Tecsun Radios Australia has set up a Software defined radio (receiver) in Araluen, a rural town in NSW, Australia. It’s a quiet location for radio “noise”, far away from high density population and the accompanying RF noise generated.
The SDR itself is called a “KiwiSDR” and is a commercially available unit, costing around $500. The Kiwi SDR compared to others has 2 advantages: (1) it allows the user to observe the entire shortwave spectrum in one screen, and (2) it can easily be connected to the internet to allow remote operation.
Other SDRs only receive a narrow portion of the radio spectrum, and require extra equipment to connect to the internet.
With the Kiwi SDR, it is easy to remotely identify that a signal exists from the “waterfall” display and then accurately tune and receive it.
The SDR is connected to an onmidirectional wideband antenna, so that all signals across the shortwave band can be equally well received (however this is dependant on signal propagation at different times of the day). The antenna itself is a modified Tecsun Radios Australia discone, with some of the radials removed to give the antenna a higher angle of radiation. The central active element has been replaced with a 3 meter spiral wound helical element. This simulates a much longer piece of antenna wire needed for lower frequency reception.
The antenna has been located as far away from man made noise sources as possible, is fed with special double shielded coaxial cable and a variety of matching transformers and attenuators, to ensure local stations do not overload the sensitive “front end” of the SDR. Careful attention has also been paid to the grounding of the antenna.
Because the location is remote and in a bushfire affected area, mains power is supplemented by a diesel generator and UPS.
Connectivity to the www is achieved via a Ka band NBN satellite link.
The Kiwi SDR can be used to receive AM, AM Narrow, USB, LSB, weatherfax, CW (Morse Code) and DRM signals (when a suitable decoder is used).
At Tecsun Radios Australia, we’re a bunch of amateur radio enthusiasts ourselves, and AMSAT’s satellite launch on December 4 (Australian time) “Fox1 Cliff” has inspired us to join forces with the volunteers at AMSAT who build and launch Amateur Radio Satellites.
https://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/tecsunxamsat.jpg3001200Michaelhttps://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tecsun_logo_Artboard-1-300x112.pngMichael2018-11-23 15:17:552018-12-03 15:26:19We've joined forces with AMSAT
This week Federal Labor has announced that if elected to Government next year it will provide $2 million in funding for the ABC, specifically to bring back shortwave radio services across some of Australia’s most remote areas. Read more
https://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Blog-shortwave.png21173490Michaelhttps://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tecsun_logo_Artboard-1-300x112.pngMichael2018-11-23 09:14:002018-11-23 09:51:38Labor commits to restoring ABC's shortwave radio services to Australia's most remote communities
The Tecsun S-8800 has been a long time coming to the Australian market so we’re very excited that Silicon Chip Magazine has featured this great new addition to our range of radios in their most recent July 2017 magazine!
The Tecsun S-8800 review is on Page 57 of the July 2017 issue of Silicon Chip Magazine!
Here are some of the great things they had to say about the P-8800.
“If you live in, or go “bush” and want a radio that will let you keep listening where other radios have given up, or if you’re a city resident who wants to give DX listening a go, try the Tecsun S-8800.”
– Silicon Chip Magazine
“The S-8800 is right up there, even exceeding many higher-priced sets in its ability to not only resolve distant stations but to maintain them at an enjoyable level.”
– Silicon Chip Magazine
“The shortwave section covers just above the broadcast band (1.711MHz) through to almost 30MHz (actually 29.999MHz and with its single sideband plus AM reception, along with fine tuning, you’ll be pulling in stations that you didn’t know existed!”
“Although the frequency range is stated as 520-1620kHz (when the receiver is set to 9kHz spacing), it can be extended by setting the receiver to 10kHz spacing and then it will be possible to tune 520-1710kHz. By using slow tuning steps (1kHz), and station can be tuned.”
The Tecsun S-8800 High Performance AM/FM Radio has been designed to provide maximum performance on the AM (MW) bands, allowing listeners to receive fringe AM radio stations with unmatched audio clarity.
The Tecsun S-8800 is the only radio in the Tecsun range to provide an infrared remote control in the kit. An absolute luxury for the user as all functions are able to be controlled by the remote. The remote uses standard AAA batteries to make using the remote hassle-free and cheap when it needs recharging.
The Tecsun S-8800 is available and in stock now, right in time for Father’s Day! Find out what else is new for Father’s Day!
We are thrilled to announce that TWO Tecsun radios have been awarded places on the Ezvid Wiki Top 10 Shortwave Radios of 2017!
The PL360 holds the #4 spot, with reviewers praising its comprehensive frequency scanning and four available tuning methods – most of you will know, however, that the even more superior PL365 is now available!
The PL880 goes a step further to take #3 on the list, and is described as having “unparelled sensitivity”.
The shortlist is compiled with thirty-five hours of research, and is a broad-ranging, impartial assessment of shortwave radio options available to consumers in the United States.
https://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Blog-cover-wiki-1.png300700Michaelhttps://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tecsun_logo_Artboard-1-300x112.pngMichael2017-02-22 11:35:292017-03-02 17:01:48Ezvid Wiki Top 10 Shortwave Radios of 2017
The S-8800 High Performance AM/FM Radio is the latest radio to be released by Tecsun, and we think it has been worth the wait. The Tecsun S-8800 High Performance AM/FM Radio has been designed to provide maximum performance on the AM (MW) bands, allowing listeners to receive fringe AM radio stations with unmatched audio clarity. Being the authorised distributor for Australia and the Pacific, we obtained a handmade sample for evaluation and gave it to our radio expert Garry Cratt (VK2YBX) for evaluation. Read on for Garry’s review.
Like many other models, the unit is battery operated, but in this case the batteries are 2 x 18650 lithium cells, which are charged via the USB socket on the side of the receiver. This ensures adequate DC power to sustain long periods of listening at good audio level. Users may recall that both the Tecsun BCL-3000 and the Tecsun S2000 use expensive C or D cells, and obviously customer feedback has led to this change to lithium cells.
The receiver even has a built in battery tester, in the form of two LEDs recessed into the battery compartment. If the LED does not illuminate, replace and recharge the offending cell. There is also a battery indicator as part of the front panel LDC display.
The second most obvious new feature of the Tecsun S-8800 is the inclusion of an infrared remote control. No other Tecsun model has this feature which allows the receiver to be controlled without having to touch it. This is an advantage when receiving AM stations , where the receiver has been physically oriented for best reception.
All the Tecsun S-8800’s features can be controlled using the remote control, including power, display (changing between frequency or time), memory (store or recall frequencies), tuning, VF/VM modes, scanning, mode (AM, FM (mono or stereo) USB or LSB, bands (AM, FM or shortwave, 9/10kHz setting for MW, AM bandwidth, and a keypad to allow direct entry of frequencies.
Fortunately, or perhaps part of the good overall design, the remote control operates from regular AAA batteries. Some of the receivers I have tested use special button batteries that are expensive to replace.
Ever since the demise of the Tecsun BCL-3000, and prior to that the Tecsun BCL-2000, there has been a need for a receiver capable of providing good fringe reception of AM broadcast band signals.
Other desirable features that go hand in hand with good AM sensitivity are frequency stability and those features which affect the tonal quality of sound. The Tecsun S-8800 fills this requirement by having separate volume, bass, treble and bandwidth controls. It also has the advantage of a 120mm speaker rated at two watts output, which provides superior sound, even when compared to the Tecsun PL-880 portable which has been used by many as a benchmark.
The Tecsun S-8800 has provision for the connection of an external AM antenna via the commonly encountered push button “speaker connectors”. This is a high impedance connection, so you can connect your longwire antenna directly.
However, most listeners will appreciate that an external antenna, which includes a matching balun and fed with shielded coaxial cable helps eliminate the effect of interference caused by many household items. The low impedance external BNC antenna connections can also be used for shortwave reception. One great feature that has been included is AM bandwidth selection. The only other model Tecsun receiver with this feature is the Tecsun PL-310ET, and it makes a world of difference. When an AM signal is noisy, being able to adjust the bandwidth from 6kHz down to 3 or even 2.3kHz means the difference between annoying noise and an intelligible signal, even if it does mean some loss in fidelity. This is of no consequence when most of the programming is “talkback”.
Although the frequency range is stated as 520-1620kHz (when the receiver is set to 9kHz spacing), it can be extended by setting the receiver to 10kHz spacing and then it will be possible to tune 520-1710kHz. By using slow tuning steps (1kHz), and station can be tuned.
Like previous Tecsun models the S-8800 allows the user to select between 64-108MHz, 76-108MHz and 88-108MHz frequency coverage.
There is also provision for connection to an external FM antenna, and many users already know the trick of connection to their household TV antenna to improve reception. Forcing the receiver into the FM mono mode will also improve weak signals.
Shortwave (SW) Features
SSB (single sideband) is used by what shortwave listeners call “utility” services. This can include amateur radio operators, aircraft, marine weather, 4WD clubs, The Flying Doctor (in Australia), as well as being used by mining camps, police etc for regular outback communications.
The Tecsun S-8800 allows independent selection of USB or LSB, and facilitates either 1kHz or 10Hz tuning steps in this mode.
The receiver covers 100-519kHz (LW), 520-1710kHz (AM using 10kHz channel spacing), 1711-29999kHz (SW).
There are a myriad of other features offered by the Tecsun S-8800 including those found in most models such as clock, timer, snooze and alarms. In total 650 stations can be stored in memory across all bands (there are limits for each band) and recalled in real time or at some time in the future. There are also the usual store, recall and delete memory functions as well as auto sort (handy for removing duplicate frequencies.
The receiver offers frequency “browsing”, similar to the ETM function found on smaller portables like the Tecsun PL-310ET and Tecsun PL-365, as well as semi-automatic storage (the receiver stops when it finds a signal and you have 4 seconds to store it), and ATS (Auto Tuning Storage) where the receiver stores every signal it discovers. It is these operations where the use of the remote control makes the process much easier.
To prevent signal overload, the receiver has “DX/Local” switch.
Like all computer driven receivers, things do sometimes get confused between operator and machine. To remedy this, there is a reset switch hidden under the main tuning knob. Pulling the knob off the shaft reveals this. A small pointed device is required, most uses find a paper clip is suitable.
Testing so far has centred around fringe AM reception. My test site is 200Km from Sydney and I have found 2UE (954kHz) to be the weakest Sydney station. They transmit 5kW using an omnidirectional antenna.
For the test I decided to compare the Tecsun PL-660, Tecsun PL-880, Tecsun S2000 and Tecsun S-8800. Each receiver was placed in the same position on a test bench, located in an open area, and operating from batteries.
Using the 954kHz reference frequency, I compared all receivers. The Tecsun S-8800 performed better than all the others. I was very surprised that it performed better than the Tecsun S2000 which has a much larger ferrite rod antenna.
Tecsun S-8800 results: entertainment quality signal (using reduced bandwidth)
Further testing on all bands will be performed in coming weeks and the results added to this review.
The Tecsun S-8800 is due to arrive at the Tecsun Radios Australia Sydney warehouse in mid-March (date TBC) with an initial batch of 20. It is available to pre-order now on the Tecsun website – eleven have sold already, so get in quick for the best chance of securing yours!
The Tecsun PL365 was recently reviewed by Radio Jay on his blog.
Here are just a few of the things he had to say about the PL365
“The ETM has its own, temporary 100 station memory which is perfect for travelling to new areas where you can quickly populate that memory bank with receivable signals in that location leaving all your other 450 presets untouched…very convenient.”
“Tecsun has done an incredible job of making SSB tuning as precise and easy as can be”
“Its overall performance is excellent for the size and price”
“Its layout and design were carefully considered and well executed”
“The general shape and layout of the radio make one-handed tuning as easy as possible”
We’ve had a bit of a play around with the Tecsun PL365 today too!
https://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/365_ferrite_sml.jpg518778Michaelhttps://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tecsun_logo_Artboard-1-300x112.pngMichael2016-01-26 19:05:422016-01-26 19:05:42Tecsun PL365 Radio Jay Allen review
The Tecsun PL365 is the only pocket-sized radio in the Tecsun range that offers an external antenna connection. It’s easy to use, portable and comes with a great list of features to make this pocket-radio perfect for the outdoors and for use as an emergency radio.
Extended AM coverage
The PL365 is configured so that when the user selects 9Khz channel spacing on the AM broadcast band (as used in Australia) the frequency coverage is set to 522 -1620 Khz. This means that when a user tunes across the AM broadcast band in Australia, the receiver increments in 9Khz steps, which conforms to the ACMA MW bandplan.
However, it is possible to select 10Khz channel spacing (used in the USA and Japan), and this changes the frequency range to 520-1720Khz. By setting the receiver to 10Khz spacing ( With the radio off, press and hold the 9/10Khz button until 10Khz is displayed), it will be possible to tune the extra 1620-1710Khz segment. Those stations broadcasting in this band segment are known as Medium Frequency Narrowband Area Service (MF NAS) stations
Extended FM coverage
With the PL365 OFF, press and hold the FM button to select either 76-108Mhz or 88-108Mhz.
External antenna connection for the PL365
An external shortwave or AM broadcast antenna (including our AN 100 loop antenna) can be connected directly into the “MW antenna socket” to refine the tuning
The PL365 connected to the AN100 Loop Antenna
Whist the PL365 is not supplied with rechargeable batteries, it is possible to fit rechargeable Ni MH batteries and utilise the USB changing socket. The recommended Tecsun batteries are 1000mAh capacity. The PL365 has internal charging circuitry to cater for this. Tecsun Radios Australia can supply batteries, USB lead and charger, shown in the Tecsun website and catalogue under “accessories”.
Get your own PL365 here and find out what all the fuss is about!
Thanks to Garry VK2YBX for these great tips and tricks.
https://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/IMG_2899.jpg30244032Michaelhttps://www.tecsunradios.com.au/store/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tecsun_logo_Artboard-1-300x112.pngMichael2015-11-23 13:21:292015-11-23 13:21:29PL365 Tips and Tricks from Garry VK2YBX