Re: Recent DXing and Experimentation

Guy Atkins

Hi Gary,

Your thoughts are interesting and appreciated! I'd forgotten that John B. was fairly stern and unyielding on the Ultralight definition. I liken the situation to sports rules; too many changes or additions start to water down the sport with the result being confusion, disinterest, and a drop-off in participation. Hmm... kind of reminds me about all the NFL rule changes the last 3-5 years  :^)

For me, the term Ultralight has always conjured up thoughts of an "extremely portable radio". What makes a radio portable? I think it is size and weight. (Battery power for portable operation is a given.) I am less concerned about higher retail cost of the radio, exact maximum dimensions, or the inclusion of specialized features that can encompass. So, for me, SSB tuning is not a deal breaker, nor is synchronous AM detection. Wasn't John even against multiple filter bandwidths? Yet bandwidth choices are found in a number of Ultralight radios.

By my own Ultralight definition above, a Sony ICF-SW100 is an Ultralight despite its higher cost. You've commented that "back in 2008, there was no way that an SSB-equipped model could ever have been considered a "consumer radio." We all know that state of the art advances, until the gee-whiz features become commonplace even in low cost products. In my opinion this is a good argument against limiting Ultralights on features; I think the focus should be on overall size as an indication of portability, and therefore meeting a refined definition of Ultralight. Again, this is just my own personal thoughts, as I don't normally think about features or price limitations when I think "Ultralight", but rather size primarily.

That said, any change in definition should be approached slowly and carefully. The current Ultralight group didn't grow to its current population by accident, but largely through the careful foundation laid by you, John, and others.


Guy Atkins
Puyallup, WA

---In ultralightdx@..., <D1028Gary@...> wrote :

As reported previously, there have been a lot of "push your luck" DXing trips with the new "airport friendly" FSL antennas undertaken to exotic locations like the Cook Islands and Kona, Hawaii recently. Although these trips certainly were thrilling to the extreme, since the portables that were used did not exactly qualify as "approved" Ultralight radios, I didn't share many of the details on this list.

As most of you know the original CC Skywave model was one of the top performers in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout review (posted at
and performed very well in an April 2017 trip to Kona, Hawaii, but in the summer of last year C.Crane came out with the Skywave SSB model-- which under strict interpretation of our classification rules did not qualify as an Ultralight model because of its SSB capability. Then to make matters more interesting, the Chinese company XHDATA took advantage of the fact that in China the term "copyright" essentially means "the right to copy," and pirated most  the Skywave SSB circuitry in their new D-808 model-- selling it at half the price of the Skywave SSB to most of the world. Both the Skywave SSB portable and the new XHDATA D-808 model have been the focus of a lot of attention here recently, with multiple 7.5" loopstick models of each being constructed and taken on ocean beach DXpeditions to Kona, Hawaii and the Cook Islands (Skywave SSB) and the Rockwork cliff in Oregon (XHDATA D-808).

Although our original Ultralight Radio classification group has essentially moved on and I am now the only member left in the group, one of the original reasons why we considered SSB capability as a deal-breaker was because back in 2008, there was no way that an SSB-equipped model could ever have been considered a "consumer radio." But recently we have somewhat of a gray area, in that two officially approved Ultralight Radio models (the Tecsun PL-360 and the CC Skywave) have recently come out with SSB-equipped versions. What if a DXer uses the SSB-equipped radios only in the AM mode for DXing purposes-- is he then using an Ultralight radio, or not? I would be interested in your opinions.

As for the new XHDATA D-808 model, although it is a superb-performing radio with phenomenal value for the price, both its size and SSB capability seem to be deal-breakers for Ultralight Radio classification. Although I love the model (despite its dubious design pedigree) and have used it very effectively for DXing on the Oregon cliff, one of the very stern warnings that I remember from John Bryant was to reject any request from a DXer who had a pet radio that he wanted accepted for Ultralight classification, despite the fact that it didn't meet the classification criteria. So in this case, I'll certainly reject the temptation to fudge the rules on the D-808 (and open up a huge can of worms in the process :-)

73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


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