FM DXing with Ultralights-- The Top Models


Gary DeBock
 

Hello Guys,
 
     Although we were all originally attracted to Ultralight radios because of their overachieving AM-DX capabilities, it has recently become abundantly clear that many Ultralight AM-DXers are also Ultralight FM-DXers (like me), and there have been several requests for a "quick and dirty" recommendation of the FM-DX capabilities of the top models.  So, in order to show that these portables' amazing capabilities are not limited to medium wave, here is the "executive summary" of the top performers:
 
1)  Sangean DT-220V    This silver-colored model with built-in stereo earphones is an absolute turkey on AM, but is a screaming eagle on FM (I always wondered what the $53.26 price was for).  The FM sensitivity is amazing, with decent reception of both Victoria, BC stations (98.5 and 100.3), and passable reception of some Vancouver, BC (95.3 and 101.1) stations, as well as a couple of Portland, OR stations (101.9 and 103.3).  It has only five memory presets and no bass-boosting system, but audio quality is not bad (although plug-in stereo headphones are far more comfortable).  Using a whip antenna, for raw FM sensitivity, it is tops in the pocket radio class. It retails for $53.26 from Amazon, with free shipping.
 
2)  Sangean DT-400W    This is a new yellow-colored model that will be fully reviewed in the Midsummer Shooutout for AM capabilities, but its FM performance is definitely worth noting.  Just a shade less sensitive than the DT-220V, it can provide decent reception of the two Victoria stations (98.5 and 100.3), but reception of the Vancouver, BC or Portland, OR stations depends on your propagation luck. It has outstanding audio quality and no fewer than 16 FM memories, and for stereo music enthusiasts, is a runaway winner in listening pleasure.  Unique among the top FM-DXing models, it uses the plug-in stereo headphones as an antenna (not a built-in whip antenna).  For this reason, a substitute plug-in antenna is provided for speaker operation.  For those considering a purchase, the AM capabilities are identical to those of the DT-200VX (not bad at all, although not up to the level of the SRF-T615 in sensitivity, or E100 in selectivity).  It retails for $54.75 from Amazon, with free shipping.
 
3)  Sangean DT-200VX   This black colored-model has great FM-DX capabilities, using circuitry apparently identical to the DT-400W, but Sangean has either improved the alignment or components in the new 400W model, providing a shade more FM sensitivity (at least in my review model).  Otherwise, the performance is identical to the above 400W description, with decent capabilities for both AM and FM DXing.  It retails for $49.99 from Amazon, with free shipping.
 
4)  Eton E100   As long as you don't care much about audio quality, this somewhat overdesigned (and discontinued) portable will provide a lot of FM-DXing excitement.  With a built-in whip antenna and more memories than you'll ever need, it provides FM reception fairly similar to that of the DT-200VX, although the reception can be improved dramatically by placing the whip antenna next to a decent FM external antenna lead-in wire.  Stock sensitivity is sufficient for reception of Victoria, BC (98.5 and 100.3), with ghost-like reception of Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR powerhouses.  The big drawback of this model is somewhat nasty audio, which is not really helped by the pedestrian high-low switch control.  FM stereo-headphones plugged into this model cannot improve the harsh audio, which borders on the irritating.  Aside from this, the E100 has the FM sensitivity to provide a few thrills, especially for those who think FM-DXing should not be confused with FM-stereo listening.  The E100 has been discontinued by Eton, but is still routinely available as an NOS unit from many sources (including a current Durham Radio promotion on dxer.ca at $44 U.S.)
 
     Hopefully this basic information will be a helpful starting point for those interested in FM-DXing with Ultralights.  If there is sufficient interest in this Ultralight FM-DXing concept, a more detailed "Shootout" might be possible in the future.
 
                                                             73 and Best Wishes,
 
                                                             Gary DeBock      




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Russ Edmunds <wb2bjh@...>
 

--- On Thu, 7/17/08, D1028Gary@aol.com <D1028Gary@aol.com> wrote:

 
3)  Sangean DT-200VX   This black colored-model has great FM-DX capabilities, using circuitry apparently identical to the DT-400W, but Sangean has either improved the alignment or components in the new 400W model, providing a shade more FM sensitivity (at least in my review model).  Otherwise, the performance is identical to the above 400W description, with decent capabilities for both AM and FM DXing.  It retails for $49.99 from Amazon, with free shipping.
 

*** Realizing there is often a lot of unit-to-unit variation, I have to say that my DT200VX is quite different from whatever Gary tested. It does have decent sensitivity, but its selectivity, which is perhaps more important if you're DX'ing from any heavily-populated area, is very much average, as is its ability to deal with IBOC hiss.

I should also point out that the non-Ultralight Sony 2010 is as bad in both departments. Although there is an article out there dealing with replacing the IF filters with narrower ones, it's written by a Japanese who either had somewhat limited English or else the translator had. And worse yet, neither the article nor the 2010 manual is at all clear on just where these filters are physically located. The individual who rebuilt the one I now have was adept enough on the AM and SW side but also had no clue about the FM filters...

I haven't yet had the time to fully test out my SRF-59 on FM, and in fact have spent so little time on that I'm not even going to venture an opinion at this point.


Russ Edmunds
Blue Bell, PA ( 360' ASL )
[15 mi NNW of Philadelphia]
40:08:45N; 75:16:04W, Grid FN20id
<wb2bjh@yahoo.com>
FM: Yamaha T-80 & Onkyo T-450RDS w/ APS9B @15'
AM: Modified Sony ICF 2010 barefoot
Sony SRF-59
Sangean DT-200vx


robert ross
 

At 05:59 PM 7/17/2008, D1028Gary@... wrote:

 
4)  Eton E100   With a built-in whip antenna and more memories than you'll ever need, it provides FM reception fairly similar to that of the DT-200VX, although the reception can be improved dramatically by placing the whip antenna next to a decent FM external antenna lead-in wire.



Gary.....I can confirm what you say about placing the whip closer to an External Antenna on the E-100 Model.

While I was on my Cruise 2 weeks ago....I did a lot of FM DX'ing with the Eton E-100 out on the Balcony of our room, late at night. I found that by Laying the Whip Antenna up against the METAL RAILING of the balcony on the ship...the signals I was receiving were easily Doubled in Strength!! I think if one could attach the whip to a Good FM beam.......in a location with few locals to avoid overloading........you would be able to haul in some pretty good FM DX with this little ULR Radio!!!!

73.......ROB.


Robert S. Ross VA3SW
Box 1003, Stn. B.
London, Ontario
CANADA N6A5K1

Antique/Vintage Radio Enthusiast
Amateur Radio Stations VA3SW/VE3JFC

Defy Physics.....Play Table Tennis!! (Ping Pong with an Attitude)
«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«


Gary DeBock
 

Hello Rob and Carl,
 
     Thank you both for your comments regarding the E100.  This model's FM capabilities are kind of a bonus when purchasing this fine radio, which also has superb AM-DX capabilities (as will be fully documented in the Ultralight Summertime Shootout).
 
     Actually, any FM radio (with either a whip or headphone antenna) can receive a tremendous signal boost, when placed next to the lead-in wire of a decent external FM antenna.  My own test example was a full-wave FM loop on top of a 40' tower, which receives many BC and Oregon stations like locals.  The whip-antenna Ultralights usually couple up better than the headphone-antenna Ultralights, however.  And the sensitive FM Ultralights couple up much better than the deaf ones, of course.  Rob, I'm happy to hear that you tried this out on your cruise.  When I was in the Navy, sailors would often place their FM radios next to all kinds of wires and cables, in hopes of a better signal out in the ocean.
 
     Carl, you are certainly correct that FM audio quality is a highly subjective subject.  Most of the recent FM-stereo Ultralights have some kind of bass-boosting circuitry, which the E100 lacks.  But I think for the $$, the E100 definitely provides as much AM and FM DXing excitement as anyone could want.  It has recently become the modified darling of the Washington State Ultralight contingent, receiving multiple TP's and DU's for three different AM-DXpeditioners this summer.
 
                                                                                         73,  Gary
 
                                                                                                    
 
                                                                                                 
 
    




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Carl DeWhitt
 

--- I have not tried the external antenna idea with my E-100 but will
when i get the chance.In regards to audio,i disagree with Gary though
this is a matter of personal opinion perhaps.My audio on the FM on the
E-100 is acceptable for a ULR when using the Sony headphones i got
with my SRF-M37W.I have fm dx receptions from Oklahoma,Texas,Kansas
and Missouri with the E-100.
Carl DeWhitt
Ponca City,Oklahoma

In ultralightdx@yahoogroups.com, Robert Ross <va3sw@...> wrote:

At 05:59 PM 7/17/2008, D1028Gary@... wrote:


4) Eton E100 With a built-in whip antenna and more memories than
you'll
ever need, it provides FM reception fairly similar to that of the
DT-200VX, although the reception can be improved dramatically by
placing
the whip antenna next to a decent FM external antenna lead-in wire.


Gary.....I can confirm what you say about placing the whip closer to an
External Antenna on the E-100 Model.

While I was on my Cruise 2 weeks ago....I did a lot of FM DX'ing
with the
Eton E-100 out on the Balcony of our room, late at night. I found
that by
Laying the Whip Antenna up against the METAL RAILING of the balcony
on the
ship...the signals I was receiving were easily Doubled in Strength!! I
think if one could attach the whip to a Good FM beam.......in a
location
with few locals to avoid overloading........you would be able to
haul in
some pretty good FM DX with this little ULR Radio!!!!

73.......ROB.


Robert S. Ross VA3SW
Box 1003, Stn. B.
London, Ontario
CANADA N6A5K1

Antique/Vintage Radio Enthusiast
Amateur Radio Stations VA3SW/VE3JFC

Defy Physics.....Play Table Tennis!! (Ping Pong with an Attitude)
«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«


starship20012001 <starship_2001@...>
 

Gary Wrote:
4) Eton E100 As long as you don't care much about audio quality, -
-------<End Quote

The eton E 100 i have has very good sound quality on FM. I DX with
the stock speaker highs are nice and crisp. Vocals ome thru very
clearly. bass is of course limited by speaker size. I have had some
excellent new tropo loggings with it and having a great fM tropo
season .