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HF/MW/LW Equipment - For general and technical discussion of all receivers which cover the HF bands. For HF tranceiver discussion please use the Amateur Radio Equipment forum above.

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  #81 (permalink)  
Old 12-28-2017, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by scoobis View Post
i' was always a fan of the sp-600 over the R390 but i think it more an ergonomics thing..
I have both, and I also prefer the SP-600 to the R-390A, however I am not saying the SP-600 is actually the better of the two, only that I like using it more. One thing I like about the R-390A is the mechanical freq readout. But using the SP-600 or the SX-28 with something like a BC-221 or an LM-XX series freq meter always was/is (although I seldom do it today) more enjoyable to me. So better vs enjoyable does not have to be equal.

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Originally Posted by scoobis View Post
I have a newly released HF SDR reciever on the way called an airspy HF+ that looks extremely promising both on paper and from the buzz i am hearing on IRC from those that ahve gotten one,.

its not exactly DC to Daylight as it goes to 9khz-31mgz and then has a gap and covers vhf... here is the really interesting things though, on HF it supposedly has 0.02uV sensitivity.(truly i didn't mistype) iip3 at full gain of +15db., dynamic rage of 110db, selectivity 150DB, 120 dB Image rejection, had synchronous am detection,.and supposedly can handle +10dbm on the input without overloading.
Don’t take this as a slam of the Airspy HF+, I am and have been quite intrigued by that device. I fully intend to grab one once a few batches have gone out and it has matured a bit. At the price point and with the technical specs it seems like it will be a really good SDR for general HF use and some limited VHF stuff.

But I think you might have potentially misunderstood some of the specs.

The sensitivity is not 0.02 uV (or -140 dBm). Rather that number defines the MDS. MDS and sensitivity are not generally the same thing. You can probably expect a more traditional 10 or 12 dB SINAD of that SDR to be more along the lines of 0.1 uV or more, how much more will define if this is a very sensitive receiver or not. In reality raw sensitivity is not as critical on HF as in other regions, but it is still a hard, citable, specification, so it is nice to know.

The “selectivity 150 dB” probably combines software and hardware features, and without more data, such as spacing of signals, really does not mean much. I assume that is wide blocking DR plus some other stuff. But how wide?

The “dynamic range 110 dB” also might be wide BDR, without more data this might be an excellent number, or it might be so-so. If this is the BDR at 100 kHz than that is so-so, not great, if it is 110 dB at 10 kHz or less then that is pretty darned good.

T!
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  #82 (permalink)  
Old 12-28-2017, 1:40 PM
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I've found a number of radios have hard to believe specs and when put on a test bench with a single signal into them they actually meet the impossible specs. But when you attach them to an antenna everything goes down the toilet due to the very sensitive receiver becoming overloaded and internal IMD is created within the receiver.

Tests run by the ARRL, Sherwood Labs and similar will use two or more signals wide and close spaced over varying levels to rate receivers, but not all receivers have these specs available.
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Originally Posted by Token View Post
I have both, and I also prefer the SP-600 to the R-390A, however I am not saying the SP-600 is actually the better of the two, only that I like using it more. One thing I like about the R-390A is the mechanical freq readout. But using the SP-600 or the SX-28 with something like a BC-221 or an LM-XX series freq meter always was/is (although I seldom do it today) more enjoyable to me. So better vs enjoyable does not have to be equal.



Don’t take this as a slam of the Airspy HF+, I am and have been quite intrigued by that device. I fully intend to grab one once a few batches have gone out and it has matured a bit. At the price point and with the technical specs it seems like it will be a really good SDR for general HF use and some limited VHF stuff.

But I think you might have potentially misunderstood some of the specs.

The sensitivity is not 0.02 uV (or -140 dBm). Rather that number defines the MDS. MDS and sensitivity are not generally the same thing. You can probably expect a more traditional 10 or 12 dB SINAD of that SDR to be more along the lines of 0.1 uV or more, how much more will define if this is a very sensitive receiver or not. In reality raw sensitivity is not as critical on HF as in other regions, but it is still a hard, citable, specification, so it is nice to know.

The “selectivity 150 dB” probably combines software and hardware features, and without more data, such as spacing of signals, really does not mean much. I assume that is wide blocking DR plus some other stuff. But how wide?

The “dynamic range 110 dB” also might be wide BDR, without more data this might be an excellent number, or it might be so-so. If this is the BDR at 100 kHz than that is so-so, not great, if it is 110 dB at 10 kHz or less then that is pretty darned good.

T!
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  #83 (permalink)  
Old 12-28-2017, 4:55 PM
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Originally Posted by prcguy View Post
The title of this thread is "Best HF Receiver ever" and many of the models recently mentioned just don't rate for that. I used to subscribe to a "Premium Receiver" group that discussed high performance, high end receivers and things like the WJ-1000 or Harris RF-590, Rohde & Schwarz and maybe some JRC models are mentioned...
I liked the RF-590, when I used them as R-2368. They picked up some amazing signals, when given a decent antenna.

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  #84 (permalink)  
Old 12-28-2017, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Token View Post
Don’t take this as a slam of the Airspy HF+, I am and have been quite intrigued by that device. I fully intend to grab one once a few batches have gone out and it has matured a bit. At the price point and with the technical specs it seems like it will be a really good SDR for general HF use and some limited VHF stuff.
But I think you might have potentially misunderstood some of the specs.

The sensitivity is not 0.02 uV (or -140 dBm). Rather that number defines the MDS. MDS and sensitivity are not generally the same thing. You can probably expect a more traditional 10 or 12 dB SINAD of that SDR to be more along the lines of 0.1 uV or more, how much more will define if this is a very sensitive receiver or not. In reality raw sensitivity is not as critical on HF as in other regions, but it is still a hard, citable, specification, so it is nice to know.

na .. didn't take it as a slam... i'm as curious as the next guy about this thing...

I have now had my hands on the airspyHF+ for about a day and 1/2
i put it on the bench, and did my own sensitivity test,. mostly because i didn't believe the spec's

@ 10mhz, 500hz bw, CW, 3db above noise floor on the audio, -139.4dBm (0.024uV)
(thats out of a calibrated levear / panasonic VP-8132D 50ohms out...i had to add an attenuator to get that low)

@ 10mhz 10khz BW AM 80% modulation 1k tone, audio 10DB above noise floor, -131.7dBm (0,058uV)

these tests were done while using it on its highest 768 ksps IQ. setting which would give it its worst noise floor.

So, no confusion now for sure.

i've never tested for BDR, i'll have to read on that, i'll be happy do it.

i will say so far its been able to pull in any signals my other HF receivers can and then some. but.. considering my current range of receivers on hand, that not saying all that much.

but i can say its definitely not in the "rtl dongle / up converter" class of device. its definitely comparable to true hf receivers.

on fm boraodxast DX, its been able to keep up with my sony XDR hd (Sony XDR-F1HD / XDR-S3HD / XDR-S10HDiP) receiver, which is considered by many to be one of the best if not the best fm dx receivers made. So far, its the only other reliever i've been able to pick out this one station that is sandwiched next to a local strong station. so have to give it that. that was my quick acid test on FM

So far no major sin's ,no images, no imd issues, no issues with overloading, even when i ran it though a 25db microcircuits LNA (.1-500mhz specific lna) just to see how it would behave.

I'll happily run tests on it if anyone wants me to check something.
i don't mind, i am as curious as everyone else on this thing.

so far though its been as claimed.

Last edited by scoobis; 12-28-2017 at 11:06 PM.. Reason: added uV
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  #85 (permalink)  
Old 12-28-2017, 11:42 PM
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  #86 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2017, 12:40 AM
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A question for you more technically proficient SWLs and DXers: How do the SDRs rate against radios like the Drake R8, Icom R75, and the more intense radios like the ones mentioned here (Watkins-Johnson, Japan NRC, Racal, etc.).

I ask this because it seems that most of the high tech DXers with the big antenna farms (like the MWDXers in Northern Scandinavia that seem to use beverages and SDRs), or the high performance outdoor loops, seem to use SDRs instead of the receivers mentioned here.

Maybe it's the cost?
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  #87 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2017, 1:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Boombox View Post
A question for you more technically proficient SWLs and DXers: How do the SDRs rate against radios like the Drake R8, Icom R75, and the more intense radios like the ones mentioned here (Watkins-Johnson, Japan NRC, Racal, etc.).
That's because the radios you mentioned can't really compete with the higher-end (HF-specific) SDRs.

It still comes down to a quality receiving system -- and the receiver and antenna are a part of that system.

Sadly, it also comes down to location. A really nice, RFI-quiet location...
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  #88 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2017, 1:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Boombox View Post
A question for you more technically proficient SWLs and DXers: How do the SDRs rate against radios like the Drake R8, Icom R75, and the more intense radios like the ones mentioned here (Watkins-Johnson, Japan NRC, Racal, etc.).

I ask this because it seems that most of the high tech DXers with the big antenna farms (like the MWDXers in Northern Scandinavia that seem to use beverages and SDRs), or the high performance outdoor loops, seem to use SDRs instead of the receivers mentioned here.

Maybe it's the cost?
It is also a case of what you can get. All of the radios you talk about, the W-J's, Drakes, R75s, etc, are no longer available new, and in many cases have not been for some time. If you want new, and if you want reasonably good SW receivers, most of the options are SDR right now.

Along with that, I own (among many receivers) a couple of copies of the R75, an NRD-525, and an R8a. I have used and owned various other HF receivers on the better end of the scale, including Racal, W-J, Harris, etc. And a good SDR, like the RFSPace NetSDR or better yet the WinRadio G33DDC or G35DDC, competes with most of these radios favorably.

So you can buy something like the G33DDC and expect it to compare very well with the highest levels of hobby grade receivers you could get in the past. It even does OK when compared to professional receivers.

Essentially anything an NRD can do something like the G33 can do, and the G33 (or similar quality SDR) can do a lot of things an NRC simply can't.

And if you are an MW DXer the ability to record the entire MW band at the top and bottom of the hour means you can listen for every station ID, on every freq. Record 2 minutes at the top of the hour then spend the next 20 or 30 minutes sifting each freq in the recording for station IDs.

Remember that SDRs are available in many levels, from the dirt cheap RTL SDRs to fairly expensive units. And they have performance levels across that same range, from embarrassingly bad to outstanding.

Further, things like the Airspy HF+ and the Elad FDM-S2 provide performance levels that exceed their cost points compared with traditional receivers. The S2, for example, may not be world class, but for basic listening it competes fairly well with things like the Drake R8 and JRCs, cost a good bit less than either of those did when the traditional radios sold new, and has SOO many more capabilities.

Remember the features SDRs bring to the table. Things like wide band displays, the ability to record hunks of spectrum for later review, extremely versatile filter settings. Just look at the filter issue alone. An outstanding traditional radio might have 3 or 4 different IF filter widths for a given mode of operation, but it would not be unusual for an SDR to have ANY IF filter width you want from sub 100 Hz to 10 or 20 kHz. And in some cases the filter skirts can be shaped, from vertical brick walls to gentle slopes, as your listening demands. Yes, some of the later IF DSP traditional radios can also do this, but in general I find the SDR implementation easier to use, and sometimes better performing.

I have traditional radios, some of them quite good, but to tell the truth I almost never use them these days. When I do they are setting on a freq, either monitoring or recording, while I use SDRs to actually look around and find signals.

Then again, the SDR depends a lot on the other equipment you have it attached to. Witha traditional radio the speaker, filtering, and operations are all in the basic box. Sure you can attach a better external speaker maybe, but in general you have what you have, and it is hard to mess it up. On the other hand, SDR perceived performance, sound quality, filter actions, RFI issues, etc, can be impacted easily by externals. A crap sound card, junk speakers, a low end computer choking on the settings you are using, all can reduce the quality of the SDR use, even if the basic SDR hardware is very good.

T!
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  #89 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2017, 10:56 AM
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Token:: Two thumbs up on that response very well put.👍👍
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  #90 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2017, 2:17 PM
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To slightly add some additional perspective whilst agreeing on many of the SDR comments I'll chip in and say "I LOVE REAL HARWARE BUTTONS KNOBS, DIALS etc."

I started SW listening on a Type 19 Set, then on Eddystone receivers (can't remember the model numbers as I did not own the kit). That was in 1970 to 1974. Off to college, uni getting married etc. took me off SW listening till I got a Lowe HF-150 in 1995 complete with serial computer interface.

The ability to connect a piece of hardware to my PC that I could program myself add a completely new dimension to my SW listening hobby.

I go an SDR dongle long time ago and it was fun to play with and "I LOVE THE BANDSCOPE" abilities but beyond that found the experience a little hands off, remote etc. and of course a PC was required to listen.

Now my SDR is dedicated to serving Flight Radar 24 with aircraft info.

I'm now on a modest Alinco DX-R8 but full PC control over it from my PC as/when required FROM MY OWN "DriveR8 Control Program"

So my summary is I love SW listening, I love real traditional hardware and I love creating programs for traditional real hardware.

For me I've manged to marry my listening, my programming and my like for traditional knobs and buttons into an pleasurable and acceptable hobby.

One real thing I've noted mentioned by others and would thoroughly concur with is "specifications" are important BUT ALSO often meaningless. Important = covers 30kHz to 35MHz which is what I call scope. Scope is a bounded limit which is important but that does not mean that all is good within the scope. Important = AM, FM, SSB etc. which is again a scope parameter.

The real factor is how that bit of kit performs and feels to you. And you have to bear in mind that with HF and DX-ing a completely different landscape comes into effect that can not be covered by/dictated by specification.

A few nights ago I could not pick up Radio Caroline (648kHz UK). Then yesterday it was just coming through at a signal strength of 2. Tonight a Spanish language station is punching through overwhelming Radio Caroline. I've yet to work out the Spanish station but could be based in Spain or South America with long skip in effect.

For those of you lucky to own a number of rigs you can do real life back to back comparisons and I'm guessing/feeling that each has their performance merits and you choose to then "use the right tool for the right job".

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Old 12-29-2017, 7:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scan125 View Post
To slightly add some additional perspective whilst agreeing on many of the SDR comments I'll chip in and say "I LOVE REAL HARWARE BUTTONS KNOBS, DIALS etc."

I started SW listening on a Type 19 Set, then on Eddystone receivers (can't remember the model numbers as I did not own the kit). That was in 1970 to 1974. Off to college, uni getting married etc. took me off SW listening till I got a Lowe HF-150 in 1995 complete with serial computer interface.

The ability to connect a piece of hardware to my PC that I could program myself add a completely new dimension to my SW listening hobby.

I go an SDR dongle long time ago and it was fun to play with and "I LOVE THE BANDSCOPE" abilities but beyond that found the experience a little hands off, remote etc. and of course a PC was required to listen.

Now my SDR is dedicated to serving Flight Radar 24 with aircraft info.

I'm now on a modest Alinco DX-R8 but full PC control over it from my PC as/when required FROM MY OWN "DriveR8 Control Program"

So my summary is I love SW listening, I love real traditional hardware and I love creating programs for traditional real hardware.

For me I've manged to marry my listening, my programming and my like for traditional knobs and buttons into an pleasurable and acceptable hobby.

One real thing I've noted mentioned by others and would thoroughly concur with is "specifications" are important BUT ALSO often meaningless. Important = covers 30kHz to 35MHz which is what I call scope. Scope is a bounded limit which is important but that does not mean that all is good within the scope. Important = AM, FM, SSB etc. which is again a scope parameter.

The real factor is how that bit of kit performs and feels to you. And you have to bear in mind that with HF and DX-ing a completely different landscape comes into effect that can not be covered by/dictated by specification.

A few nights ago I could not pick up Radio Caroline (648kHz UK). Then yesterday it was just coming through at a signal strength of 2. Tonight a Spanish language station is punching through overwhelming Radio Caroline. I've yet to work out the Spanish station but could be based in Spain or South America with long skip in effect.

For those of you lucky to own a number of rigs you can do real life back to back comparisons and I'm guessing/feeling that each has their performance merits and you choose to then "use the right tool for the right job".

I'm with you! Over here it's a good old analog VFO twirling warm tube-glow palooza every day. And every night at bedtime it's either falling to sleep to some MW far-distant station or my music on WRMI shortwave on the old driftmaster DX-160. Teh only SDR in this shack is on page 27 of my HRO catalog.
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Old 12-30-2017, 9:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ridgescan View Post
I'm with you! Over here it's a good old analog VFO twirling warm tube-glow palooza every day. And every night at bedtime it's either falling to sleep to some MW far-distant station or my music on WRMI shortwave on the old driftmaster DX-160. Teh only SDR in this shack is on page 27 of my HRO catalog.
X2

Have an SDR, but prefer the old fashioned way.
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:53 PM
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X2

Have an SDR, but prefer the old fashioned way.
I may add an SDR to my collection but after we (me and my honey) move next year to Rocklin. She holds no qualms about my hobby
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Old 12-31-2017, 2:46 PM
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Dare I say it, but if there was a DC to daylight receiver with a front panel to the same specs as the G35DDC, it would be very expensive, up into the professional (?) surveillance area price-wise. So for the expense of a reasonably priced laptop and the G35 (or 33) you're getting a top-flight receiver with all the bells and whistles very cheaply ( relatively! ).
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Old 01-27-2018, 2:05 AM
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just acquired a Cubic CRD-3250 receiver. - very interesting receiver - it is probably one of the last few receivers you could dial tune that was contracted by the military / us gov....This receiver was built under US government contract, only available to us government and its allies. as i understand it, it was/is at least used by the navy, and by the Israeli defense force from what little information is available.

On receive, so far this has been pretty impressive. I've stacked it up against the best thing i have on ssb and cw, my Kenwood TS-830S and the cubic has bested it in every check i have done where there were discernable differences on difficult to receive signals. and the audio is so fr really nice, not fatiguing, and really nice when listening to AM. I'll eventually compare it to the AirspyJF+.

anyway, defiantly the best, non-sdr, receiver i've had my hands on.

Last edited by scoobis; 01-27-2018 at 2:15 AM..
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Old 01-27-2018, 1:43 PM
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Originally Posted by majoco View Post
Dare I say it, but if there was a DC to daylight receiver with a front panel to the same specs as the G35DDC, it would be very expensive, up into the professional (?) surveillance area price-wise. So for the expense of a reasonably priced laptop and the G35 (or 33) you're getting a top-flight receiver with all the bells and whistles very cheaply ( relatively! ).
Nothing about the G35 is cheap, at any level. While the G33 ($1800 USD) and G31 ($925 USD) are in quite normal price ranges for their performance, even inexpensive for their features when compared to systems of only 10 years ago, the G35 is not in the same boat.

The G35DDCi is a professional level receiver in capability and in price. By the time you outfit a receiver ($5000+ depending on options), a computer with the horsepower to make maximum use of the receiver ($2000'ish, and you can't use a laptop, there is no e version of the G35, only an i version, although an "e" is in the works I hear), an external NAS to handle the large files that can result, support equipment, such as GPS to discipline the radio, not to mention software to support the capability beyond basic listening and recording, you can easily get into 5 figures.

But of course you end up with a literally World class combination that can record and review EVERY signal you can receive, all at one time, in the entire LW/MW/HF spectrum.

The G39DDC is similarly capable (and does have both an e and i version), although of course its record width is much narrower. But then its tuning range is MUCH wider, and available is an external block converter from WinRadio that can take that unit to the top end of J band (20 GHz).

T!
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Old 01-27-2018, 2:56 PM
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Military Grade Kit - The Facts / Observations

1) they are designed to exacting standards of quality and reliability
2) their scope (frequency range/receptions modes my be limited
3) by design they are robust and readily serviceable. 19 inch rack mount vs desktop shoe box
4) In service/post service supplies and reasonably guaranteed. Getting your hands on them as a civilian may not be that easy...... but often getting spares for consumer/pro equipment can be a nightmare

Top grade military equipment is generally designed and built to exacting standards and do what they say on the Top Of the Tin and the often hidden Bottom Of the Tin.

It is really nice to see people reaching out to these pieces of equipment.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:41 AM
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Just an update on the cubic CDR-3250 experience.

i was tuning around and hit an odd station i han't picked up before on 13.800 - Radio Dabanga in Sudanese from Talata Volonondry targeted towards Sudan - and being halfway around the globe, it was an interesting signal. I was on IRC i posted it there, no one could pick it out well, it was in the noise, but I was receiving it clearly. So i switched over to my other receivers on the same antenna, and it was in the noise floor or not receivable at all, depending on the radio. - even my new airspyHF+ wasn't picking out the audio where you could really hear it.

So there ya go...+1 for the mill spec premium type receivers.
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