Regular readers of the SWLing.com blog will be aware that I am passionate about going portable/mobile with my radio listening hobby. There’s just nothing like communing with both nature and a bunch of electrons whizzing along the wire!
As a follow-up to an article I wrote several years ago, I have now prepared two new YouTube videos entitled Preparing for Your Next DXpedition – Parts 1 and 2.
Part 1 covers:
– why we should even think about bothering to go portable with the radio
– the goals to consider when undertaking a DXpedition
– planning your listening depending on the time of day and time of year
– the all important decisions regarding location
Part 2 discusses:
– choosing the right radio for portable operations
– your options for powering the radio
– the antennas you could consider including on the trip
– handy auxiliary equipment
– references and notes to take along with you
– the importance of operator comforts while away
– developing a checklist…..so that you don’t forget to take something important!
These videos will be of interest to shortwave radio listeners and new amateur radio operators. Hopefully, they may be able to assist you in further enjoying our great hobby. They are embedded in this blog post below. You can also view these and other videos on my YouTube channel at Rob Wagner’s YouTube Channel
As always, thanks for watching and your comments are always welcome. 73 and good DX to you all,
Rob Wagner, VK3BVW, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. He also blogs at the Mount Evelyn DX Report.
Young radio amateurs Zechariah WX4TVJ, Faith Hannah AE4FH, Hope KM4IPF and Grace KM4TXT have released a video about their Go Box
Many people have asked us to make a detailed video about our Go Box, so we decided to make one. We show you what is in the Go Box and how we installed all of the equipment. There is also some funny stuff in the video, too!
These girls do an amazing job with the video–bravo!
I love this setup. While I typically pack very lightly for portable radio work, building a system like this makes for very quick deployment when you require a full 100 watt system with multiple radios and multiple accessories. Radio clubs could easily put systems like this together for events like Field Day or Emergency Comms. It’s grab-and-go at its best!
Of course, a field DXpedition/SWLing station could also be easily built into this portable system. In fact, I bet an SDR with computer, keyboard, and monitor could be mounted and accommodated in this space.
These fine, collectable receivers appear on Ebay regularly, but this one is in pristine shape:
The asking price is a cool $1,800 USD, but for the near mint condition of this T-1000 it is likely appropriate; perhaps the new owner will acquire it for a “Best Offer” price. Other T-1000s on Ebay currently are priced from $370 to $1,299.
Of course, the cost is in-line with a collectable value; functionally, it’s reception abilities are almost certainly surpassed by a modestly priced SDRPlay RSP1 or a vintage Sony ICF-2010 for instance. The radio aficionado interested in the 55 year old T-1000 is not expecting best-in-class reception, but the chance to own a recognized icon of industrial design (the T-1000 is in NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection).
When I first saw this item on Popular Mechanics, I spent a bit of time fantasizing about an interference-free half year DXpedition:
This Tasmanian Island Will Give Any Couple Willing to Move There a House and Job
Depending on how strong your relationship is, this will either sound like a romantic six-month getaway or the plot of The Shining. According to The Telegraph, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service is looking for couples to apply to be caretakers of Maatsuyker Island, a 460-acre island located six miles off the southern coast of Tasmania, for periods from March to September or September to March for the next two years.
For “safety reasons,” they are actually encouraging couples to apply together if they “can demonstrate they have spent time together in a remote setting,” according to the application.
So whats’ the catch? If selected, the only time you could leave the island during your six month stay would be a helicopter evacuation in case of an emergency. Otherwise you’ll be completely cut off from the mainland. Did I mention there’s no internet or TV?
But if you’re okay living on a “sometimes wet and often windswept island” with minimal contact from anyone else, this might be the job for you.[…]
Aerial view of the southern coast of Tasmania. In the background South East Cape, in the foreground the Maatsuyker Islands (Needle Rocks are on the right; just to the left of them is Maatsuyker Island; De Witt is the larger island on the left). Artificial view generated from satellite data. (Source: Wikipedia)
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor TomL, who shares the following guest post:
Illustration 1: Main contents
Backpack-Shack radio listening
So, the Car Shack idea was good, but I felt constrained by lack of access to better locations to listen to shortwave radio. I took most of the original equipment and stuffed it into a photo backpack I was not using and now I have a portable listening station. Now I can listen in my car or in the field fairly easily.
LowePro350AW – The backpack has three main compartments, integrated carry handles, nice padded waist belt, and a couple of ways to stick a 3/4-inch PVC pipe into external tripod or water bottle pouches. My homemade 14-inch loop antenna with Wellbrook amplifier is light enough to be attached to a 3-foot PVC pipe attached to the backpack. The Palstar preselector (active antenna) and KIWA BCB filter are still part of the portable setup. I added a Daiwa two-position switch to cut out the KIWA BCB filter so I can listen to mediumwave. Power for all these devices are Powerex AA’s for the Sony 2010 and two 12V power packs made from three sets of XTAR 14500 lithium batteries + one dummy AA. I have mounted the electronics and wires using large cable tie-wraps to a 14×10 inch polypropylene kitchen cutting board (sturdy and easy to drill through).
Illustration 2: The electronics board fits neatly into the laptop section of the backpack
Illustration 3: Backpack Shack in operation
Here are some recordings from two test outings around 2100-2200 hours UTC. A local county park (“Forest Preserve”) purposely has few man-made structures (just a trail, picnic shelter made of wood and an outhouse). It is about 15 minutes drive from where I live; the reception is notably clear of local noise. There is an occasional wide-band noise that comes and goes but nothing else I can identify as detrimental noise and it is mostly just a nuisance.
A big downside of the Forest Preserve, like most parks now, is that it is ONLY open from sunrise to sunset and strictly enforced. So, my personal quest for nighttime access to an RF-quiet location continues (I guess I will have to buy/build my own)! It begs for an even more portable setup than this one. That means buying an SDR (with control via a tablet), miniaturizing the antenna, and modifying the lithium power packs to fit in a very small backpack or fanny pack.
If I can miniaturize it enough, I will be able to use common parts of this setup at home, in the car, and at field locations for either mediumwave or shortwave listening. I could then pre-install the unique parts in those situations and just plug-and-play, so-to-speak!
It could be that the continuing tech wave of small, powerful, wide-band equipment is causing a revolution in general. A type of radio revival may be at hand where regional radio starts to take a foothold, catering to a multi-state area and not just to one local metro area – with its one-city mindset and control (Do I really care that the Big City is installing a downtown-only, 12 million dollar bike and jogging connection + hearing endless whining about how bankrupt pensions are putting that County at risk when I never go there and don’t care to?). Portable wide-band radios allow for hours of listening to various types of broadcasts!
An example could be to use digital broadcasts over longwave (somewhere from 150 kHz-500 kHz) which allows ground wave signals to travel hundreds of miles reliably during the day or night without depending on variable skywave propagation. Digital would enhance the listener experience in stereo. It would probably need a narrower type of digital modulation since the current “HD Radio” standard is really too wide and splatters everything at adjacent frequencies. Pure wishful thinking but the technology is available to make something NEW happen!!
Cheers from NoiZey Illinoiz,
Thank you, Tom! You certainly have the right idea: taking your radio to the field! Keep us informed about your progress and updates. No doubt, over time you will discover a year-round spot to play radio in the field!
Sometimes good fortune drops in our lap at the least expected moment, but we have to act quickly to take advantage of it! This was the case with the receiver above; I spotted it on Ebay just moments after the seller posted a Buy-It-Now auction. Had I been planning to buy a D2935? No, but I immediately knew I was looking at something special.
This particular D2935 receiver from Magnavox had remained new and unused from 1987 until July 2016, when I had the good fortune of spotting the newly-listed Ebay auction and purchasing the radio for $175. Continue reading →
This year, I have a lot of portable radio play in mind as I travel across the continent. At some point, I even plan to spend several days in an off-grid cabin on the coast.
In the past, I’ve powered my 12 VDC ham radio transceivers with a system comprised of three PowerFilm solar 5 watt foldable PV panels (see below), a Micro M+ charge controller and several gel cell type sealed batteries (a couple 7 Ah and one 20 Ah).
The system works well, but the batteries are a little heavy and unhandy when I want to hike into a remote site or play radio on the beach, for example.
In terms of receivers, my portables (like the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, Tecsun PL-660, etc.) simply use AA batteries which I charge with PowerFilm AA PV chargers (see above). My CommRadio CR-1a has an internal battery that will power it for hours at a time.
Power is much less of an issue with receivers because they’re quite resource efficient.
I mainly need a system to power my QRP ham radio gear, and that’s where I could use your experience!
I need a new charge controller since my Micro M+ (no longer produced) is now being used to power a remote antenna tuner.
Of course, I’ll need an inexpensive charge controller that doesn’t produce RFI (radio interference).
It would be an added bonus if the charge controller could also charge my batteries when grid power is available.
12 VDC Battery packs
I’d like something relatively lightweight and safe.
Note: LiPo packs worry me, especially since I had one (an early GoalZero model) quite literally melt down and burn up on my bed only a few hours after bringing it back from an eight hour flight a few years ago. Scary!
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
I’d also like a small, efficient pure sine wave inverter that I I could connect to my largest battery and power my laptop for extended SDR spectrum recording sessions while off-grid.
I’d love a recommendation from someone who uses one and can confirm a model that doesn’t create radio interference while operating.
Post readers: Please comment with your recommendations and include model numbers and links if possible. Thank you in advance!
Spread the radio love
Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. Ads are what helps us bring you premium content! Thank you!