Tag Archives: Gary DeBock

August 2018 Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition most distant AM-DX

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares this note from the recent Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition:

The most distant AM-DX received during the August 2018 Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition was 558-6WA in Wagin, Western Australia, received during the last session (9 out of 9) at 1252 on August 9th. At 9,154 miles (14,732 km), the ABC “Nightlife” program content was matched to the related ABC website Podcast. The co-channel music is from 558-Radio Fiji One This was received on an XHDATA D-808 portable boosted by a 17″ FSL antenna:

Click here to download the audio file.

What an impressive catch, Gary! Thank you for sharing!

Gary shares some catches from the first day of the Rockwork 5 DXpedition

FSL Antennas poised to grab DX! (Photo: Gary DeBock)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares an update from the latest Rockwork (Utralight) DXpedition. Gary notes (in bold):

First day FSL antenna setup at the Rockwork 5 ocean cliff near Manzanita, Oregon (Craig Barnes in the photo)– outstanding conditions for 558-Fiji and 1017-Tonga!

558 Radio Fiji One Suva, Fiji Awesome signal with island music and medley song ID on the half hour at 1230 (including “Radio Fiji One, Na Domoiviti” at 1:36) :

Click here to download audio.

765 Radio Kahungunu Napier-Hastings, NZ The usual S9 signal from this 2.5 kW overachiever with distinctive Maori music at 1218:

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1017 A3Z Nuku’alofa, Tonga Monster signal with island music at the start of the session at 1221:

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Monster signal with island music near the close of the session at 1314 (in other words, all session long):

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Wow! Impressive catches, Gary! Someday I would love to join your team as you snag signals from the edge of the Rockwork cliff.

Thanks for sharing, Gary and good DX!

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Gary pulls apart and examines the XHDATA D-808


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following report of the XHDATA D-808:


XHDATA D-808 AM-LW-FM-SW-AIR Portable- Tech Report

by Gary DeBock

The XHDATA D-808 portable is an AM-LW-FM-SW-SSB-AIR band model which has already been the subject of many excellent reviews. Until recently the model was not marketed to North American purchasers, but recently a couple of Chinese sellers have started soliciting North American buyers via eBay listings.

My own interest in the model was in comparing its AM Band performance to that of the best performing Ultralight radios– specifically the CC Skywave and Skywave SSB models. Although the D-808 is slightly larger than the 20 cubic inch limit for Ultralight radios, its size and weight make it very convenient to take along as a “travel portable,” specifically as an SSB-enhanced model capable of checking transoceanic station carrier strength on exotic ocean beaches. The Skywave SSB model can also do that– but at a $169.99 list price, compared to the $112.86 (plus $10 shipping) cost of the D-808. In addition, none of the published D-808 reviews seemed to have any information about internal components like the loopstick, or Si4735 DSP chip.

My first test was to compare the stock Skywave SSB model with the D-808 in fringe AM station reception. The Skywave SSB model has a reputation of being one of the most sensitive Ultralight radios, but the D-808 clearly outperformed it on both low band fringe station (550-KARI) and high band fringe station (1700-City of Auburn TIS) reception. The D-808 couldn’t quite hang with a 7.5″ loopstick Skywave model, but that only made me curious about how the same modification could enhance the D-808. So… it was time to disassemble the D-808, and find out why its loopstick was such a superior performer.

The D-808’s 3 7/8″ (98mm) loopstick is shown adjacent to the 2 3/4″ (70mm) loopstick of the CC Skywave models. The D-808 is much easier to disassemble than the CC Skywave models, though, so enhanced loopstick transplants should prove to be quite popular in the D-808.

The D-808 loopstick is 3.7/8″ (98mm) long, while that of the CC Skywave SSB model is only 2 3/4″ (70mm) long. Other reviewers have noted the excellent performance of the D-808 on the AM band, and this is probably one of the main reasons. The SSB mode operates very similar to that of the Skywave SSB in providing a quick check of carrier strength on weak AM band targets– the LSB mode can be set to +55, and the radio tuned to different frequencies to check fringe station carrier strength. This can provide a real-time check of propagation changes during time-limited propagation openings for live ocean beach DXing with Ultralight radios or other portables (or with the D-808 itself, if desired).

The D-808’s Si4735 DSP chip was initially used in the Eton Traveler III Ultralight radio model, which was fully reviewed in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout (where it won top honors for MW sensitivity). The D-808 augments that capability with a significantly longer loopstick, plus multiple DSP filtering selections. As such, the D-808 in stock form should be a very superb performer.

The Si4735 DSP chip has markings of “3560, DCUL, .738” and provides a wide range of AM bandwidth choices for the Medium Wave DXer (6K, 4K, 3K, 2.5K, 2K, 1.8K and 1K). These perform very well, and as with the other DSP-enhanced portables, the narrowest bandwidth (1K) provides the most sensitive AM band reception.

In construction very similar to that of the CC Skywave, the D-808 separates into two main circuit boards, connected together by a plug-in ribbon cable. One strange quirk is that the Si4735 DSP chip is located on the RF board (close to the center right edge). The Si4735 DSP chip is also used in the Eton Traveler III Ultralight radio, and although that model lacks the multiple DSP filter selections of the D-808, is has been the subject of highly successful 7.5″ loopstick transplant modifications– proving that such enhanced Medium Wave and Longwave loopsticks will perform very well in the new, Si4735 chip- powered D-808.

Disassembly of the D-808 model is fairly straightforward in comparison to the CC Skywave models, and the technician doesn’t need to memorize a detailed reassembly protocol in order to perform a routine loopstick transplant operation. Neither C.Crane nor XHDATA are likely to show any sympathy to someone botching up an antenna transplant, so you need to be confident that that your skills are superior to those of the company technicians before taking the plunge. In the CC Skywave and CC Skywave SSB models various parts fit together like a puzzle, but the D-808 isn’t like that. It should prove to be a fairly popular model for enhanced MW and LW loopsticks.

Those considering a purchase of the D-808 should be advised that its type 18650 Li-ion 3.7v battery is not commonly available at most stores, and that Postal regulations supposedly forbid shipping these batteries through the mail. One of the eBay sellers (harelan ecommerce) did manage to ship me two of the standard XHDATA type 18650 batteries through the mail (along with two new D-808 models) but if your seller won’t do this, you can still purchase the batteries on eBay. Some of the 18650 batteries sold on eBay have a flat positive terminal which won’t contact the D-808 cabinet’s positive battery connector terminal, but in such a case you can simply insert a #8 lockwasher in between the two, and the arrangement will be very secure. From that point on you can simply recharge the battery with a USB terminal connector.


Thank you for sharing this technical overview of the XHDATA D-808, Gary! I’m looking forward to the antenna mods you’ll no doubt make to this compact DX machine!

Click here to read other posts about the XHDATA D-808 and here to read posts by Gary DeBock.

Sunset DX on Gary DeBock’s Cook Islands DXpedition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following notes from his Cook Islands Ultralight DXpedition:


Sunset on the Cook Islands

Aitutaki Sunset DX

Aitutaki in the Cook Islands had some dazzling sunsets, and [my wife] loved to take sunset pictures with her new phone. Of course, I participated as well. As a result, sunset DXing was pretty rare while on the trip, although 7 USA mainland stations crashed the Kiwi sunset skip DXing sessions later in the evening around 0700 UTC. None of the usual Vancouver-Seattle-Portland-San Francisco TP-DXing pest stations made it to the South Pacific, though– and I didn’t miss them a bit! 

610 KEAR San Francisco, California (5 kW at 4,610 miles/ 7,419 km) “Family Radio for the West Coast,” Christian religious format received at fair level at 0835 UTC on 4-12:

Click here to download audio.

640 KFI Los Angeles, California (50 kW at 4,570 miles/ 7,355 km) Strong (S9) level with commercial ads at 0633 UTC on 4-12:

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1070 KNX Los Angeles, California (50 kW at 4.570 miles/ 7,355 km) Powerful (S7) level with “1070 Newsradio” ID at 3 seconds, followed by national news at 0730 UTC on 4-10:

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1160 KSL Salt Lake City, Utah (50 kw at 5,144 miles/ 8,278 km) Powerful (S7) level with weather and station ID at 33 seconds, followed by public service ads at 0901 UTC on 4-12:

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1170 KFAQ Tulsa, Oklahoma (50 kW at 5,642 miles/ 9,080 km) Strong signal over apparent DU English co-channel with “Coast-to-Coast” ID at 44 seconds; thanks to Richard Allen for confirming the broadcast of the program on the station at 0845 UTC on 4-12:

Click here to download audio.

1430 KMRB San Gabriel, California (9.8 kW at 4,577 miles/ 7,366 km) Cantonese Chinese format at S7 level with commercial ads at 0830 UTC on 4-12:

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1640 KDIA Vallejo, California (10 kW at 4,633 miles/ 7,456 km) “1640-KDIA” ID at 6 seconds with Christian religious format at S5 level at 0807 UTC on 4-10:

Click here to download audio.


Thank you for sharing, Gary!  Your enthusiasm for MW DX is infectious!