Wednesday, 16 July 2014

FM RDS DXing 1068miles to Sveg, Sweden

On 2nd July I got an email alert telling me there was an Es opening, so I switched on my radios and sure enough the FM band was alive with stations towards the east. Here is a video of those captured moments.

This morning, of course, the band is closed again, and all I can hear is Radio 2 and Radio 3!

Eton G3 Review

I've called this a review so that google users might more readily find it, but it is not really a review at all, but more of an opportunity to hear for yourself how cool the Eton G3 actually is. I found when I was considering purchasing it for FM RDS DXing, that there was not a whole lot of info out there about this radio. Sure, there were the early, detailed reviews that banged on about its poorly implemented sync detector and other early production teething problems, but I saw very little about how the radio actually performed NOW, how the sync worked, and how sensitive it was on FM and at FM RDS decoding.

I sold my Sony 7600GR, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, because of its ridiculously useless battery indicator, which to my mind was a crucial feature in a portable radio. It continually annoyed me, having taken it out for the day and it having worked perfectly the previous evening with no signs of battery drainage, to get to the top of said hill and get the battery flat indicator flash at me. I swapped it for the Tecsun PL660. And I was delighted. See elsewhere for my detailed comments about the PL660.

But then I decided to give the Eton G3 a try as I wanted to use it for the sporadic E season of FM DXing, particularly trying to decode the RDS signals from these distant broadcast stations. I found nothing on the net really except for a few youtube videos of people rushing through the entire FM band with their G3 and which did nothing to illustrate to me the sensitivity of the radio as far as RDS decoding was concerned. Here is my Youtube Video of my early experiences of its RDS capability. Boy, is it one cool radio for this aspect of the hobby! With a little patience, I found it can decode quite weak stations, and bear in mind that the Eton is especially sensitive anyway on the FM band, so what is a little weak on the G3 could well be practically inaudible on other radios. I have since tried an RTL SDR Dongle for FM RDS decoding using SDR#. but the Eton beats it hands down, every time.

It is good on SW as well. This morning I was listening to WHRI, World Harvest Radio Intl, on 11635khz and recorded a short video for you to show you how well it smooths out audio that is otherwise very tiresome to listen to.


One other thing I want to mention is MW and LW reception. The Sony 7600GR was exceptionally good on these bands with a terrific ferrite bar antenna and neither the Tecsun PL660 nor Eton G3 match its performance here. BUT, with the Tecsun AN200 AM loop or my homebrew MW loop, and with my homebrew loop for the LW NDB Beacon band, both the PL660 and the Eton G3 perk up dramatically to a point that compares favourably with the Sony 7600GR using those same antennas. What I am trying to say is that standalone on its built-in ferrite antenna, the 7600GR is quite a lot better. But put a small loop next door to these three radios and you'll be hard-pushed to tell which is the better performer. I would say the PL660 and Eton G3 perform pretty much equally on these bands. Here is a short video of my Eton G3 this morning, picking up MLX (Morlaix) NDB beacon in Brittany, just across the channel from my QTH in Devon:

I hope these videos and posts are useful if you are considering a purchase, and please feel free to contact me via the comments if you would like any advice or want to ask me any questions.