When the clouds part and the sun shines during the winter in the Seattle, Washington area, it’s time for a celebration! I decided to take advantage of the mild weather and compare the XDATA D-808 (a real upstart in the marketplace, and a value leader in portables) against a few other radios on a nice daytime signal from Radio New Zealand International, 15720 kHz.
Besides the D-808, receivers compared to each other were: the C. Crane Skywave SSB (complete with stray cat’s whisker on the LCD :^) , the Eton Executive Satellit, the Grundig G3, and a beautiful example of the rare Sony ICF-SW1000T (sometimes called the Sony Shortwave Walkman due to the built-in cassette recorder). My apologies for the lower audio setting on the G3.
The antenna used with each radio was a PK Loops “Ham Loop” antenna, which is advertised as covering 3.5 – 14.5 MHz, but my loop actually tunes approximately 3.2 MHz to 15.8 MHz. I also briefly received RNZI on each radio’s own whip antenna.
I used the 3.0 kHz bandwidth on all the SiLabs DSP radios, and the narrow filter on the G3. The ICF-SW1000T has a single filter, so it cannot be adjusted.
Since the G3 and the ICF-SW1000T have the option of synchronous-AM detection, in the video I cycle through those modes on these receivers.
RNZI on their 15720 kHz frequency is often at a good, program listening level in my local afternoons. Next week I plan to seek out and share videos of the D-808 with weak DX signals from an RF-quiet location on the Oregon coast.
Which receiver sounds the best to you with the external antenna, and which one shines with its own whip aerial? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington. He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Steve Lebkuecher, who writes:
I was a little surprised to see a batch of new Grundig G3s selling for $79.99 on eBay. Given the quality issues with the G3 it may be a bit of a risk but what a great deal if you could get one that works. I have enjoy mine but ended up having to return the first one I bought due to issues with the sync.
Thanks for all you do, I always appreciate your website!
Many thanks for the tip, Steve! You’re right, if this batch of new, un-opened radios is from the last production run of G3s, there could be inconsistency in quality control. The seller, hileydeals, has a 99.6% positive rating and offers, “14 days money back or item exchange, buyer pays return shipping.” So, if you purchase a G3 and feel it’s not performing up to spec, then you could return for a full refund within 14 days, but you’ll be out your return shipping.
I’ve owned a total of three Grundig G3s over the years and have never been displeased with one. I may have simply been lucky. In fact, the G3 was my go-to travel portable for quite a few years. I gave two G3s away and still have one here in my collection. It’s a sensitive little radio and certainly worth the $79.99 price (if not one of the faulty units).
Not really a surprise, but I’ve confirmed that the Grundig G3 has been discontinued. They are still available, for the moment, from Universal Radio and online sources like Amazon.com. I would not advise buying from Amazon as I’ve received numerous complaints that they’ve shipped faulty units. Universal Radio, on the other hand, is testing each an every G3 leaving their shop.
With the exit of the G3, this leaves Grundig with the following selection of shortwave portables:
I agree and I do feel cautiously optimistic about the Tecsun PL-880. Could it be my new travel radio? Though I still happily travel with the Grundig G3, Sony ICF-SW7600GR and Tecsun PL-380, a guy can’t have too many radios to choose from!
I’ll plan to review the PL-880 once it’s available. I’m particularly interested in seeing how it stacks up against the venerable Tecsun PL-660.
This year at the Dayton Hamvention, my good friend Eric, retiree of the Air National Guard, took me onto the nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Eric is a good buddy and fellow ham, and for several years now, we’ve made it a point to visit both the National Museum of the US Air Force and Wright Patterson AFB while at the Hamvention. This year he was in need of some gear, so we visited the store where those on active duty purchase Air Force-approved gear and clothing. Being a bit of a pack fanatic, I of course quickly found the backpack section. I was searching for the perfect small radio gear pack, and I think I found it: The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat Organizer.
This little pack (roughly the size of a larger-format paperback book at 10″ high, 7.25″ wide x 3″ thick) is built very well–it seems nearly bullet-proof. It immediately suggested several uses. Here are a few of its advertised features:
14 separate storage compartments/ slots
A unique “inside-out” design which allows for instant open access while inside packs
12″ gear-keeper leash for keys, lights, etc.
Clear business card/ID window
External mesh pocket
External accessory loops and carrying handle
“D”-ring attachment points for optional shoulder strap
Fully zippered perimeter allows for a 90° opening
Extremely tough Cordura® 1000D nylon exterior lined with heavy duty nylon pack cloth
Fully seam-taped interior
High-tensile nylon web attachment points and
Bar-tack reinforcements at critical stress points
One glance at the Pack-Rat, and I knew that one of its two largest interior pockets could hold my larger shortwave portables, the other could hold my Kindle Fire tablet, and there would still be plenty of room for wires, cables, accessories, and headphones.
After bringing it home, I was simply amazed at exactly how much gear it could readily hold. And indeed, this summer I’ve taken it on several trips; including my July trip to Belize for which I packed all of my gear into one small convertible carry-on pack (a small Timbuk2 Wingman).
Here’s the list of items I stashed in the Pack-Rat:
At this point, the little pack was full, but could close very easily and didn’t even bulge on the sides; even with all that (somewhat bulky) gear inside.
Best yet, as I moved around in town, I could use the shoulder strap from my convertible backpack on the Pack-Rat, making it very easy to carry. Even though most of the internal pockets are open from the top, I never had anything fall out, even when the pack was upside down. When the pack shuts, it seems to put enough pressure on the pockets to hold items securely. It’s bright yellow interior makes it very easy to see the contents even in dim conditions, such as on a night flight.
For the past week, I’ve been traveling: this time, in the inner-city section of Belize City on behalf of Ears To Our World, where we’ve been working with ETOW’s partner organization, The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI). I had the honor of working with a group of visually-impaired and blind children, giving each a self-powered shortwave radio, along with instruction on its use.
One of our talented advisory board members, David Korchin (KC2WNW)–also an avid SWLer–met me on this recent adventure. One afternoon, we found a moment to pull out our portable radios. Turns out, he had brought his Grundig G5 while I had my Grundig G3. So we sat back to listen: to broadcast stations (including RRI and REE), to ham radio communications, and to some medium wave stations, including Radio Reloj on 790 kHz. Some great radio listening, by the way.
It was interesting to observe that in almost every case, the G3 had a slight edge on the G5. The G3 noise floor was slightly lower, and audio characteristics slightly better, than the G5’s. Where the G3 really had an edge, though, was on single-side band, where its selectivity was far superior to that of the G5.
With that said, if you purchase a G3, be sure to check out your unit’s performance thoroughly–and keep your receipt. When Amazon last posted a sale on the G3, we had several reports of faulty units (check out the comment thread in this post). Though I cannot confirm this, I suspect these may be among the final units of the G3 production line. Choose carefully, and you’ll enjoy a great radio.