I’m Giuseppe Morlè from Formia on the Tyrrhenian Sea…
I wanted to share this experiment of mine with all of you by tuning the medium waves with two separate loop cassettes and each for itself by exploiting the principle of induction between two conductors placed next to each other.
I superimposed one cassette on the other by matching the windings of the medium waves–each variable works only for its own box.
I’m tuning the Algerian JIL FM station on 531 kHz with the Tecsun H-501X connected to the box below…then, passing to the top box, the one without any physical contact with the receiver, I tuned this station again centering it perfectly thanks to the induction that creates between the two close windings.
My video will clarify any doubts and I would like to receive your comments about it.
My constructions are the result of continuous recycling and spending very little to get a good yield.
Last year , we were treated to a group of new shortwave portables from Tecsun: the PL-990, PL-330, and the H-501.
Although all of these models garnered attention from shortwave listeners, one model in particular seemed to draw the most interest, the Tecsun H-501.
No doubt, much had to do with the H-501’s size––a large format portable––and especially the twin stereo speakers, that no doubt sparked the interest of those of us who owned (or wished we owned) the venerable Grundig Satellit 500 or 700 with its reputation for robust audio.
Tecsun was also very clear during their product announcement in 2019 that the H-501x is the flagship portable for the Tecsun line.
H-501 versus H-501x
Note that the product being evaluated in this review is the H-501x; the latest “export” version of the H-501.
The differences between these two models is fairly modest. The “x” model gives the user a slightly lower frequency floor in longwave and shortwave, and finer FM tuning (50 kHz as opposed to 100 kHz) when the AM tuning steps are set to 9 kHz as opposed to 10 kHz.
The differences are so modest between the H-501 and H-501x, I wouldn’t be worried if you already have the H-501. I would simply encourage you to only purchase from a reputable Tecsun distributor so you can be confident you’re not receiving one of the very early production runs of the H-501 that was only distributed domestically within China. Some of these early domestic models didn’t have all the refinements of the latest H-501 versions. I would encourage you to only purchase the H-501 or H-501x from a reputable distributors like Anon-Co, Waters and Stanton, Tecsun Radios Australia, and Bonito.
Besides the large dual speakers of the H-501x, there are a number of other unique features and design choices that truly set the H-501 series apart from other Tecsun models.
Firstly, the H-501x uses two 18650 Lithium Ion batteries housed in two separate battery compartments. Both batteries can be internally charged, but here’s the interesting part: each battery seems to be somewhat independent of the other. When you engage battery charging, you must select, via a mechanical switch on the back of the radio, “Battery A” or “Battery B.” Only one battery can be charged at a time, and thus only one will power the radio at a time.
More than once, I’ve been listening to the H-501x and the battery indicator started flashing, signifying a low battery. I simply switched the battery switch to Battery B, and, voliá: I have a full battery again! This reminds me of a college friend’s VW Beetle that had a spare fuel tank…with this unique feature, when you were running low on fuel, you’d kick in the spare fuel tank and then make plans to refuel the main tank soon. Of course, with the H-501x, both these “fuel tanks” are also generous ones, in that the batteries last for a good while.
I find that the play time of each battery impressive given the size and audio amplification used in the H-501x. I had worries that the unit’s need for two batteries could suggest a short battery life, but fortunately this hasn’t been the case, no matter what mode I’ve used (FM, AM, shortwave, or Bluetooth).
However I will note here that the supplied switching power supply will inject noise if you try listening to AM or shortwave while charging. This hasn’t affected FM reception, though.
The fold-out metal bail on the H-501x is very large. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. The H-501x is tall and wide, but not very deep––only marginally deeper than, say, the PL-880. The bail needed to be low-profile, but also support this mini “wall” of the radio while in use. The metal wire bail is handy and certainly does the trick, although there’s only one tilt position, and when it’s deployed, the radio effectively has a large footprint. This might limit where you can set it if the surface––say, a bedside table––is small. Not a problem for me, but worth noting. Continue reading →
As a H-501x owner I have found a solution to ‘false’ low battery indications on the radio, having tried several high quality batteries to lengthen the runtime, even a high capacity 3500mAh Fenix, without much success.
Last week, I noticed that when the radio was physically moved or tapped, the battery indicator would vary to low and radio cut out. I have traced this to a poor battery terminal connection (poor spring strength primarily) on the battery bays A & B.
By using a very light sanding of the positive battery contacts in the radio with fine sandpaper and cleaning of the 18650 battery terminals, not only does the issue go away, but the radio runtime improves significantly and battery capacity indicator returns to full.
I would be interested to know if anyone else has come across this issue? This may also be a cause of low H501/x runtimes mentioned in other posts.
Stronger battery springs with higher tension would improve the battery to terminal connection, as a product improvement suggestion for Tecsun or perhaps a local mod?
Jason Walker, Christchurch, New Zealand
Thank you for sharing this, Jason! No doubt a very easy modification that produces meaningful results. Again, many thanks!
So, as promised, here we are with Round Two of my Rooftop Receiver Shootout.
This time around, I used approximately the same setup, but with a total of fifteen different radios. And once again, I took advantage of nice weather and brought a multitude of receivers, recording gear, cables, and an antenna up to my roof to listen to and record shortwave signals under the open sky.
Our fifteen receivers included everything from “dream radios” from the 1980’s to current-production desktop models to less expensive modern portables to high-performance bench-top lab measurement gear. I tried to curate samples of a wide range of radios you may be familiar with as well as some you probably aren’t.
The lineup consisted of:
Icom R-8600, a current production “DC to Daylight” (or up to 3 GHz, at least) general coverage communications receiver, with highly regarded shortwave performance.
AOR AR-ONE, another DC to 3 GHz general coverage radio, less well known due to the high price and limited US availability. Excellent performer, but a counterintuitive and awkward (menu-driven) user interface is less than ideal for shortwave, in my opinion.
Reuter RDR Pocket, a very cute, if virtually impossible to get in the US, small production, high performance SDR-based shortwave portable receiver. It’s got an excellent spectrum display and packs near desktop performance into a surprisingly small package.
AOR 7030Plus, an extremely well regarded mobile/desktop HF receiver from the late 90’s. Digital but retaining some important analog-era features like mechanical filters. Designed and (mostly) built in the UK, it’s got a quirky menu-driven user interface but is a lot of fun once you get used to it.
Drake R8B, the last of the much-beloved Drake receivers. Probably the chief competitor to the 7030+.
Drake R7A, an excellent analog communications receiver (but with a digital VFO) from the early 80’s. It still outperforms even many current radios.
Sony ICF-6800W, a top of the line “boom box”-style consumer receiver from the early 80’s. Great radio, but hard to use on SSB, as we saw in Round One.
Panasonic RF-4900, the main competition for the Sony. Boat-anchor form factor, but (improbably) can run on internal D-cell batteries. Generally impressive performer on AM, but, like the Sony 6800, difficult to tune on SSB.
Tecsun 501x, a larger-format LW/MW/HF/FM portable released last year. As noted below, it’s a generally good performer, but regrettably susceptible to intermod when connected to a wideband external antenna (as we’ll see in Part One).
Tecsun PL-990x, a small-format portable (updating the PL880), with many of the same features as the 501x. Like the H501x, good performance as a stand-alone radio, but disappointing susceptibility to intermod when fed with an external antenna.
Sangean ATS-909x, a recent LW/MW/HF/FM portable with a good reputation as well as a few quirks, such as only relatively narrow IF bandwidth choices on HF. Excellent performance on an external antenna.
Sangean ATS-909×2, an updated, current production version of the ATS-909x that adds air band and a few performance improvements. Overall excellent, though I would prefer an addition wider IF bandwidth choice. My go-to travel receiver if I don’t want to take the Reuter Pocket.
Sony ICF-7600GR, a small-format digital LW/MW/SW/FM portable introduced in 2001 and the last of the Sony shortwave receivers. Showing its age, but still competitive in performance.
Belka DX, the smallest radio in our lineup, made in Belarus. You’ll either love or hate the minimalist interface (one knob and four buttons). If you’re going to secretly copy numbers stations in your covert spy lair, this is a good radio to use. Can be difficult to obtain right now due to sanctions.
Finally, a bit of a ringer: the Narda Signal Shark 3310, a high performance SDR-based 8.5 GHz RF spectrum and signal analyzer. As with most test equipment like this, demodulation (especially of HF modes) is a bit of an afterthought. But it has an excellent front end and dynamic range, intended for identifying, extracting, and analyzing weak signals even in the presence of strong interference. Not cheap, but it’s intended as measurement-grade lab equipment, not consumer gear. Demodulated audio is noticeably delayed (several hundred ms) compared with other receivers due to the multi-stage DSP signal path.
The antenna was my portable “signal sweeper” Wellbrook FLX-1530 on a rotatable tripod, using a power splitter and a pair of Stridsberg Engineering 8-port HF distribution amplifiers to feed the fifteen radios. So every radio was getting pretty close to exactly the same signal at its RF input. Continue reading →
I took delivery of the Tecsun H-501x yesterday morning and the Sangean ATS-909X2 last week.
I’ve been waiting for these portable receivers for what seems like ages, and both arrive within one week of each other.
My initial impressions are positive for both radios, but I know it’s time to start some proper comparisons.
These portables are arguably the flagships of both manufacturers, so I decided to pit them against a “legacy” portable that has a reputation for eating other receivers for lunch: the Panasonic RF-B65.
“Nom nom nom…”
I fully expect the RF-B65 to emerge as the leader of this pack on shortwave in AM mode. No kidding. That’s why it’s a benchmark. If you can out-perform the RF-B65, you’re a five-star, Holy Grail portable and that’s the end of the story.
Where both the H-501 and ATS-909X2 will have an advantage is in audio fidelity. Both have excellent built-in speakers.
In addition, while the Panny RF-B65 is a great AM mode radio, it has very basic BFO controls and fine tuning for SSB. No doubt, I’ll likely pull out a different receiver for SSB comparisons.
DanH expects his ATS-909X2 back from firmware update soon and I look forward to his evaluation.
I plan to write a review of the Sangean ATS-909X2 for the June 2021 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine. My Tecsun H-501x review may appear in TSM as well.
I will post updates here on the SWLing Post and possibly some comparison audio/reception examples.
Tecsun H-501x availability
SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, received word from Anna at Anon-Co that they hope to have their first batch of H-501x units available to ship by the end of April 2021. Pricing has not yet been firmed up.
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