My Favorite Things

It’s been kind of quiet around here the last few weeks. Well, everything except the HF bands, which have been full of static crashes and more hiss than a snake farm. As Ray Wylie Hubbard would say, it just sounds nasty! 

The good news though is that the bands are starting to sound a little bit like fall. The Australian domestic stations are starting to pop up here around sunrise, along with other stations out of Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific in general. In other words, shortwave listening is going to get a whole lot better. Yes, we will lose Radio Kuwait in the afternoon and New Zealand in the evenings, but we’ll be gaining a lot in return. 

This will be my 1st DX season with a few new tools at my disposal, radios, antennas, and other gear that I’ve come to depend on for their performance under adverse conditions. Some are new, others are old to ancient. Whatever their vintage, they’ve become important parts of my DX arsenal, and I’m looking forward to putting them through their paces.

Here’s a rundown of what I’ll be using this fall:

The r390a. One of a couple cold warriors here in the shack, I had this r390a sent off to Rick Mish in Ohio who turned it into an amazingly sensitive radio. For AM broadcasts, this one is hard to beat. About my only complaint with this radio is the lack of a 6 kHz bandwidth. I find 4 to be too narrow, and 8 too wide, so a 6 kHz option would have been nice. 

Sherwood SE-3 Synchronous Detector. I took the plunge and bought one of these a few years back, and it’s been well worth the price. It not only improves the fidelity of stronger, distant stations (like Radio Kuwait, which I am listening to as I write this), it also helps with much weaker stations as well. Its often been the difference between barely audible jumble and extracting intelligible audio.  Its currently hooked up to the r390a, but I should have it switched up so I can use it with one of several radios on demand shortly. 

The Perseus SDR. I am including this one with a little hesitation, but I guess it’s worthy. A lot of seasoned DXers will tell you that the Perseus is the best radio they’ve ever used. I think it needs a little more time in the shack before I’m willing to second that claim, but it is certainly a capable receiver. I use it mostly as a recorder for when I can’t be in front of the radio, and as a sort of pan-adapter. I will often see something pop up on its display and then use one of the other radios to zero in on the signal. 

Palstar r30cc. My current bedside radio. It’s simple, spartan controls can leave me wanting for more sometimes, but it’s got it where it counts. This relatively small radio hears remarkably well, and has enough audio oomph to power an old three way Pioneer speaker. I have a lot of my favorite stations programmed into memory, as well as several DX frequencies, which makes it easy for lazy DXers to check for interesting propagation without having to get out of bed. If I had a second synch detector, this is the radio it would be hooked up to.

Alpha-Delta 4 way switches. I picked up a couple of these in May, and they’ve been a great addition to the shack. Thanks to the two of these units I can now run one of any four radios through one of four antennas without having to unhook a thing. VERY convenient. 

So there you have it, some of my favorite tools in my DX toolbox. There are others, but these are the ones I use the most right now. Keep in mind that this list is subject to change, but these are my ‘go to’ rigs for now. What about you? What are you using? Drop me a line and let me know. Until then, 73s and good DX to you all.