Tecsun PL-990x on SSB
From Lancashire to Hamburg
Weather Data on a Portable
I hooked the Tecsun PL-990x up to my external aerials (Moonraker GPA-RX Vertical, 2-90MHz and Wellbrook ALA1530) and started SSB (USB) reception of the RTTY weather signal from Hamburg (7646 [7645.1]kHz USB; DDK2, DDK9, DDH7), with the results shown in the pictures on this page. Signals were received nearly flawlessly, and decoded by Zorns Lemma 11.4, my regular decoding program, as required. You could use SeaTTY too. Any synoptic data reports (rows of numbers) were then ‘translated’ into pictures of the actual buoys and vessels the data came from.
This is quite a test for any receiver, and, given that this is not a dedicated marine weather receiver, this was great news. It would be possible to take this radio out on your boat and stay in touch with the weather, at least temporarily, and using a good external aerial by day. By night, the internal telescopic is more than enough to pull in data.
Moving on the – slightly more difficult – reception of weather facsimile (WXFAX) signals. I chose the more challenging daytime frequency first (4610 [4608.15]USB). Again, the radio delivered very useable, and sometimes remarkable, results. On the maps, country borders, coastlines, isobars and features such as wind-arrows, were clearly visible, and the resulting data were, therefore, of practical use. On the ‘easier’ frequency of 7880 [7878.15] kHz, from the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), the reception was impeccable, but do remember the 1.9-1.9kHz offset when you chase USB/LSB signals.
With that in mind – and preferably deploying an external aerial – you have no excuse for not trying Weatherfax reception with this versatile little radio. For hobby use, this radio certainly works well on RRT and FAX signals. Switching between external wave-catchers and the radio’s telescopic showed that there was slightly more noise on the internal one, but for indoors daytime RTTY/ FAX reception the results were still impressive on a signal-attenuating rainy and dull day.
My warm thanks go to Mike Devereux at Nevada Radio, for the loan of the review unit, which, in fact, the main reviewer, Scott Caldwell, like so much that he bought it.
Do not miss Part Two of our full review of the Tecsun PL-990x in the December issue of RadioUser.