy’s site Pentti Stenman, who is in Finland.
Check out his audio and QLS, pennants as well…

http://www.penan.net/dx-kuuntelu

Pentti’s collection is impressive indeed! Since he’s in Finland, some of his site is in Finnish, but it’s still quite easy to navigate and you can have Google translate it into any language.

I have pasted direct links below to Pentti’s various galleries.

QSL Gallery

Pennants

Recordings:

Thanks again, Dan, for the tip!

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Radio Waves: Tribute to Gene Pell, Dangerous AM Demonstration, White House Criticism of VOA, and Essex Online Classes Break Records

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 Troy Riedel, Dennis Dura, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell 1937-2020 (Radio Free Europe)

As noted in this obituary published by his hometown newspaper, The Paducah Sun, Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell, 83, died quietly on April 7, 2020, at his home near Syria, after a 3-year battle with cancer. Pell served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from 1985-1993, leading the Radios during the peaceful revolutions that occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989-1992.

In Tribute to Gene Pell

In 1989, we who were privileged to serve in the management of RFE/RL as Gene Pell’s colleagues watched the awesome professionalism of RFE/RL’s broadcasters as peaceful revolution swept from the Baltics to the Balkans, and the Radios helped each country share with others the power – even the slogans – of peaceful protest, and the wisdom of restraint by police and armed forces.

Romania was a tragic exception. Ceaucescu’s regime was doomed by RFE’s broadcast of a recording of the shooting of civilians protesting in Timisoara. As Ceaucescu fled Bucharest, and violence by unknown combatants erupted, Gene ordered a million watts of shortwave power from our transmitter stations across Europe diverted to the Romanian service. Before long, Romanian army commanders seeking to restore calm established phone contact with the service in Munich.

In the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Gene saw the need and found the resources to open bureaus across the region and begin on-the-ground reporting by talented local journalists – and local rebroadcasting of RFE/RL programming.

And he persuaded the U.S. government to allow RFE/RL for the first time to broadcast to the former Yugoslavia, during the Bosnian War, with a new, multi-ethnic service led by Nenad Pejic*.

On Gene’s watch, Lennart Meri, Foreign Minister of a newly free Estonia, nominated RFE/RL for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gene’s leadership was crucial as another struggle soon ensued, this time in Washington, as efforts arose to save the federal government money by shrinking or closing the Radios, on the premise that if Europe was free, why did we need Radio Free Europe (and Liberty)? Support from new democratic leaders across the region, notably from Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, helped convince a Presidential Commission addressing this question that the Radios’ mission should not end but evolve, as it has.

The views of these freedom leaders were decisive in keeping RFE/RL on the air and positioned to win the enormous multi-media audience it enjoys today. Gene Pell’s vision is alive for future generations.

Two of my closest colleagues, Ross Johnson and Kevin Klose, join me, as I am sure many others would, in saluting Gene for his contribution to a freer world.

— Robert Gillette []

A Dangerous Demonstration of the Power of Radio (Hackaday)

Terrestrial radio may be a dying medium, but there are still plenty of listeners out there. What would a commute to or from work be without a check of “Traffic on the Eights” to see if you need to alter your route, or an update of the scores from yesterday’s games? Getting that signal out to as many listeners as possible takes a lot of power, and this dangerous yet fascinating demo shows just how much power there is on some radio towers.[]

White House Criticism of VOA, Unprecedented in its 78 year History (Public Diplomacy Council)

The Voice of America is the nation’s largest publicly-funded international broadcaster, reaching 280,000,000 multimedia users in 47 languages each week, many of whom access it daily for honest, balanced and accurate world news.

To most senior VOA officials, past and present, including this writer, an unsigned White House blog on April 9, 1600 Daily, omitted or misstated vital information about the scale and original date of the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China. That blog asserts in a bold headline: “Voice of America spends your money to speak for authoritarian regimes.”

But that attack was just the beginning.

President Trump went even further at his daily news briefing on April 15, largely devoted to the coronavirus. “If you heard what’s coming out of the Voice of America, it’s disgusting”. The President then assailed Congress for failing to take up his nomination of conservative Michael Pack as chief executive of all five U.S. funded multimedia organizations, the U.S.Agency for Global Media, until recently known as the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The USAGM is the oversight body of five overseas multimedia U.S.-funded networks: VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Network in Arabic, and Radio/TV Marti in Spanish to Cuba. Research in approximately 100 countries indicates that collectively, the five networks reach 350,000,000 people abroad every week.[]

Essex Ham Foundation Online Training breaks all records (Southgate ARC)

The Coronavirus outbreak and the RSGB’s introduction of online exams that can be taken at home have led to a surge in demand for free online amateur radio training courses such as that run by Essex Ham

Volunteers from Essex Ham run a completely free online training course for the UK amateur radio Foundation exam.

A record breaking 260 people enrolled on the course that started April 5 with a further 164 waiting to start the next course.

In response to the demand Essex Ham are running an additional course, open to anyone in the UK, starting on April 19.

You can find out more about online training and register to join a course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Essex Ham
https://www.essexham.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexHam


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Video: Antonio’s Kenwood R-2000 Modifications

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following:

Antonio Fernandez, who is in Spain, posted this on the Extreme page. Very interesting R-2000 mods:

Major modifications are adjustable RF GAIN (using the former TONE control), BFO Pitch control (former AM Squelch, FM Squelch is retained) and DSP Audio filtering for SSB and CW. Internal DSP module is SOTABEAMS Laserbeam Filter Module. The former DIMMER and NB push switches are used for switching on (bypassing) the DSP module and bandwidth (CW, SSB) selection.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Those are brilliant modifications on a classic receiver!  Thank you for sharing, Dan!

Check out more videos from Antonio Fernandez on his YouTube channel.

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Fenu posts a Malahit-DSP & Afedri LAN-IQ “Head to Head” comparison

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following video from Fernando Duarte, comparing the Malahit-DSP and the new Afedri LAN-IQ:

Click here to view on YouTube.

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