Tag Archives: SRF-39FP

Unboxing the Sangean DT-160CL and setting up an endurance test

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Yesterday, I received my Sangean DT-160CL–the correctional version of the DT-160–from AmazonSangean_DT-160CL_2

Even though the Amazon product page showed 5 units in stock on July 29, and though I get free two day shipping via Amazon Prime, my  DT-160CL took four business days to arrive. Out of curiosity more than anything else, I asked Amazon why the delivery would take four business days instead of two my Prime membership promises.

Amazon replied that stock levels weren’t correctly displayed on the product page at time of ordering since the DT-160CL was selling so quickly.
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Amazon apologized for the confusion and–though I wasn’t seeking one at all–they issued a $10 credit!  Wow–thanks, Amazon!

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The DT-160CL is supplied with a set of clear earbuds, an owner’s manual and a warranty card.

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The Sangean DT-160CL is very close in size to the venerable Sony SRF-39FP–the SRF-39FP has slightly more depth and a little less height.

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The DT-160CL’s clear case, while sturdy, feels marginally more supple than that of the Sony SRF-39FP.  Though I haven’t been able to confirm, the DT-160CL chassis feels like a polypropylene product while the SRD-39FP feels like polycarbonate. From the photos above, one can see that the DT-160CL’s case is a touch more opaque/cloudy than that of the SRF-39FP.Sangean_DT-160CL_10

Endurance test

Other than overall receiver performance, I’m very interested in battery performance since Sangean touts a 100 hour run time on two AA batteries (for the DT-160 series).

Having used the Sony SRF-39FP for a few years, I can attest to an incredibly long battery life as well. No doubt, those purchasing the DT-160CL for use in a correctional facility place a lot of value on battery performance.

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I stopped by our local CVS pharmacy to purchase fresh alkaline batteries for both radios. CVS had a sale on their own (generic) version of the Duracell Quantum alkaline batteries.  I purchased a set and popped them in both radios.

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The DT-160CL has a hinged battery cover and holds two AA cells.

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The SRF-39FP only needs one AA battery.

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After plugging in the supplied clear ear buds, I turned both radios on and adjusted the volume to a comfortable, moderate listening level.

I matched the audio levels for both units and tuned to my favorite classic rock FM station: WXRC 95.7 MHz.

WXRC is a fantastic benchmark FM station as it’s about 130 miles away (as the crow flies), but has an exceptional propagation footprint. My best FM receivers, when ideally-placed in my home, and telescoping antenna fully-extended, can receive WXRC in stereo lock with no interference.

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I’m happy to report that both the DT-160CL and the SRF-39FP can receive WXRC quite easily when I’m holding the unit in my hand and standing in a part of my house where the signal is strongest.

In truth, I didn’t have time to evaluate receiver performance last night–I was more eager to begin the endurance test which, by the way, officially started yesterday (August 3, 2016) at 22:30 UTC.

I can’t wait to discover which radio will win!

Follow this review thread by bookmarking the following tag: Sangean DT-160CL v Sony SRF-39FP

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Sangean DT-160CL: The correctional version of the DT-160

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After publishing a post referencing the new Sangean DT-160 AM/FM radio, a number of readers noticed that Sangean has also produced a clear-cased version of the DT-160: model number DT-160CL.

This version, no doubt, was designed for sale in prison commissaries and is probably seen as a replacement for the venerable Sony SRF-39FP (which has been discontinued). The SRF-39FP is widely regarded as a superb mediumwave (AM) DXing ultralight.

In reference to the Sangean DT-160CL, SWLing Post contributor, Dan Hawkins recently commented:

Which begs the question: is this prison-quality radio really that good? I ask the question only because a good AM-FM prison radio must perform exceptionally well behind formidable prison walls. After all, nearly one percent of the US population is currently behind bars (down slightly from 2008) which is a substantial pocket radio market. Prison radios are typical sold in prison commissaries and prisons are big business nowadays. How does this radio compare to the famous Sony SRF-39FP? Inquiring minds want to know. Sangean is legendary for build quality. Does it beat the Sony?

After reading Dan’s comment, I couldn’t help but order the DT-160CL from Amazon.

The Sony SRF-39FP

The Sony SRF-39FP

I, too, am very curious how it will compare with the SRF-39FP in terms of battery longevity, audio fidelity, and overall performance.

I suspect the SRF-39FP will remain dominant on the AM broadcast band and possibly have better battery life (keep in mind, the SRF-39FP only uses one AA battery–the DT-160CL requires two).

As soon as I receive the DT-160CL (Amazon notes delivery will be Wednesday, August 3), I’ll pop fresh batteries in the DT-160CL and the Sony SRF-39FP, set them to the same volume level and frequency, then allow them to run continuously until the batteries are depleted. Of course, I’ll use the opportunity to compare performance on both AM and FM.

I’ll post comparison updates with the tag: Sangean DT-160CL v Sony SRF-39FP.

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Val compares his Sony SRF-59 with the SRF-39FP

Sony-SRF-59-and-Sony-SRF-39FPMy buddy, Jeff MacMahon, over the Herculodge, forwarded the following message from his reader, Val:

[P]robably some people who are still interested in AM radio will be surprised to see pictures of the Sony SRF-59.

[The] Sony SRF-39FR is an excellent receiver made special for Federal Prison in US.

It is an incredibly sensitive and selective receiver able to pick up every AM frequency.

Somewhere on the Internet, I found a picture of the SRF-59 [which implied that it had the] same circuitry as the Sony SRF-39FR.

I bought SRF-59 from Source Electronic to compare two radios. I was so disappointed after testing the SRF-59.modern-sony-srf-59

It is absolutely a different receiver compared with the SRF-39FP. It doesn’t stay close for performance. I opened it (see photo above) and (surprise!) it was missing a few capacitors…What a shame….

Thanks for sharing this, Val.

My advice? Don’t throw the SRF-59 away yet, Val! While it isn’t quite on par with the SRF-39FP, it is still quite an amazing MW DX ultralight.

I would suggest that you check out Dave Richard’s blog where he details how to tweak the SRF-59 for top performace. Dave’s article includes excellent detail and great photos. Click here to view.

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Robert’s modified version of the Sony SRF-39FP

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Many thanks to Robert who comments on our post about the Sony SRF-39FP:

Here’s a Suped-up Version of the SRF-39FP made for me by Gary DeBock. [see above]

As if the Prison Radio wasn’t already good enough…this 7 Inch loopstick gives it even more bang four the Buck!!

I call this Prison Radio the “Frankensteiner Prisoner” thus the 39FP monicker.

Robert, that’s a great SRF-39FP modification indeed and I bet it improves reception (and nulling abilities) quite dramatically. Plus, it was built by Gary DeBock–no doubt, a quality mod! Thanks for sharing!

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Pocket DX: Finding the Sony SRF-59 and SRF-39FP

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I have two of the Sony SRF series pocket AM/FM radios: the grey SRF-59 and the clear SRF-39FP.

The venerable SRF-59 has long been one of the least expensive, quality analog AM/FM receivers on the market. I originally purchased one new for $14.95 US including shipping. Here’s a short review I made of the ’59 several years ago.

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The Sony SRF-39FP (click to enlarge)

The SRF-39FP–the model with the clear case–was specifically designed by Sony radio for the prison market.

A couple years ago, someone on eBay had a lot of Sony SRF-39FP units on sale–I jumped at the opportunity to buy one new-in-box for $20 US. The entire lot of SRF-39FPs sold in a matter of hours. Indeed, the ’39FPs were so popular, by the time I prepared a post for the SWLing Post, the seller had already sold out. (I’m kicking myself for not buying at least one extra–!)

While most ultralight radio enthusiasts would give the SRF-39FP a performance edge over the SRF-59, they’re essentially the same radio–especially if you tweak the SRF-59 like my buddy Dave Richards did.

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The Sony SRF-59 (click to enlarge)

Several weeks ago, while Steve researched the reason he was hearing shortwave broadcasters on his SRF-59, he also discovered that the SRF-59 had been discontinued and selling in many places for three or four times the original price.

He found one vendor still selling the SRF-59 for $14.99 plus shipping. I placed an order with this vendor over a month ago, but still haven’t received the product because the vendor hasn’t taken delivery of the final batch of units from Sony. I’m in contact with this vendor and when/if the units are received in stock next week, I’ll post an update here on the SWLing Post (if interested, follow this tag).

If you’re in the market for a Sony SRF-59, here are a few places you may find one new or used:

(If you know of other good suppliers, please comment!)

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The SRF-39FP has a clear housing which is meant to prevent prison inmates from using it to smuggle contraband.

If you would prefer the Sony SRF-39FP, the only source I know of is eBay. When one becomes available, it typically sells for $45-50 US.

Click here to search eBay.

To be clear: while the SRF-59 is an exceptional ultralight receiver, $45-50 US would certainly place it in a price class with other excellent ultralights.

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