Tag Archives: Panasonic RF-B65

2019 BBC Midwinter Broadcast: Comparing the Panasonic RF-B65 and GE 7-2990A

The GE 7-2990A (left) and Panasonic RF-B65 (right)

This has been a very crazy and radio-active weekend!

It started with a busy Friday that was capped off with the BBC Midwinter Broadcast and then continued into Saturday with a Parks On The Air activation and  Field Day at Mount Mitchell State Park.

In short: it’s been a lot of fun!

I’ll plan to give a short report of Field Day later–it was one to remember–but first let’s talk about the 2019 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica

To the field!

The Midwinter Broadcast has never been an easy catch here in North America–after all, the BBC aim their signals to Antarctica–but I always manage to receive the program with only a portable and I’m almost always travelling on the day of the broadcast.

This year, I was actually at home and could have used one of my SDRs at home to snag the broadcast, but it’s become a bit of a tradition to listen in the field, so that’s what I did.

Knowing how difficult it would be to receive the broadcast–especially given the poor propagation–I reached for one of my “Holy Grail” portables: the Panasonic RF-B65.

The Panny RF-B65 is a portable DX hound!

I never take only one radio to the field, though, so I decided it was time to give the hefty GE 7-2990A a little outdoor time on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The GE 7-2990A

I’ve only had the GE 7-2990A for a few months. It came from the estate of my dear friend Michael Pool (The Professor) who passed away earlier this year.

This particular radio has quite an amazing history–remind me to share the story someday–but I’ll always cherish the 7-2990A because it was one of Michael’s favorites.

I knew the GE was one of Michael’s favorite mediumwave receivers, but I wasn’t sure how well it would perform on the shortwaves. Turns out, it’s quite an amazing HF receiver!

Out of the the three Midwinter Broadcast frequencies (5875, 7360, and 9455 kHz), I could receive the 7,360 kHz signal from Ascension Island best.

Here’s a short (informal) comparison video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I was quite surprised with the 7-2990A’s ability to pluck this weak signal from the ether. Although the video doesn’t do it justice, the GE’s excellent audio fidelity made listening more enjoyable compared with the much smaller RF-B65.

Click here to view on YouTube.

And, yes, that’s my faithful brown and white listening companion, Hazel, in the background. In truth, she was less interested in the broadcast and more interested in finding squirrels!

Your Midwinter recordings–stay tuned!

Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey)

I’ve already received about twenty emails from SWLing Post readers with audio and video recordings of the Midwinter Broadcast. Thank you!

If you would like to submit your recording, and you haven’t yet, please do so by email (thomas *at* swling.com) so I don’t overlook it. Remember to link to your video so that I can easily embed it on the upcoming post. Please don’t send me duplicate emails as it makes the sorting process more difficult.

I’ll try to find recordings linked via Twitter and Facebook, but it’s much more difficult to sort those in comments and know for sure that I’ve discovered them all.

Please note that, due to my schedule, it will likely be two weeks before the final post is published. I appreciate your patience and understanding!


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Radios: What are your daily drivers?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John C., who writes:

“Hi Thomas, I love [the SWLing Post] and have been meaning to thank you for all of the amazing reviews. Truly a treasure trove. But as I contemplate my next radio purchase I would like to know what radio you use more than any other. In other words…what’s your daily driver??? Enquiring minds want to know! Thank you. – JC”

Thanks for your question and the kind compliment, John.

Your inquiry is one I get quite a bit, so I hope you don’t mind if I share my response here publicly.

First of all, I should state that I don’t have a single “daily driver.”

Since I evaluate, test, and review radios I spend a lot of time with a variety of new receivers and transceivers.

I’m currently evaluating the Radiwow R-108, so it goes with me pretty much everywhere since I like to test receivers in a variety of settings. I’m also packing the Tecsun PL-310ET and the CC Skywave so I have units to compare with the R-108.

My Daily Drivers

Still, there are a number of radios in my life that get heavy use. Here’s my current list based on activity:

For Travel

When I travel, I reach for my favorite multi-function ultra-compact shortwave portable. In the past, I would have reached for the Grundig G6, the Sony ICF-SW100, the Tecsun PL-310ET, the Digitech AR-1780, or the C. Crane CC Skywave, Currently, I reach for the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB.

When I travel, I try to pack as lightly as I can–perhaps some would even call me a borderline travel minimalist. For example, when I fly to Philadelphia later this month for the Winter SWL Fest, I will take only one piece of luggage, a “personal carry-on” item: the Tom Bihn Stowaway, a pack the size of a small laptop bag. The Stowaway will contain my iPad, cords/accessories, and all of my clothes and toiletries for about 5 days of travel. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of spare room in there for radio gear (quite the understatement).

I’ll still have room in my bag for the CC Skywave SSB, though, because the receiver is so compact. In addition, it’s a little “Swiss Army Knife” of a radio which covers the AM/MW, Shortwave, WX, and AIR bands.  It also has SSB mode and uses common AA batteries. The Skywave SSB is a welcome travel companion.

For Portable Shortwave DX

When I head to a park or go on a camping trip with the goal of doing a little weak signal DXing, I reach for a full-featured portable. In the past, I’ve relied heavily on the Tecsun PL-660 or PL-680, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, and the Tecsun PL-880.

After acquiring the amazing Panasonic RF-B65 last year, it has become my choice full-featured portable. Of course, the RF-65B hasn’t been in production for ages, but thanks to a number of friends/enablers (including Dan Robinson and Troy Riedel) I finally found one for an acceptable price on eBay.

I’ve been incredibly pleased with the RF-B65’s performance and feel like I got a decent deal snagging one in great shape for less than $200. Only a few months prior to my purchase, it was hard to find good units under $300. Click here to check current prices, if interested.

For Morning News and Music

Since my staple morning news source, Radio Australia, went off the air, I spend a lot more time in the mornings listening to Internet radio mainly because I like listening to news sources that no longer, or never have, broadcast on the shortwaves.

Without a doubt, my favorite WiFi radio is the Como Audio Solo. I use it to listen to the CBC in St. John’s Newfoundland, The UK 1940s Radio Station, RFI MusiqueABC Radio Sydney, and a number of other news and music outlets.

The Como Audio Solo also serves as an audio feed for my SSTran AM Transmitter which then allows me to listen to all of this excellent content on 1570 kHz with vintage tube radios such as my Scott Marine SLR-M, my BC-348-Q, and my Minerva Tropicmaster.

For Mediumwave DXing

Without a doubt, my favorite radio for mediumwave/AM broadcast band DXing is the Panasonic RF-2200.

I mentioned in a previous post that my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) recently repaired, cleaned, and calibrated one of my RF-2200s.

Let’s just say that Vlado worked his magic and my RF-2200 now operates and performs like a brand new unit. Seriously. It’s simply unbelievable.

Not only does the Panny ‘2200 provide benchmark MW performance, it’s simply a pleasure to operate. It also produces some of the richest AM audio you’ll ever hear from a portable radio.

Of course, the ‘2200 hasn’t been produced in decades, so you’ll have to search for used ones on eBay, at hamfests, or through your favorite radio classifieds.

And, yes, I still need to finish a Part 2 blog-post about the ‘2200 repair–once I get a few details and photos from Vlado, I’ll post it!

Your Daily Drivers? Please comment!

Keep in mind that my “daily drivers” change quite a bit–the ones listed above are my current favorites and have been for a year or more.

So now that I’ve shared my daily drivers, I hope you will, too!

Is there a particular radio you reach for more than any other?  Please comment and tell us why it’s your favorite!


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Radio in the field: SWLing on the coast of the St. Lawrence river

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous here in Québec, thus a prime opportunity to find a beach, start a new book and, of course, play radio!

I found a fantastic spot on the north bank of the St. Lawrence river near Baie-St-Paul, Québec. There were only a few folks at the beach, so it was all very peaceful.

I found a picnic table perched on the edge of the beach shaded by an apple tree–a perfect spot to relax, play radio and start a new book: Dark Voyage by Alan Furst.

I brought two portables: the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB and the recently acquired Panasonic RF-B65.

I had not checked to see if propagation was good, but tuning to WWV on 10 MHz and 15 MHz confirmed that signals were travelling. In fact, as I started tuning around–first with the CC Skywave SSB, then with the Panasonic RF-B65–I discovered some of the best propagation I’ve experienced in ages!

I did a relatively quick scan covering the 31 through 19 meter bands. Some signals were absolutely booming in.

I jotted down some of the broadcast details on a make-shift log and recorded a few videos.

Note that after making the first video, I discovered I had limited space on my phone, so most of the clips are quite short:

The Voice of America

Click here to view on YouTube.

Radio France International

Click here to view on YouTube.

Radio Guinée

Click here to view on YouTube.

BBC World Service Extra English

Click here to view on YouTube.

Here are the stations I logged in the clear:

All in all it was a brilliant afternoon and the short band scan reminded me that there is still so much content to be found on the shortwaves.

You just need a little propagation, and some time to listen and explore!

Post readers: Have you snagged any elusive DX recently?  Please comment!

Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

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Delivered: The Panasonic RF-B65

It turns out, I didn’t need to worry about the delivery time of the Panasonic RF-B65 I ordered on eBay Thursday evening. It was shipped from Washington state and arrived here yesterday (Saturday) via USPS 2 Day Priority Mail. I’m quite impressed with the delivery speed!

I haven’t had time to put the RF-B65 through the paces, but so far all appears to be in order. The unit is very clean, the battery compartment looks like new and the antenna straight and fully intact. This listing did not include a case, box or manual, but I’m fine with that.

I’ve only had the RF-B65 on the air for a few minutes to verify that everything works properly–so far, so good. This afternoon, I’ll start a “burn in” session to see if the radio will play for multiple hours on a set of fresh batteries. I’ve found in the past that if there are any capacitor issues, older portables like this could power down prematurely.

I’m hoping all will check out with the RF-B65 because I look forward to taking it on travels this week!

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Panasonic RF-B65s abound on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who notes that Panasonic RF-B65s are, Abound […] all over eBay–most I have seen in years.”

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Panasonic RF-B65 is one of the few “vintage” benchmark portables I’d happily add to my collection. I’ve been looking for one since last summer and have missed out on a deal or two. Very few have been posted. Dan, and a number of SWLing Post readers, have touted this radio’s performance many times, so I bit the bullet and ordered one of the units from eBay. I hope it’s in good shape–it does not include the manual or box, but I’m not looking for a mint unit–this will accompany me on travels and to the field. I have a padded bag that should fit it well.

I should receive my RF-B65 early next week and will look forward to putting it on the air!

Click here to search eBay for the Panasonic RF-B65.

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