"Dave's Miscellaneous "Tidbit" Radio Stuff"
Area for just about "anything" to do with radio receiver's / amateur transceiver's but not in any huge detail.
 Includes guest reviews.
enjoy......Dave N9EWO 
I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !
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N9EWO Review :
C.Crane  "FM REFLECT"
Indoor FM Antenna



C.Crane's "FM REFLECT" Indoor FM Wall Antenna (it's outer box photo above). 100% Passive and Respectable. Made in China. (N9EWO Photo)

PRO : Improves FM Broadcast reception over the standard T-style dipole that was included with older Stereo receivers. Passive design for excellent signal to noise ratio. Design is much less affected by people moving around in the room (a major issue with any indoor antenna). 8 foot 75 ohm coax feedline (no 300 ohm twin lead feeds lines used here). Mounting ears and center section that have nail mounting holes (required to use, see con). All white color. Includes a 75 to 300 ohm transformer. Available from many US dealers usually at a lower cost (not just from C.Crane direct).

CON : Wall mounted antenna, generally ugly and difficult to hide, must be mounted to something and is not easy to deal with with it's thick elements. Stiff coax cable. Pricey for what it is (at full price). Heat shrink piece over coax connector was not done properly and made for difficult connection to receiver (one can just carefully remove it with a pair of scissors). As it is with any indoor antenna some experimentation may be required to locate the best hot spot in the room (may require an extension of the coax cable). The weird whip portable antenna connection with the provided 75 to 300 ohm balun and alligator clip did NOT provide any improvement in our testing (we say any host receiver MUST have an actual antenna and ground connection, 75 or 300 ohm).

Final Word : This 54 inch "INDOOR" FM broadcast antenna was a winner in our tests. After trying many indoor FM antenna's over the years, this one works and no fiddling with some phasing control. We tested this in a horizontal configuration (see photo below). Not that it will make the weak station jump to full scale signals (it can't and doesn't). But when directly compared to a dipole antenna that were included with older stereo receivers from years past (not a folded dipole type), the C.Crane FM REFLECT was definitely an improvement (on a some stations it was quite surprising). Completely passive design, this is NOT another and undesirable active antenna either (designs which we don't bother with anymore at all), so NO added noise to the signal. We found it worked equally well across the entre FM broadcast band (88 to 108 MHz). A bit ugly yes, but is still easier to hide over a even more ugly pair of "Rabbit Ears".

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 1.5


The C.Crane "FM Reflect" is a bit on the unwieldy side and is less stiff than one would hope for. We mounted the test sample on the top of 2 bulletin boards with it's feedline coax neatly hidden in the space between them. There are TINY mounting holes at each end and a couple in the middle, but to use these will take a fairy long and thin nail etc. Being as "thugly" as it is, it cannot be used without some mounting support (must be wall mounted). In testing it would have been nice to have seen the coax slightly longer than it's 8 feet (say 10 to 12). But is easily lengthened (the shorter the better of course.) (N9EWO Photo)


Jay Allen explains the unique "FM Reflect" design (click on photo above for his review).

 Guest Review :
  Grundig / Eton "Field" BT (Bluetooth) Receiver
Craig Menning guest "micro review" on the Grundig / Eton "Field" Receiver (many thanks Craig)

 
It now has Bluetooth support with the new BT model. Appears the speaker sound has radically changed over the old non-BT version. There has been a change to the bass response through headphones. At "maximum" Bass adjustment, the new version has much less low end. Similar, but not so obvious results with the speaker.
 
Eton Field : Current readings in AM and FM, no signal, minimum volume (in mA's)
                         With LED Backlight ON - OFF                                    
                     AM/on    AM/off     FM/on     FM/off
OLD Field     102          60          102          60
NEW BT        118          76          116          74
 
As you can see the LED backlight adds 42 mA, something to be avoided. The new radio seems to draw 14-16 mA more than the old one. Box covering the speaker in the new BT version, precluding the conversion to a longer AM antenna. Will update this as necessary as Craig learns more with his comparisons.
 
On AM (MW) , the new Field and the old version are basically the same. Some minor sensitivity differences could be seen on a few frequencies, but not enough to say one radio was more sensitive than the other. On FM, for the most part they were the same, but there were a few stations that came in better on the old radio. On shortwave, using the whip both radios are the same, for the most part. Around 15 MHz, the new BT version did slightly better. My revised opinion, from a general shortwave standpoint is these radios are the same. Naturally adding a wire antenna helps greatly.
 
Contrast on the new radio's display is better, I also observe that backlight on the buttons is better. I wish the display could be seen with the LEDS off (with any negative type LCD display this is not possible…N9EWO).  One comment common to both radios is the tuning is terrible. The two speed tuning is annoying.
 
Another observation, on AM, the older version had birdies / hets / whistles on four different frequencies. The new version only had one. This is an improvement. I wonder if the new added shielding was a factor ? The station had to be extremely weak, barely audible for these to be observed. With stronger signals, they are not noticeable.
 
I did notice that, on the old version, the audio could get louder. This could be due to the difference between a 4-inch speaker and a sub-two inch speaker. Or, there could be other differences?
 
Conclusion: I wouldn’t get the new version expecting an improvement in signal reception. Given that the old one likely has better battery life, I’d say that is the better choice. Since both old and new would allow adding the jack for alternate AM antennas, anyone wishing to do that could go with either radio.

Craig Menning

 Guest Review :
 CommRadio  CR-1A Communicatons Receiver 
Dean Bianco guest "micro review" on the CommRadio CR-1A Communications Receiver (many thanks Dean)

The CommRadio CR-1A communications receiver . Uses conventional super heterodyne circuits. (Universal Radio Photo)

Discontinued Receiver

PRO :
Solid build-quality (case made of steel), Crisp, powerful audio output (especially when connected to an outboard speaker), Manually dimmable, clear OLED display with EMI-filtered lens. 12-14 Hour "Lithium Ion" battery capacity between charges (see Con). Menu-driven operating features no too difficult to master (see Con), External Power Supply (Wall Wart) runs cool and is quiet [this was not normally provided with the receiver.....N9EWO]. Very portable, and the over-sized rubber feet make the radio very stable on the operating surface.

CON :
Fair dynamic range with any decent outdoor antenna and no attenuator to help control it . Sub optimal image rejection. Clumsy menu system. Hard wired internal battery [Note : This was a later production sample, the battery holder used in earlier product had been removed....N9EWO]. No Synchronous  Detector (see text). No Performance Upgrades since it's release. Poor IF filter symmetry.  Lacking DSP Noise Blanker, DSP noise blanker, Pass Band Tuning (PBT) and Notch Filter.
   

Dynamic Range is only fair when using a high-performance outdoor antenna. There is no Attenuator to help tame it. Image rejection is rather sub-optimal---e.g. strong signals  appearing on frequencies where they are not supposed to be ("Brother Stair everywhere" and Radio Havana Cuba, among other high-signal strength stations) on par with the image rejection specs of cheap portables !! The menu system's functionality is cumbersome on some functions, making manual signal tuning a chore. Internal batteries are hard-wired [is not a standard type either...and is missing a line audio output jack...N9EWO] . No synchronous AM detection (see next paragraph).

The manufacturer never made any performance upgrades during it's life on the market. They even hinted at offering SYNCHRONOUS DETECTION among other features, but was never implemented. (Hardware changes to the antenna inputs and added PC -accessible GUI and real-time Spectral Display [computer-based only] not withstanding).
The IF bandwidth filters, while sharp and clean and a good number of them, have poor symmetry--i.e., one side of a signal, say, as an example on AM at any bandwidth, the lower side is wider than the higher side, compromising selectivity when trying to tune away from a close-in adjacent signal a few kHz away.

There is
No DSP Noise Blanker,  No DSP Noise Reduction mitigation, No PBT, No Notch Filtering.

Overall, the CR-1a (priced new at $550 to $600) while tank-tough, easily portable, sensitive, and great sounding, alas, is (was) too expensive for its limited feature-set and functionality performance compromises. 

Dean Bianco


Watch out with JRC Display Failures. Display failures are now very common with the JRC NRD-525, NRD-535 receivers and even with the JRC JST-135 Transceiver. These radios all use a "custom made" florescent type display and now being quite aged are suffering from ever weakening brightness and then just failing completely in time. They have not held up well with age. One could TRY and replace the 4 high voltage (35 to 50 volt) electrolytic capacitors in the display DC-DC converter circuit, but usually when these go out.....that's it (it turns into a great doorstop). Sorry...no new parts are available anymore.  So a "MAJOR" Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) if you are considering any used sample for purchase !! Not as bad say as the nasty failure of the Sony CRF-1 these days. With the CRF-1 total failure is almost guaranteed to happen sooner or later and also (usually) is unrepairable due to the Sony custom large CX-764 IC that goes out (and of course no parts are available). A general reminder, as it goes with all vintage "solid state" radio receivers / transceivers one should be aware any major ills of any certain used model before a purchase. Check it out throughly before and then cross your fingers after.


TASCAM SS-R100 Digital Recorder : A reader has inquired if I have any experience with the STAND ALONE TASCAM SS-R100 Solid State Recorder for "off air" short wave - HF use ?? This is a bit weird as we have been pondering one of these for awhile now. Answer is "NO" I have no experience with the model. The real question for me is being it uses a (internal) switching power supply , is it a RF quiet supply being around and connected to HF receivers ?? Do other readers have any experiences with the SS-R100 being used with HF receivers (tabletop or portables) ?? If you do please let us know and will share here (email address above). Other models like the SS-R100 we have missed ?? Not including the $ 100. more expensive similar SS-R200 model which has other features that is not needed for this use .

TASCAM's Professional DA-3000 model has much improved LED meters and a very nice OLED main display. However is twice the money over the SS-R100 (and then some), only records in the BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) and has also received some sour reviews. BUT it does use a very nice internal linear transformer power supply. I was NOT impressed with the Denon DN-500R for layout and features (also uses internal switching power supply), but do feature 16 or 24 bit recording.

We have the Edirol-Roland R-1 , Sangean DAR-101 and Sony PCM-D50..."PORTABLE" solid state recorders here and all work very well here for "off air" HF recording (then transfered to the computer for processing), BUT only as long as I did NOT use the included NOISY switching included AC power supply's (for the R-1 and PCM-D50). I developed and built my own non-switching supply for these 2. It would be excellent to have a more beefy "deck" sized solid state recorder for HOME BASE use and get away from portable size devices (when you don't need portable). UPDATE : The US street price on the SS-R100 has increased $ 50. (to $ 500.) as of late 2015.
    
Is the TASCAM SS-R100 Solid State Recorder internal "Power Supply" clean enough for "off air" short wave - HF use ??

AOR AR7030 Power Supply Repair Notes : Added power supply repair notes to the AOR AR7030 Page. Yes, our 7030's power supply failed and now repaired / back to normal . In our case were getting a BAD hum when turned off. Also the normal "thump" that happens when turning it off was no longer . See the AR7030 web page for more information (located about 3/4 way down the page), includes a few pictures .

Yes, our AOR AR7030 power supply failed and now repaired / back to normal .
See the AR7030 web page for more information (located about 3/4 way down the page) .


Tecsun PL-380 Undocumented Function Discovery / Hiss Issues Apparently Cleared Up ? : Jack W8ADQ informs us of a Undocumented Function with the Tecsun PL-380

1. With the radio OFF and showing the regular power off screen.
2. Press and hold down the [AM BW] button
3. After a couple of seconds it will do a display test and turn on all segments and annunciators.
4. Continue to hold the [AM BW] button down.
5. After another couple of seconds the 4 digit display area at the upper right of the LCD (not the main frequency display digits) will briefly show a four digit number.

This appears to be the firmware version. However this did NOT work with our 2011 made sample. But did with our early "hissy" 2014 one (display as 3808). Jack's newer 2015 sample displays 3809.

Our 2014 sample suffered badly from excessive audio amplifier hiss (in ONE channel with headphones and from the speaker). Was not just with my sample being defective as it this hiss bug has been reported elsewhere in good numbers.  But not with the 2011 test sample (is totally clean) hiss is ZERO. But Jack also tells us that the excessive hiss is ZERO with his his even later sample. Also other reports I have received from readers with LATE 2014 made samples and beyond are also now hiss free. So it appears that Tecsun has made quality control corrections to at least late 2014 samples and beyond ?? Our thanks to Jack W8ADQ for this information. This updated information has been included on my PL-360 / County Comm GP-5 review page as well.

Tecsun PL-380's. Newer EARLY 2014 made sample on Left which has the hissy audio issue. Older "Black" and much better 2011 sample on Right does not (totally clean) . Is now appearing that EARLY 2014 production samples (and perhaps back in 2013 ??) had this audio hiss problem. Reports we have received of LATE 2014 made samples (and onward ??) appears to have this problem fixed ?? Our thanks to the contributor of the 2011 sample , who wishes to remain anonymous . As many already know the date of manufacture is part of the serial number. (N9EWO Photo's)

Best Rechargeable ni-mh Batteries , "eneloop PRO" AA and AAA : A tad more capacity (now 2550 mah max) over the now defunct named XX higher capacity batteries (were 2500 mah max). As many already know all eneloop batteries are of a “Low Self Discharge” (LSD) type of ni-mh rechargeable battery. This is more of a renaming / marketing thing here for Panasonic, but slightly increased capacity with the new PRO ones.  Another battery in the line I was unaware until now of the eneloop “lite” cells. These do not appear to be currently sold in North America however. Capacity are less at only 1000 mah on the AA size. But can be recharged up to 3000 times. Downside to the higher capacities (XX and PRO) are the number of cycles is reduced and will not hold charge quite as well (hold 85 vs 90% in 1 year....whoopee). You will only see the Panasonic name on all eneloop batteries now . Of course Panasonic purchased the brand awhile back (from Sanyo) , much more info here (see the chart located on this page).

Duracell have actually been reselling rechargable eneloop AA and AAA batteries for awhile now (Duracell label). However this is NOT all Duracell rechargeables as in the past they have sold Chinese made cells (these are not eneloops of course) and were still using the same stock numbers and also remember they still sell standard ni-mh batteries that discharge super fast just sitting on the shelf . But if "made in Japan" and only marked as “preCHARGED” ,“STAY CHARGED” , "ION CORE", tells you that they are eneloop batteries in disguise (AA's in the 2000 or more of late 2400 mah capacities).  Also the higher capacity ones are (were) sold as the Fujitsu HR-3UTHCEX(4B).

The batteries are no better than the charger. Charge them fast and they will not last !! No matter what the battery manufactures try and sell-tell you !! I still only charge at the 200 mah rate using a better EXTERNAL charger (never any faster). I don’t use any of the eneloop chargers. No “fast charge” battery cookers for me. NOTE : In my testing I have found charging at this slower rate it will take a bit longer breaking in period and early or late charge shut off point while "in seasoning" process with the Lacrosse BC1000 or BC700 charger is normal . A few more proper "in device discharging" cycles of a new battery will be required to achieve full capacity. If a cell shuts off way too early in charge cycle with new cells, remove for a second and reinsert.

Panasonic's current eneloop AA battery line up.
The light blue "lite" cells are not currently sold in North America (that I'm aware of).
Also sold in disguise under the Fujitsu and Duracell brand names, but see the important text above. 


Increased “Off” Battery Life with "Grundig G2 Reporter" and Degen DE1126 - DE1127 - DE1128 - DE1128H - Important Tip :

As out of the box default , when “OFF” , the Degen made Grundig G2 Reporter / Degen DE1126 / DE1127 / DE1128 / DE1128H portables have greatly increased standby current consumption for the clock display (when the tuning knob is rotated). So even when not being used the internal lithium battery charge will be completely depleted in a few weeks without even ANY use (this is normal).

To GREATLY improve battery life when “OFF” :

1. : Access the “System Set” menu (System Setting)
2. : Then select the “Power Off Mode”
3. : Toggle the default “Standby” setting over to “Sleep” mode (called “Hibernate” with some Degen sets).

This will greatly increase battery life when “OFF”. Note: The clock will no longer be accessible with the “Sleep-Hibernate” selection (when turning the encoder knob).
Also, if you remove the battery (or it goes totally dead) this setting will have to be redone, as it then defaults to "Standby Mode".

Kenwood R-1000 “39.545 Mhz” Display Repair

Download (N9EWO PDF) : Kenwood R-1000 "39.545 Mhz" Display Repair

After years of operation the Kenwood R-1000 can suffer a fixed 39.545 Mhz display and/or a dead radio/display (or it can just go wacky). First place is to check and re-solder solder joints at Q201 and Q203 on the small power supply / PLL board on the underside of the chassis. This is where connector # 12 is located. The two TO-220 devices mounted on the large heat sink and the PC board solder connections can work loose after many hot/cold cycles.

Just as important, be sure and touch up the solder joints involving connector # 12 and the four power rectifier diodes as well as these can cause for bad connections too. Especially so with pin one and two on connector # 12 as these are 5 volt pins closest to the heat sink. In extreme cases all electrolytic capacitors, Q201 and/or Q203 and/or the 4 power rectifiers may need to be replaced on this board. Beyond this, I cannot be of any additional help.


If you found this web page to be enjoyable and useful, please consider a small donation to help keep it here on the internet and updated. ANY donation amount is very much appreciated. Please see the main page for more information. Thank You. Dave N9EWO
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