Tag Archives: Universal Radio

Off-the-shelf affordable SWL antennas

The Par EF-SWL antenna.

One of our SWLing Post contributors recently sent the following message with a request:

I have a suggestion/challenge for a post: what’s out there for low cost, off-the-shelf HF antennas?

I simply can’t drop $500 on a Wellbrook. The AirSpy HF+ and the new $100 RSP1A SDR are super enticing, but then I look at the antenna connectors and think, “What do I have to connect to that…!?!”

Googling takes you down the rabbit hole of home brew antennas. I’ll admit that I don’t have the skill or patience to dig through hundreds of DIY posts of antenna construction. For my first proper outdoor antenna, I’d like to purchase one that’s rugged, well-tested and optimized for HF and MW listening. Something easy to install.

You know? I get it.

Many listeners simply don’t have the free time or enthusiasm to explore home brew antenna options especially if they’re seeking one optimized antenna for their location and listening habits.

Like it or not, antennas can become a barrier of entry to proper, low-noise radio listening and DXing.

I have built almost all of the antennas I use so I’m not an expert in this area, therefore I asked Fred Osterman at Universal Radio for a couple of suggestions. He and I have talked about antennas in the past and he’s the most knowledgeable person I know on the topic. I’m willing to bet Universal Radio stocks more SWL antennas than any other radio retailer. Fred also has the added benefit of hearing customer feedback daily.

I asked Fred specifically for wire antennas that are easy to install, require no soldering or tuning/cutting and work well right out of the box. Something under $200.

Fred replied with two recommendations–I include his comments in quotes:

Alpha-Delta DX-SWL Sloper $129.95

“[The Alpha-Delta DX-SWL Sloper] is very well built. Actually, over-built for listening. Easy to erect with the feed point being up high. And really works well on the SW bands (including Tropical) and MW too. Fully preassembled. Down-side is it is kinda obtrusive with the heavy wire and large coils.”

Click here to check it out at Universal Radio.

Par EF-SWL $72.95

“[The EF-SWL is very popular] these days. It does work best with a ground, but still usable without. It is interesting, as it can be configured many different ways. I suspect it is popular because it is very easy to erect, and very, very stealthy. (Increasingly important these days). And the wire is flexible, not too thick and not obtrusive. Seems more immune to noise than others. Priced right.”

Click here to check it out at Universal Radio.

Thank you, Fred!

I have some experience with the Par EF-SWL antenna. It offers excellent performance and the antenna line has a durable black coating that makes it nearly impossible to spot from a distance. I’ve even taken the EF-SWL on travels and posted a review a few years ago. I agree that it performs very well.

I have a friend that’s relied on the Alpha-Delta DX-SWL Sloper as his main SWL antenna for years. He lives in an urban area and I’ve been favorably impressed with its performance. I agree with Fred–it’s incredibly durable and beefy! Built like a tank.

Of course, there are also incredibly low-profile antennas like the Bonito Mini Whip (check out some of Oxford Shortwave’s posts) but note that some versions don’t handle a noise-rich environment very well.

Post readers: Please comment if you know of other off-the-shelf antenna options–especially those you have personal experience using and installing.

The end of the Grundig Satellit 750?

Many thanks to Dave Zantow (N9EWO) and a number of other SWLing Post contributors who’ve noted that Universal Radio is listing the Grundig Satellit 750 as “Not Currently Available.” Universal offers the following explanation on their product page:

UPDATE: 11/21/17
Eton-Grundig has informed us the Satellit 750 is currently not available.
They cannot provide an availability date. We are not taking orders at this time.

I’ve also noted that the ‘750 is no longer on the Eton website.  It does appear Amazon.com still has inventory, but no doubt they will eventually deplete their stock. The ‘750 is sold at a number of other retailers–simply search the model number in your favorite search engine and you’ll likely find retailers with remaining stock.

So it does appear the Grundig Satellit 750 may be discontinued. If so, it’s certainly had a long product life.

Guest Post: A Photographic Tour of Universal Radio’s New Location

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), for sharing the following guest post:


In October, 2017, Universal Radio moved from their large Reynoldsburg, Ohio retail store and warehouse to a smaller retail store and warehouse at 651-B Lakeview Plaza, Worthington, Ohio. This is actually Universal Radio’s fourth location in its 75 year history. In 1942, Universal Service opened on North Third Street in downtown Columbus. In 1977, Universal Radio moved to Aida Drive in Reynoldsburg. In 1992, Universal Radio moved to Americana Drive in Reynoldsburg. Finally, in 2017, Universal Radio moved to the current location in Worthington.

On Friday, November 17, I had the opportunity to visit the new location of Universal Radio  for the first time and I prepared a photographic tour of the new location.

The new location is smaller than the previous location and instead of consisting of one large showroom space, the new location consists of several smaller rooms. (Indeed, the new layout reminds me the layout of one of my all-time favorite bookstores, the Book Loft in Columbus’s German Village neighborhood, which now has 32 (!) rooms of books. No, Universal Radio’s new store does not have 32 rooms!) As can be seen in the following photographs, these rooms are densely stocked. Universal Radio still offers all the items that were available in the previous store location. Of course, just as at the previous, larger, location, some items aren’t on immediate display but are available upon request.

The new Universal Radio storefront at 651-B Lakeview Plaza Blvd, Worthington, Ohio

The new Universal Radio storefront at 651-B Lakeview Plaza Blvd, Worthington, Ohio. There’s more than ample parking.

The sign and entrance to the new Universal Radio store

The sign and entrance to the new Universal Radio store.

Books, with Barb stocking the shelves with the newest "The Worldwide Listening Guide"

Immediately upon entering the store, one will find hundreds of book titles. Here, Barb is stocking the shelves with the newest, just-released, “The Worldwide Listening Guide”.

Magazines

And, of course, Universal still offers several issues each of the two major American amateur radio magazines.

Antennas, shortwave receivers, HTs, scanners + VHF/UHF mobiles

In the main showroom: antennas, shortwave receivers, HTs, scanners, and VHF/UHF mobile transceivers.

HF transceivers

In the same showroom, the HF transceivers, available to operate.

The Heil microphone display

The Heil microphone and headset display.

Used equipment

The Used equipment display: HF transceivers, shortwave receivers, VHF/UHF transceivers, handhelds, and accessories.

Antennas!

Antennas!

More antennas!

And more antennas!

The warehouse area, with Barb and Cathy

Just as with nearly any other modern retailer, Universal Radio’s bread-and-butter is internet and telephone orders. This is just a small portion of the new warehouse and shipping area, with Barb and Cathy busily filling orders.

The warehouse area

A small portion of the warehouse and shipping area.

The well-equipped service area

Universal Radio still has a nicely-equipped service area.

Just as at the previous Reynoldsburg location (and at the even earlier Aida Drive location), the new Universal Radio store is home to several cats which, sadly, I neglected to photograph.

The new store is staffed by the same friendly and helpful people we’ve come to know from the Americana Drive location. During this visit, I saw and spoke with Josh, Eric, Barb, and Cathy.

CommRadio CTX-10 approved by FCC

The CommRadio CTX-10

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, R. Lewis (KF5GV), who writes:

Just noticed on Universal Radio web page the Comm Radio CTX-10 has been approved by the FCC. They are accepting pre-orders on Dec 1. No indication of pricing but hope they announce it soon.

Thanks for the tip!

I’m looking forward to checking out the CommRadio CTX-10. For one thing, it’s in one of my favorite radio categories: portable general coverage QRP transceivers!

Since the CTX-10 receiver is likely an iteration of the excellent CommRadio CR1 series, I expect it’ll perform well on the broadcast bands as well as the ham bands. I look forward to reviewing the CTX-10.

The new CTX-10 prototype from CommRadio at Universal Radio’s 2017 Hamvention booth.

Follow the tag CommRadio CTX-10 for updates.

Universal Radio taking pre-orders for the 8th Edition of the WWLG


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who notes that Universal Radio is now taking pre-orders for the 8th edition of the Worldwide Listening Guide by John Figliozzi.

Click here to check it out on the Universal Radio website.