Tag Archives: Videos

Chuck’s re-capped GE Superadio II might set a new AM BCL benchmark

I recently took delivery of a better-than-new classic solid-state portable broadcast receiver: the venerable GE Superadio II.

This Superadio II was generously given to me by SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who has–in his spare time–been re-capping and restoring all three of the GE Superadio series models and bringing them back to life. Chuck wanted to send me one of the units he’d recently finished, knowing that it might help me when doing AM reception evaluations. He insisted “no strings attached.”

Besides thank you, all I can say is…

Wow–!

Note angels singing in the background.

When I received the Superadio II a week or so ago, I removed it from the box and it looked brand new; even sporting the original “Headset Capable” grill sticker.

This is a case, however, of a refurbished radio likely out-performing the original.  Here’s a list of the main modifications:

  • All of the original dry capacitors replaced with Nichicon Audio Grade components
  • FM AFC and AM and FM IF and RF sections have been aligned
  • Rebuilt the volume control

I’m sure there are other modifications Chuck didn’t mention.

Chuck told me each radio takes a full day to restore. Some of the alignment, rebuilding, and re-capping is surprisingly tricky and varies with each of the three models. Why is he doing this?

Chuck told me, “My enjoyment comes from giving these radios a new lease on life.”

A new lease on life, indeed!

Last weekend, we had a break in the weather–and I had a short break in my schedule–so I took the GE Superadio II, GE 7-2990A, C.Crane CCRadio3, and Panasonic RF-2200 outdoors for some fresh air.

It was late afternoon and, frankly, I didn’t have the time to do a full comparative session, but having spent the better part of an hour tuning around and comparing the characteristics of each radio, I decided to make a short video to share.

The video features the GE Superadio II, but I speak to some of the pros and cons of each model. Keep in mind, this is very much a casual/informal comparison:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The SR-II not only has the best audio fidelity in this bunch, but it’s also extremely stable and has no noise floor to speak of. No doubt, this is the result of those Nichicon Audio Grade components and a skilled technician.

Side note: Chuck is well-known in the radio world because he used to restore the Collins R390A which must be one of the most mechanically-complicated receivers ever made.

I haven’t even properly tested the SR-II on FM yet because I couldn’t pull myself away from the mediumwave dial that afternoon!

I asked Chuck if he would consider refurbishing GE Superadios for other people and I think he would.  If interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Else, Chuck might leave details in the comments section of this post.

He does currently have a restored GE Superadio II on eBay. I just checked and in his listing, you’ll see a full description of the modifications made.

Click here to view on eBay.

Chuck, thank you once again for sending me this SR-II. It’ll become a permanent addition here at SWLing Post HQ. Again, I’m simply amazed at the audio fidelity of this 1980s era receiver. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything made today that can even compare.

And thanks for doing your bit to refurbish these classic portables!

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“The Last Elephant Cage” is a fascinating NSA documentary about the monolithic FLR-9 antenna system

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrea Borgnino (IW0HK), who shares the following video–a 15 minute NSA documentary–about the FLR-9 “Elephant Cage” antenna in Anchorage, Alaska.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Video demonstrating 3D propagation simulation

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gregory Ivanov, who writes:

Hi, found this video–I think it’s pretty cool. Shows some impressive 3D propagation simulation, I haven’t seen before:

Wow! That is fascinating. Thank you for sharing this, Gregory. 3D tools like this could be invaluable for predicting propagation even for hams and SWLs.

Of course, all of this is based on the amazing VOACAP application.

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Tecsun PL-990x vs. PL-880: Comparing SSB audio characteristics and pre-production/production PL-990 models

A number of SWLing Post readers have been asking about SSB audio characteristics on the new Tecsun PL-990.

Earlier this week, I took a moment while visiting family to make a few quick comparison videos with the PL-880 outdoors and away from RFI.

As I mention in the videos, there are a lot of cicadas singing in the background and you can also hear a bit of road noise–not ideal for audio, but I had to take advantage of a break in the weather!

You should also note that this isn’t a sensitivity comparison. The radios were pretty close together–if measuring sensitivity, I would have spaced them much further apart. Rather, I hope these videos give you an idea of the audio characteristics in SSB (both CW narrow and voice) and one comparison in AM. If you’re curious about sensitivity and how the PL-990x compares, check out Dan Robinsons initial evaluation.

CW Audio: .5 kHz filter on the 80 meter band

CW Audio: .5 kHz filter on the 30 meter band

SSB audio: 75 meter band

AM Audio: 5 kHz filter WWV 10 MHz

My thoughts

While these videos are far from ideal, they should give you a real-word impression of audio characteristics.

Personally, I think the PL-990x is a much better performer in single sideband. The noise floor is lower, but I think that may have more to do with better filter implementation. I’ve always felt that the PL-880 audio sounds “wider” than the selected filter in the more narrow SSB selections.

In addition, the PL-990x exhibits better SSB stability that’s especially noticeable in CW. The PL-880, at times, almost sounds garbled in comparison.

I also mentioned in the last video that the audio sounds better on the PL-880. I should have qualified that statement a bit better.

In general, yes, the PL-880 audio sounds better because its built-in speaker has slightly better audio fidelity that’s most noticeable when listening to music on the FM band, or a strong local AM station. On shortwave, I feel like I actually prefer the PL-990 audio for all but the strongest stations although I do wish the PL-990 filter could be widened to 9 kHz like the PL-880.

PL-990x (pre-production) vs. PL-990 (production model)

Tecsun Radios Australia reached out and kindly sent me one of their PL-990 production model radios to compare with the PL-990x pre-production model from Anon-Co we’ve been testing up to this point. This has been incredibly helpful as I put together my PL-990 review for the 2021 World Radio TV Handbook.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I feel it can be problematic using a pre-production model radio for review only because there can be differences in quality control when a small number of pre-production units are manufactured compared with a proper first production run (remember this case?).

I’ve only had the production model PL-990 for a few days and most of that time we’ve been dealing with the remnants of hurricane Sally moving through our area dumping torrential rains.

Last night, however, a massive tree fell across our road knocking out power for the better part of 5 hours. This gave me a perfect excuse to start my comparison indoors while rain continued outside.

Based on my comparisons last night, it appears performance is nearly identical between the production and pre-production models. I’ve still more testing to do, but my initial impressions are most positive. Very happy quality appears to be consistent.

Many thanks again to Tecsun Radios Australia for making this comparison possible.

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Nick compares the Icom R9000, Harris 590, WJ 8711, and Racal 6790

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Booras, who shares the following video and notes:

As a SW listener and radio collector I have enjoyed many hours perusing your blog and reviews. I recently started posting YouTube videos of some of my collection and thought you and your viewers might find them interesting. Please take a look at my youtube channel – dieselten01

My most recent vid included some pretty cool older surveillance type receivers.

Those are fabulous receivers! Thank you for sharing your video, Nick! Click here to check out Nick’s YouTube channel.

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Rob Sherwood’s presentation: “Transceiver performance for the HF/DX operator”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who shares the following video of a recent presentation by Rob Sherwood (NC0B) for Ham Holiday Oklahoma.

I love Rob’s presentations because not only is he an authority on testing receivers and transceivers, but he also has a very pragmatic approach to operating radios. Rob speaks to the importance of using pre amps, attenuators and adjusting your receiver for band conditions. I’ve been with lifelong ham radio operators and SWLs who never use pre amplification, attenuation, or adjust their RF gain control–these are very powerful tools, especially during the noisy summer months.

If you’ve never seen one of Rob’s presentations before, I highly recommend checking out this one:

Thanks again for the tip, Paul!

Click here to check out Rob Sherwood’s home page and receiver test data table.

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Video: When “Tomorrow’s World” demonstrated digital radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jason W, who writes:

You might be interested in this episode of the BBC series tomorrow’s world from 17th Feb 1993 on YouTube:

10:23 to 14:50 has a introduction and demonstration of digital radio in the UK and concluding with “the experts say we will be fully digital by 2020 it’s a long wait” (referring to the switch from fm to digital radio in the UK which is yet to happen).

I thought it might be interesting to highlight this on the blog in 2020.

We can forgive the bit where she suggests digital radio will operate alongside analogue FM in the same frequency band. This Wikipedia on the history of digital broadcasting in the UK shows the UK adopted the DAB Eureka 147 standard in a SFN (single frequency network) from the start of test transmissions in 1990.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom

The same episode has a later piece on wide-screen digital television. (20:18 to 23:41) ending with the line “like digital radio, it is a few years away” 🙂

This is fantastic! I love watching vintage Tomorrow’s World episodes. It’s great to see how well they predicted the future and what they considered to be meaningful future innovations at the time. Thank you for sharing, Jason!

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