| N9EWO Review : Grundig / eton G6 - Degen DE1109
LW - MW - SW - FM - Aircraft
The Degen made Grundig G6 "almost pocket" portable receiver. Was the best "tiny" radio around for performance just using it's short whip antenna (now discontinued) . Uses "Dual" Up conversion and has SSB mode too. Was sold in Europe as the "eton G6". It was shown in a "silver case" Degen DE1109 (but never sold, see photo at the bottom of this page) .(N9EWO Photo)
(2 Samples were used for this report. First one was from very early production, 2nd was near the end.)
Small Package With SSB /
Excellent Included AC Adapter / Tuning Encoder
Tiny and useful the Grundig G6 is a nice “almost” pocket set. Our test sample was marked as the “Buzz Aldrin” Edition. This is no different over the older standard version , except for the marking on the cabinet and a credit card sized collectors card included in the box. Otherwise it’s identical. However it has it's share of bugs as we will cover in the report below.
As is the case with many of Grundig sets these days (but not all) it is manufactured by Degen in China. Size of the G6 is 3 x 5 x 1 1/8 inches. The size of a standard index card (but of course much thicker).
The included owners manual is lacking specifications all together. Barely enough information to operate the radio in fact, but it gets the job done. What is in the stand alone specification sheet hardly tells you anything either.
Rarely do we see a portable of this size that features single sideband mode. The Grundig G6 indeed has a SSB mode.
The frequency digits, clock/alpha tags are easy to read with good contrast and size , while other icons on the screen are microscopic.
We have the now familiar painted “rubberized” case that may lead to show wear down the road. The tuning “job” wheel operates with no play and is smooth in operation with no detents. However after only light use, we noticed a slight amount of skipping of the Jog (encoder) tuning knob wheel. That is it would go backwards when trying to tune forward or not moving at all for a step or 2. Same issue we also experienced with our 2nd test sample of the Degen DE1121. With our 2nd test sample, this was less of a problem.
All buttons have a good tactile feel and are good in size with the exception of the 3 very tiny ones located just below the LCD display.
The volume control is of a electronic type with “up-down” buttons (just as on the Degen DE1121 / Kaito KA1121), and has 31 steps. However the first time we powdered it up , it defaulted to a very LOUD setting. Just as it is with the Grundig G5 , Degen DE1123 and DE1125's, this can be totally avoided as the electronic volume setting can be adjusted BEFORE one turns it on.
No muting in any band while tuning and no audible chuffing either.
Operation is via 2 AA batteries (not included) and if one installs 2 rechargeable batteries (also not included), the set features a built in recharge circuit. This is done via a timer method (set by the user) from 0 to 36 hours and is determined by the capacity of the installed rechargeable cells (example: 2300 mah capacity batteries are charged for 23 hours).
Batteries while inserting just fine, removing is a more difficult chore due to the very stiff spring used for the negative end of the holder. Spring on the + contact does not help either. The battery door is hinged to prevent loss. The LCD has a 3 step (bar) battery condition function. These icons also flash with the recharge circuit in use.
With the tested USA samples included 117v AC Adapter (linear-non switching type) operates the receiver with no hum or buzz at all even using it’s whip or a short indoor wire antenna. It’s extremely clean with the G6.
Good LCD Back light That Works Full Time With Ac Adapter Connected
The orange LCD back light works very well, and when the AC Adapter is in use it can be selected to stay on continuous.
One cannot make the back lighting continuous in battery operation (timed 4 seconds only). Brightness of the back light varies, it a bit dimmer with batteries, quite bright with the AC Adapter in use.
SleepTimer and 3 Normal Timers / Clock is only 24 Hour Mode, Reset Button
The 1 to 99 minute sleep timer is selected as one powers up the set. Normal power up (no sleep timer) is done by just tapping the power button. If one holds down this button for a second , then the sleep timer will kick in and one selects the sleep time by rotating the jog wheel.
There are also 3 normal alarm “Radio” timers. The user selects the time to switch on , volume setting, the length to stay on (again between 1 to 99 minutes), and the memory channel to play on. There is no buzzer/beeper, these are radio alarms only. Additionally one can set the day of the week too, or can have to go off on just weekdays.
Provided clock is only in the 24 hour mode and once in testing we had to use the provided reset function (recessed button located just under the LCD) to get out of a lockup after a battery change. Additionally there are 24 preset time zones selectable and are indicated on the alpha tag part of the display.
Non-Volatile Memory and Alpha Tags / Clock Resets Fast Once Batteries Are Removed.
There are 700 total memory channels. 100 pages with 7 memories per page. Each page can have a 4 letter or number alpha tag. These are non volatile memories too, so no battery backup is required to retain them. The clock on the other hand is battery volatile and takes only about 30 seconds before it vanishes and then will need to be reset.
If one taps the AM button while in World Band, there are SW allocation band presets.
However a bug showed up in testing with these allocation presets on our first test sample. Once in awhile it would get stuck and would get only allow selection between 3 or 4 world band segments (would only loop around the same 3 or 4 bands). This was not a problem with the 2nd test sample. On the down side with # 2 , it had a serious issue where a memory channel would rewrite on top of another .
Good Coverage Including Long Wave and Aircraft / No Squelch / Good Audio For Size
Generous frequency coverage. 150 to 29999 kHz , the VHF Aircraft band from 117 to 136 MHz.
FM band can have coverage down to 76 MHz. The user can select the starting point at 76 or 87 MHz. MW has selectable 9 or 10 kHz steps.
There is no squelch function, so the Aircraft band will have white noise between transmitting signals.
Audio is loud and pleasant for it’s size (no hissy trait either). There is a 2 step tone control switch and a marked Bass Boost position that indeed gives for a healthy bass boost kick. Not that it’s hi-fi bass, but it sure helps.
Modes and Excellent Tuning Steps / Up-Down Slewing and Scanning Operation / SSB Performance / 5 Step S-Meter But Not Useable in SSB mode / 20 hz SSB Steps
World Band (SW) tuning steps it's 5 Khz and on slow it's 1 Khz steps. Up-Down slewing buttons are 5 Khz in either selection. MW is either 9 or 10 Khz (selectable) in fast, slow is 1 Khz. Slewing buttons are 10 or 9 kHz.
LW is 3 kHz in Fast and 1 kHz in Slow. 3 kHz with the up-down slewing buttons. FM steps are in 100 kHz in Fast and 25 kHz in Slow. Slewing buttons are in 100 Khz steps.
With SSB (SW) mode there is no LSB or USB selection, just SSB. Here “fast” steps are 1 kHz. Slow it has 50 increments (steps) between each 1 kHz step using the tuning Jog wheel. So that works out to 20 Hz steps which works fine, way above average in fact for a set in this price point.
SSB performance is OK for casual use, However it has a bit of a warble trait to it, just as many other Degen made sets do. But again at this price point (and size) it's more than useable even if it only has one bandwidth filter. The AGC is not fast enough in SSB mode and distortion sets in fast especially with stronger signals. A bug-a-boo was it was not so easy to tune in a SSB signal. For some reason LSB signals are MUCH harder to tune in than USB ones (sometimes near impossible).
Another note with the up-down slewing buttons is that in the SW bands they only work within the pre-defined broadcast segments (ie: 15000 to 15800). Otherwise it’s nada, it will fold back around to the bottom end of the pre-defined band that you are tuning once it reaches the top or the bottom.
Ditto for the scanning, you are only able to scan a SW band within the pre-defined segments (with no work around unlike with the Degen DE1121). Otherwise the scanning feature is most useful for general use, but it takes a hefty signal to lock on. One can make to stop forever when it hits a active channel or it can be set for a 5 second resume.
On FM there is a ATS feature which stores from memory page 99 (and down).
There is a 5 step (bar) S-meter provided that works in all bands. It works good even if the readings are a bit on the high side.
However in SSB mode it’s sits with 4 bars no matter what the signal is and does not budge no matter what the actual signal strength really is (sample issue ??).
(Note: Even with the s-meter display showing a 3-5-7-9, there is only 5 segments that actually exist.)
Image Rejection Good / Sensitivity / Selectivity / Poor Dynamic Range / MW Intrusion Issue / No attenuator switch provided / FM White Noise Issue / One bandwidth filter / No Line Audio Output jack.
Dual Up Conversion scheme is used on SW (1st IF : 55.845 MHz , 2nd IF : 450 khz . FM : 10.7 Mhz). No serious images were noted in testing on SW. FM / AIR bands are single conversion at 10.7 Mhz.
Sensitivity is excellent on all bands (however see FM note next). It’s way above average in fact. It does well just on it’s short 20 ½ inch whip. With the # 2 sample, it was slightly less sensitive off the whip.
FM band with the test samples, we experienced a lack of the normal “white noise” at no signal with battery operation (just a fuzzy weak sound). It came to life with a station and did not appear to affect performance. When the AC adapter was connected, this was not an issue and the white background noise was normal. Unknown it this is was just a sample variation ?
The provided external antenna jack works with world band SW, Aircraft and FM (not on MW or LW, a typical Degen trait these days).
When connected to a good SW external antenna using it’s provided jack, not only does it exhibit overload, but much worse a local 1KW AM-MW station was heavily plastered across the entire SW coverage of the receiver. It is so intense to make the radio unusable. Forget using the G6 with any real SW antenna. We have to give the G6 as having poor dynamic range.
(Very Important Note: We were unable to determine how much SW signal overloading was actually present with a external outdoor antenna connected as the local MW intrusion was so intense. We were unable to test the sample at another city location with a better external SW antenna connected to see if this MW issue was just as bad of a problem elsewhere.)
With a indoor 20 ft piece of thin wire connected to it’s collapsed whip antenna, here it works (sometimes) and this should be used if one desires more horsepower on SW. But with the poor dymanic range, this may only work during daytime conditions. However with test sample #2 (being less sensitive), the dymanic range was improved, so any attached indoor wire antenna was not a problem even at night. A good outdoor one still was for a mash of interference.
Most importantly there is NO attenuator switch provided. So again it's a total a washout with any real SW antenna in use connected to it's antenna jack especially if one has a local MW station near buy. If you get overload using the whip with non-LW-MW signals, just make the whip a bit shorter.
FM is equally problematic with any real external antenna. We again heard a local FM station also plastered across the entire band mixed with the targeted tuned FM station. Stick to the attached whip for FM stations.
Again there is only one lone bandwidth filter. But it was well chosen and works well for most normal band conditions. However one will wish for a narrower filter in the SSB mode.
This gripe may seem a bit silly , but as usual I have to say it as I like this on a receiver. There is NO jack for a line (fixed) audio output.
Still a Nice "Almost Pocket" Portable / Remember it's a Degen Made Set - Variable Quality Control / Discontinued Model
Even with it’s bug-a-boos, the G6 was a very pleasant mini set that is most worthy. Just don’t connect to any real super antenna’s, especially if you live near any MW or FM stations. It normally works great off it's attached whip and sometime a bit too well.
One has to keep in mind that is a small set and not a better portable. Another WARNING from my own personal experience is Degen's highly variable quality control, it's hit or miss more than it should be. It appears from reading internet reports that sensitivity can vary greatly from sample to sample with the G6 ?? So keep that in mind as well.
Update : Our second sample's MW / SW sensitivity slowly faded away in time. As I read around the internet this was a common failure (cause unknown).
The G6 are no longer sold new (discontinued). The best low cost "pocket portable" as I type this is the CountyComm GP-5/SSB. In many respects it's better than the G6. See it's review here. No sticky cabinets here either to have to worry about as it does not use that rubberized paint on it's cabinet .
eton slurped up the selling rights, it was supposed to be known
as the "Degen DE1109" .
Silver cabinet WITHOUT the the rubber finish paint that does plague the G6 version in time (see below).
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