New E100: First impressions


Stephan Grossklass
 

After the report of the new, all-different E100s, I decided
to finally snatch one up before it was too late to get an
"old" version.

I received my sample (Lextronix branded over here) today,
which was originally bought in March this year and only
saw one vacation of use. Old enough, I thought.

After an initial performance check, I compared the serial
number to the others given - 0709032118, which means that
it's a new sample, unfortunately. This was later confirmed
by opening up the set. (Getting it back together was not
that much fun since sliding the volume control wheel back
in is not entirely trivial.) BTW, you can basically leave
the antenna screw alone.

My initial impressions are that while this set won't win
any awards with regard to audio fidelity (channel balance
seems noticeably off, and judging by noise level there's
the usual CXA1622 amp IC), it is a pretty decent performer.
Pitted against a Sony ICF-SW7600 on mediumwave, it didn't
come in far behind, just a little more noisy audio.
Shortwave sensitivity compares well to a DE1102, and the
3-step attenuator is neat. The IF filter seems to be a
6-element job with a medium bandwidth, judged by ear.
While background noise levels tend to be higher, AGC range
seems better than on the DE1102 (which is a little weak
in this regard). AM audio is similar to the DE1102, so
I assume the TA8132/CD8132 IC also found use here. (No
idea what that big squarish IC on the old E100 could be.)
AM is nice and clear over the speaker.

The carry pouch is nice, similar to what the Redsun RD1220
has on the outside but with more padding. The rubberized
coating also feels nice, but I'll be careful with it since
it has been reported to wear off. System settings are
non-volatile, while the clock is not kept if power is
removed for too long. Frequency entry has no apparent way
of cancelling other than waiting. Timeouts seem more user
friendly though.

Then I started chasing LO hets in order to determine
the IFs.

Nothing. Really nothing. Not at +/-450 or +/-455 kHz, not
at +/-10.7 MHz, not at +21.45 MHz. No traces of 10.25 MHz,
21 MHz or 21.9 MHz crystals either. There is some
internal oscillator around 11.15 MHz but it's always on
regardless of waveband and not especially stable.

This can only mean that the new E100 is DUAL CONVERSION
with a high 2st IF, presumably the standard 55.845 MHz. No
wonder that the MW section had to be changed, it is now
wideband. It is to be assumed that the set is more related
to Tecsun PL450 and PL600 than to older concepts, my guess
would be that it's a shrunk-down PL450.

Image rejection on shortwave appears to be better than
average - not as bulletproof as the DE1102, but better than
the ICF-SW7600.

Overall, this means good news for shortwave listeners
(which now have another small and well-performing set to
choose from) but not so good news for ultralight MW DXers.

Looks like distribution in North America is quite slow.

Stephan


Gary DeBock
 

Hello Stephan (and John),
 
     Thank you very much, Stephan, for the excellent and thorough technical description of the "new" (serial # 0709XXXXXX) E100 model.  Until your detailed report, only John had reported receiving one of these radically redesigned E100's, which caused consternation here in North America due to the changes in the MW components.
 
     As you may be aware, the "old" E100's, with their 455 kHz IF, two-lead loopstick coil connection, and other refinements have proven ideal here in North America for DXpedition modifications, enabling the stock sensitivity and selectivity to be greatly enhanced.  Specifically, these involve replacement of the stock IF filter with a Murata CFJ455K5 ceramic-type upgrade, and the mediocre stock loopstick with an Amidon 7.5" x .5" ferrite-bar based sliding-coil loopstick.  According to your description of the revamped MW section in the "new" E100 model, these modifications may no longer be possible.
 
     I recently ordered my fourth E100 from Durham radio in Canada to investigate their willingness to screen serial numbers, to avoid sending out "new" models.  While not absolutely promising to send me an "old" model, Jamie and the Durham crew did indeed send me an "old" E100 (at $44.00 US, the current dxer.ca special price), which was very promptly shipped   European enthusiasts might try that source, if all else fails.
 
                                                                                                 73,  Gary DeBock 




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John H. Bryant <bjohnorcas@...>
 

Steven,

Thanks for the comments on the newer version of the E100.  I'm sure that they will be helpful to Gary and I'll put your Serial Number in  the database.

 I would love to hear the manufacturer's explanation of this design/marketing decision!!

John B.



At 02:26 PM 8/16/2008 +0000, you wrote:

After the report of the new, all-different E100s, I decided
to finally snatch one up before it was too late to get an
"old" version.

I received my sample (Lextronix branded over here) today,
which was originally bought in March this year and only
saw one vacation of use. Old enough, I thought.

After an initial performance check, I compared the serial
number to the others given - 0709032118, which means that
it's a new sample, unfortunately. This was later confirmed
by opening up the set. (Getting it back together was not
that much fun since sliding the volume control wheel back
in is not entirely trivial.) BTW, you can basically leave
the antenna screw alone.

My initial impressions are that while this set won't win
any awards with regard to audio fidelity (channel balance
seems noticeably off, and judging by noise level there's
the usual CXA1622 amp IC), it is a pretty decent performer.
Pitted against a Sony ICF-SW7600 on mediumwave, it didn't
come in far behind, just a little more noisy audio.
Shortwave sensitivity compares well to a DE1102, and the
3-step attenuator is neat. The IF filter seems to be a
6-element job with a medium bandwidth, judged by ear.
While background noise levels tend to be higher, AGC range
seems better than on the DE1102 (which is a little weak
in this regard). AM audio is similar to the DE1102, so
I assume the TA8132/CD8132 IC also found use here. (No
idea what that big squarish IC on the old E100 could be.)
AM is nice and clear over the speaker.

The carry pouch is nice, similar to what the Redsun RD1220
has on the outside but with more padding. The rubberized
coating also feels nice, but I'll be careful with it since
it has been reported to wear off. System settings are
non-volatile, while the clock is not kept if power is
removed for too long. Frequency entry has no apparent way
of cancelling other than waiting. Timeouts seem more user
friendly though.

Then I started chasing LO hets in order to determine
the IFs.

Nothing. Really nothing. Not at +/-450 or +/-455 kHz, not
at +/-10.7 MHz, not at +21.45 MHz. No traces of 10.25 MHz,
21 MHz or 21.9 MHz crystals either. There is some
internal oscillator around 11.15 MHz but it's always on
regardless of waveband and not especially stable.

This can only mean that the new E100 is DUAL CONVERSION
with a high 2st IF, presumably the standard 55.845 MHz. No
wonder that the MW section had to be changed, it is now
wideband. It is to be assumed that the set is more related
to Tecsun PL450 and PL600 than to older concepts, my guess
would be that it's a shrunk-down PL450.

Image rejection on shortwave appears to be better than
average - not as bulletproof as the DE1102, but better than
the ICF-SW7600.

Overall, this means good news for shortwave listeners
(which now have another small and well-performing set to
choose from) but not so good news for ultralight MW DXers.

Looks like distribution in North America is quite slow.

Stephan


Stephan Grossklass
 

--- In ultralightdx@..., "John H. Bryant" <bjohnorcas@...>
wrote:

I would love to hear the manufacturer's explanation of this
design/marketing decision!!
Redesigns "under the hood" are not uncommon among Chinese
radio manufacturers. Just think of the Tecsun PL550 which
originally wasn't so hot on shortwave but was reworked
after the PL350 (with generally better performance) came
out. Similar moves resulted in the previous E100 (PL200)
versions. Admittedly a complete redesign isn't common.

A distinct advantage of the current design for the
manufacturer is that it has far fewer alignment points.
In addition, full shortwave coverage does not require
RF tracking on at least 2 ranges, as it would be necessary
for a single conversion set. The effort saved there can be
invested into a good 1st mixer, the ones integrated into
the usual ICs do not tend to be so great in terms of strong
signal handling. (That a wideband design is more
susceptible to intermod generated by further-off stations
is another matter.)

Basically the old design, being all single conversion, was
anachronistic even when it came out. Building a competitive
shortwave portable with single conversion just isn't
possible. (Mediumwave is a different story.) Tecsun could
only pull this off with very cheap labor.

I would guess that Tecsun wanted to discontinue the PL200
in order to harmonize radio production, but contracts for
the E100 weren't ending any time soon. So they took the
PL450, shrank it a bit, and there was an OEM-only set.
(Degen now makes a number of OEM-only models as well. This
reflects the changed role of these Chinese manufacturers.)
Since all of Tecsun's PLL portables are operated almost
identically anyway, this area could be left virtually
unchanged.

Stephan


huelbe_garcia@fastimap.com <huelbe_garcia@...>
 

Stephan Grossklass wrote:
So they took the PL450, shrank it a bit, and there was an OEM-only set.
Following the brilliant work made by Stephan, I played around with Google Images and find this page:

http://www.5bcl.com/Article/Class11/200802/2059.html

It has internal pictures of Tecsun PL350 and Tecsun PL450.

I quickly compared the E100 old/new pictures in group's photo area [1] posted by John. There is no direct comparison, you soon realize PL3/450 are 4.5v receivers. However, here my quick findings:
. PL-350 and old-E100 share the same ferrite rod antenna (a small coil on the right of the rod);
. PL-350 and old-E100 have a 'eye-catchy' integrated circuit in square format;
. PL-450 and new-E100 have a centered, spread coil over the ferrite rod plus a pick-up coil at the right.

Stephan, your hypothesii make completely sense.

Besides that, if only constructional details could rate the performance of a receiver, I would say Tecsun's PL450 is good. It was nice to see a number of RF shields and real micro-switches (instead of membrane-kind) on the PCB.

--hg

[1] http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/ultralightdx/photos/view/7293?b=2