Tag Archives: Reviews

Frank reports on the Deshibo RD1860BT portable shortwave receiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Frank, in Germany, who shares the following guest post and review of the Deshibo RD1860BT:


Deshibo RD1860BT report

Hello Thomas,

Today I would like to report on a new portable world receiver. Unfortunately, new devices have not been found on the shelves of electronics retailers for a long time, but now in the depths of the world wide web. And that’s how I came across the Deshibo RD1860BT.

Deshibo is certainly known to many from their GA450 loop antenna. But Deshibo has also produced several radios, including the RD1780L, which is probably a little better known. New to the segment is the RD1860BT, which initially seemed like an old friend to me. An Eton Elite Executive? Yes, there are external similarities, but also differences.

Many months ago I had an Eton Elite Executive for a short time. I had heard of its excellent reception properties, which I can confirm, but the design is reminiscent of older receivers from the 80s, is relatively heavy, operation is sometimes a bit cumbersome, the protective cover does not protect properly. I find the device to be portable overall difficult. We didn’t become friends, so I sold it on to a Swede, who in turn became a friend.

I still missed the Eton. RDS on VHF is not found in any Tecsun , nor are there memory banks that can be written on.

Then I discovered the RD1860BT and couldn’t resist. First of all: the Deshibo is only labeled in Chinese for important function keys. But the friendly dealer on eBay provided me with an English manual before I bought it. That was the deciding factor, because I was sure that after a little use , the Deshibo could be operated blindly.

However, some questions have arisen in the user manual. Some things didn’t seem quite right, others were completely missing from the description. That’s why I decided to write my own manual on a journey of discovery of the new Deshibo. And so that it might also help others who might be interested in radio, I wrote it in English and attach it here.

Click here to download Frank’s version of the RD1860BT manual (PDF).

The Eton’s somewhat unsorted manual was very helpful, but I also added my own drawings. For example, I added an English-labeled keyboard as a back cover, so that the keys can be assigned without a long search.

Here you can already find the first differences to the Eton: the keyboard layout is a bit more orderly. Also, the Deshibo doesn’t have a metallic speaker grille (which frankly I don’t like about the Eton). The display, not the writing, is backlit in orange on the Deshibo . Most importantly, the Deshibo is a lot lighter than the Eton ( around 500g if I researched correctly). And that means: the structure of the Deshibo must be different. Continue reading

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Which radio? How to avoid analysis paralysis…

I’ve been running the SWLing Post for fourteen years (!!!) and during that time I’d say that one of the top three questions I receive is a variation of “Which radio is better?” followed by a list of radio makes and models.

Sometimes that question is easy to answer because the reader is new to the world of shortwave, they only have two choices, and one is an obvious winner.

In truth, though, that’s very rare.

Most of the time–and I’m speaking from having received hundreds of these questions–I’m asked to choose between a list of radios that the reader has thoroughly researched, uncovering radios DXers and enthusiasts consider to be the best in price class.

They’ve already read numerous reviews, created spreadsheets comparing features/specifications, and they’ve weighed all of the pros and cons by price class.

But they can’t decide.

Analysis paralysis

We’ve all been there, right?

We’re ready to invest a bit of money in a new radio and there are many good options, but there’s no one stand-out…no “perfect” radio with everything we seek.

It’s a slippery slope.  We start our research with some obvious choices. We can’t decide which is best, so we broaden our research, we take deeper and deeper dives, but the more we research, the more confused we become.

Sound familiar? (Trust me: you’re not alone.)

I remember receiving an email once from someone with a list of two dozen sub $150 radios on a multi-tab spreadsheet.They had every feature and specification listed for comparison. They wanted to know which of these radios was “the best.”

I can’t answer this questions for a very good reason.

It’s all about personal preference

My favorite radio from a list of twenty four will likely not be your favorite radio.

Enjoyment of a radio has everything to do with you as the radio’s operator.

Ask yourself, “What’s my main goal–?”:

  • DXing?
  • Weak signal work?
  • Band-scanning?
  • Pirate Radio hunting?
  • Travel?
  • Emergency communications?
  • Casual broadcast listening?
  • Digital mode decoding?
  • Scanning?
  • Mediumwave DXing?

Look at your options with this goal being given the priority.

A rather simple way to avoid analysis paralysis

If you’ve thoroughly researched multiple options, the likelihood is that overall performance between the models is comparable. Sure, some models might have better AGC, better sync, finer tuning, a better encoder, or better sensitivity, etc. but the overall performance package is similar else there’d be no difficult decision to make.

My advice is to pick the radio that you believe you’d enjoy the most.

  • Do you like the display and large encoder on one? Does it look like the sort of radio you could cuddle up to late into a cold winter evening? Go for it!
  • Do you like the compact size and features of one? Does it look like a radio you could pack away for an international flight then use on a mini DXpedition in a foreign country? Grab it!
  • Do you like the comments you’ve read about the robust audio and speaker of a particular model? Pull the trigger!

I’ve been communicating with a reader over the past few days that is stuck in analysis paralysis. No doubt, this is what prompted this post.

Here’s what I told him this morning:

All of the models we’ve discussed are good ones and have overall excellent performance. I would simply pick the one you think you would enjoy using the most.

[Keep in mind that] DXing is a skill.

A skilled DXer can accomplish a lot with almost any radio! It’s easy to fall in the trap of options overload. Just find a good deal on a radio you think you would enjoy and go for it! 

I suppose another way of stating it would be if you believe you’re stuck in analysis paralysis, follow your heart instead of your head.

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Julian reviews the Panasonic RF-B45 and shares comments regarding shortwave broadcasting and portable radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Julian S, who shares the following guest post and review:


Panasonic RF-B45 – A Comparative Review

by Julian S

18 and 19 October, 2022

I was raised on valve / tube radios. From my pre-teens in the 1960s, I enjoyed tuning through the frequencies as a form of exploration. In the 1970s I experimented with antennae to improve reception. And later, starting in the 1980s, I began to use travel radios, always looking for that perfect radio.

Today the perfect radio for us SWL’ers might need to include a time machine to take us back to the halcyon days of SW, say in the 1980s or 1990s, before so many Western broadcasters axed their Short Wave services.

Looking at the BBC World Service’s latest round of cuts, I am filled with horror. Is whoever decided those cuts deeply cynical or deeply ignorant?

Switching BBC World Service content from radio to the internet for countries that block or restrict internet access is not the way to reach people living there. In places where every person’s internet access is monitored, where access to websites and web-content is censored or blocked, BBC news internet content will not be widely available. Today and for the foreseeable future the way to reach perhaps half or more of the world’s population is radio, especially Short Wave radio broadcasts.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other like-minded countries, eg the DPRK (North Korea) fully understand the importance of radio, especially Short Wave and they vigorously maintain multiple Short Wave broadcast programmes as a way to project soft power and influence people.

In this context, it’s no surprise that when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017 suddenly, unexpectedly and against a back-drop of protests from Pacific Island Nations and rural Australians ditched its Short Wave broadcasts, the PRC’s China Radio International grabbed Australia’s SW frequencies.

I heard that in an earlier round of cuts China acquired frequencies dropped by the BBC World Service.

By the time the West wakes up again to the importance of Short Wave radio broadcasting as a means to communicate to the world, they will find the SW airwaves are full of PRC, North Korean, Vietnamese, Cuban and other broadcasters who never forgot how important SW broadcasts to the world are. I’m reminded of a line from the Sean Connery film, Rising Sun, “If you don’t want us to buy it, don’t sell it.”

Aside from the broadcasters mentioned above, there are still many others broadcasting on SW and there are plenty of Hams too. Short Wave radio listening and Ham radio are widespread and popular in Asia and Africa and are a major source of news. In some countries SW is also used as a means of business and social communication. So much so that there are home-grown radio and transceiver manufacturers in a number of African and Asian nations.

SW listening is big in China. So it’s no surprise that probably the best manufacturer of consumer grade short wave radio receivers is a China based company, Tecsun, who need no introduction. Tecsun seems to have taken over the role that was once held by Grundig, Sony, Panasonic and others. Indeed many of the later Grundig models are made by Tecsun.

If you’ve guessed that I like short wave radio, you’ve guessed right. And I suppose like many other fans, I usually have my eye open for something special.

Since hearing of the Panasonic RF B65 some years ago, I’ve been on the look-out for one at a reasonable price… this search led me to the RF B45…. But I’m a man of modest means so I need them to be priced accordingly.

Usually these two 30+ year old radios are priced on North American eBay like holy grail radios. More expensive than a 2nd hand Sony ICF 2010 / 2001D. Go figure. But the other day I found a Panasonic RF B45 for what I considered a reasonable price. It arrived yesterday, well packed, clean and in good condition. After dinner and this morning before breakfast I put it through some of its paces

What follows are some initial impressions of the Panasonic RF B45:

I’ve read a few reviews of it on eham, shortwave.ch etc. The controls are pretty easy to figure out. It has a similar form factor to the Sony ICF7600 series and is probably comparable in performance to the digital iterations of the Sony 7600 series… though the only 7600 series radio I have at present is the analogue 7601 which is comparable to the Tecsun R9700DX, except in price. New the Tecsun R9700DX is likely to be cheaper than a used Sony 7601 on eBay, and the Tecsun has a wider range of features, eg external antenna socket, comes with a long wire antenna, has better audio… but I digress…

…back to the Panasonic RF B45. This is a fine compact travel radio about the size of a paperback book or two DVD stacked boxes. Continue reading

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Dan reviews the CountyComm GP7/SSB (Gen 4)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post and review:


CountyComm GP7 / Tecsun PL-368:  Is It All You Need?

by Dan Robinson

It’s been a long wait, but CountyComm, that supplier of all kinds of neat and useful stuff, finally released the GP7 SSB (Gen 4).

As the name states this is the 4th generation of the series of radios adapted by the company from the Tecsun PL-36xxx series of receivers (there was at one point a GP6 that was a never-released special project).

All photos by CountyComm

This walkie-talkie style, though receive-only, portable has undoubtedly been a big seller for CountyComm since the first model came out.  It’s popular not only with SWLs and amateur operators but also with preppers.

When OEM Tecsun finally did what everyone was clamoring for – redesign the radio with a keypad and including features associated with the PL-880/330/990x/501x receivers – the ground shook. Continue reading

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Malahit DSP-2: Dan’s thoughts on external antennas, firmware, and purchase decisions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


Additional Thoughts on the Malahit DSP-2 

  • Potential for Noise Reduction Using Non-Whip Antennas
  • Latest Firmware Changes

by Dan Robinson

After my last update on the Russia-made Malahit DSP-2, I thought it important to add something about the receiver, as it could well influence those who may be on the fence about purchasing one.

In a series of communications, Georgiy at Malahit team has stressed steps taken to attempt to deal with internal interference seen across the bands.  And he has asserted

that noise spikes lessen if the receiver is connected to a non-whip antenna.

Most of my tests have used whip antennas of various lengths, in various locations indoors and outdoors, because it’s my view that portability is a major attraction of these small SDR receivers.

Continue reading

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Malahit DSP-2 Review Update 3: Dan evaluates the latest hardware version

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


UPDATE NO 3: Malahit DSP-2 (August 18, 2021)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences with the Russia-made Malahit DSP-2 receiver, and made a recommendation that potential purchasers of the receiver hold off until the design team in Russia made some changes.

Weak points included the SMA antenna connector – specifically the short cable going from the antenna to the PCB board, and sharp noise spikes seen at numerous locations throughout the spectrum from mediumwave up to 30 MHz.

My particular DSP-2 unit went dead after an update to an early version of the 2.10TEST firmware.  At the time, I had spoken via Skype with Georgiy on the Malahit team and kept up a string of communications on the Malahit Telegram channel.

It was not clear to me whether the problem with the first DSP-2 was primarily due to SMA antenna issues or also due to a problem with the firmware update I had applied at the time (it was an early version of 2.10TEST).

My appreciation goes to Georgiy who decided to send a new DSP-2 to me.  This took about 3 weeks from the end of July until just recently when the receiver arrived (though the U.S. Postal Service made the end of that journey quite interesting).

Here are some observations that I hope will help current and prospective owners of the DSP-2: Continue reading

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Malahit DSP-2 Review Update: Dan recommends holding off until issues resolved

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


UPDATE: Malahit DSP-2 (July 24, 2021)

RECOMMENDATION: Hold Off Until Issues Are Resolved

I thought it important enough to write this update to my earlier extensive review of the Malahit DSP-2, the second version of the Russia-made receiver. Earlier incremental updates can be seen on the main article.

In concluding my main review, I spoke about being on the Malahit “train” and “roller coaster” – and my experiences since have shown that to be true.

As noted in one the updates, further testing confirmed the observations of Malahit users that when voltage of a 18650B battery drops below 3.7 v the receiver did indeed shut down. And the battery icon was still showing 50%.

Georgiy at the Malahit team confirmed this as a software bug, and in a test firmware update, the voltage issue was, according to him, corrected. The result, in a test firmware upgrade (2.10) could be seen with remaining voltage displayed in the battery icon itself. But I was unable to confirm that this actually resolved the issue of inaccurate voltage displayed before yet another problem emerged.

After performing the update from 2.0 to 2.10 Test firmware (more on that a bit later)
I thought things were fine until I noticed that all signals had vanished from the Malahit. This applied to the strongest signals from U.S. religious broadcasters, and down through FM.

In a combination of Telegram and Skype chats, Georgiy was extremely helpful – we went over seemingly every possible cause for this problem and focused on the SMA cable which from observing conversations online appears to be an issue in some units.

We went to the point of disconnecting the SMA from the PCB to test if anything brought back any level of signal, which it did not. With my basic knowledge of electronics, I believe that some problem may have developed on the PCB – whether that is directly related to the firmware upgrade process remains unknown.

On the firmware, the Malahit-recommended PC app is SMT32CubeProgrammer, which is easily downloadable, and instructions for the firmware update are on the Malahit You Tube channel. The process and app look difficult at first.

But things get interesting, as they always do, in using these Bootloader apps as I have found on several occasions in trying to upgrade my AFEDRI LAN-IQ.

Instructions on the Malahit You Tube channel direct you to power off the radio, then plug in a micro-USB cable to the receiver and to your PC. The rough Russian translation says push in and hold both main and smaller encoder knobs, and then press power either once or 3 times, and then watch for the LED to go off. The LED actually doesn’t really go off– in the process of the firmware update, flashes on and off.

I managed to get through the process of upgrading – it was quite smooth. The test 2.10 firmware according to Georgiy is supposed to correct the issue with voltage readings, though again I was unable to test this fully because my DSP-2 quite literally went quiet over its entire range.

As of now, and despite the best efforts of Georgiy which I appreciate, I have a dead DSP-2. Whether signal loss was due to some issue with the SMA connector, or whether the firmware process (I reverted back to 2.0 after noticing the signal loss) itself caused something on the PCB to fail, remains unknown.

Given all of this new information, and though I had made no BUY recommendation on my original review, I would have to advise anyone considering a DSP-2 to hold off for a while until the Malahit team is able to thoroughly iron out all the hiccups with the receiver, whether in firmware or hardware. This includes the question of the SMA connector, and the issue of voltage monitoring.

Based on the conversations that were taking place on Telegram, I would also be urging Malahit team to quickly come up with a clear English translation of the Malahit manual, and to review instructions contained in You Tube videos showing the firmware upgrade process.

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