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Old 10-03-2016, 06:54 PM
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New eton Satellit Arrived

I realize that most of the interest in these parts is centered around vintage radios, and rightly so. They are often so beautiful, with many constructed by hand, using heavier-duty parts than is feasible in today's world. I often wish I had hung on to some of the radios from my past... but I digress.

I realize that there is also a lot of interest in current portables with performance potentials higher perhaps than at any time in history. Not that they always live up to the potential, what with budget constraints and hot-button features driving the market.

And then there is the name Satellit, which has long been associated with pretty good quality under Grundig's development over the years. So for eton to put that moniker on a hand-held garnered a lot of attention from the get-go, and it has been a questionable move on their part. It invites comparison with some pretty good, larger radios from the past.

A newbie like me, then, who would know none of this except for a good bit of recent reading certainly will fall short of any definitive conclusions about how this radio stacks up in the larger scheme of radio-dom. After playing with it for an hour, and still a long way from understanding how to use its many features, I offer now but a few preliminary remarks.

The only radios I have with which to make any sort of comparison - and not quite yet - are a C Crane CCRadio-EP, a Sangean PR-D5, Tivoli PAL (all AM/FM only, and larger than the Satellit), the Radio Shack DX-390 I'm giving away to a lucky AKer November 1, also larger, and an old Panasonic RB-40 comparable in size and bands with the Satellit, but not a very good performer.

So the Satellit arrived little more than an hour ago, in the same Amazon box as an order of AA alkaline batteries (I think 36 of them), so I quickly slapped four of them into the radio and switched it on. I also quickly somehow entered Memory mode, which slowed me down for a bit, but I went back to the regular mode (which I think is Weekday mode) and tried out FM.

I didn't get very far because just a few Mhz across the dial showed me that I have a pretty sensitive FM radio on my hands. Stations that tend to come in noisy on my other models from this seat were clean. Okay, cool, I'll check the rest of the band later - I didn't buy the Satellit for FM, though I will be checking out its stereo performance with headphones later.

I wanted to check out my local AM, so I pushed the AM button - but I didn't get AM. The 0 button beside it toggles between AM and LW, so I pressed that and got AM. Some of my locals that tend to come in noisy with my other radios came in clear as a bell. Nice. Promising. Even more promising, the Tulsa station that I, curiously (as it is only 120 miles away), have trouble receiving even at night was audible, if noisy. Grabbing the AN-100 loop and positioning it behind the Satellit eliminated the noise, oh, about 85%, I'll estimate.

At night I get WWL 870 New Orleans (465 miles away) very clearly with the Crane, so I tried to see if I could hear it under the noise, both with and without the tuned loop. Surprise, with the loop it was intelligible. So looking forward to playing with AM tonight.

Then I flipped over to shortwave. My Panasonic and the Shack had left me thinking there was nothing listenable at my location.

Big, big surprise! I lost count of the stations, and it isn't as though I scanned all bands, either! Luckily, my nurse, Norma, whose first language is Spanish was here (she comes 8 hours per week) and was able to tell me one station was from Cuba, another from Mexico City, and there were other Spanish stations that I didn't stay on long enough to discover where they came from. Found English-speaking stations, too. I noticed Norma really enjoyed hearing those Spanish stations. I would even consider getting her a Satellit for Christmas if experience hadn't taught me that her estranged husband would end up with it.

So my introduction to the Satellit was a very positive experience for me. Of course, consideration of what I was comparing it with must be taken into account, so I don't really know how good the radio may be, or how its MW performance will compare to the Crane-EP, which seems to have very good ears. I'll be discovering that pretty soon.

I also need to spend more time with the manual, as its controls are somewhat confusing, nor do I understand all its features. However, unlike those who've complained that it was too complex, I figure I have a radio that I can learn a few things from, and grow into. I find that a positive, so far, as opposed to a negative.

I like the way the radio feels in my hands. I like the size. I like that I can leave the light on dim during use (though you do have to remember to turn that off). The whip feels substantial, not wimpy. I like using the tuning knob. As I learn more about it, I'm sure I will find some things not to like so much, too. But right now, I think I chose a good hand-sized radio.

I'll try to get some pictures up by tomorrow night.
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Last edited by musichal; 10-04-2016 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:19 PM
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Sounds promising... he sez, as finger hovers over the "add to cart button".

jr
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:49 PM
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Well, I sat down with my Crane CCRadio-EP (EP) and the new eton Satellit (Sat) to do what was meant to be an in-depth head-to-head AM dxing competition with stations listed and results with and without the Kaito AN-100 Tuned (Loop). I discovered a couple things which caused me to discontinue the fight.

The bad news: I fell a few days ago, and am sore, but one little item I haven't reported is that I fell again yesterday. On concrete this time. I'm black and blue and sore all over, and don't have the stamina to sit for long in a none-reclining chair because the toes I broke swell too much. LOL. How the mighty have fallen... literally. (I once was mighty.)

The better news: As my testing progressed it became very apparent that the Sat is just simply more sensitive than the EP, even without the loop. With the loop, the Sat could pull stations into intelligibility that were not so without it. Stations that the EP couldn't hear at all. And the EP is no slouch.

So if I were going to listen to a ballgame on my New Orleans station that I receive so well here, I might use the EP for it's better tone. Unless it started drifting, as it sometimes does (mostly not, though), then I'd grab the Sat. But let me tell the real truth. I'd grab the Sat anyway, because it's easier to grab, being smaller and lighter, and then not have to worry about drifting in the first place.

The Sat without the loop is very good, but with the loop I can hear way more stations than the EP. So, I have some work cut out for me identifying them now, but I did catch just a few seconds of Nashville WSM 650 (tentative) tonight which I've not been able to do at all with any of my radios. One of these nights when everything falls into alignment I may be able to confirm that catch.

With Chicago 780 tonight, the Sat heard it with a SS of 3-5 with steady intelligibility and a little noise. Adding the loop brought the SS up to 7-9, with even less noise. Either way it was entirely listenable but obviously better with the loop.

I experienced similar results with Des Moines and Omaha. Denver was a bit weaker but still intelligible, and again improved (though a little less dramatically) with the loop. This is all in a brick home with Wifi, more wall-warts than I can count, a 52" plasma TV (okay, I turned that off), multiple cordless phones and ceiling fans (which were on).

The loop was not connected, just capacitive induction at work.

By the way, the loop rarely helps the EP. Apparently something about that twin coil ferrite bar antenna provides all the signal the EP can use. Without going external, I mean.

So now I need to fix up a wire, and see how that works for both units.

Not sending the Sat back. I really didn't expect it to compete with the EP, but it seems to best it so far. When I heal up some (cracked a rib, too) then maybe I'll hang in better for some more head-to-head.

By the way, I also did a little brief FM Stereo headphone listening with the Sat before sundown, and it sounded good, very clean. Can't get that clean with my tuners using dipoles and rabbit ears, but have something in the works for that, too.

Both radios had fresh batteries for the test, by the way.

The EP is now our kitchen radio, while the Sat is MY toy, and I'm very surprised to admit that I love this little gal already. Poor EP, I still love you, too.

EDIT: I should also mention that since I don't get out of the house much, I am an armchair DXer. How these radios would compare in a more secluded quieter environment I wish I knew. I no longer drive, so I can't just run out of town in search of a likely spot. I'd like to do so, but arranging that isn't easy. The Sat does seem to handle the noisy home environment well.
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Last edited by musichal; 10-04-2016 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 10-03-2016, 11:25 PM
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Ouch! Hope you feel better soon!

Ka-ching! as he adds to cart and checks out... sounds like Eton may have finally produced a worthy successor to the E-5, after that little side-step with the G-3 in 2009.

jr
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Old 10-04-2016, 12:00 AM
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Further Considerations:

I haven't even mentioned the display. Amber on black provides great contrast indoors, so that even my poor, tired vision can read the very small print. Funny how good contrast can make small characters readable. I have read that it doesn't fare as well outdoors, though I do think I also recall reading that outdoor visibility was since improved by adding a slight bluish tint - or was that a different radio? I think it was this one. At any rate, the display presents a wealth of information that is easily readable, at least indoors. I especially like the SS vertical bar-graph 'meter' which comes in very handy in conjunction with the tuned loop. Love the display and the ability to set low, medium and high 'dimming' settings as well as 'Off."

What I like about the display is the wealth of information available simultaneously. I have its display light set to dim as I type this, listening to headphones. A glance tells me that I'm listening to an Oldies station with RDS at 92.5 Mhz with Signal Strength maxed at 9, batteries in good condition, time 08:42 AM, in Weekday mode with today being Tues (which is '2' in display), that the station is stored in memory, and that I am in Slow tuning mode.

I can further find more RDS info (if available, which this station offers a lot) with a touch of that button, and choose whether I want to leave Stereo/Mono, ie "STEREO" in the display or "OLDIES" but since it is obvious by the sound that the radio is receiving good, clean stereo, I choose to leave the RDS info. A quick button press will inform me of stereo or mono info if I am in doubt. Another quick button press tells me the Page # and position in Memory for this station, which I could also choose to leave displayed rather than RDS, but, thanks, no, I press again and it reverts to RDS info. There are 100 pages of memory at 7 stations/page for a total of 700 memory slots, so I guess if one is a multi-time zone jet-setter... I don't know. I think I have enough memory.

The bad news is the operator's manual. [Okay, I deleted negative content here because I'm stoopid, and did not look over the manual as well as I should have, instead foolishly believing negative comments I read elsewhere. The manual is better than I'd been lead to believe.]

jr tech - You did see my disclaimers about being a noob, and all that right? Hope you like yours, too.

Did I mention how much I love this little radio? Sliced bread, man, sliced bread.


EDIT, ADDENDUM: Jay, of JayAllenRadio, says his EP outperforms his Sat. Makes me wonder if my EP isn't quite up to par, but since it does hear a lot of distant stations - I don't know. Could be conditions at my location favor the Sat - terrain or whatever. Or it could be that in my home with its noisy devices, the Sat is somehow favored. Hopefully I will find the chance to get away from power lines and plasma TVs and so forth, to a quieter environment for a less noisy comparison. However, in my location, with my two specimens, the Sat hears better.
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Last edited by musichal; 10-04-2016 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 10-08-2016, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jr_tech View Post
Ouch! Hope you feel better soon!

Ka-ching! as he adds to cart and checks out... sounds like Eton may have finally produced a worthy successor to the E-5, after that little side-step with the G-3 in 2009.

jr
Keep it? Or sent it back?

Inquiring minds want to know.
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Old 10-08-2016, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musichal View Post
Keep it? Or sent it back?

Inquiring minds want to know.
It is a keeper, for sure...

Very selective and sensitive on FM, my major area of interest for a portable. Great for out of town and LPFM stations that lesser sets would miss. RBDS appears to function well, but only seems to update the clock to gmt.

Very sensitive and selective on AM. Logged a station a couple of nights ago that I had not heard before. Not fond of the way the sync detector sounds, but with the many choices of bandwidths available, I doubt that I would use it anyway. IMHO, no coat pocket performs this function as well as the long discontinued Sony 2010. Not fond of the soft mute, but that really does not cause a serious problem when dxing.

Aircraft band is a plus, and the soft mute helps greatly here, as it functions as a soft squelch, when no transmissions are being made.

LW is pretty weak, I heard a few aircraft beacons, this seems to be fairly typical for most smaller radios with shorter loop-sticks... Sony 7600GR wins here.

Some SW broadcasts are received with just the whip antenna... have not tried an outdoor antenna yet. Auto scan actually catches quite a few, which is a real plus.

Ham SSB is usable, but there is a lot of "chuffing" as one tries to fine tune. I much prefer the dual knob set up of the Tecsun pl880.

CW is a mixed bag... yesterday I tuned in a W1AW code practice session on 14.047(5) mHz and was really enjoying the way the 500 hz filter was working (wish I would have spent the extra $175 to equip my Icom 8500 with the narrow filter) until I bumped the radio and the pitch changed...Yikes, that should not happen and does not happen on similar sized radios such as the Sony 7600gr, Tecsun pl880, Eton E5, Tecsun pl600.

May not be the best choice for some, but I am quite pleased with the set.

LW beacons: http://www.dxinfocentre.com/ndb.htm

W1AW schedule: http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-operating-schedule

jr

Last edited by jr_tech; 10-08-2016 at 06:06 PM. Reason: add links
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Old 10-09-2016, 04:14 AM
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Concise and pretty complete overall assessment. Nicely done. Glad you like it.

Appreciate links.
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Old 10-09-2016, 03:03 PM
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Thanks.... I notice that Amazon has jacked the price back up to $189... not sure if I would be a buyer at that price.
I was able to decode a Navtex station last night (using an Android app) so the bfo seems to be stable enough at lower frequencies.

Navtex info: http://www.dxinfocentre.com/navtex.htm

jr
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Old 10-09-2016, 07:52 PM
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Bought ours just in time, then. Probably will drop again near Christmas, though. It's way more fun to play with than my old Panasonic RB-40. I'm still pretty amazed at its sensitivity/size ratio. Sun's going down now; time to play. Yeah, I'm just a big ole kid.
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Old 11-14-2016, 04:41 PM
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Okay, time to stop and ask for directions. I've googled and binged (hard 'g') Synchronous and SSB Upper and Lower and have read tons about whether they work well in a given radio, and am sure if I kept at it for hours and hours more I could garner information about their purpose, which bands they function for, and the conditions for which they may be useful, but am pulling in here off the information highway, as we once referred to it, to ask, hoping to get responses as I am not a total stranger here. LOL. My wife is gloating now.
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Old 11-14-2016, 05:30 PM
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SSB = Single Side Band. A normal AM transmission has a spectrum diagram that has a carrier (at the freq you tune to) and 2 side identical sidebands mirrored about the carrier frequency. The carrier serves no useful purpose, and each sideband carries a complete encoding of the audio modulation, so 2 are redundant...Normal AM has the advantage of requiring minimally complex demodulation circuitry, but wastes roughly half it's power (and RF spectrum space) putting out a redundant sideband, and some useless carrier energy. In ham radio and several other applications wasting energy and spectrum is not worth a keeping a simple demodulator circuit in the receiver so they transmit in SSB to reduce wasted power....There is one further advantage to SSB a linear RF amp (used as a ham TX booster) has a average MAX power limit with respect to the spectrum you put in so if you put in half the spectrum you can push twice the effective TX power through your rig and get twice the distance.

SSB is used almost exclusively for Ham/Amateur radio, with the exception of one of the government news/entertainment channels on SW (VOA IIRC).

I'll admit I never took the time to study all the subtleties of SSB circuits so I can't explain their operation well, but when you hear a SSB station with an AM reciever it will will sound like a series of oddly pitched chirps/bass groans with a cadence matching muffled human speech. If your receiver has SSB and you switch to it you will have to adjust a BFO (beat frequency oscillator, sometimes labeled SSB sync), and sometimes tuning till those tones become intelligible speech.

There is also Synchronous Selectable Sideband which might be INCORRECTLY abbreviated SSB. Synchronous AM detection and Single Side Band are two totally different creatures with different uses and should not be confused with eachother.
My Sony has both SSB and a synchronous detector. The synchronous detector is for NORMAL AM and NOT SSB....The synchronous detector is supposed to help with noise and fading on normal AM, but it usually goes unused on my set since I have not found much benefit from it in practice.

Unless you plan to listen to hams (I like to spy on hams ) or VOA SSB is not useful. Synchronous detectors might be useful, but I've never needed them.
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Old 11-14-2016, 06:15 PM
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You will most likely encounter SSB in the "ham" bands... here is the chart:

http://www.arrl.org/graphical-frequency-allocations

Typically LSB is used for the lower frequency bands 160, 80 and 40 meters and USB is used for the higher bands. Listen for a "Donald Duck" sounding station on these bands, switch on the proper SSB mode and try to fine tune until the voice sounds "normal" or nearly so. Real ham recievers, such as those made by Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu and others are easier to tune and sound better than the typical portable.

Sync detection may be useful to improve reception on weak, fading AM broadcast signals, both domestic and international, but on most portable radios, except the old Sony 2010, the Sync function is not very well implemented.

jr
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Old 11-14-2016, 11:26 PM
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Very helpful, though I had figured some of this out. I have yet to find ham activity with SSB, but was unsure which bands to try so maybe I will find something now.

I have yet to hear my Sync detection improve any AM broadcasts, but had read elsewhere that it wasn't particularly useful for most portables. Atop that was my uncertainty about what type of reception problems it is meant to help, which didn't help much.

You'd think such basic info could be quickly found with a browser search, but I didn't find that to be the case. At least now I know what to try.

I really like my Satellite, especially in conjunction with the little Kaito tuned loop.

My wife wants to give me the gift of an outdoor antenna for Christmas. One that will take care of my TV and FM needs. Finding someone to install it is proving problematic. I found one guy on CL who advertises that he installs antennas, but he came by to give me an estimate on a small TV antenna he puts in attics which "is good enough for FM." It became apparent that I know more about antennas than he does, and he knew nothing about grounding an outdoor model - he feels that a ground rod need only be driven a foot in the ground. Mainly he wanted to sell me a ROKU (and was disappointed that I already had one) which he calls a "turn-key solution" for reception issues.

I still haven't chosen an antenna, but want a Yagi with rotor, and it's coming out of the wife's money, so that is cool. She just wants me to go ahead and get a good one. She also wants it to work for AM and SW, and I explained that would be a separate antenna. She said get whoever does it to install that, too. Any suggestions?


Looking at these:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BSGCSA...PWIVQYHA&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002ITPQOG...OFCY9NDW&psc=1
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Last edited by musichal; 11-14-2016 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 11-15-2016, 01:28 AM
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It is quite likely that you will hear quite a bit of SSB ham activity this coming weekend, as there is a November contest going on:

http://www.arrl.org/sweepstakes

During the contest, hams will be trying to make as many contacts as possible in a given length of time. Contacts are very brief, as only necessary information is exchanged, but you will likely hear hams from a number of different call zones.

FM, TV antennas... need more info; distance to stations you want to receive, terrain, any dx involved? are you presently bothered by multipath distortion on FM? type of tuner used? HD desired? stuff like that.

jr
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