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PLEASE NOTE : This "news" page is subject to frequent changes and updates (without notice).
NEW or updated entires are NOT necessarily moved to the top of the page.


****  PLANNED UPCOMING REVIEWS  ****
(subject to change)
- None at this time.

*****  WEB PAGE UPDATES / ADDITIONS  *****

 
- REVIEWS "Task Chairs" (Mid Back) (updated) : "BodyBilt" J752 ESD / Global #T9F695506 / Eurotech 4x4LE-LM59802A / Lemberi-Bossin AB-EOC01 / OFM 119-VAM-AA / Cramer Triton R+. Yes this is a bit OT (off topic) for this web page. But we all need a nice radio room chair right ? Sadly is a real struggle to find anything DECENT for a reasonable price (MOST are Chinese junk). Updated pricing / availability and text. We did endless HOURS of research on this last fall and came up with nearly nada that was to our desires and requirements.

The untested OFM 119-VAM-AA (with arms) still APPEARS to look like a winner ? Now only availbile in Black and Charcoal in the desired vinyl covering (no other colors are offered anymore). We have not tested this model but may in the future ? Also the 24 Hour Global #T9F695506 was decent however our test sample arrived defective and did not get a replacemnent (but we should retest as it was overall good for the price). No high back type chairs were tested. Be sure and see the dead bottom of the chair review page for a very interesting higher priced model made by Cramer in the USA we discovered recently. (UPDATED Aug 01)


   The untested OFM 119-VAM-AA (with arms) still APPEARS to look like winner for the money ?
 Now only availbile in Black and Charcoal in the desired vinyl covering (no other colors are offered anymore).

- REVIEW : Kenwood R-1000 (updated) Restored and updated (version 2) the PDF version of our Kenwood R-1000 “39.545 MHz” Display Repair doucment. New main photo added as well. In our view is Kenwood's best sounding comminication receiver they ever made. For the most part  samples have held up well in it's old age. But as it can be with a vintage set, service / TLC are usually required sooner or later. (UPDATED Jul 22)


Kenwood R-1000 Communications Receiver .
Manufactured in Japan from 1979 to early~mid 1986.
Also was sold as the Trio R-1000 in some parts of the world. (N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEW : TECSUN PL-660 (updated)
  We have added new text and photo to the PL-660 review from information via Paul G and his new 2020 sample purchased from ANON in Jul 2021. Lets hope that current production has improved the generally lousy TECSUN quality control with the PL-660 ? Also added a few new You Tube links. (Jul 14)


The TECSUN PL-660.
 Is the ONLY TECSUN designed receiver that gives proper Synchronous Detection operation !
Sadly it has seen horrific quality control issues over it's life on the market.
N
ew text and photo added to our PL-660 review. (via Paul G.) (N9EWO Photo)

- 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. Covered in our extensive "Ver 14.5" IC-R8600 review CLICK HERE (see light blue block down the page).

UPDATED SERVICE MANUAL : Also added to the review are my comments with the March 2021 service manual addendum (changes and 2nd production run for the USA 02 cell blocked version ?). Look for the green text near the top of the IC-R8600 review page. Another review addition was front end band pass filter information.
(UPDATED Jul 07)


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). The IC-R8600 has much fuller audio range when compared to the IC-7300 transceiver cousin (which has ZERO bass response in comparison). One bug that existed until firmware 1.34 was what we called excessive "AGC Swamping", but this nasty has been much improved (see review text). (N9EWO Photo)


- REVIEW : JRC NRD-545 DSP HF Communications Receiver (updated)  We have restored the BURP and TICK MP3 audio files to the review. These are two gremlins that will appear with any stronger received signals which overloads the DSP. These are common traits for the NRD-545 and is most annoying. (Jun 28)

 
  The long discontinued JRC NRD-545 DSP receiver.
We have restored the DSP BURP and TICK MP3 audio files to the review. (N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEW : Malahit Malachite DSP1 Original Russian Standalone SDR (updates)
. IMPORTANT UPDATE : 1.10c "Rev2" firmware comments. "Good News ", with the new 1.10c "Rev2" (my marking) firmware the "Sync Detector" now works properly, in fact it's excellent ! Please see the news section below for additional details and change log.

We have now clarified LCD backlight noise issues with our DSP1 test sample in the review text. We do not have the optional add on PC Board installed, so proper testing with any whip antenna's on MW and SW was not available. However we could indeed detect excessive RF noise comming from the LCD backlight without the option board anyway with a short attached whip (verified by switching the backlight off). Our test report was done using external antenna's far away from the receivers cabinet and using shielded coax cable (no excessive LCD back light noises were ever detected).
(UPDATED Jul 29)

WARNING : Owners need to keep in mind that you should NEVER touch the LCD hard ! Only a very light LONGER touch is required. Excessively HARD presses on the LCD will lead to premature failure for sure in time !


Review : Malahit Malachite - DSP1 Original Russian Standalone DSP - SDR.
Fixed a number of major typos and updated Sync Detector operation text.
Added improved internal photo.
DSP2 version now available (not tested,
see news section below for internal clock failure / battery issues
 reports happening with DSP2 samples).
(N9EWO Photo)

- REVIEWS : SONY SW RECEIVER PAGE : ICF-SW7600GR , ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D), CRF-1, ICF-6500W


  Additional text and photo in the CRF-1 section.
Just more reasons to stay well away from these over 40 YEAR old receivers.
Any used samples sell for crazy money these days and extremely prone to unrepairable failures! (N9EWO Photo)


- REVIEW : Sangean ATS-909X2 LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable N9EWO full review on the Sangean's ATS-909X2.

- 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 : LOWE HF-250 HF Receiver - Audio Quality one of the Best Period (Communications Receiver).


The discontinued and rare "Lowe HF-250 HF Communications Receiver" from the mid-late 1990's.
  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 (more like a requirement).
 Even tops the AOR AR7030 for audio quality in our view / testing (with the PROPER 2 way external speaker). (N9EWO Photo)


- REVIEW : 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.


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 (operate on 9 VDC). 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)

- REVIEW : ICOM IC-R9500 (added PRO and CON list plus updated text)



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 for around $ 12,500. USD. (N9EWO Photo)

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



- REVIEW : 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
- "Radio's That Never Were" - Including the AOR AR-7070 / HF-7070
- REVIEW : Sangean HDR-16 AM/FM HD Portable (Guest Review)

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

- REVIEW : 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 : AOR AR-DV1 - Massive USB Port Failures (with later production)
- REVIEW : 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.
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 : AOR AR7030 - Added Old Age Check List / Audio Distortion Comparison
Chart
- REVIEW : SDRplay RSP-1 / RSP-1A SDR Receiver


The UK made "SDRplay RSP1A" SDR.
1 kHz to 2 GHZ coverage (no gaps). Full HF coverage with no silly converters too. Earlier
 RSP1 model was also tested. The RSP1A improved features include a 0.5 TCXO

and additional filtering. N9EWO review click here.
(manufacture photo)



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

*****  NEWS ITEMS and LINKS   *****

- Original Russian Malahit / Malachite DSP2 / New second version of the DSP1's 1.10c Firmware. The DSP2 (version two) of the the MALAHIT MALACHITE is available. It is basically the same original version with an added huge sheild and some other upgrades. Includes the normally optional front end board circuits as stock (but is now all on one PC Board). It's still in a all metal case but is is slightly larger.

Appears the original DSP1 (version 1) is also still available. Provided you don't mind it's finicky operation, these marvels puts to SHAME ANY Tecsun or Sangean portable currently sold for performance (with external outdoor antennas as we have not tested the add on front end board with a whip antenna) ! Good news is the DSP1's Syncronous Detector now works as it should (excellent) with the 1.10c (what we call Rev2) firmware. See change log below.

N9EWO  Malahit / Malachite DSP1 (version one) review is available here.

"You Tube" video that covers DSP1 features (in Russian, is set up to give English translation text).

I have to wonder if there is a way to display the current firmware version with the DSP2 version ? With the DSP1 version it WAS displayed at power up, but with the current 1.10c firmware that too is no longer shown. Unaware of a procedure to display that now (anyone) ?

An actual web site where you can pre-order these much more easily along with more detailed information is entirely (and only) in Russian, Microsoft's NEW  "The Edge" browser does a decent translation (reported that English will be added soon ?). THE MALAHIT TEAM - Official Web Page

WARNINGS / UPDATES :

- Firmware for the original DSP1 and the new DSP2 version are NOT interchangeable ! DSP2 firmware now appears in a separate directory on the firmware download page.

- Three DSP2 (Version 2) Issues reported (at least).

1. - Via the Malachite/Malahit Facebook user group : Report of a NEW Russian DSP2 version sample not being able to set the clock nor the LCD backlight timer operating at all. Fix was to remove 2 surface mounted capacitors (C29 and C30) on X2 crystal.

2. - Reported direct to me by a DSP2 owner : In this case the internal clock counts and the LCD LED backlight timers function as normal, however the clock looses settings while being powered on after being OFF about 12~24 hours (of course with a good battery connected). UPDATE : Owner has noticed some strange battery voltage readings (with it's built in voltmeter), they show very inaccurate. So this could have a part (if not entirely) with THIS clock reset issue ?  The battery issue is marked to have been fixed with Firmware 2.0 ~ 2.5 (see change log link below).

3. - Female internal SMA / U.FL-IPX connector - jumper cable issues : I cover this topic in my DSP1 review as it is a issue here as well. With the DSP2 version appears to be worse with it's even sharper bend of that STIFF coax cable in a very tight spot (internal photo here). Please see my DSP1 review (near bottom of page) for additional information.

- On July 24th, new version 2.1 Test firmware was released for the DSP2 version (Von Manuel's web page has this available here including instructions !). UPDATE : Being reported that the DSP2's are not taking firmware updates on the first try. Usually the second attempt does the trick (if being after the first try you have not yet disconnected the USB cable so you are still DFU mode, but not sure on this) ? NOTE : This bug does NOT affect the orginal Russian DSP1 version (not including the lesser Chinese disasters).


Our Recommendation : WE HAVE NOT TESTED THE DSP2 VERSION ! With the ever growing reported issues (Hardware and Firmware) with the DSP2 version, WE MUST SAY A STRONG "CAVEAT EMPTOR" (Buyer Beware) AT THIS TIME ! Instead please consider the orginal DSP1 version as we review here.
(UPDATED Jul 31)

- Looking for the REQUIRED FLAT top 18650 (unprotected) Battery for your Malahit Receiver ? : Seem to be in short supply these days ? If you live in the USA we see a couple of LG made ones listed on the ONlY BATTERIES web site that APPEAR to be in stock (as I type this) ? PLEASE NOTE : We are not recommeding these per say, this is just for the information only and nothing more ! (Jul 19)


- Malahit DSP1 Firmware 1.10c (Released July 26, 2021 download link here) :
1.10c (what we call Revision 2)
- improved graphical display of the spectrum
- improved optimization of algorithms, increased display speed, especially in WFM mode
- added the ability to determine the type of inclusion - one or three clicks. If PD15 (pin 7 of the RESERVED field) is open, then turn on by one press;
if this pin is shorted to a common wire, then turn on by three clicks
- the HARD menu has been improved
- changed battery indication - voltage is indicated over the picture
- added the ability to control user equipment using a discrete signal - PD14 (pin 8 of the RESERVED field)
- added a button for switching audio output in the HARD menu. It duplicates the audio output switch. Made by user request.
- added modes SAM-U and SAM-L
- added engineering settings to the HARD menu
- added automatic Notch filter in AM mode
- added saving of retro scale type
- changed the management of high-frequency filters at the input of the receiver
- fixed error during frequency tuning
- fixed bugs in automatic station search in FM mode
- added Pseudo Stereo function
- added "CCIR / JAPAN" Retroscale band selector to AUDIO menu
- respectively, added Retroscale for the Japanese VHF FM band 76.1 MHz - 94.9 MHz and 6 presets for different regions of Japan, agreed with Japanese users.
- Fixed a bug when canceling the autosearch mode for stations and when exiting the autosearch without saving the found one (refusing to save the found). In previous versions, in these cases, all stations that were on the scale before the start of the autosearch were erased and the scale became empty. Now, in these cases, the original scale is restored.
- the design of the regular end of autosearch has been changed, a table-grid of frequencies for found stations has been added, messages about the absence or the number of stations found have been added.
- autosearch is no longer dependent on the inclusion of the stereo mode and the state of the activated outputs to the speaker and headphones, it works in any combination of states, after the end of the search, the original state of the stereo mode is restored.
- in some places of the editing menu, the retroscales of the CANCEL key names are changed to EXIT, as they are closer in the meaning of the action being performed.
- Added a limitation on the number of stations on Retroskale - 69 for the CCIR band and 63 for JAPAN - as the maximum number with an interval between neighboring stations from 300 kHz and above.
- fixed minor bugs of previous versions related to preserving the color of the scales and saving the step type (50 kHz / NEXT) for each scale.
- reduced the speed of switching stations in the NEXT step mode.
- Update from 07/26/2021 - the operation of the synchronous AM detector has been fixed
(our thanks to Mark KD9NXV and Philip G7JUR for the heads up with news of the "second" 1.10c firmware update, what we call Rev2)

We have installed 1.10c (Rev2) in our DSP1 test sample and the review includes updated testing notes. (UPDATED Jul 29)

- "You Tube" video from the Russian Developers on the proposed exciting and more powerful "self contained" DDC Version. Improved dynamic range / front end filtering and spectrum scope span of 1.9 MHz (is 160 kHz in original version). Pre-assembled only (no kit version will be available). Contains a 14 bit Analog Devices AD9649 ADC (Analog to Digital converter). It is unknown when this DDC version will become available and for what price it will be at ? (UPDATED Jul 11)



- ICOM FIRMWARE
(selected model list)
(UPDATED Jul 09)

- Palstar R30A DISCONTINUED - R30B COMING SOON...? Palstar's track record of announcing products and actually coming to market has been dismal over the years. 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 (more like very disappointing). But would be nice to see a HF only tabletop receiver back in the market place.

Information on the Chinese Malachite / Malahit SDR's - "Caveat Emptor"
 See Russian Malahit / Malachite - review page here


NOTE : Original posted information page is still available via
 
"The Way Back Machine - Internet Archives" ....CLICK HERE

- "[email protected]" forum (user group). Started on Dec 31, 2020. Public archives.
- ICOM IC-R8600 - LCD Display Failure Issues have been reported (see bottom of N9EWO's IC-R8600 review page)
- JRC Receiver 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  *****

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 Malahit / 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.

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