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****  PLANNED UPCOMING REVIEWS  ****
(subject to change)
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*****  WEB PAGE UPDATES / ADDITIONS  *****

- REVIEW (updated) - Original "Russian" Malachite - Malahit DSP - SDR  Added internal IPX antenna connector issue text, plus 2 new photo's. (UPDATED May 12)


Our Russian Malachite test sample used a very short and EXTREMELY STIFF with it's internal antenna cable to the TINY and EXTREMELY FRAGILE "IPX" connector on it's PC board as shown above (U.FL / IPX type ?, we are still trying to determine what type of IPX connector it uses...anyone ?). This oversight led to bad connections over a few months of use with intermittent no reception. We were able to CAREFULLY shape this extremely stiff cable enough to relive the great stress off of it to make work again, however (depending on what your sample is using here, this could be variable) one is probably best to source a more flexible replacement connection cable here (just a tad longer would be good as well) ?). These are readily available cheaply on ebay and elsewhere (no soldering required). (N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEW (NEW) - Sangean ATS-909X2 LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable The long awaited N9EWO review on Sangean's latest SW portable is now available. Much of the ATS-909X2 text we had posted below has been absorbed into the review (so that has been removed from this news page). (UPDATED May 09)

UPDATES (Ver 4.1) :
- Fixed typos and added a "firmware change log" PDF file (many thanks to Jimmy at Sangean America).
- 1 kHz tuning bug with SSB 10 hz tuning step while cleared up for the most part with 073 firmware, still twitches back very INTERMITTENTLY (see review text) !
- Added new information in regards to general design (IF and the ceramic filters being used ..yes I did say ceramic filters !). This was gathered after viewing the X2's service manual. It's general architecture and dismal SW audio quality is not much different over the old X model.
- Added variable quality control Information / warning.
- Updated
Comparison Chart (located on bottom of it's review page).


Sangean's ATS-909X2 LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR portable. (N9EWO Photo)
 
N9EWO "ATS-909X2" review available here.

- REVIEW (NEW) - LOWE HF-250 HF Receiver - Audio Quality one of the Best Period (Communications Receiver).(UPDATED Apr 12 , added new text and repair "You Tube" link)


The discontinued and rare "Lowe HF-250 HF Communications Receiver" from the mid-late 1990's.
  Tested was a stock "Non Europa" version, plus a second sample with PROPERLY slightly modified
 narrower IF filters (see review text / chart). Simply one of the best tabletop HF receivers for
audio quality and overall AGC performance EVER MADE especially with the optional DU-250 Sync board installed.
 Even tops the AOR AR7030 for audio quality in our view / testing (with the PROPER 2 way external speaker). (N9EWO Photo)


- REVIEW (updated) : Philmore / LKG - MW122A Regulated Power Supply Modified Regulated LINEAR Power Supply for use with the Grundig Satellit 800, Eton e1, Drake SW-8, Sangean ATS-909X2. New updated text and photo / links. (oops...fixed bad link here) (UPDATED Mar 11)


The low cost Chinese MW122A "117 VAC transformer type" regulated power supply can be modified for STABLE use with the Drake SW-8 , Grundig Satellit 800 , Tecsun HAM2000, eton e1, Sangean ATS-909X2 receivers that can require a pretty good amount of current at 9 VDC (for a portable). As stock it operates way too hot at 600 ma current draw and I would expect failure in time if modifications are not done (let alone a fire). We removed the unstable selector switch (now 9 volt output only), changed the secondary transformer tap for cooler operation. Now no more headphone hum (Sat 800) and much more stable output . Once modified we found it to be a very useful and clean supply for these receivers. (N9EWO Photos)

- ICOM released 1.35 firmware for the IC-R8600 receiver on January 29, 2021. Only was marked for reducing audio distortion with the Speech function (which it did do). However as most already know Icom does not necessarily list all  bug fixes done with any given firmware update. One undocumented SLIGHT improvement WE discovered (to our ears anyway) is the audio quality with SYNC D mode. This as now been covered in our extensive "now updated Ver 14.0" IC-R8600 review CLICK HERE (see light blue block down the page). (UPDATED Feb 02)


The excellent ICOM IC-R8600 "Wide Band" SDR communications receiver. Direct Sampling SDR below 30 MHz. Hybrid Superhet / SDR above 30 MHz. It is NOT just a IC-7300 "receiver" section with VHF / UHF Coverage added on (however overall HF receiver performance is similar). In our view the best receiver Icom has produced to date ("Wide Band" or not). One MUST remember this is NOT a "scanner" type receiver, so no Trunking etc. The IC-R8600 has much fuller audio range when compared to the IC-7300 transceiver cousin (which has no bass response in comparison). One bug that existed until firmware 1.34 was what we called "AGC Swamping" (see review text). (N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEW (updated) - ICOM IC-R9500 (added PRO and CON list plus updated text) 
(UPDATED Feb 09)


ICOM's IC-R9500 Wide Band DSP Receiver
In our testing it did not beat out the WJ-8711A with down in the mud HF signals (was close), but is very respectable. However, even at this price point it has it's share of bugs (older firmware 1.03) that sets it further behind the WJ-8711A. The newer and higher tech IC-R8600 beats it out easy in our view (overall) and with much less heat (see my IC-R8600 review here). New samples are still for sale in 2021 for around $ 12,500. USD. (Photo : N9EWO)

- REVIEW - FLEX-6400M Tabletop SDR HF / 50 MHz Transceiver (Guest Review) (UPDATED Feb 01)
Dean Bianco's excellent review updated with important information (see yellow block on the bottom of the review page)



- REVIEW (restored) - Tecsun PL-600 (early production sample).
- Tecsun PL-600 Audio Distortion Modification links and information.
- Sangean ATS-803 / ATS-803A - Realistic DX-440 "Anti-Chuff" Modification
- NEW PAGE (updated - two new entries) - "Radio's That Never Were" - Including the AOR AR-7070 / HF-7070
- REVIEW (NEW) - Sangean HDR-16 AM/FM HD Portable (Guest Review)

- REVIEW - Grundig Satellit 750 / Tecsun S-2000 / Eton Elite 750 Receiver (UPDATED Jan 22)
- JRC NRD-525 Important Serial Number Information
- REVIEW (updated) - Ameco TPA / MFJ-1020B Tunable Preamp - Active Antennas
- REVIEW (updated) - WJ-8711A "Condor" SP-1348 Electrolytic Capacitor Chart
- REVIEW (restored) - Sangean ATS-909X - "Downright Poor Audio Quality on MW/SW"

- REVIEW (updated) - ICOM IC-7300 "When the Rose is Not a Rose" (Sour Audio Quality for Broadcast Listening)


The excellent ICOM IC-7300 is the FIRST "stand alone" Amateur Radio Transceiver that uses true "direct sampling" SDR technology PLUS also includes an internal antenna tuner and 100 watts RF output. Super fast "Real Time" spectrum display, no lagging "doggy" ones here. It's Bug-A-Boo for me is with general audio quality on receive. It's flat communications audio while great for Ham use (of course what it was made for) falls "flat" on it's face for MW and HF / SWL broadcast listening after awhile (adjusting it's menu tone controls or external speakers not helping the cause at all). The Icom IC-R8600 receiver is night and day improvement in this area (see our IC-R8600 review here) ! (N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEW (updated) - AOR AR-DV1 - Massive USB Port Failures (with later production)
- REVIEW (NEW) - C.CRANE Skywave AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX Portable Pocket Radio


The C.Crane "Skywave" AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX pocket portable receiver (see review here) .
Generally decent performance, however we feel is on the overpriced side of the fence for what it is.
Just as with ALL other radios, it has it's Pro's and Con's. Custom manufactured in China by Redsun.
The excessively expensive variant called the C.Crane "Skywave SSB" adds SSB modes / finer tuning
 steps and improved SW coverage (not tested). (N9EWO Photo).

- REVIEW (updated) - AOR AR7030 - Added Old Age Check List / Audio Distortion Comparison
Chart
- REVIEW (updated) - SDRplay RSP-1 / RSP-1A SDR Receiver


The UK made "SDRplay RSP1A" SDR. Lightweight black plastic cabinet using a SMA antenna connector.
1 kHz to 2 GHZ coverage (no gaps). Full HF coverage with no silly converters too. Earlier
 RSP1 model was also tested. ALL "SDRplay" models are based on "MIRICS"
  MSi001 - MSi2500 chip set, similar idea but improved performance over those low cost RTL dongles.
 The RSP1A improved features include a 0.5 TCXO
and additional filtering. One should not expect
 same performance when compared to the more expensive HF Elad FDM-S1
/ FDM-S2 / FDM-S3 SDR's, but we say excellent for the price. N9EWO review click here.
(manufacture photo)


*****  NEWS ITEM LINKS   *****

- Malachite / Malahit : Sync Detection and Auto Notch now added (release date Feb 11, 2021) ! :
Firmware 1.10b
- Fixed error in the S meter readings for frequencies above 30MHz
- Changed the injection of the panorama scale - now instead of x1, x2, x4, 160kHz, 80kHz, 40kHz are shown
- In SSB excluded step 100kHz; added step 25Hz
- The touchscreen sensitivity is lowered again
- Added Synchronous AM Detector (actually is a Synrophase type detector)
- The frequency at which the LPF 500000 is turned on is increased to 540,000, for better suppression of signals above the frequency of 500 kHz
- Added Auto Notch filter to the Audio menu
- Stretched grunginess adjustment (?)
- Added DSB modulation output (Mode ?)

Firmware 1.10c (in development)
- Modified graphic display of the spectrum
- Improved optimization of algorithms, increased speed of display
- Added the ability to determine the type of inclusion - one or three clicks. If pd15 (7 RESERVED fields) is open, turn on one tap;if this kick is closed to the common wire, then turning on three clicks.
- The HARD menu has been finalized
- Changed battery display - voltage is indicated on top of the picture
- Added the ability to control custom equipment using a discrete signal - PD14 (pin 8 field RESERVED)
- The HARD menu adds an audio-switching button. It duplicates the re-quenching of audio. Made by users.
- ADDED SAM-U and SAM-L modes
- Added engineering settings
- Added retro scale for Japan
- Added automatic Notch filter in AM mode
- Added saving type retro scale
- Changed the control of the HF filters at the receiver's entrance
- The error in the frequency adjustment has been corrected
- Errors in automatic search of stations in FM mode have been corrected

- Adding scan function
- Adding RTTY and PSK decoder.
We have successfully installed 1.10b in the HQ test sample and my comments can now be seen in my updated review (Click Here). (UPDATED : May 10)

- NEW ICOM IC-7300 "1.40 Firmware" (released on Feb 26, 2021). (new excellent spectrum scope scroll mode, also can now use "multi-knob" and "dial" the memory channels, a HUGE added feature in our view).(Mar 04)
- Malachite clone "You Tube" review by George Yatsuk (Malachite / Malahit devlopers). Use CC translate / subtitles over to English.(Feb 15)
- NEW "[email protected]" forum (user group). Started on Dec 31, 2020. Public archives. (Feb 08)

- YAESU FTDX-3000 / FTDX-5000 MP "Limited" Discontinued. Limited number of NEW samples of the FTDX-3000 at most USA dealers as I type this (but not for long). Being the new FTDX-10 is priced similar, this makes sense. But for someone who despises touch screens (like me) this could be a worthy HF Transceiver to consider (as it does not use one). Alas it has the same totally STUPID Yaesu POKY tuning scheme with the "main tuning knob" (only 10 or 100 hz steps in AM mode). The FTDX-5000 MP "Limited" was officially discontinued on May 10th. This was the last version in the FTDX-5000 series. (UPDATED May 11)
- ICOM IC-R8600 NEW Firmware (v 1.35). Fixed distortion issue with "speech" output / January 29, 2021.
(UPDATED Feb 01)
 

- Malachite - DDC Prototype (Georgy Yatsuk - video in  Russian) First "You Tube" video from the Russian Developers on the exciting NEW and more powerful "self contained" SDR project. Improved dynamic range and spectrum scope span of 1.9 MHz (is 160 kHz in original version). Uses same size PC board and case / size as the original (N9EWO review located here) . Contains a 14 bit Analog Devices AD9649 ADC (Analog to Digital converter). Question is will it have improved front end filtering (as stock) ? As expected it will cost more to manufacture. Planned availability date is unknown at this time. More details are forthcoming ?. (Updated : Dec 23, 2020)



- "Sherwood Engineering" lab receiver performance testing (link here) places the new Yaesu FTDX10 HF Transceiver near the top of the heap. See the entire Sherwood Engineering FTDX10 PDF report here (right click "save link as"). WARNING: Is another ham transceiver where the internal fan cycles with JUST RECEIVE ONLY use ! Also too bad Yaesu used a "el-cheapo" modular type microphone connector on a $ 1700. USD HF transceiver ! (Jan 02)

- Palstar R30A DISCONTINUED - R30B COMING SOON...?
Palstar's track record of announcing products and actually coming to market has been dismal over the years. Time will tell ? My guess is "if it happens" will look like the way overpriced R30A but going back to using Ceramic IF filters ? Our review of the original R30 was not that exciting to us. But would be nice to see a HF only tabletop receiver back in the market place. (Dec 10, 2020)

- Information on the Chinese Malachite / Malahit SDR's - "Caveat Emptor"(see below)

- ICOM IC-R30 NEW Firmware (v 1.11). Fixed issue with ANL use with DualWatch OFF)


N9EWO's full review on the ICOM IC-R30 hand held receiver can be seen here. (N9EWO Photo)

- TECSUN PL-368 Prototype (improved PL-365 / CountyComm GP-5 SSB / keypad / sync detection [see entry below])
- ICOM IC-R8600 - LCD Display Failure Issues (moved to bottom of N9EWO's IC-R8600 review page)  (UPDATED Apr 23 / number 7 failure was user error....removed. Count back to 6)
- JRC Display Failures

- "Knock off the knockoffs": A plea to cassette deck manufacturers (FAKE Chinese "JUNK" manufacturing)

- HF RFI Generator - "Electronic Defrost Timer"
- What happens when an Uniden SDS100 battery fails
- Uniden SDS200 - LCD Failures (again)

- Uniden SDS100 - J401 Bad Connection To PC Board

*****  RANTS AND REVELATIONS  *****

TECSUN PL-368

The new Tecsun PL-398 pocket portable was officially released on January 01, 2021 (Chinese version). "Export" version should be released soon. Available in Black (Gray?) or Yellow case colors and uses different LCD vs. the old PL-365. Sync detection, tuning step button andded. But the main attraction is the direct keyboard entry. NOW uses a MICRO USB jack and a BL-5C lithium battery pack (sorry...no more AA battery operation which is a HUGE drawback, this rules out survivalists use !). Link to AliExpress. MAJOR concern is has the SSB clipping distortion been cleared up (sadly it appears not) ? (Updated : May 10)

PL-368 "You Tube" videos :
- Compares to older models (differences) (use subtitles and translate to English).
- Shows general performance / comparisons
- 40 meter LSB operation (and shows AGC clipping distortion)
- Unboxing (yes still includes the "plug-in" loopstick antenna and case)


TECSUN's NEW PL-368 with it's added "direct entry" keyboard, sync detection and micro USB jack.
  Uses BL-5C lithium ion battery pack (PL-365 model / CountyComm variant used 3 AA batteries which is more preferable).
Rumors around that CountyComm will be selling a PL-368 variant later in 2021 (marked as the GP-7 / SSB). (N9EWO Photo Edit)

A EXTREMELY RARE "5 Volt" CLEAN LINEAR USB Power Supply
 (for USA 117 VAC input voltage)


Have covered this topic in the past with other radios that use a USB socket for power. What to do about the excessive RF noise that ALL switching AC adapters emit for use with a HF receiver ?  CCrane in California USA still has available an excellent , RARE and fairly inexpensive ANALOG / LINEAR / REGULATED 5 V 900ma USB power supply that provides enough “cool” and TOTALLY CLEAN current for operation with receivers that use a 5 pin MINI USB socket (example : Tecsun PL-880). CCrane Item # CWTPLP, Model: SR0509U. Yes it has a good old power transformer and linear type regulator. If one is handy enough, can add four .01 disc ceramic capacitors across its internal 4 power rectifier diodes to make it even cleaner (kills off diode hum for close indoor antennas, see photo). We just soldered them across the top of each of the diodes. But this is not a requirement of course AND DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !!


Super RF quiet LINEAR 5 V AC Adapter with MINI USB connector (left). Sold by CCrane in the USA.
Hefty 900ma Output. CCrane Item # CWTPLP, Model: SR-0509U (subject to availability).
Right photo shows 4 - 0.01 disc-ceramic capacitors added to
 reduce rectifier hum with indoor antennas on MW and HF.


The downside is that the CCrane power supply has a MINI USB output cable and you need a MICRO USB for the Russian Malachite SDR (Chinese ones use a USB Type C) so of course it will not work out of the box. Not to worry as there are simple adapters available on ebay and elsewhere. Example adapter here but a warning here that it will be a bit stressful on the receivers USB socket (so be very careful). If one is electronic handy could just change out the DC output cable for the proper one with a USB "Micro" plug (just dealing with the red and black wires of course). The CCrane adapter above is screwed together for easy access.

IMPORTANT - WARNING ! : With the Russian Malachite SDR operational current consumption approx. 300ma (as indicated in the manual), normal operation with this CCrane AC adapter is no problem at all. However when charging the internal lithium ion battery, current jumps to around 850 ma PEAK (NOTE : RECEIVER OFF) and makes this supply operate HOT and near it's maximum rating ! It would be a good idea to use a 2 AMP USB switching type adapter when charging the internal battery to rule out any possible heat failure problems down the road of the linear power supplies regulator.

Mini Size "Stand Alone" SDR's with "Spectrum Scope" LCD
(Chinese Malachite (Malahit) SDR's Listed Separately Below)


R6DCY/R6DAN/RX9CIM Original "Russian" Version (N9EWO full review : Please "Click here).
 What the inferior Chinese SDR's that you see around the internet were based on (see below). Yes, the knobs are on the FRONT where they belong ! Need to keep in mind with any of these simple "audio ADC" SDR devices, one should NOT expect HF performance or features to rival say a Icom IC-R8600 , but perform very decently indeed ! For additional information contact George (Georgyi) direct at : [email protected]
, also see the near the bottom of this page and or click here. (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)


 
One of the few mini size-stand alone SDR's with "Spectrum Scope" LCD that uses
real "RF ADC SDR" guts (including it's own on board microprocessor and FPGA etc) is the 14 bit AFEDRI LAN-IQ (not tested) ? But it is a power hog, lack of front end filtering (this is easily curable but a PITA), no internal speaker and is pricey at around $ 350. USD plus shipping. Ordering it appears to be difficult (only direct from Alex in Israel) ? We tested the AFEDRI SDR NET (same main board but without the LCD) and performed decently. However it was REQUIRED to add external front end filtering to make it work properly at the test location, otherwise it was a mash of MW signals all over into the HF spectrum. Tuning encoder (knob) option is a downright requirement of course. Firmware updates are not easy to do for non computer techie person and currently is updated frequently (LAN-IQ) . AFEDRI "Groups io" is a great place for the latest information and support.

Fenu Radio "You Tube" Video : Comparison between the AFEDRI LAN-IQ and the Russian Malahit

Information on the Chinese Malachite / Malahit SDR's
  Audio ADC based as with the
original Malahit Russian version above.

 
Facebook User Group : "Radio Receiver Malachite-DSP" (public archives)
Other :
NEW "[email protected]" (user group, public archives)

IMPORTANT NOTES : Please see the important update under VERSION TWO (only version tested by N9EWO).
We
have ceased updating this section with any new Chinese models
 that may have appeared after
what we call CHINESE VERSION EIGHT.

Chinese SDR versions on ebay "For Sale" (or WERE at one time or another).
200 MHz is the top coverage on all of these with the included lousy Chinese test firmware. The auction listings poorly elude a password to increase coverage (purchase a license key from the Russian Developers, which is $ 55.). They have no SD card support or built in recording. Please Note : The 8 Chinese SDR's below all use USB C type power connector and any cable is normally NOT included (it's NOT B type Mini or Micro). The original Russian version uses a "B type" MICRO USB.

CHINESE VERSION ONE : Rev numbers that we see of this SDR include (as marked on the front panel): 2.1, 3.92 and 3.97 (3.99). Pictures you see in the ebay ads of THIS version show the use of internal shielding (but sadly they do NOT have these shields in actual production units !). Case is made out of fiberglass PC board material SOLDERED together (our thanks to Brett N2DTS for the update on this). The thumbwheel encoders are a "not so hot" idea. Has a internal Lithium Ion battery.


Chinese version what we call VERSION ONE. (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

CHINESE VERSION TWO : Thinner size (similar to thicker version VERSION FIVE BELOW), antenna jack on TOP and headphone jack now is on the LEFT side. Rev on this one is marked as B.0. Case is more of that PC Board material (soldered together) with some paint thrown on it. See important information below as we TRIED one of these and the test sample was a total disaster !


  Chinese version (late July 2020) what we call VERSION TWO. (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

 IMPORTANT UPDATE : OUR "CHINESE VERSION TWO TEST SAMPLE"
Chinese Malachite (Malahit) SDR - "CHINESE VERSION TWO" was a TOTAL Disaster !
WARNING :
"Caveat Emptor" Save yourself major grief and FORGET ANY OF THESE CHINESE SDR's !
For MORE BAD EXPERIENCES WITH THESE CHINESE SDR's from others, see the bottom of this page !

Obtained one of these Chinese SDR’s (what I called VERSION TWO as shown, REV B.0). Came with barely (and I mean barely) improper operational firmware. Was downright missing stuff that the test firmware should have had and just poor performance on HF.

We only have 4 items (should be 8) . We are also not able to set the clock...that Menu selection has a totally blank screen. Yes again our test sample is downright missing menu items that SHOULD be in the basic test Chinese firmware !

Issues Included : 

1.-  On AM modes in HF / SW bands the actual received frequency is displayed 25 kHz higher than it actually is. (Example on 6.070.000 MHz is received at 6.095.000 MHz) 

At 162.000.000 MHz area (FM Wide mode) it's 30 kHz off (high). We found no way to adjust these display errors.

2. - USB and LSB modes are totally reversed.

3. - LSB Mode display is off LOW 2.5 kHz
    - USB Mode display is off HIGH 2.5 kHz
(Example : 1.490.000 MHz LSB is zero beat on 1.477.500 and 1.490.000 USB is zero beat on 1.502.000 MHz
(keeping in mind again that the USB and LSB modes are also backwards)

4. - Spectrum Scope is BACKWARDS (low frequencies are displayed high etc.)

5.- Both CHEAP thumbwheel encoders are loose feeling, extremely fiddly and sometimes make poor contact that is a hit or miss sometimes (PITA). Unacceptable they are !

6
- Spurious signals were all over the place on HF (short external antenna using coax feedline, forget about using any whip antenna's on HF.) !


Chinese Malachite (Malahit) SDR what we call CHINESE VERSION TWO (ultra thin cabinet REV B.0)
Our test sample was TOTAL RUBBISH !
(click on photo for a larger view) (N9EWO Photo Edit)


Attempted to update the firmware but it locked up and became a brick. Just before I threw it in the (recycling) trash I cracked it open (to TRY and access the BOOT switch) and I mean CRACKED it open in pieces into total rubbish (it was NOT made to be taken apart period !) There is NO way one can get into this SDR to flip the "boot" switch on the PC board without destroying the "PC board material" case. A totally unacceptable case design !

Also I noticed right off (after busting it out of the case) it was lacking with internal part count. The worst I have seen of all them in comparison (using ebay pictures, see below photo). Front end filtering appears to be using fewer parts (and just about over it's entire circuit board) ?

We asked for a properly / WORKING replacement sample from the Chinese manufacture (and loaded with at least usable test firmware) and that was very rudely denied. As it stands now with the lousy "TEST" firmware they include these are SDR products they should not even be sold at all in our view ! The "TEST" firmware AS SOLD WITH THE PRODUCT SHOULD AT LEAST be able to do basic functions properly ! It does NOT !


Chinese Malachite (Malahit) SDR what we call CHINESE VERSION TWO garbage.
  Internal photo easily shows (as compared to other Chinese SDR version pictures on ebay)
 that the parts count is FAR LESS less here (where's the BEEF ?)
Our test sample of this SDR exhibited EXCESSIVE spurious junk on the HF bands !
(click on photo for a larger view) (N9EWO Photo)
 
IMPORTANT UPDATED INFORMATION on VERSION TWO from Mr. Saitou in Japan
So it's a MAJOR hardware screwup !

  (translator required to read the link below)

Please Note : We have NOT tested any other Chinese Version. (Updated : Apr 14, 2021)

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved 
Ver 5.1
 

CHINESE VERSION THREE : This version has NO case, NO knobs, NO speaker or battery. It's 2 rotary encoders are closely spaced together (are not using thumb wheels on this version). It's SMA antenna connector comes out of the top vs. the other 2 that are on the left side. Admittedly this versions PC Board looks to have the most parts on it (viewing ebay photos), however it has no mounting holes.


Chinese VERSION THREE (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

CHINESE VERSION FOUR (No longer sold ?) : This version has a large annoying green LED on the front. However the USB port is more properly located on the left side away from the thumbwheel controls as is the headphone jack. By viewing the internal pictures appears to have less parts than the OLD "VERSION ONE" above. Thin design similar to the unacceptable VERSION TWO. Entire case here again is made out of PC Board material (and soldered together).


Chinese VERSION FOUR that appears to have reduced parts
when compared to other versions (similar to VERSION TWO
). (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

CHINESE VERSION FIVE : Appears to be a variant of the VERSION 2 ? But in a case with knobs AND a subwoofer speaker with bottom rubber feet to boot. However has battery does not come with it (perhaps the larger speaker and subwoofer made it impossible to squeeze that into the cabinet ?), and the bottom speakers are totally unprotected. Another one built in the cheesy PC Board material "soldered together" case. One picture shows the tuning knob to be bigger than the volume one, while another photo shows both being the same size (go figure). Rev is marked as A.0.


Chinese VERSION FIVE has rotary knob encoders with the tuning knob being larger (maybe?). Has a larger speaker with an additional subwoofer. However appears not to come with an internal battery ? The one picture in operation shows it with the Russian firmware installed which it does NOT come with ! (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

CHINESE VERSION SIX : Price around $ 200~250. as we type this entry. Housed in a real metal case. This version appears to include HACKED Russian Firmware with FULL frequency coverage (1.0c). Early Chinese ebay auctions of this version indicated that frequency coverage started at 50 MHz. This was wrong information, it actually starts at 50 khz as normal. Now corrected in most of the ebay auctions (but not all). In a ALL METAL case with ALL jacks and encoders (except for the antenna) CRAMMED on the right side. Pretty tight for all of those together ! Sadly it has the same undesirable lousy encoders. Now seen and shipped from Amazon (at a ridiculous inflated prices !). 

This version now seen sold by a US Ham Radio Dealer (as of Oct 08, 2020) : "R & L Electronics" (Ohio USA) for $ 250. USD. We see a fair Chinglish manual posted here. which states that it does have FULL (hacked key of the Russian firmware - version 1.0c ??). Model marked as the MDR2000.

 
Chinese VERSION SIX (MDR2000) which APPEARS to include the "so called" FULL VERSION Russian Firmware (1.0c). In a real METAL case. (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

 WARNING : WITH ANY OF THESE "SO CALLED" FULLY REGISTERED CHINESE VERSIONS ?

WITH ANY THESE SO-CALLED "FULLY REGISTERED" CHINESE VERSIONS , IS THE UPDATE FIRMWARE FEE ACTUALLY BEING PAID TO THE RUSSIAN DEVELOPERS ?? CHINESE ARE USING SOME KEY GENERATION HACK AND JUST POCKETING THE EXTRA $'s ?  I'M AFRAID IT APPEARS SO. I SAY JUST ANOTHER REASON TO TOTALLY  STAY AWAY FROM ANY OF THE CHINESE VERSIONS !

Good news is it appears the Russian developers (starting with 1.10b firmware) have gone to a different way of doing things with registration (has to do with CPU ID's) . The rouge fake Chinese so-called "Fully Registered " versions will NO longer work properly with any new Russian firmware. Also all older firmware versions has been removed off the download site. Contact the Russian developers direct to purchase a LEGAL key and support their hard work (but please remember you may still have a suboptimal device) : [email protected]  (Updated : Apr 14) 

CHINESE VERSION SEVEN : Appears to be in a metal case (but some ebay descriptions says different) ? They show this one (again) with the updated Russian firmware installed (which it of course does NOT come with). WARNING : Has been reported to still be extremely difficult to near impossible to open the case if the 2 jumpers are required to be used (say if the first attempt of a firmware update goes bad). Headphone jack on the same side as everything else.


Chinese VERSION SEVEN has a different (and very TIGHT) encoder layout. Also appears to be in a metal case.
(click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

CHINESE VERSION EIGHT : This version appears to be a metal cased version of the dreaded VERSION TWO (see above). So it has the same identical reverse engineering disasters and other bugs. But here includes a HACKED (full) version of the Russian firmware installed (usually). Another difference is it uses rotary encoders instead of the lousy thumbwheel types as used in VERSION TWO. WARNING : Also marked as MDR2000 model (as is VERSION SIX) ? Of course is ANOTHER version to TOTALLY avoid !


Chinese VERSION EIGHT uses VERSION TWO's PC Board design, so has it's identical bugs. Differences are it's using rotary (not thumbwheel) type encoders, in a metal case and comes loaded with the real Russian firmware (usually). But of course don't bother as reported to be TOTAL RUBBISH ! (click on photo for larger view) (N9EWO photo edit)

Seems that George (Georgyi) RX9CIM sees no problem in other people building the HARDWARE. He confirmed he sells the licenses to activate the firmware and open all features. As we made comment to above with these Chinese versions and you go to the item listings on eBay and the vendor makes comment the need of an activation license : " Frequency range: 50KHz to 200MHz, can up to 2GHz after purchase registration code from the officia ! For more please go to the officia site !" (that means the Russian developers ?). Here are the schematics of the Russian version (PDF Format).
 
Also see here CQ HAM RU :
Also here on VK.COM :
ON FACEBOOK :

Key items from the Russian forum :

The receiver was developed with the participation of: RX9CIM (idea, dsp, general circuit), R6DAN (gui and control), R6DCY (clarification of the circuit, wiring, design, additional board which adds additional HF bandpass filters) and dadigor - Igor Naumenko.

Key features (virgin Russian text via translation):
1) the radio is built on the principle of SDR - the functionality is determined by the loaded software;
2) the frequency range is from 50 kHz to 49.999 MHz, from 50.001 MHz to 249.999 MHz, from 400 MHz to 2 GHz;
3) all types of analog modulations: AM, SSB, NFM, WFM;
4) great functionality: variable filter width, adaptive noise suppressor, threshold noise suppressor, Noise Blanker, AGC, equalizer;
5) applied a cheap but functional chip msi001;
6) a powerful stm32h743 processor with a clock frequency of 480 MHz was applied;
7) the presence of a 3.5 inch IPS display with a touchscreen;
8) the presence of a built-in UHF;
9) controls - 2 encoders with buttons and a touchscreen, power button;
10) power from the built-in battery and USB, charging from USB. The capacity of the built-in battery is not less than 1500mA / h.
11) consumption - 300mA when listening to headphones;
12) reception on the built-in telescopic or external antenna. For improved HF reception on a telescopic antenna, an additional board with a source follower, filters and attenuator up to 30dB has been developed.

The frequencies and characteristics of the filters:
- Low-pass filter 500kHz
- 500kHz-1500kHz
- 1500kHz-4500kHz
- High-pass filter 4500kHz.
The board involves installation in a standard receiver design.

13) USB connection to a computer with the ability to transfer CAT, IQ and audio.
14) 160 kHz span with scalability;
15) sensitivity - 0.2-0.3 μV;
16) the dynamic clogging range is about 85dB, due to the characteristics of the msi001 chip used.
17) the aluminum case is applied;
18) there is a backlight control;
19) antenna socket type SMA;
20) receiver dimensions 120x88x39mm;
 
Appears that in the Chinese versions, without activation with license key/fee, there will only be test firmware, which is quite a receiver for itself, but it can’t do much and has a lot of differences from firmware that requires activation. :

- the frequency range is limited
- there is no stereo FM reception
- there is no frequency error correction
- there is no usb connections
- a stick or hole in the middle of the spectrum
- there is no support for the shield with IP
- there is no normal gain control msi001, which will cause problems when working on large antennas
- the interface is inconvenient
- the brake interface is low FPS and a long reaction to the controls
- there is no normal choice of frequency tuning step
- there is no normal aru
- there is no frequency input function
- there is no function
- turn off the display to minimize interference
- high consumption in the off state - 10mA
- there are no visual settings for the spectrum and the waterfall - there were a lot of settings
- there are clicks during the adjustment
- there is no telegraph decoder
- the number of memory cells is less and there are not all settings are saved
- the interference from the display is much greater

- From RTL-SDR.COM : ".......this SDR runs on the MSI001 tuner chip, which is the same tuner chip used in the SDRplay line of units. However, unlike the SDRplay units which use a wideband MSi2500 ADC, the Malachite-DSP uses an audio chip as the RF ADC. This provides a 16-bit ADC, resulting in high dynamic range, but at the expense of the available bandwidth which is only 160 kHz. A STM32H743VIT6 with ARM Cortex A7 processor runs what appears to be custom DSP and GUI software. The software doesn't seem to support DRM, but AM, WFM, NFM, LSB, USB are all supported."

******** MORE BAD EXPERIENCES WITH THESE CHINESE SDR's ********
So you too ! Please send me a email as given at the top of this page so it can be added here.
Please be sure to indicate the VERSION you have / had the bad experience with along with your comments.
If you wish to remain anonymous, please be sure and tell me. Your first name and Ham Call (If you have one) is fine.
(Number Versions are as per my numbering scheme above)
[Last Updated : Jan 25, 2021]

-  (Gorgon Lydell) You Tube Video - "Chinese Malahit SDR clone Video #2 (unregistered Firmware Version)". ANOTHER unhappy customer ! Appears to be a  CHINESE VERSION THREE variant in a ultra cheezy wooden case that AGAIN cannot get easy access inside. 

- (Facebook, Savage A. Stark) "I bought one (Chinese Version 7 as listed above) from a USA seller on eBay for quicker shipping. It is defective. I bought a code from George for $55, so now have the cost of a genuine unit from Russia in a defective clone item. The USA seller is actually in China, using a CA warehouse to fulfill. They would not replace the unit and are forcing me to wait on a slow boat from China for a replacement main board and for me to be the repairman.George has said he will give me a new activation code for the replacement board. Point is, 1) Don't buy the Chinese stolen clone designs (you never know what version you'll get), 2) Be patient and order the real-deal from Russia. Those are my lessons from this mess. BTW, I have the same experience of buying a HackRF. Don't buy it from China and save up for the real thing. Chinese goods take too long for delivery, are hit'n'miss and difficult to return, repair or get refund after you wait 6 weeks for delivery."

- N2DTS (via eham) : "The new ones with the metal case seem to have a very high failure rate. One of mine no longer works, and someone I know also had theirs crap out. Pass on these things."

-
Randy KB3GGC purchased one of the CHINESE VERSION TWO SDR's (same as N9EWO's dud sample above and also came from the from the same Chinese ebay vendor (NOTE : Be sure and read the "negative" feedback here). It would not receive any signals at all on mediumwave and shortwave. The Chinese ebay seller claimed that he did not have the PREAMP activated or did not have the RF gain properly adjusted. Both of these items were managed and the receiver still did not hear even very strong signals (was dead). His sample ONLY worked on the FM Broadcast band period.

- Mark T. purchased a CHINESE VERSION TWO and exhibits the same identical lousy performance issues as covered with N9EWO's sample above.

- Francesco IW1BFT from Italy reports to us with information on these Chinese SDR's (his translated text as below). He used all battery operation with his test samples as noted below :

"In the past I purchased an RSX RS928 and was very satisfied with it, so I approached these receivers with curiosity. My friend and I took 2 of CHINESE VERSION ONE, with case and battery and one CHINESE VERSION THREE (PC Board only). The VERSION ONE's were REV 3.97 (3.99 printed on PC Board). I must tell you that we were both very disappointed. Both models receive very badly, with a lot of digital noise and numerous spurii signals. VERSION THREE seems to be doing a bit better but in both cases they are valid only to receive the commercial FM . The VERSION ONE box is made of printed circuit board fiberglass plates soldered together. The front panel, if the screws are tightened, locks the knobs and there are NO shields on the board. The speaker, then, is bad. The price is absolutely not justified. Another friend owns the Russian model and says it's okay, I haven't tried it. I made the comparison with a Belka DSP, and there really are no words to describe the superiority of the Belka. I don't know if we were unlucky and we ended up with two bad samples (taken from 2 different ebay sellers, arrived in about 20 days) or if they are all like that, but I certainly do NOT recommend to buy these Chinese SDR's. An old sdrplay, first type (RSP1) is so much better."

UPDATE : "I have been able to test my sample more thoroughly, and I think it is faulty. The Chinese seller assured me that they are all tested, but mine, VERSION ONE, is less sensitive than my friend's VERSION THREE. In practice mine is usable only connected to an external antenna.The preamplifier, selected from the menu, has no effect and so does the selection of the internal or external antenna. However, the biggest flaw is the interference generated by the display. Pity it can't be turned off, at least I couldn't. Another big problem with my sample is that when receiving narrow fm sometimes the audio disappears and I am forced to switch it off and on again. The tuning management is very bad It is very missing not being able to enter the frequency directly with a keyboard and by changing the steps the value is often rounded down, forcing you to adjust the vfo for a long time. I made a comparison with an rsp1 sdrplay, which uses the same MSI001 tuning chipset and the comparison is pitiless The only advantage of the Chinese is that it is less disturbed by the spurious of the commercial FM, but perhaps because it is less sensitive ?"

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