Re: Need some help - response to Gary

Gary DeBock

Hi Neil (and John),
John's ULR recommendations certainly make sense, and I notice that he is using radios that all have a reputation for above-average AM selectivity (in the pocket radio class, that is). John's record of DXing success in spite of multiple local 50 kw AM blowtorches is rare indeed, and almost unheard of on the East Coast (Frank Welch also comes to mind).
In answer to your question, Neil, any of John's radios would be good choices for you to get started in ULR DXing. The newer Si4734 chip-based DSP models (D96L, PL-310 and PL-380) offer 1 kHz filtering, providing a big improvement in AM selectivity over all previous ULR's. However, these radios come with their own set of quirks, such as internally-generated heterodynes (which some DXers find objectionable), the "soft mute" issue (somewhat toned down in the PL-380 model), and lack of North America-based warranty service.
If you are primarily a domestic DXer and can live with the quirks mentioned above, the PL-310 has a very good record of performance, with good sensitivity, 1 kHz DSP filtering and good resistance to urban RF overload (images, spurs, etc.). If you have occasional interest in transoceanic DX or plan to use external antennas, the slightly less sensitive PL-380 would be a good choice, because its less troublesome "soft mute" threshold allows tuning 1 kHz up or down from a DX station's frequency (to escape domestic splatter) without a severe drop-off in the DX station's signal level. It also has superb 1 kHz DSP filtering (like the PL-310) and costs about the same (generally around $70, including shipping from Hong Kong). 
If the Si4734 quirks mentioned above sound unappealing, you might consider either the Eton E100 or Sangean DT-400VX models, both of which have a good record of AM performance in urban areas. Both of these models are fully described in the 2008 Summertime Shootout article, along with a discussion of the tradepffs. I am also a west coast dweller, and one of my all-time thrills in ULR-DXing was holding a stock Sangean DT-400VX in my hand on a Grayland, WA beach one sunrise in August, and receiving a strong signal (with ID) of 1575-VOA Thailand (over 7,200 miles) using nothing but the tiny stock loopstick . The point is that propagation and persistence can give you great DXing results, even if your radio doesn't have all the latest "bells and whistles." Good luck!
73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
In a message dated 4/27/2010 11:12:12 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, jcereghin@... writes:


Can I jump in?

Your situation sounds like a typical Mid-Atlantic situation, with 50 kw blowtorches abounding.

I haven't really had any problems with overloading on any of my ULs and my RF environment is probably worse than yours (except for the mountains as the Delmarva is generally flat as a griddle).  For the record, I use:
PL310 (my current favorite)
PL-300WT (the FM DX champ!)

All of these radios do a good job barefoot and are sensitive enough for good DX work.  My favorite is the PL-310 since it has the filter selections from 1-6 khz, which is a must for foreign DXing and splitting off adjacent slop from the strong stations.  We do have a cult following around the SRF-T615, which is probably the best UL if you want to shell out $135 or so.

On Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 10:44 AM, neilbellgroups <> wrote:

To explain my RF environment a little bit: I live about 30 miles east from San Francisco and have the following 50 KW nighttime stations to contend with:

1100 KFAX - 23 miles
810 KGO (IBOC)- 30 miles
740 KCBS (IBOC) - 35 miles
1140 KHTK (IBOC) - 57 miles
860 KTRB - 67 miles
1530 KFBK (IBOC) - 68 miles

Given this RF environment and the fact that I have mountains (Mount Diablo range)to the west and south, fairly close by, which radio would you suggest as a starter?

These IBOC stations cover about 30 kHz in big slop!


John Cereghin WDX3IAO  KB3LYP
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