Tag Archives: Digitech AR-1780

No power, but radioactive–!

My CommRadio CR-1a, with an internal lithium battery, is the perfect off-grid radio companion.

Monday night, the remnants of Hurricane Irma moved through western North Carolina. Because the SWLing Post HQ is at a high altitude compared with the surrounding area, we received higher than forecast winds. Still, we made it through fine and feel pretty darn lucky.

Yesterday afternoon, even though we maintained power throughout the storm, the utilities company cut power to our road due to a tree that had fallen on a pole that also supported a transformer. It’s a tangled mess. Since there are about 17,000 without power in our rural area, it’ll be some time before power is restored to our road–likely late Friday evening or sometime this weekend.

Loss of power isn’t a major problem for us since our refrigerator and freezer are off-grid and solar powered 100% of the time anyway. We also have a propane stove to cook on and plenty of charged battery packs and flashlights (and at least half a dozen HumanaLights in service).

On the plus side?  Even though our house is pretty RFI free, when the power is cut, it’s amazingly radio quiet.

I listened to RRI last night on the CommRadio CR-1a (see above). Later, I sat in bed with the pilot run CC Skywave SSB and tuned through the 31 meter broadcast band, the 40, 80 and 160 meter ham bands and the mediumwave broadcast band. Happy to say that the Skywave SSB did an amazing job–and propagation was decent. Reception was so good, it felt like I was camping in a national forest. Just makes one realize how all the devices in our home add to that RFI noisy environment.

We count ourselves lucky as news from all of the areas that took the full impact of Hurricane Irma is simply gobsmacking.

This morning, I listened to a few HF nets on the 80 and 40 meter bands with the Digitech AR1780–I noted no less than five hams reporting that they were operating on generator power. I believe this hurricane has caused one of the largest power outages we’ve ever had in the US due to a natural disaster.

Note that since I don’t have power at home, I also don’t have Internet service–keep this in mind if you attempt to contact me this week.  I will post quick updates to the SWLing Post while I’m in town, however I will certainly fall behind on correspondence. Thanks for understanding.

Video: Daytime mediumwave shootout with the Tecsun S-8800

The Tecsun S-8800

About a week ago, I received a re-engineered version of the Tecsun S-8800 from Anna at the excellent online retailer, Anon-Co.

If you recall, I evaluated an early production unit of the S-8800 in February and while putting it through the paces, I discovered loud, warbling DSP birdies throughout the mediumwave and shortwave bands. Tecsun, to their credit, pulled the S-8800 from production to address the issue.

My schedule last week made it impossible to carve out the dedicated time I needed to begin an S-8800 evaluation.

Yesterday, however, I spent the afternoon with my family at Richland Balsam, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway (6,000′ ASL) and a completely RFI-free zone. I brought the Tecsun S-8800 and a few other portables along for the ride–namely the Digitech AR-1780, the C.Crane CC Skywave and the Panasonic RF-2200.

I had just enough available space on my smart phone to record this one short video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Let’s be clear: comparing any modern radio with the RF-2200 on mediumwave is hardly fair.

For one, the RF-2200 has been out of production for a few decades.

Secondly (what I never finished saying in the video is that) the RF-2200 has a large rotatable ferrite bar antenna that provides excellent gain. The RF-2200 simply wipes the floor with all of my modern portables as their ferrite bar antennas are a fraction of the size.

In other words, the RF-2200 was engineered to rule mediumwave like a boss.

On shortwave, the RF-2200 does a fine job, but isn’t nearly as accurate and stable as modern DSP receivers.

Spoiler alert

Still, as the video indicates, my final review of the Tecsun S-8800 will indicate that it is not a receiver for the serious Mediumwave DXer. It’s been my experience that few shortwave portables are excellent on both HF and MW.

At home, tuned to local station 880 AM.

Of course you can’t tell from the video, but the S-8800 actually sounds brilliant when tuned to a relatively strong/local AM station, but either a lack of sensitivity or internal noise makes MW DXing a challenge.

I spent the better part of two hours yesterday evaluating its daytime MW performance–the video is pretty indicative of my findings. The S-8800 struggles with weak stations, but does a fine job with strong ones. It’s overall audio fidelity almost matches that of the RF-2200 when tuned to a strong broadcast. I’ve yet to test evening MW

The S-8800 still has some birdies on MW, but they’re not the loud warbling kind found on the previous model. Tecsun did properly address this, though in full disclosure, I haven’t fully explored the shortwave bands yet.

Shortwave?

I suspect the S-8800’s performance on shortwave will be much better than mediumwave because the previous S-8800 showed excellent results. As long as sensitivity wasn’t harmed while addressing the DSP birdies, I expect it’ll give the PL-880, PL-680 and Sony ICF-SW7600GR a run for their money.

Still…the lesson learned yesterday?

The Panasonic RF-2200 is the indisputable champion of mediumwave!

UPDATE: Click here to read our full Tecsun S-8800 review.

Video: Peter’s review of the Digitech AR-1780

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), who comments:

There’s a quick and dirty video review of the AR-1780 by Peter VK3YE, which highlights a few interesting quirks (if that’s the right word!) with this receiver. Some birdies, specs that don’t appear accurate, and a query over one of the bandwidth settings. Well worth a look!:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you for sharing this video review, Robert!

Peter (VK3YE) has done an excellent job indeed summing up the AR-1780–his notes and comments mirror my own. I would have never caught that oddity with the 1.2 to 1 kHz bandwidth reversal.

I plan to post my full review in the coming weeks, but in the meantime release a few comparison videos. Click here to follow my AR-1780 posts.

Check out Peter’s website by clicking here and his YouTube channel by clicking here.

Video: The Digitech AR-1780 on single sideband

With travels, solar eclipse events and family activities this week, I’ve had very little time to play radio.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day though, so I took the family to the Blue Ridge Parkway and (of course) packed a couple portable radios.

While we all enjoyed a picnic, I pulled out the AR-1780 with the intention of exploring its SSB performance and audio fidelity. I found an Islands On The Air (IOTA) activation with a decent pileup on 14,250 kHz.

I shot this short video with my smart phone:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the AR-1780 on SSB. The noise floor is pretty low, the filter selections are handy and the overall audio is comparable to slightly larger portable radios.

The dedicated fine tune control is quite handy, even though it’s oddly located on the right side of the radio (where one typically finds a volume control).

I’m putting together a short review of the AR-1780, but will need more air and comp time before I form any firm opinions.

For readers that have made it this far down the post, you might recognize a yet-to-be-released portable next to the AR-1780. Of course, I’m comparing it with the AR-1780 and its predecessor, but it’s not a production run unit (yet!), so I can’t comment on performance. Stay tuned, though, as I will be posting more in the coming days!

Digitech AR-1780: unboxing, photos and initial impressions

Yesterday, prior to heading out the door for two days of travel, I received the Digitech AR-1780 I ordered ten days ago from an Australian eBay vendor. I’m very pleased with how quickly the order was processed and delivered via the post. The radio arrived in a rugged mail pouch and was double boxed inside.
I’ve had no time to evaluate the radio’s performance yet, but I thought I’d post a few photos I took while unboxing the AR-1780.

There’s not much in the box: just the radio and an owner’s manual. There are no batteries, no charger, and no case or carry bag. That’s okay though as the AR-1780 takes standard AA cells and I have an assortment of bags that can protect it in my suitcase.

The buttons all have a responsive, tactile feel. The hard plastic chassis feels durable.

I really like the dedicated fine tune control on the right side of the radio.  Nice touch! But 7 VDC in? That’s an odd voltage for a power supply. That’s okay by me as I never use wall wart type power supplies due to inherent noise–rechargeable Enloop AA batteries are how I power all of my portables. Bonus! There’s also a dedicated external antenna jack! One odd thing, though, is the AR-1780 breaks the convention of having the volume control on the right side of the radio–it’s on the left instead. Last night, I tuned around the 31 meter band and the AM broadcast band.  I listened to the French language service of Radio Romania International from inside a noisy house–armchair copy.

The AR-1780 has an impressive 7 AM bandwidth settings: 6, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.8 and 1 kHz. My radio defaulted to 2.5 kHz, so you’ll want to widen that to 4 or 6 kHz before listening to most broadcasts.

I really like the display–it’s compact, yet contains quite a lot of info and even has a dedicated line for FM RDS content.

This morning, I took a couple shots of the AR-1780 next to the venerable CC Skywave. The Skywave is slightly smaller in every dimension.

Stay tuned! Though this is a very busy week for me–with travels and total solar eclipse preparations–I plan to put the Digitech AR-1780 through the paces. I’ll try to post updates as I have time.  Follow the tag: Digitech AR-1780