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****  April 2019 Reader "Fund Drive"  ****
I just realized that my "2019 Fund Drive" went a month short this year (usually do it for 3 months and only did 2, January and February). So we are reactivating the "Fund Drive" for the month of April 2019. We need help to cover at least a good part of the planned Tecsun PL-880 test sample cost (update review) along with usual funding for me to just be here.

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Yes, working decent "Solid State" receivers / transceivers or other related radio equipment of value (as "pre-paid" donations) are also greatly welcomed. Please send me a email on what you have to offer.

To those fantastic 6 readers who made monetary donations with the first 2019 "Fund Drive"…. a very big “Thank You” ! We need to stress once again that this is extremely important for me to keep this web site here and active. I hope that we still provide totally unbiased equipment information for the radio listening hobby that you do not see elsewhere. Dave N9EWO

** Web Page Donations between March 30 and May 01, 2019 **
 * TOTAL "US DOLLAR" DONATION AMOUNT as of APRIL 25, 2019 :  $ 20.00
 * DIRECT SAMPLE DONATIONS as of APRIL 25, 2019 : NONE


Icom released new IC-R8600 "1.34 firmware" on April 19, 2019 : USA 02 version linked here.
Changes in v1.34 firmware
•The MAC Address item is added in the Set mode.
•The File Split function that can record the received audio, depending on the squelch open or closed status, is improved.
•The Noise Reduction function is improved.
•Fixed an issue where the RX audio level may change when the bass level is increased.

We have tested the latest v1.34 firmware, some major performance changes we noted :
IMPORTANT UPDATE : After additional testing 1.34 firmware audio distortion is NOT as good as 1.32. We say stay with 1.32 if you want the lowest audio distortion. If the AGC Audio Swamping bothers you and desire better NR performance (noise reduction) then use the new 1.34. Many may never hear this distortion depending on the external speaker used ! Remember we use 2 way speakers with our IC-R8600 (see review text) !

N9EWO TESTING with FIRMWARE 1.34 (April 19, 2019)
I must say it’s improved in a number of area’s. Some of the fixes were undocumented in the 1.34 update notes.
 
- First the NR (noise reduction) has been improved. Going above #2 setting sounds no more like“R2D2”. NR is now a useful feature whereas before it was a utter disappointment. It now operates similar to the IC-7300’s NR performance.
 
- The “AGC swamping bug“(that I call it) issue when tuning across super strong signals or strong static bursts has now been fixed with 1.34. Excellent news here and appears to have also improved weak signal recovery slightly. Only downside while zipping through mediumwave and shortwave MEMORY CHANNELS or VFO, we hear a disconcerting “pop” sometimes when we land on a active strong channel ,(this is quite annoying after awhile to our ears).

 
- I even detect a slight added Bass kick with broadcast stations that have it (most noticed on the FM Broadcast band) with our Minimus 77 speaker. Yes we do indeed set the “Bass” tone setting up to maximum (+ 15) on AM/FM and SSB modes for our much preferred classic Realistic Minimus 77 two-way “hi-fi” speaker that we use with our IC-R8600.
 
- After extensive testing, audio distortion while slightly better than 1.33, was still the best with 1.32. So if you want the lowest audio distortion on the HF bands..we say go with 1.32 even with the AGC swamping still present.


N9EWO's Icom IC-R8600 "Wish List" : Here again is my firmware improvement list that we would like to see added (as doubtful any of this will ever happen) :
 
- Provide a "second" VFO.

- Make the RC-28 (Remote Encoder Knob) operate with the IC-R8600 totally standalone (without ANY computer connection as like with the IC-7610). I would understand an additional interface box and or cable / accessory may be required for connection to the receiver.
 
- Allow 1 Hz tuning steps with the tuning knob (now this is only accessible with direct keyboard entry or computer / CI-V control). The IC-7300 HF transceiver can tune 1 Hz steps with the tuning knob.

- Incorporate a REAL "Properly Operating" Synchronous Detector (instead of the less optimum "Synchrophase" type currently used). Or at least improve the current one with fading distortion.


- Provide Wider Bandwidth Selections :

- Increase AM Mode bandwidth up to 12 kHz (or better yet 16 kHz). For MUCH improved audio with good band conditions.
- Increase SSB Mode Bandwidths up to 6 kHz (or better yet 8 kHz). This would improve manual ECSS audio by leaps and bounds.
 
If other IC-R8600 owners have additional comments to pass along with the new firmware 1.34, please let me know. I do hope that we still provide a useful source of “hard-hitting” accurate information for the radio listener (our near zero budget these days not withstanding).
(Updated : Apr 25)


Icom released v1.34 firmware for the IC-R8600 receiver on Apr 19, 2019
New v1903A AR-DV1 Firmware on April 10, 2019 : Reader experiences with v1903A, lets hear from owners who have installed this (and your comments) and will post here. Thank You. But I don't see the reverse LCD display setting being useful, so do not plan to test v1903A. NOTE : AOR no longer has the desirable firmware v1805A available for download. If you are in need of it, old firmware versions are archived on the AOR AR-DV1 "Yahoo Groups" (files section, free subscription required). (Updated : Apr 16)
 
AR-DV1 Firmware v1903A Apr 10, 2019
Feature improvements:

- LCD display can now be mirrored and flipped, for special vehicle applications. (F + 7, down arrow until "LCD DIRECTION", turn mail dial for selection, + ENT)
- Addition of following commands:

 LU: Set or read LCD direction. 0 = normal, 1 = mirror, 2 = vertical + mirror, 3 = 180 degrees
TS: Set or read slot number for T-TC mode (0 = Auto, 1 to 4)

 (Following commands require time for read and write therefore only send one at a time and wait for complete reponse, to avoid data overflow.)
  MYSRCHBK: Output search bank backup file content
 MYSRCHGRP: Output search group backup file content
 MYMEMCH: Output memory channel backup file content
 MYMEMBK: Output memory bank backup file content
 MYSCANGRP: Output scan group backup file content
 MYSYSTEM: Output all receiver settings backup file content
 MZ: Write backup file info

  Our "Greatly Updated-Expanded" AOR AR-DV1 review is now available. New v1903A firmware (Apr 10, 2019).
Test sample #2 was much better over #1 a year ago with frequency accuracy.  (N9EWO Photo)
UPDATES (as of Apr 19) :
- Added a few screenshots of the software in the review (are not huge due to our limited bandwidth / space).
- New 1.31 verson of SDRuno and version 3.03 of the API/HW driver, came out on Apr 09, 2019 (not tested). Please note that API/HW version 3.03 can only be used with SDRuno (not with other SDR programs such as HDSDR or SoDiRa). Good news is that the older 2.13 and 3.03 can coexist on the same computer.  
- New Preview 31 of SoDiRa was released on April 16th. New features : SpyServer added, Wavefile browser added, Recorder + Player improved.
  Our "Updated" SDRplay RSP1A review is now available. (manufacture photo)
 
Restest of the Tecsun PL-880 ? : Have the audio SSB distortion issues truly been cleared up ?
Will totally depend on reader donations or a donated "postpaid" test sample. (N9EWO Photo)


"Almost Gone"-The Icom IC-9100 HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver has been discontinued. (Universal Radio Photo)

Sangean's DAR-101 "Stand Alone" MP3 Digital Audio Recorder. Click on photo for latest updated review. (N9EWO Photo)

  Uniden SDS100 is sure having it's share of failures of late. (Universal Radio Photo)

The Yaesu FT-DX101D HF transceiver became available mid April 2019 in the USA. (Universal Radio Photo)

Uniden's NEW SDS200 Base / Mobile I/Q Scanner.
  Became available for sale in the USA
early February 2019 at around $ 700. USD (Universal Radio Photo)

  More nasty household appliance RFI woes for HF reception.
This time it's a "Solid State" Refrigerator Defrost Timer.  We experienced this UET120 model by Supco.
  Appears that "ScannerMaster" is no longer a USA AOR Dealer. Did the AR-DV10 fiasco have a play in this decision ?
Will probably never know the answer to this. FYI : The AR-DV1 has NOT been discontinued by AOR. (N9EWO Photo)

"Almost Gone"-The Yaesu FT-DX1200 HF transceiver has been discontinued. (Universal Radio Photo)

- Operates well enough all around with plenty of decent undistorted receive audio.
- Fusion "Yahoo Groups" have reported excessive receive failures since it's release, that is internal speaker fails but still works with speaker mic OK.
- Internal microphone sensitivity between analog and fusion transmit audio is still far apart and Yaesu should consider separate TX level adjustments for digital and analog, otherwise TX punch is good.
- Very good ergonomics and very easy to see LCD display and backlighting.
- Many may not prefer the electronic volume control (The FT2DR has a top mounted dedicated volume control)
- No extended receive above 579.995 MHz (nor MW or FM broadcast).
- Receive coverage lacks SW broadcast (which the FT2DR has, AM mode only).
- The biggest "Bug-A-Boo" with the FT-70DR involves "stand by" current when off. Many Chinese handhelds suffer from this bug and the Japanese made Yaesu FT-70D is nasty BAD here as well in our testing. It's receive current consumption in regular operation is OK provided it's RX LED's off and battery saver is in use (however the FT-2DR fares MUCH better overall here as shown in the specifications). ONLY way around the excessive "stand by current" bug is to totally remove the battery when not in use (a royal pain in the rump !). Yes, this is even after the recommended firmware update !
- Cabinet is on the "chubby wide" side. For anyone with small hands you know what I mean. Not easily placed in ones shirt pocket either (unless you are a lumberjack).
- Included plastic antenna continues the Yaesu tradition here (that is a bit on the "ugly-thugly" side and only so-so performance).


Nice low cost Fusion handheld, but with it's battery wows / current consumption, in our view one is best to consider the more expensive FT-2DR even with it's older design CD-41 external charger option that suffers from a extremely high failure rate (very sensitive to ESD damage). Note : We have NOT tested the FT2DR model. To see FT-70DR eham reviews click here. (Updated : Jan 26)


The Yaesu FT-70DR "Fusion" Dual Band Handheld (left). (Yaesu Photo's)
Attractive price these days but in our view one should consider the FT2DR model (right) instead (see text above).

The TIVDIO V-115 (and it's relabeled variants) MP3 player does indeed have a "Shuffle Mode".

The Discontinued Icom IC-R75 HF Receiver.
Can be easily found in the used market. Click here for our extensive review. (N9EWO Photo)


C.Crane "FM REFLECT" FM Broadcast PASSIVE Antenna
 Sadly it's no longer being manufactured (N9EWO Photo)


Updated NRD-301A review from 1999 here.  Indeed is a extremely well made HF receiver except for it's excessively hot and noisy internal AC power transformer (at least it was in our test sample). But why even consider an expensive used sample today (that is by the way unrepairable by JRC now) when the latest and lower cost Icom IC-R8600 SDR receiver generally performs better (later firmware) on HF and has a stellar spectrum scope, variable bandwidth filtering and excellent notch filter to boot. Oh yes direct keyboard entry too sorely lacking on the NRD-301A. For additional information please see the 2000 edition of "Passport To World Band Radio", pages 146 to 150. (N9EWO Photo)
Version 1.30 "latest" firmware for the Icom IC-7300 (July 20, 2018)
Also see the 2 page manual for Ver. 1.30 firmware (PDF)

Changes in v1.30 firmware
- A SET MODE item is added to expand the transmission passband width for the SSB data mode up to "100 to 2900 Hz".
- A SET MODE item is added to make the USB SEND/USB Keying function active immediately after USB port connection. The Menu structure is changed accordingly.
- Other performance improvements and bug fixes.
Icom released new 1.10 firmware on Sep 14 : USA 16 version linked here.
Changes in v1.10 firmware
- Remote control operation with RS-R30I.
- Automatic backlighting is improved.
- Some restrictions of program scan edge settings are eliminated.
- Skip function is improved.
- Duplex check function during the memory scan is added.
- Duplex scan function is added.
- Memory group and group link settings are connected.
- Channel UP/DOWN is available across channel groups in the Memory mode.
- Bluetooth® SCO Link can be automatically disconnected when there is no audio.
- Volume of a Bluetooth® headset and the IC-R30 can be separately set.
- Battery condition information is added.
- The record file management system is improved.


N9EWO's Review on the Icom IC-R30 is Available Here (version 2.6).
There are many user reports of excessive drift and other issues with the AR-DV10. "You Tube Video" can be seen here,

Also see these "You Tube" Video's :
AOR DV10 HF vs Kenwood TH-74e
AR-DV10 Frequency Error at 800MHz
Comparison between the AR-DV1 and AR-DV10.
Our AR-DV1 review here, which has it's own bugs, but nothing like the AR-DV10 .


It appears that the AM / FM Broadcast sections are using a one-chip radio IC in the AR-DV10 (like the IC used in the el-cheapo Chinese radios) ? It still uses super heterodyne circuits as indicated in the specification information, NO direct sampling is used that I can see (look at the block diagram in the brochure). It's NOT the same receiver architecture as the AR-DV1 (much different).

UPDATE : Carl S. reports to us directly that his AR-DV10 sample has these shortcomings : Flickering display, extremely low audio, low sensitivity and yes the dreaded drift issue. Has not enjoyed 1 good monitoring session with it. Strong "Caveat Emptor" .

AOR released 1808D firmware for the AR-DV10. Some kind of a "AFC" and manual frequency offset features were added (that did nothing to fix the drift issues). Also added  I / Q output. The drifting issues cannot be fixed in firmware as much as they tried and as reported with the 1808D firmware. I have been asked a number of times now...but sorry, we have no plans (or budget) to test the AR-DV10 (ARF !). (Updated : Apr 19)


The dreadful AOR AR-DV10 Handheld Wideband Receiver (Universal Radio/Manufacture photo)
- Icom 7610 Heat Sink, Loose or Detached ADC Heatsinks
- You Tube Video : IC-7610 Issues: LCD Burn In, 'Heatsink Gate' & Others (clearly shows the LCD "Burn in" issue at the end)
- You Tube Video : Icom 7610 Heat Sink Check

IMPORTANT UPDATE : Our concerns were found valid. Rob Sherwood NC0B reports to us that the IC-7610's internal fan does indeed cycle with JUST RECEIVE ONLY use !! So it's the same as with the IC-7600 fan operation and noise (our full IC-7600 review can be seen here). I for one will NOT be making a IC-7610 purchase now or in the future (it's off my possible purchase list permanently). But I'm sure for many (most) this trait will not be an issue at all. This is a VERY IMPORTANT factor and a total deal breaker for ME ! As we have already covered in our IC-7300's review, it's fan NEVER operates in just "Receive only" use. NO fan operation is REQUIRED with any "receiver" for our very sensitive ears to this kind of noise !!

For many IC-7600 owners, after awhile with the fan inhaling air nearly full time in a warm room, annoying viewable dust can settle in between the front lens and the actual LCD. Removing that is near impossible for most. One can find references to this issue on the IC-7600 "Groups IO" list. Now....IF the IC-7610 will have this same trait is unknown ?
(Updated : May 23, 2018)
"Universal Radio has moved its operations to a more efficient location here in the Columbus, Ohio area where we can continue to serve our loyal customers. This will be the fourth location change since Universal was founded in 1942. We look forward to many more years of serving the amateur and short wave communities which Universal Radio has done for 75 years. The new location is a 30-minute drive from the old Americana location." .

Universal Radio Inc.
651 Lakeview Plaza Blvd. Suite B
Worthington, OH 43085

www.universal-radio.com


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