radio


This is way overdue, and I hope to be able to elaborate on it a bit more in the near future, but let it now suffice to say I am a proud owner of a replacement E1 from Universal and found it to be everything the reviewers say it is, and maybe more. I continue to be impressed with its weak-signal handling, especially the way the rock-solid sync grabs onto a carrier and improves a station’s audio.

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I took delivery on Friday of a new Eton E-1 from a “general merchandise” type vendor. I returned it on Monday because of three problems experienced with this unit, serial number 1739.

Before I get into the details, I want to say that the receiver was a pleasure to use, and was very pleasant to listen to, especially on strong signals. I really liked it and I really wanted it to work.

The first problem was with AM Sync. When engaged on a signal of just about any strength, a fast low-to-high sweep sound was produced, and the audio disappeared The setting of the squelch had effect. I could budge the tuning knob to get the audio back, but as soon as sync re-engaged the sweep happened again and the audio vanished. S-meter indicated the signal was there – just no audio.

The next problem was a real disappointment with the radio’s sensitivity. I only have an R8A to compare it to, but the E-1 was nowhere near its sensitivity. I tested both radios fed via an RF Systems SP-1 splitter (and switched the R8A and the E1 to both sides of the splitter with the same result). The antennas feeding it were switched between a 750′ south terminated mini-bev, a 450′ north unterminated BOG, and a pair of 84 foot slopers, NE and SE. I used one of Universal’s PAL adapters as the connection to the radio itself. I verified and re-verified that the side panel Antenna-HF switch was set to external, and that squelch was all the way down. (I looked in vain for an RF gain control to turn up to solve this
problem, but I know the unit doesn’t have one!)

Following measurements were taken on the south mini-bev unless noted. Signal strength is as read directly from the S-meter on both the R8A and the E-1. Measurements were taken last Saturday morning around 8:50 AM EST. All readings on the E-1 were taken with the “DX” preamp engaged, and on the R8A with its preamp off.

WPTF-680 Raleigh – 50 kw south and a bit west of me. R8A: S9+40, E-1: S9+5
WFMC-730 Goldsboro NC – 1 kw 50 miles SW of me. R8A: S9+10, E1: S4
CFRX-6070 – R8A: S8, E-1: S3
CBC-9625 – R8A: S7, E-1: S2. (on NE sloper: R8A: S9, E-1 S6)
R Japan via Sackville-11705 – R8A: S9+5, E-1: S8
WHRI-11785 – R8A: S6, E-1: just above noise level at S2
AWR-Guam – fast fades, peaking at: R8A:S5, E-1: inaudible
WWV-15000 – R8A: S4, E-1: inaudible
AIR Delhi-15050 – R8A: threshold audio, E-1: forget about it

The background hiss level on the E-1 was high, significantly more so than I thought it would be from reviews and comments by others. Its sensitivity was not enough to bring the weak signals above the noise in many instances. And on weaker stations like 6070, the hiss was just about equal level with the signal.

I always figured you could pump as much antenna-signal into a radio as the radio could handle. But this E-1 sounded like it had a big fuzzy pair of earmuffs between it and the antennae.

I also fed the signals from the same antennae into a Sony ICF-SW7600GR, running on batteries. CFRX sounded strong and clear with punchy audio and minimal hiss, even on its little speaker.

The last item was something I could live with if the above two problems didn’t exist: the digital readout read 20-80 Hz low (at different times during the testing period). This is the same problem being reported by others.

I have placed an order for a replacement unit from Universal, and am keeping my fingers crossed that I get a unit that performs as well as most everyone elses’ does.

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Lots of people seem to be reading this particular post without also reading my followup post; the unit I received from Universal works flawlessly, and is in constant use now. The venerable Drake R8A is still in use, but the E1 provides a nice combination of good sound, sensitivity and ease of use.

This selection (3403995 bytes, 3:32) is for Ralph and anyone else who loves African music. The name of the particular genre escapes me, but I’d describe it as big-city African dance-pop. Whacked down out of the ether from Africa Number One, Moyabi, Gabon, during its testing phase on February 5, 1981. (I wonder who won that Peugeot?) It appears I neglected to make note of the frequency.

Ondas del Mar (1380 kHz), in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo, Venezuela, quickly became our default beach radio station during our trip to Bonaire. Its format consists of mostly Cuban music, with enough Venezuelan vallenatos to keep things interesting and to satisfy the government’s local content requirements. Here’s a song (4194524 bytes, 4:22) that was especially good, recorded around 9:30 a.m. on September 27, 2005.

Q: (redneck accent) So, what’s with the name, anyway, you leftist liberal long haired Clinton-loving Communist sixties throwback, you?

A: It’s the slogan used by Radio Rebelde, one of the national radio networks in Cuba. Here’s a sample (491664 bytes, 0:28) of its top of the hour ID, from its stereo feed on Hispasat 1C, 11.885 GHz, Vertical polarization, SR 27500.

Q: What the heck would you ever want to listen to that for?

A: In fact, here’s another sample (787934 bytes, 0:36) from Radio Rebelde. In this one, the announcer says the programming is about to split, with the AM service carrying sports and FM continuing with normal programming. It’s followed by the ID for Rebelde FM.

Back in the days before Reagan-era deregulation turned the US medium wave dial into a cesspool of partisan poison and “religious” charlatanism, entertaining and engaging local talk show hosts could be found. Here is an example captured at random on July 20, 1981, shortly after midnight, on WGR-AM (550 kHz) in Buffalo, New York. Listen to the (unidentified) host walk the line between graciousness and sarcasm, as he discusses contemporary music with his earnest but boneheaded teenaged caller. Topics covered include Rastafarianism, the local concert scene, early 80’s pop-metal bands, and the relative popularity of Van Halen and the Box Tops. Funny and pathetic at the same time. (4051872 bytes, 8:48)

Test posting with an enclosure (155040 bytes, 0:19). It’s the top of the hour ID from Radio Grito de Baire, Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, 1420 kHz.

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