Tag Archives: SWLing Post

A little offline and on-radio time!

For the next week or so, I’m going to have limited Internet service, but lots of radio time. I’m looking forward to it!

There shouldn’t be an interruption here on the SWLing Post, but I will not have a lot of time to reply to questions via email. Feel free to continue sending your tips, articles, and stories, but if you have in-depth questions, it could take me a couple or more weeks to get back to you as I’m pretty sure my email will stack up during this time.

It’s ironic, but this crazy “Social DXing” year has provided me the opportunity to review and evaluate more gear than I ever have in one calendar year. On the flip side, I’ve been so busy doing evaluations that I’ve had less time to enjoy pure SWLing fun. I’m looking forward to fixing that this week!

If you have a radio related question, I’d encourage you to post it in the comments section of a related post (or even this post). We’ve an active community of radio enthusiasts here who are incredibly helpful.

Cheers & Happy Listening!


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Major SWLing Post server upgrades and possible down time

Our amazing web host, Innoscale, will be performing a major upgrade to the SWLing Post server sometime between 5:00-9:00 UTC on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

The site could be offline for a full hour during this time. There could even be some quirky behavior after the upgrade as we sort out any database and PHP upgrade nuances, etc.


It’s funny: sometimes those companies I rely on the most, steadily do their job in the background and I only think about them when something goes wrong or when I need their assistance.

Web hosts are that way. If everything is going well, they’re almost invisible.

I’ve hosted the SWLing Post with Innoscale for many years now (and with their predecessor since 2009)–I must say that they are an incredible company. They have 24/7 customer support from real people–in fact, always the same team of people so they actually know who we are.

These days, we receive around 7,000 or so daily pageviews on average, but that number can spike to well over 15,000 some days. Our Innoscale cloud server has never slowed down or failed us during traffic spikes. The server isn’t low-cost by any means, but it’s more affordable than a dedicated server and just as speedy.  Thanks to our sponsors, Patreons and Coffee Fund contributors I’m able to make sure our site is speedy, virus-free, secure, and backed-up constantly. I also know there’s a team of people at Innoscale to help out when there’s a problem or, like now, when we do an upgrade.

If your company or business is looking for a robust people-powered host, I can recommend Innoscale without hesitation. Click here to check out their website.

And, again, thanks for your patience while we perform our upgrades tomorrow morning!

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What’s in the shack here at SWLing Post HQ

The Mission RGO One transceiver is one model being evaluated for a review in The Spectrum Monitor.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete, who writes:

Thomas, I’m curious what radios you have in the shack now. I see lots of posts about various radios, but I wonder what’s in your personal collection and what’s being evaluated. You know what they say…”inquiring minds” and all that! If you don’t mind I for one would love to see even a basic list of your rigs.

Thanks for your question, Pete. Your’re right–I don’t really have an inventory listed here on the SWLing Post. In truth, my radio collection is pretty dynamic–radios come in and go out a lot due to testing, evaluations and reviews.

Here’s what’s in the shack at present. I’ll start with ones currently in my personal collection:


Icom IC-756 Pro Transceiver Dial


Currently under evaluation

Vintage Valve/Tube Gear

Portable Radios

There are too many to list! (Ha ha!) In general, I keep any portable radio I believe represents the best in its price class. I rotate using and travelling with each radio as best I can, but honestly keep them in the shack for any new reviews as I’m always in need of comparison radios.   Here are some of the portables I believe I reach for most often (in no particular order):

  • Tecsun S-8800
  • Tecsun PL-880
  • Tecsun PL-660/PL-680
  • Tecsun PL-310ET
  • C.Crane CC Skywave
  • C.Crane CC Skywave SSB
  • Eton E1
  • Panasonic RF-2200
  • GE 7-2990

I also have a number of Handie Talkies, vintage solid-state portables, mobile radios and kit/homebrew radios and accessories like many radio enthusiasts.

This may seem like a lot of radios, but I have friends with collections that outnumber mine by orders of magnitude. In truth, if I didn’t evaluate and review radios, I’d have a much, much smaller collection because there’d be no need to keep reference radios on hand. I rely on comp models, however, to accurately gauge a radios performance when matched against a similar or “benchmark” model.

Thanks for your question, Pete.

So back to you!  Readers, please comment with what you have in your shack. “Inquiring minds” want to know! 🙂

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Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

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

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Interview on the ICQ Podcast

I’m honored to have been interviewed by Frank Howell (K4FMH) for the ICQ Amateur / Ham Radio Podcast. The interview was posted as a podcast this weekend.

If you’re not familiar, the ICQ podcast is posted every fortnight and runs about 1.5-2.5 hours or so depending on news items and features. Here’s the description of this episode (#322):

In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Martin Rothwell M0SGL, Ed Durrant DD5LP, Frank Howell K4FMH and Bill Barns N3JIX to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief and this episode’s feature is – Passion of Shortwave Listening with Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL.

The show can be streamed via the ICQ podcast YouTube channel or on their website.

The ICQ Podcast website also links to the many ways you can subscribe and listen to their shows published every two weeks.

Many thanks to Frank for inviting me to be interviewed–I really enjoyed talking shortwave with a fellow shortwave radio enthusiast (and long-time SWLing Post reader!).

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Looking back: 2019––and ETOW–– in review, and the dawn of a new decade

Yes, I’ll admit it:  I’m  happy to say “Goodbye” to 2019 and “Hello!” to 2020.

While a lot of wonderful things happened last year, one event in particular will always be present in my mind when I recall 2019.

The End of an Era: Remembering ETOW

Most importantly, however, last year will be remembered as the bittersweet year that we closed Ears To Our World (ETOW) as a formal non-profit organization.

I founded ETOW––a mission of the heart––in 2008, and I would never have guessed that it would be so successful.  We’ve spent the past eleven years building up and supporting rural and remote communities throughout the world with appropriate technologies, like self-powered radios.

I’m incredibly proud of and humbled by all that ETOW has accomplished.  It’s touching that we’re still receiving photos from the field, documenting projects we completed over the past two years.  (It’s often taken months for our intrepid partners to get our radios and gear to the end-users…but they get it there!).

Our radios finally reached the remote area of Cameroon served by the amazing community-driven FM station, Radio Taboo. Hooray!

It’s been such an honor and a labor of love to serve as ETOW’s director.

ETOW had a great run, too. I knew going in that all-volunteer NGOs have a dismal survival rate, typically not making it beyond two, three, or maybe four years. It requires an enormous amount of organization, work, and dedication to insure the mission has meaningful and strategic impact. I’m very proud of the fact that we topped a decade with ETOW. No doubt, we were able to accomplish so much because of our amazing supporters and volunteers, many of whom are here as a part of the SWLing Post community. Thank you!

But…if ETOW was successful, why did we close shop?

As I mentioned in our annual letter to donors, I have always believed that charity begins at home. And at this point in my life, I must acknowledge more pressing needs in my home and extended family, some members of whom are more in need of my care than ever before.

However, there’s a happy ending.  Closing ETOW as a formal non-profit does not signal the end of our humanitarian work. Ironically, without all of the administrative overhead of running a formal organization, I have the freedom to continue doing the work we’ve been doing, and even possibly even do more of it In fact, at this very moment, I’m working on three different projects through partners in Haiti and South Sudan.

Basically, in closing ETOW, I’ve simply changed “hats:”  instead of being a volunteer non-profit director, I am now essentially a volunteer non-profit tech consultant. And, really, that’s okay with me.

Another silver lining is that I may now also have more dedicated time for the Radio Spectrum Archive––yet another project near and dear to my heart.

Resolutions and plans for 2020

If I can, I would like to play more radio this year––and of course, spend quality time with my wonderful family.

I’m truly passionate about field-portable radio, so, as I travel to visit and assist family, I plan to activate more state and national parks via the Parks On The Air (POTA) program.  I’d also like to make a few Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations, if time allows.

Now that I have a capable portable SDR system, I also plan to capture radio spectrum recordings as I travel back and forth.

In a national forest with my portable SDR system, my hammock, and dog, Hazel, on the alert for black bears (and squirrels). Does life get any better?

2020 will also be the year that I re-invest in my antennas.

If time permits, I’d like to re-build my sky loop antenna, install a LOG (loop on ground), and (hopefully!) install a hex beam. I may not be able to hit all of these, but I’m going to try.


I do have a few conventions and events on the calendar this year:

The DoubleTree hotel where the Winter SWL Fest is held.

February 27-29, I’m planning on attending and presenting at the 2020 Winter SWL Fest in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

April 3-4, I’ve been invited to speak at the Ozarkcon QRP Conference in Branson, Missouri. I’ve wanted to attend this conference for years, so I’m really looking forward to making the pilgrimage!

May 15-17, I’ll again try to attend the 2020 Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. This is always a highlight of my year as it gives me a chance to meet with so many radio friends. I hope to also attend the full Four Days In May QRP conference which is held in conjunction with Hamvention.

September 25-26, I plan to attend and help at the W4DXCC conference.

I’ve also been invited to speak at a number of regional ham radio clubs––I love doing this because it always gives me an excuse to engage in a little shortwave radio “evangelism.”

Of course, I realize that family concerns can always change my plans. But having fun things to look forward to gives me positive energy and direction…Radio is my happy place.

Thank you so much!

If you’ve been reading the SWLing Post for a while, you’ll know that my posts don’t typically get this personal. A lot happened this past year, though, and I wanted to share this with my radio family and friends.

Thanks, especially, for understanding when it’s taken days or even weeks for me to reply to email.

Thank you for your support of the SWLing Post through the Coffee Fund and Patreon!  Thanks, too, for your comments, tips, guest posts, and active interest in the SWLing Post.  And, no worries: I definitely plan to continue hosting this website, as I can work on it in and around whatever else may be required of me. The SWLing Post is a true labor of love.

I truly appreciate your support!

What are your resolutions?

I’m looking forward to 2020, and I hope you are too.

What are your resolutions, goals and objectives this year? Inquiring minds want to know! Please comment and share!

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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SWLing Post meetup in Denver?

Photo by Cassie Gallegos

Next week, I’ll be in the City Park area of Denver on a short trip.

I’ve often thought about doing SWLing Post meetups when travelling, so why not start now?

If you plan to be in Denver on September 10th, please leave a comment here or email me and perhaps we can get a group together to talk radio at a local café or pub!

Oh, and sorry for the short notice!

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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SWLing Post Contest Question #5: Our final question for a chance to win a piece of broadcasting history!

RCA Window from MI-7330

Four weeks ago, we announced a new contest to celebrate the SWLing Post‘s 10th Anniversary.

The prize is an amazing piece of broadcast history: a 75 year old round plate glass window that was fitted in the central main door of the RCA senders at the Woofferton, UK, transmitting site in 1943. This prize was generously donated by SWLing Post contributor and friend, Dave Porter (G4OYX).

Please read our original contest post (click here) which describes how you can enter to win.

The original post also contains the first of five contest questions which count as individual entries in the contest.  The second question can be found here, the third question by clicking here and the fourth here.

Today, we present our final question…

Please note: This contest will close on Friday December 14 at 12:00 UTC–you have until then to submit answers to all five questions. The winner will be announced once we verify contact with them.  If you have entered this contest, please check your email this weekend.

If you read the SWLing Post email digest, you will need to view our prize questions on the web to see the embedded form. If the form below does not display, click here to open it in a new window.

We will close all entry forms to responses

Our fifth and final question:

Click here to answer question #1.

Click here to answer question #2.

Click here to answer question #3.

Click here to answer question #4.

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