Tag Archives: DanH

Sangean ATS-909X2: Dan’s quick update with notes about firmware updates

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who provides the following update and news as he evaluates the new Sangean ATS-909X2:

I have a few items to report after hitting the six weeks mark with the new Sangean ATS-909X2.

My radio was equipped with firmware VER 070. I have been on the lookout for gremlins that could be attributed to this firmware version. I found only one. There are delta symbols on the display that indicate whether FAST or SLOW tuning speeds have been selected. These symbols disappeared after I switched shortwave bands by using the SW button + SW meter band button command. The symbols returned if the STEP button was used.

The Sangean auto bandwidth feature seems to be a first in multiband portable radios. This feature is very promising. It is most effective for shortwave and MW reception when listening to spoken word programming and when an optimal tone control setting has been chosen. The audio filter for NEWS highlights the conversational voice range. If you are having difficulty copying words from a demanding signal the auto bandwidth and audio filter combination may provide just the extra punch that you are looking for.

I am currently without a 909X2 and have gone back to using my 909Xs. I returned the 909X2 to Sangean America at Santa Fe Springs in California this week for an upgrade to firmware VER 073. I received an email from Sangean’s service technician this afternoon saying that my 909X2 accepted the firmware update! He included a photo of my radio on the bench next to the purpose-built jig provided for this upgrade by Sangean headquarters in Taiwan.

Owners of a Sangean ATS-909X2 that was distributed by Sangean America may contact them regrading an update to firmware VER 073.

This offer applies only to the 909X2 model that has software VER 070 installed (not VER 073). Sangean America will provide you with a product recall form including return instructions and a prepaid mailing label.

https://www.sangean.com/company/contact_info.asp

I’m looking forward to the return of my 909X2. I held off from making station memory entries so I’ll be manually entering them from my 909Xs soon. The new A21 frequencies are here!

Thank you so much for the update and tips regarding VER 073 firmware updates, Dan!

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Dan provides an update to his Sangean ATS-909X2 first impressions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who shares the following update to his first impressions of the Sangean ATS-909X2:


Update: Sangean ATS-909X2 First Impressions

by DanH

Sangean USA will offer a free software update to customers who have purchased the first USA mass production version of Sangean ATS-909X2. These radios are equipped with software VER-070. This is the same 909X2 version that I purchased last week and used for my “First Impressions” article. The software update to VER-073 will feature various bug fixes. Software VER-073 will be included with the ATS-909X2 shipment arriving at Sangean USA in March, 2021. These bug fixes are of a technical nature and beyond my ability to describe at this writing.

Sangean USA will offer 909X2 VER-070 owners a software update to VER-073 if they want it and as soon as Sangean USA receives the necessary update device from Sangean Headquarters.

So far, I have noticed no software bugs in 909X2 operation but like everyone else I am still new at using this radio. I hope to start entering saved shortwave station entries from my 909Xs into the 909X2 this week. In other notes, AIR band is working very well with my local international airport some 20 miles away. I also did a test on the 909X2 external antenna jack and confirmed that plugging an external antenna into this jack will disconnect the built-in ferrite bar antenna for MW and the telescopic whip for SW.

To display the 909X2 software version:

1. power up the radio
2. press and hold the INFO button for two seconds
3. turn the tuning dial until VER XXX appears on the display
4. to clear this information wait 10 seconds or hit the C button

Further details will follow as they develop.

May your shortwave listening be good and the geomagnetic field quiet.

DanH


Thank you for the update, Dan! 

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Dan’s first impressions of the new Sangean ATS-909X2

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


Sangean ATS-909X2 First Impressions

by DanH

A few hours spent tuning a new radio are enough to make me feel confident that I know most of the new features and how to use them. Then several days, weeks or months later I discover overlooked features and I figure out new ways to operate the radio. Sometimes I actually read the operating instructions again. Understand that I received my new Sangean ATS-909X2 only three days ago so this early report is hardly a comprehensive review nor was it intended as such. At this point I’m looking mostly at shortwave and medium wave performance.

My first experience with the new Sangean ATS-909X2 was online at the Amazon shopping site. On December 16, 2020 I pre-ordered the radio for US $459.99 (list price). The radio didn’t ship and the prices dropped a couple of times. Each time I cancelled the order before it shipped and ordered it again at the lower price. In the end I ordered my 909X2 for $297.95 and paid for it with credit card bonus points and a little more that I had on my Amazon gift card.

The 909X2 arrived on Friday afternoon, February 19. I devoted the first 24 hours to tuning around on SW and a little MW only. I deliberately made no videos at this time and devoted my radio time to exploring the bands. The latest addition to the ATS-909 series is a well thought out evolution of the radio and much more than a 909X with a cosmetic facelift. The 909X2 retains the excellent speaker sound of its predecessor, the tuning knob is unchanged from late production 909X, the solid build quality remains the same as does the general layout, performance, size and weight. SSB audio for the 909X2 remains at a lower level than for AM, like 909X. I don’t like having to turn the radio volume up for ECSS or SSB. Like 909X, the new radio excels with external antennas and is not easily overloaded by a lot of wire antenna.

Like 909X, 909X2 occupies an interesting niche in the portable multiband world. It is a little too large and heavy for a travel radio but over the years I have packed it many times in my carry-on bag. Sometimes I am willing to sacrifice extra clothes if it means bringing the best radio. These radios excel on a desk or radio room work station. The radio is big and powerful enough to provide top notch sound for all modes. Late at night I run mine with Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. With 909X2 you get top performance in a small package. It is an over-used metaphor but think of a 1950 – 60’s communications receiver in a small package, plus VHF air band and FM. The speaker audio sounds better for broadcasts than many Amateur rigs.

There are many new features with the 909X2. Instead of charging NiMH batteries like Eneloop in series the 909X2 monitors each cell individually and identifies failing cells for you. SSB resolution is now selectable 10 – 20 Hz, auto-bandwidth control may be used on all bands except SSB on HF. There are many more memory slots available in three separate banks. The LCD has dimmer settings, soft muting is switchable for FM and the keyboard beeper may be shut off! Instead of hidden features the 909X2 has an INFO/MENU button for customizing your operating options.

The new bandwidth choices make a real improvement in LW, MW, SW, FM and VHF airband signal quality especially when adjusted in tandem with the audio tone control. Automatic bandwidth control selects the bandwidth that offers the best signal-to-noise ratio. Now I understand why the 9090X2 shortwave bandwidths are relatively closely-spaced: auto control shifts quickly between multiple bandwidths. Too much space between bandwidths would sound jarring. The auto bandwidth control is most useful during heavy fading and has improved my ability to copy words on poor AM broadcast signals. This feature does add an odd effect to fading signals: the audio tone quality will shift as different bandwidths are selected. This feature is not something that I would leave ON as a default for shortwave listening but it is definitely a welcome tool when needed.

MW performance is as good as the 909X but with improvements made possible with more bandwidth and memory slot availability. I found that 909X2 LW is generally better than 909X with fewer MW images. I am hearing substantially more LW beacons on 909X2. LW activity is very limited here on the US West Coast.

10 Hz SSB resolution means that ECSS is excellent on the 909X. I can tune a shortwave music broadcast on the 909X2 without warble. This was impossible with the 909X 40 Hz resolution.

The 909X sold near US $220 for most of the last five years with a few rare Amazon holiday sales at the $190 level. Then the prices jumped another $30 post-Covid 19, as did prices for other radios in this range.

Is 909X2 worth the additional money right now? I say yes! Mine is a keeper.

I do not believe that there will be significant improvements coming along any time soon. Sangean is a private Taiwanese company with its own factory located in PRC. 20 pre-production units delivered to Europe in January are not the same batch as the retail production units released by Sangean USA this month. Sangean USA has two of the pre-production units. They did not offer these for sale. The first retail production units arrived at Sangean USA in mid-February before the Lunar New Year. If there are significant changes for 909X2 we won’t see those radios for at least another 6 – 8 weeks. I can’t see much need for significant changes anyway.

Believe it or not I have been very busy with the Sangean ATS-909X2 and haven’t tried FM or VHF air band on it yet!

This video is a companion to my first impressions written here. Hearing and seeing video is hard to beat. SW and MW features are shown in real-life reception conditions. I test for the dreaded LCD/hand capacitance internal noise and have a look, listen and comparison for telescopic whip performance. And you will hear DX too, not just Brother Stair. You need to see and watch auto bandwidth control to believe it.

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this, Dan. Very encouraging. We look forward to publishing your updates as you get to know the 909X2 even better! 

Sangean ATS-909X2 Retailers:

All prices are current at time of posting (22 Feb 2021).

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Dan receives his new Sangean ATS-909X2

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

Thomas,

My Sangean ATS-909X2 arrived in excellent condition late this Friday afternoon. I will enjoy a shortwave session with the radio this evening and early next morning. Other than setting the clock to UTC and tuning in XEPPM Radio Educacion in Mexico City I haven’t spent much time with it yet. This 909X2 was purchased from Amazon in the USA and is a retail production model distributed by Sangean USA. I will check-in on Sunday night to share some early impressions.

DanH

Many thanks, Dan! We look forward to your impressions and evaluation!

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Dan’s respect for Hammarlund and the SP-600 series

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who shares the following comment in response to this news article from the Citizen Times featured in Radio Waves yesterday:

Here are my thanks to members of the Amateur Radio community and The News-Record & Sentinel for remembering the legacy of Hammarlund Manufacturing Company Incorporated. It is good to know that this part of our radio history is valued and preserved. I loved the newspaper article!

I have a few vintage Hammarlund radios including two Super-Pro models. The SP-600-JX-21 is one of my daily drivers. This relatively late production SP-600 is in stock condition with the exception of a half dozen electrolytic capacitors that I replaced mostly in the power supply. By the time this SP-600 was built in 1957 Hammarlund had replaced the short-lived black beauty electrolytes with ceramic disc capacitors. Like military and industrial users I upgraded the original nickel plated tube shields with IERC heat dissipating tube shields where possible. I also installed vintage GE No. 1847 long-life incandescent bulbs as direct replacements for the brighter (too bright, for me) No. 47 dial lamps.

Here are my two most recent reception videos of the SP-600. The first features reception of Radio National da Amazonia and the second is a brief operating demo of the SP-600. The loudspeaker used in both videos is a full-range vintage Jensen 10? with matching transformer from the 1950’s instead of a communications range speaker typically used with these radios. This makes a big difference when listening to broadcasts.

This old Hammarlund is still working pretty well.

RN da Amazonia

SP-600 operating demo

Wow! Thank you for sharing this, Dan!

I used to own an SP-600 myself and I do miss it. The only reason I sold it is I was struggling to find a spot in my very compact shack where I could keep it on the air as a daily driver, yet still have enough room to bring new radios and accessories into the shack for evaluation. Moving it around all of the time (especially higher on my radio shelves) was incredibly difficult as she’s a hefty girl indeed! I ended up selling the ‘600 to a good friend for a song. That’s okay because like you, I know he’ll keep her in prime operating condition and I can even pop by to visit when I wish! I do miss having the ‘600 in the shack, though. It was truly a champion MW receiver as well!

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Dan discovers a video and photo montage of VOK listeners

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

The YouTube channel Phuong DPRK Daily recently posted a video titled Listeners to Radio “Voice of Korea” in Pictures. This video offers a look at photos of VOK Voice of Korea (DPRK) shortwave listeners. I recognize the voice of one of the VOK newscasters as the narrator of this video. It is interesting to take note of the shortwave receivers shown in the photos as well. This video was also posted on the Voice of Korea website on September 25, 2020.

I listen to the English Language Service of VOK Voice of Korea from my suburban listening post in Northern California, USA. The VOK English language broadcasts beamed to South America usually provide the best reception for me. Here is my most recent reception video of VOK. It was recorded on November 10, 2020.

There are more reception videos of VOK available at my website Willow Slough DX. These videos include newscasts read by the male announcer heard on the photo album video.

Happy SWLing! The shortwave broadcast bands are beginning to improve after the long nadir of solar minimum!

DanH

Thanks for sharing this, Dan!

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Voice of Korea announces new English language schedule effective March 31, 2019

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

For SWLing Post readers here is a YouTube reception video of VOK announcing a new shortwave schedule for the English Language Service.

Click here to view on YouTube.

The schedule is effective beginning 03:00 UTC, March 31, 2019.

Southeast Asia:

  • 05:00 – 06:00 UTC: 13650 and 15105 kHz
  • 10:00 – 11:00 UTC: 11735 and 13650 kHz

Middle East and Northern Africa:

  • 16:00 – 17:00 UTC: 9890 and 11645 kHz
  • 19:00 – 20:00 UTC: 9875 and 11635 kHz

Southern Africa:

  • 19:00 – 20:00 UTC: 7210, 11910 kHz

Central and South America:

  • 04:00 – 05:00 UTC: 11735, 13760 and 15180 kHz
  • 10:00 – 11:00 UTC: 11710 and 15180 kHz

Good luck if you like chasing VOK!

DanH

Thanks for the tip, DanH!

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