[HCDX]: IRCA's AM DX NewsFlash - 5/11/00
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[HCDX]: IRCA's AM DX NewsFlash - 5/11/00

            WELCOME TO IRCA's AM-DX NEWSFLASH  -  May 11 2000
                            Vol 6  No 6

                   IRCA's web site... check it out!!

Deadline for next issue - Thursday, May 18 2000 @ 1400 UTC

Send all contributions to me @ phil@xxxxxxxxxxx

"**" denotes that the tip/info/etc. came from the IRCA eGroup. You must 
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CONVENTION - MEETING INFO (corrections/additions welcome)



This year the Dayton HamVention spans the weekend of May 19 - 21, 2000. 

2000 IRCA Billings, Montana Convention Information

The 2000 IRCA convention will be held August 25,26,and 27 in Billings, 
MT. The convention will be hosted by John and Nancy Johnson.

IRCA's 2000 Convention has a web site for complete information.

2000 National Radio Club Convention, Lima OH

This year's NRC convention will be held in Lima OH on Labor Day weekend 
(9/1-9/4/00).  Host is Fred Vobbe, 706 Mackenzie Dr, Lima OH  45805-
1835.  Complete details are available at the following Web site: 
 CPC DX tests 




NRC Log editor Wayne Heinen (Nrclog@xxxxxxx) is looking for the updated 
information in the following areas:
"The changes that are needed are Addresses, Phone Numbers. formats, 
network affiliations and Hours of Operation.  These are the keys to 
logging and verifying they also are the most changed and hard to track.  
I need all update to me NO LATER THAN August 1st because we are going 
back to a Labor Day availability date."

** Eric Bueneman - Hazelton MO - n0uiheric@xxxxxxx

The St. Louis market now has two fewer AM Stereo stations. KJSL-630, 
which airs paid Christian programming and fundamentalist Christian talk, 
has dropped AM Stereo service as of mid-April. KMOX-1120, the top-rated 
AM station in the market, which runs primarily a News/Talk format 
(except for a Saturday late-night jazz show) has also dropped AM Stereo. 
Among the reasons cited: the decline in the number of AM Stereo 
receivers (most cars in which AM Stereo was standard equipment are over 
10 years old now, and DOES NOT include the expanded band), the FCC's 
failure to select a marketplace AM Stereo standard until 1993, and the 
FCC's failure to mandate AM Stereo for all FM receivers capable of 
receiving Stereo broadcasts. These two stations now have poorer sound 
quality because of dropping AM Stereo. 



** Pat Martin - Seaside OR - mwdxer@xxxxxxxxx

 610  CKYL  AB, Peace River, good on top w/C&W mx and "Y-L Country" IDs 
       at 0115 EDT 5/10. Checking out my new 400' Northern mini Bev.
 730  CKDM  MB, Dauphin, good w/C&W mx and ID at 0100 EDT 5/10 "CKDM, 
       The greatest country hits of all time." (PM-OR)
 970  KTRW  WA, Spokane, apparently a format change to Rel, with ID at 
       0500 EDT 5/5, mentioning KGDN, KTBI, etc. Now part of the Rel net 
       in Eastern Washington. (PM-OR)
1340  CINL  BC, Ashcroft, good on top with "N-L" IDs at 2315 EDT 5/10 
1540  KMPC  CA, LOS ANGELES, rec w/1on1 Sports with ID at 0259.45 EDT 
       5/7. Mentioned the only 24/7 Sports station in Los Angeles.
1570  WGLL  IN, AUBURN, fair at times above QRM with Sports talk, and 
       "WGL" IDs //1250-WGL, Furniture store spot in Ft Wayne at 0529 
       EDT 5/5. QRM at times from CKMW. New. (PM-OR)
1650  WHKT  VA, Portsmouth, fair mixing with KCNZ with wx for VA and NC 
       areas, time checks, etc at 0510 EDT 5/8. (PM-OR)
1690  WPTX  MD, Lexington Park, good on top at 0359.50 EDT 5/8 "News 
       Talk 1690, WPTX Lexington Park" into Net nx. (PM-OR)

Drake R8, 1500' Eastern Beverage/200' EWE antenna/400' terminated 
Northern mini-Beverage

E-MAIL:  saxelrod@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


1650  KCNZ  IA Cedar Falls -05/06 2223- Good signals with new ID. Now 
       ID'ing as "The new 16-50 KCNZ The Talk Station" New call sign. 
       NEW! (SA-MB )

** kevin redding - Mesa AZ - lwdxer@xxxxxxxx

Heard on a Chrysler 4469088 AM Stereo - FM Stereo car radio with a 50' 
wire antenna. [the FM is not as good as the AM]

 760  XENY  Nogales, Sonora, MEXICO 5/7/00 1419 UTC / 0719 MST tripping 
       the stereo light and forcing the radio into wide mode. Playing 
       1940s big band Mexican music. ID at 1420 UTC as Radio Heny.
 780  KAZM  AZ, Sedona 5/7/00 0722 with the stereo pilot lit and the 
       station was in full blown C-QUAM stereo playing "Downtown" by 
       Petula Clark.
1460  KMWX  WA, Yakima 5/8/00 2338 with solid ID and then playing, "It's 
       the time of the season for loving". [new]
1500  KSJX  CA, San Jose 5/8/00 2335 in an unknown asian language but 
       giving lots of addresses for different locations in San Jose. 
       Assume these to be ads. 
1530  KGBT  TX, Harlingen 5/8/00 2333 with SS ads for places in McAllen 
       and ad for a program Mujer a Mujer [ woman to woman ]. IDs as "La 
       Primera". [new ]

Heard on a Sony SRF-M40 Walkman:

1480  KYOS  CA, Merced 5/10/00 0832 with ID "This is Merced County's 
       newstalk, KYOS" Heard in a very tight KPHX null. [new]



** Pat Martin - Seaside OR - mwdxer@xxxxxxxxx

1490  KWOK  WA,Hoquiam rec ppc in 19d, ex KGHO. V/S: (unreadable) P.D. 
       *New address: P.O. Box 47 - Aberdeen  WA 98520 (PM-OR)
1700  KQXX  TX, Brownsville, rec. prepared letter signed by: Sandra 
       Conche (no title) in 368dfffff. Address: 1050 MacIntosh-
       Brownsville, TX  78521. This has been the toughest QSL to get out 
       of an X Bander. Thanks to Gary Jackson for the v/s. The only one 
       left to QSL is KBDJ-1650. (PM-OR)



Reid Wheeler - Olympia WA - reid@xxxxxxxxx

Please be advised that the new editor for Hollow State Newsletter will 
be Barry Hauser [barry@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]. My initial request for someone to 
take over the editorship resulted in 5 offers. Overall, Ralph and I feel 
that Barry has the best combination of experience, interest, enthusiasm 
and resources to do an excellent job. Please support him to the best of 
your abilities. My last issue will be #50 which will most likely come 
out in early summer. I have enjoyed being the HSN editor for the last 7 
years, but other obligations and interests make stepping down the best 
choice for all. Reid

The Palstar R30 General Coverage Receiver
A Review from a MW DXer's Viewpoint

Gerry Thomas (radioplus@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx)

   When I first caught a glimpse of the new Palstar R30, I was 
intrigued. Here was a very small (for a desktop rx), $500 radio with 
none of the bells and whistles that usually adorn serious and wannabe 
serious receivers in the $500-$1000 price range. There was no keypad, no 
synchronous AM detection, no passband tuning, no notch; not even a tone 
control. All of this was fine with me because while the aforementioned 
(missing) features could make life easier for the DXer, they were by no 
means absolutely necessary for hearing tough DX. Maybe this 
manufacturer, Palstar, had put its money into the more important stuff--
-good sensitivity and selectivity, an above average front end, and solid 
stability (for good exalted carrier selectable sideband (ECSS) 
   When Palstar sent me a block diagram of the R30, I was impressed... 
someone knew what they were doing... seven-pole filters in the front-end 
filter bank, a doubly balanced very low noise JFET mixer, discrete 
MOSFET IF amps, even a nice roofing filter (8 kHz bandwidth) at the 45 
Mhz first IF. The audio amp also seemed impressive---3-4 watts with very 
low distortion. The only potential trouble spot I saw was the single-
loop frequency synthesis system. Poorly executed single loops often are 
plagued by excessive phase noise which leads to reciprocal mixing 
problems which result in lousy ultimate IF selectivity. Only a hands-on 
run-through would tell though.

General Description
   The R30 covers 100kHz-30MHz and is the first receiver offering from 
Bramco Palstar (of Piqua, OH), a company previously limited to 
manufacturing, among other things, amateur radio accessories (e.g., 
tuners, filters). (Bramco Palstar also makes the Lowe HF-350, which is 
the R30 for the European market; the only difference is a 4kHz wide IF 
filter instead of the 6kHz American standard.)
   Right out of the box I was struck by the R30's clean lines and small 
size (three or four R30's could fit in a Drake R-8 cabinet). The cabinet 
is heavy sheet metal (black crinkle top, gray bottom) and measures 8.26" 
x 2.56" x 7.68"; weight without batteries is 2.2 lbs. A very heavy duty 
chromed tilt bail allows upward tilting of the front of the radio and 
the front panel knob count is, uh, two: A 1-3/8" tuning knob with speed 
dimple and an on/off/volume knob. Seven BB-sized push buttons control 
memory (there are 100), mode (AM, LSB, USB), attenuator (10 dB), 
bandwidth (wide/narrow), AGC (fast/slow) and, to the right of the main 
tuning knob, up/down jump tuning. Even though the push buttons are 
small, they are well spaced so there is little chance of a "double 
push." Small red LEDs above the non-tuning buttons indicate button 
status. The LCD digital display has one-inch numerals  and the frequency 
is displayed to 100 Hz; a switch on the back of the radio turns on the 
display light. An analog S-meter and 1/4" headphone jack round out the 
front panel.
   The rear panel is pretty conventional with the standard 50 Ohm 
(SO239) and high impedance compression terminals. Audio outputs include 
a 1/4" external speaker jack and an RCA "line" jack for recording as 
well as another RCA "mute" jack (for use with transmitters). Besides the 
aforementioned display light on/off switch, and a DC input jack, another 
jack is a DC output jack which is used for powering Palstar's optional 
outboard antenna tuner/preselector (Model AA30).

Operating the R30
   Operating the R30 is pretty straightforward, although the multi-
talented tuning knob requires a little bit of practice to become 
comfortable with. The tuning knob has two tuning rate ranges. In the 
"slow" mode, rotating the knob slowly tunes the radio in 20 Hz steps 
(adequate for SSB reception); rotating the knob more quickly shifts the 
tuning up to 100 Hz steps (one full knob rotation therefore changes from 
2 kHz per rotation to about 8 kHz per rotation). A similar variable 
tuning rate scheme occurs with the "fast" tuning mode: 100 Hz per step 
changing to 500 Hz tuning steps. This works out to about 10 kHz/full 
knob rotation up to 20 kHz/a full rotation. Changing between the two 
speed modes occurs when the tuning knob is pushed in and released 
(there's tactile feedback but no indicator light). In addition to 
tuning, this knob walks through the memory channels (after the MEM 
button is pressed). Holding the knob in for 2 secs disengages the tuning 
if you want to lock on a frequency. Tuning in larger jumps is 
accomplished by pressing the up/down buttons to the right of the tuning 
knob. These buttons nominally jump in 1 Mhz steps but see R30 Sample #2 
below. The 100 non-volatile memories are selected by either the tuning 
knob or the up/down buttons. The rest of the controls on the front panel 
are intuitive.

The Circuit
   The R30 is a double conversion superhet with a 45 Mhz first IF and a 
455 kHz second IF. A seven-pole filter bank with six ranges (.1-1, 1-2, 
2-4, 4-8, 8-16, 16-30 Mhz) provides front-end selectivity. After a 
selectable 10 dB attenuator and 30 Mhz low-pass filter, RF and VCO 
frequencies (UHF/8) are mixed in a low-noise, doubly balanced JFET mixer 
to provide the 45 Mhz first IF which is passed through a four-pole 45 
Mhz (8 kHz BW) roofing filter before MOSFET amplification. The second 
mixer (MOSFET) provides the 455 kHz signal to one of the two selected IF 
filters (muRata ceramics or Collins mechanicals; 6 kHz and 2.5 kHz; the 
muRatas are the higher grade CFR series (9-pole, I think) and the 
Collins filters are the new, compact torsional designs). AGC occurs 
after the second IF and rectification/product detection follows. Audio 
amplification is a fairly hefty 3-4 watts with very low (reported <1%) 
total distortion. Audio output is into a 3-inch top-mounted speaker 
(unfortunately rated at 800 mW).
   Circuit layout is generally good with robust shielding and 
construction techniques. The majority of supporting components are those 
surface mount beasties (that make for compact radios but drive tinkerers 
   Sensitivity on the latest models is reported to be 0.5 uV throughout 
the tuning range on AM, and .3 uV on SSB. The shape factor on the 
Collins filters is reported to be (and seems to be) quite good (i.e., 
   All in all, the R30 seems to be a well-designed, ruggedly built 

A Tale of Two Samples
R30 #1
   The first R30 I received showed very commendable overall performance 
but was plagued by a couple of problems. First of all, 60 Hz harmonics 
wreaked havoc on the LW and MW bands (much less so on SW) making serious 
DX impossible. Switching the power source from the supplied outboard 
adapter to a 12 VDC battery or a filtered Radio Shack adapter cured the 
problem. A call to Palstar revealed that, indeed, the supplied adapter 
was unfiltered. Palstar called back with the fix (.01 uF caps across the 
rectifier diodes) and now supplies filtered adapters with the R30. The 
second significant problem turned out to be a manufacturing flaw. I 
noticed that the ultimate selectivity of both Collins filters was not 
what it should have been. That is, sideband splatter from strong 
adjacent stations was more prevalent than I thought it ought to be given 
the circuit layout and the Collins ultimate rejection specs. I expected 
ultimate rejection in the 70-90 dB range but was hearing rejection in an 
estimated 50-60 dB realm. Was this the reciprocal mixing that I had 
feared might be present due to the single-loop frequency synthesis 
scheme? Palstar maintained that the phase noise (the cause of reciprocal 
mixing) in the R30 was very low and that something else must be causing 
the problem. Another problem that I encountered was the anomalous, 
image-like appearance of strong locals exactly 8 kHz, 16 kHz, 24 kHz, 
etc. above and below the station's carrier frequency. That is, for 
example, local WBSR-1450 was audible on 1458, 1466, 1442, etc. Clearly, 
something was wrong with this sample and Palstar asked that I send it 
back for a check-out.
   What I was able to conclude from my limited testing of R30 #1 was 
that it was more sensitive than either the Drake R-8 or the Japan Radio 
NRD-535D on all bands and that its audio was a joy to listen to. 
Drawbacks were limited to wishing that a smaller step than 1 Mhz was 
available with the up/down buttons (going from 1000 kHz to 1500 kHz took 
a lot of knob spinning (which I remedied by setting MEM locations 5-17 
to 540, 600... 1700 kHz)) and better ultimate selectivity. I also wished 
that the signal level on very weak ECSS-received signals was a little 

R30 #2  What a difference!
   When Palstar returned the R30 (the same one I originally had), the 
ultimate selectivity/anomalous image problem was gone. Paul at Palstar 
told me that the problem was that a blob of the alloy used for mounting 
the surface mount components had apparently splattered during assembly 
and had caused the problem. Now, a quick listen showed very good 
ultimate selectivity and no images. As a bonus, THE UP/DOWN BUTTONS NOW 
JUMPED IN 500 KHZ STEPS INSTEAD OF 1 MHZ... Infinitely better! Finally, 
the supplied AC/DC adapter had been fitted with filter caps and was now 
noise-free... time to run some comparison tests.
   When Palstar first agreed to supply an evaluation unit, I had hoped 
to compare it to both the new Grundig 800 Millennium and the Yaesu FRG-
100B, two radios in the same price range as the R30. Unfortunately, the 
Grundig still hadn't been released and the Yaesu had been recently 
discontinued. After a quick evaluation of the first sample R30, I came 
to the conclusion that it would be appropriate to compare it to some 
higher-end rigs. Therefore, I used my usual Drake R-8 and Japan Radio 
NRD-535D for performance comparisons.

Test Set-up
   Although I have the equipment to perform laboratory measurements of 
receivers, I have usually found careful "real world" listening tests to 
be more useful in determining a rig's DX-ability. Therefore, the three 
receivers were tested using either a 150' inverted-L wire antenna or a 
Quantum Loop MW ferrite rod antenna. An MFJ antenna switch box allowed 
quick A-B-C comparisons. Most MW comparisons were conducted during mid-
day (when sensitivity differences could more easily be determined) and 
the cursory LW and SW sessions occurred during both daylight and 
nighttime hours.

The Radios
   Palstar R30 This was sample #2 and was fitted with the two Collins IF 
filters. It was also production "Revision H" (plus the circuit changes 
that were made during the course of my review).
   Drake R-8 This is the first version of the respected R-8 series and 
has five IF filters (up to four useful for voice signals), synchronous 
AM detection ("synchro"), passband tuning (PBT), notch filter, noise 
blanker... all the bells and whistles. This is one of my two preferred 
desktop rigs for serious MW DX and is rated 5-stars by almost everyone. 
The pre-amp, however, is not operative on MW on this model. Original 
price of this radio was about $800; current models are just under $1200.
   NRD-535D This was Japan Radio's top-of-the-line semi-professional 
receiver until very recently. Besides having the same bells and whistles 
as the Drake, this "D" model also came with a 2 kHz narrow filter and a 
4 kHz wide filter. It also had a variable bandwidth control ("BWC") that 
could further narrow some of the resident IF filters. This is 5-star 
receiver with an original price of $1799.

   It is one thing to measure sensitivity in a laboratory setting with 
spectrally pure signals under carefully controlled conditions and quite 
another to hook up a broadband antenna feeding thousands of signals to 
the front-end. This is particularly true in the MW band where RF 
pollution is rampant. For these comparisons I intentionally chose very 
difficult-to-hear stations that were not being bothered by interference 
from nearby stations.
   For the record, on MW, the R30 specs report a .5uV sensitivity on AM; 
.3uV on SSB. By comparison, the 535D's specs read 6.3uV on AM and 2uV on 
SSB; and the Drake states <3.0 uV, AM and <1.0 uV, SSB. (It should be 
noted that ionospheric/atmospheric noise levels on MW rarely get below 
3uV so values below that are, theoretically, of limited value.) 
Sensitivity specs for SW were much more comparable although the R30 
still held a slight edge, for the most part.

Rating Scale
   5---Local-like (all background noise "quieted)
   4---Easily readable but not local-like
   3---Readable with effort
   2---Intermittently readable
   1---Present but not readable
   0---Not detectable

Target Stations
 540  WQTM  Pine Hills, FL  This is a 50 kWer about 350 miles to the 
 720  WRZN  Hernando, FL  A 10kWer about 300 miles to the southeast.
 950  R. Reloj  Sancti Spiritus, Cuba  Reported to be 1-5 kW at 750 
1680  WTIR  Winter Park, FL  A 10 kW station about 350 miles to the 

"Long-Wire" Results
              R30        R8        535D
 540 kHz      1.5        1.0       1.0
 720 kHz       .5         0         0
 950 kHz      2.0        2.0       2.0
1680 kHz      2.5        2.5       2.5

   The differences between the three radios were so small as to be 
virtually insignificant. With these extremely tough signals (which were 
necessary to show any difference at all), the R30 exhibited marginally 
better sensitivity on the low end. Perhaps the most telling was WRZN-720 
where some audio was detectable (but not readable) on the R30 but not on 
the other two. Let me rush to state, though, that the preceding ratings 
were gathered on one atmospherically fairly quiet spring day that 
happened to occur in the middle of my testing. I have pages of 
comparisons on less quiet days where there were no rateable differences 
between the three radios at all, which caused me to scratch my head a 
little. I remembered that my brief testing of R30 #1 showed a more 
pronounced superiority in sensitivity and wondered if, perhaps, Palstar 
had knocked down the R30 #2's sensitivity a bit. I even hooked up all 
three radios to an antenna tuning unit thinking that maybe input 
impedance mismatches were causing the virtually identical ratings... 
there was no change in the relative performances. Then I realized that 
my original tests of R30 #1 had taken place weeks earlier during an 
unusual period of low ionospheric/atmospheric noise. Maybe the higher 
noise now was acting as the great equalizer. After all, a man with 20/20 
vision has no real advantage over a lower-vision man if both are trying 
to see into a fog bank. With this thought in mind, I decided to re-run 
the sensitivity tests using a tuned loop antenna. A tuned loop is 
inherently quieter because of its narrower bandwidth and its response to 
only the magnetic portion of the RF wave. The loop I chose, of course, 
was the Quantum Loop.

Loop Results
              R30        R8       535D
 540 kHz      3.5        2.5      2.0
 720 kHz      3.5        2.5      2.0
 950 kHz      1.5        1.0      1.0
1680 kHz      3.0        2.5      2.0

Aha! This was more like I remembered the R30#1 performing and the 
results are a little startling. Across the band, the R30 gave stronger, 
more readable signals. This is due not only to, I suppose, somewhat 
better raw sensitivity but also to better audio. The R30's signals 
always sounded fuller, stronger, cleaner and easier to read than the 
others. Note that the 535D had a slight disadvantage with the loop 
because its flourescent display gave off a slight hash that degraded the 
signal somewhat no matter how much I tried to re-position the loop (I 
turned off the 535D when testing the R30 and R8).

   This is usually where the men and boys part company. Many an 
otherwise fine receiver falls short on this important variable and 
requires the installation of aftermarket, higher quality filters. The 
R30 comes with high quality filters (either the Collins mechanicals or 
the upper level muRata ceramics), so that's a good start. But compared 
to the R8's 6/4/2.3/1.8 khz IF filters and the 535D's 12/4/2/1 kHz 
filter array, filter choices are sparse. In addition, the Drake and 
Japan Radio offerings had passband tuning (PBT), synchronous AM 
detection ("synchro"), and notch controls, all potentially useful in 
producing a readable signal in tight quarters. In addition, the 535D was 
fitted with a "bandwidth control" (BWC) feature that allowed the 4/2/1 
filters to be narrowed even further (but deep skirt selectivity was not 
good enough to reduce sideband splatter). However, having been a DXer 
since way before the advent of PBT and synchro, I knew that there were 
ways to come close to the performance of these modern technologies by 
less sophisticated means. For example, Passband Tuning--In the AM mode, 
you can effect about the same result simply by tuning a kHz or two away 
from the carrier frequency in a direction opposite the interference. 
(Ceramic filters are usually better for this than mechanicals because 
their generally less steep skirts permit tuning a little farther away 
before losing the carrier.) In the SSB mode (e.g., when using ECSS), 
when you can't tune away from the carrier without losing 
intelligibility, PBT can be a big plus though. "Synchro"--Synchronous AM 
detection can be a real boon... sometimes, especially if you can select 
a sideband. With very weak signals (i.e., DX), however, oftentimes the 
signal is too weak to result in a lock. Other times, even with stronger 
signals, the results are less than spectacular. Occasionally, the gods 
will be smiling, and pressing the synchro button will result in a 
dramatically improved signal (the offering to the gods that leads to 
this happy occurrence remains a mystery to this DXer, though). Results 
very similar to synchro can be obtained (especially with the R30) via 
ECSS and a slow AGC... sometimes this method on SW showed an even 
greater reduction in "pumping"/distortion than the synchro mode in the 
other radios. Notch--Tuning away from the heterodyning signal in the AM 
mode or switching to a narrower filter will often eliminate a het. 
Switching to a sideband away from the problem signal will do the same. 
Low frequency hets require a notch filter, however. 
   The point of the preceding is to say that some of the R30's potential 
selectivity shortcomings can be overcome, to varying degrees, by using 
careful tuning techniques. 
   In the selectivity comparisons that follow, I pulled out all the 
stops for each radio to produce the best possible signal, using whatever 
trick, technique, or control available.

Rating Scale
   4---Minor sideband splash
   3---Heavy sideband splash
   2---Intermittent readability due to splash
   1---Target never readable under splash
   0---Target not detectable under splash
Target Stations
   Even though several stations were used to evaluate the selectivity 
measure, I'm going to cite just three that are representative of the 
testing. The antenna used for this test was the Quantum Loop but nulling 
was not possible in any of the situations.

590/591  WDIZ  Panama City, FL/Santa Clara, Cuba. The Cuban was off 
       frequency again affording an opportunity to check close-in 
       selectivity. WDIZ puts an S-9+10 signal into Pensacola while the 
       Cuban is much weaker (reported power at 10 kW). A 1 kHz het was 
1000  WDXE  Robertsdale, AL. This 1kWer about 50 miles W is usually 
       severely bothered by local splasher WRNE-980.
1440  WRBE  Lucedale, MS. Next to local WBSR-1450, this one is tough to 
       hear clearly. 

Selectivity Results
           R30                R8                  535D

 590 kHz   4.5 (het) [AM/6]   5.0 [AM/6/notch]    5.0 [AM/4/notch]
           5.0 [LSB/2.5]      5.0 [LSB/2.3]       5.0 [LSB/2.0]
 591 kHz   3.0 [USB/2.5]      3.5 [USB/2.3/PBT]   3.5 [USB/2.0/PBT]
1000 kHz   3.0 [AM/6]         3.2 [AM/4]          3.2 [AM/4]
           3.5 [USB/2.5]      4.0 [USB/2.3/PBT]   4.0 [USB/2.0/PBT]
1440 kHz   1.0 [AM/6]         1.0 [AM/4]          1.0 [AM/4]
           3.5 [LSB/2.5]      3.5 [LSB/2.3/PBT]   4.0 [LSB/2.0/PBT/BWC]

[ ] = Mode/Filter width/Other controls used
* AM mode tuned to 587.3 kHz

   The het on 590 kHz was eliminated by using either the notch filter on 
the R8 or 535D or by switching to LSB on any of the radios. Tuning to 
587.3 kHz in the AM mode also eliminated the het. Trying to hear the 
Cuban on 591 kHz was valuable in that it provided information for those 
of us who DX the foreign split frequencies. I was amazed to get any 
readable audio at all but all three radios produced a readable signal 
using ECSS, the PBT aiding clarity somewhat. PBT in the ECSS mode proved 
of use again on WDXE providing a very slightly cleaner signal than the 
R30. WRBE-1440 illustrates the slight contribution of the BWC on the 
535D. Using just about the whole array of available tools, the BWC 
allowed the 535D to nudge ahead of the others by cleaning up the signal 
just a little bit more.
   With regard to selectivity, then, the R30 with its quality Collins 
filters showed that it belonged in the same league as the R8 and 535D. 
It was never better than either radio but when it was worse, it wasn't 
worse by much. And I never encountered a case where the R30 failed to 
produce intelligible audio when the others were producing a readable 
signal. Also, even though the filters on the R30 are selectable 
independent of mode, I always found that using ECSS produced a better 
signal than the narrow Collins in the AM mode. It is also clear from the 
preceding results that having PBT available for use in the ECSS mode is 
of value and that it is largely responsible for the R8's and 535D's 
slight superiority in some situations.

Dynamic Variables
   Frequency stability on the R30 is rock solid. Drift is virtually nil 
after a very brief warm-up; ECSS signals stayed dead-on for hours. 
Dynamic range is reported to be >90 dB (but at 50 kHz) and the third-
order intercept point is specified as +15 dBm (at the standard 20 kHz 
spacing). I experienced no overloading problems at my location while 
using the 150' antenna but would be anxious to see how well the R30 does 
with a mile-long Beverage antenna. (I wouldn't be surprised if the R30 
did quite well with a Beverage given its lack of an RF amplifier, JFET 
first mixer, and reported third-order intercept point.) Spurs/images 
have been reported to be present but I encountered none that interfered 
with my listening. Speaking of images, while checking out the R30 on the 
tropical band, I tuned past 2480 kHz and heard American oldies music... 
"My first image!" I thought. Wrong. It was a harmonic of KDGO-1240 
Durango, CO (and was audible on all three radios).

Performance on the Other Bands
   I didn't spend a lot of time on LW but when I did venture down there, 
I noted a hefty supply of beacons. Given the fact that Palstar didn't 
reduce the sensitivity in this range, I would expect the R30 to be 
pretty hot on LW. On the tropical bands, the R30 always seemed to 
provide signals with a greater "presence"--stronger, cleaner than the 
other radios... WWV-2500 kHz seemed like it was in the room with me 
instead of locked in the radio... (I'm sorry, but that's the best way I 
can explain it, hi). Program listening on SW was very good with the 6kHz 
filter but I found that I preferred the 2.5 kHz Collins in the ECSS mode 
with a slow AGC setting... audio was smooth with a minimum of fading and 
distortion. I particularly liked the R30 on the HF utilities.  Audio, 
again, was cleaner and the R30 seemed to have a sensitivity advantage 
(even though specs were much closer than on MW). For example, while 
listening to transatlantic flights working ground stations, several 
times I was able to hear the transmissions of really distant planes on 
the R30 but not on the other two radios. The R30 became my favorite 
radio for long-term channel monitoring.

Audio Quality
   This is one of the R30's strong points and is mainly responsible for 
my preferring it for extended listening sessions. Even with the little 
3" speaker, the audio sounds inexplicably full and clean. Unfortunately, 
as noted earlier, the 3-4 watt audio amp is feeding its signal into a 
speaker with a maximum power rating of 800 mW so distortion can occur if 
you crank up the volume control. An external speaker, however, can fill 
the room. The only radio that sounded better was the 535D when it was in 
its 12 kHz IF position and using its external speaker. The highs were 
sparkling and the sound was full. With a 12 kHz bandwidth though, this 
combination can only be used on stations in the clear.

Battery Life
   The R30 runs on 12 VDC (via adapter) or on 10 AA penlight batteries 
mounted internally. I measured its current drain at about 300 mA with 
the display light off and about 500 mA with the light on (at normal 
listening levels). With the 10 fresh alkalines yielding 15+ volts, the 
question was, "What was the minimum operating voltage of the R30?" After 
seven hours of continuous play, a barely discernable audio distortion 
occurred; this at 10.2 V. After 8-1/2 hours, the voltage had dropped to 
9.14 V, and within minutes the R30 went silent. Performance was 
virtually unchanged until seconds before it died. So, the operating 
voltage range of the R30 is about 9-15 VDC and a fresh set of alkalines 
should last about 8-9 hours; enough for one, long DX session. The new, 
high capacity NiMH penlights offer a viable, and cheaper in the long 
run, alternative to the alkalines since the R30 runs great all the way 
down to about 10 V.

Concluding Statements
   So there you have it... whew! This is undoubtedly one of the most 
difficult reviews I've ever undertaken. The radios were so close in DX 
performance, for the most part, that hours and hours were spent 
searching for situations that could differentiate among them. In the 
end, though, I think I can conclude that the Palstar R30 (in its most 
recent version) has great potential for digging out that tough DX, 
especially on those ultra-quiet winter nights that we covet so much.
   As I see it, the R30 will appeal to two opposite ends of the radio 
hobbyist spectrum. Serious DXers and DXpeditioners will appreciate the 
R30's tough signal performance and small size. Novices and those 
intimidated by knob and button arrays will select the R30 for its 
simplicity. I think that both groups will be satisfied with their 
choice. But if you want the latest and greatest gizmos and doodads in 
your radio... look elsewhere. Palstar put its money where it counts, in 
performance; and I put my money where my mouth is... after completing 
this review, I bought an R30.

The Palstar R30 is presently available in three configurations:

1.  R30 with muRata 6kHz and 2.5 kHz IF filters---$499.95
2.  R30 with muRata 6kHz and Collins 2.5 kHz IF filters---$549.95
3.  R30 with Collins 6 kHz and 2.5 kHz filters---$599.95

Palstar, Inc, 9676 Looney Rd, Picqua, OH 45356
(937) 773-6255, email: Palstar@xxxxxxxxxx
Note: If you decide to purchase an R30, try to get one manufactured 
after March, 2000. This will ensure that you will get the 500 kHz 
up/down tuning and the latest circuit changes. Also, beware of reviews 
of R30's manufactured before March, 2000.


     Geomagnetic Summary May 4 2000 through May 10 2000 
      phil bytheway - Seattle WA - fokker_d8@xxxxxxxxx
      Tabulated from email status daily

  5/ 4   135    11    2    low         quiet-unsettled     - 6
     5   130    15    2    low         quiet-unsettled     - 5
     6   127    11    1    low         quiet-unsettled     - 6
     7   131     7    2    v low-low   quiet               - 4
     8   137     5    1    low         quiet-unsettled     - 4
     9   150    11    2    low-mod     quiet-unsettled     - 7
  5/10   179     3    1    low-mod     quiet-unsettled     - 7



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