Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 10 Sep 2016 13:35

I was driving over the Wolds near Candlesby Hill earlier in the weeek. There was a bit of tropo around and I did my usual thing of tuning the car radio to 90.4 to see how well Egem was coming in. To my surprise I heard pop music coming out of the speakers. It was BBC 3 Counties Radio from Epping Green. The signal was solid and there was no trace of Egem. I pulled over into a layby I sometimes use for MW DXing in the winter. The radio suddenly changed station. I presumed there was some overload as I wasn't far away from the radio mast which carries the local DAB multiplex, among other things. A few seconds later and it was back to 3 Counties. Then back again, etc. The second station was in fact Klara from Egem, but the rate at which these two were swapping over was so instantaneous, it was as if somebody was throwing a switch!

OK, that's a long-winded JF kind of way of describing the stunning capture ratio on the Citroen car radio. This isn't a new story and I've had the pleasure of using this radio for almost two years. I have written previously about how sensitive and selective it is and how superbly it handles strong signals. Remember my comparisons between this and the XDR when parked a few miles within sight of the Belmont transmitter? This car radio either equals or outperforms my Sony XDR-F1HD. It's nothing short of excellent!

There is one downside, however. It only has manual tuning. This is achieved via the touch sensitive screen which controls the radio. The touch sensitive screen also controls many other features of the car, depending on which menu is selected. You have to go three levels into sub menus to get to the frequency keypad. You have to enter the frequency to two decimal places, so 107.0 has to be entered as 107.00. It is only possible to select the last half a dozen keyed frequencies, but it forgets these in no time. It's annoying. It's a highly computerised car. I hate modern cars for all their unnecessary computerised nonsense. Bring back the Ford Cortina!

After all this time, you'd think I would have made some inroads into finding out who makes this car radio. Well, I think it's VDO who have their badge on it, but I'm not 100% certain. Frankly, I haven't bothered contacting Citroen as I feel sure I won't find the right person or the information I am trying to obtain is not publicly available. I've been down this route before. If we could only find out what chipset is used in this car radio and have somebody re-exploit it for DX purposes, maybe we could go some way to finding readily available and inexpensive car radios which will be suitable for DX purposes. Maybe somebody knows a way of finding out this information, because this car radio is nothing short of exceptional as a DX machine. Give it manual tuning and you have the ultimate band 2 DX receiver that's not an SDR.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Alex Cator » 11 Sep 2016 11:37

The radios in my parents' Fords are also very good, well, the one in the Focus is the better out of the two and it must be nearly as good as your Citroen radio, if not the same.

I've been impressed by the capture radio in my Dad's Focus, i.e. the way it switched between Egem and Tac on 101.5 once really quickly in Lowestoft when there was a fair tropo. What was slightly annoying was that it tuned to MNM for a second when I first tuned it into 101.5, and then Classic FM came booming in with RDS, which happened every time I tuned it to 101.5. The same happens when I use my iTrip on 102.4 (freq of Heart SHC) when I'm in Norwich.
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by KPC850 » 07 Nov 2016 20:42

few seconds later and it was back to 3 Counties. Then back again, etc. The second station was in fact Klara from Egem, but the rate at which these two were swapping over was so instantaneous, it was as if somebody was throwing a switch
Does your car use a rear window antenna ?

In that case often there are two separate window antenna for FM . The car selects which one has the best signal. The rapid change of co-channel station in a stationary car could be due to the car radio switching between one antenna and the other not being able to make up its mind what to use. (with one antenna capturing one station and the other, the other station from another direction so actually is the throwing of a switch.

Terrible hearing its manual tuning is so user unfriendly, in sharp contrast to that in many Volkswagen etc cars

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 07 Nov 2016 22:05

No, just a standard helically wound whip antenna.

I didn't know some cars had two antennas like that. Interesting.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by KPC850 » 29 Nov 2016 15:04

I didn't know some cars had two antennas like that. Interesting.
A link in another thread (VW reception problem) in this section illustrates this:

http://www.my-gti.com/1389/aerial-infor ... wagen-golf

the diagrams show 2 lines going from top to bottom on the rear window, which are two separate FM aerials
You have to enter the frequency to two decimal places, so 107.0 has to be entered as 107.00
That's really bad design indeed considering FM frequencies are allocated in 0.1 steps in Europe anyway (bar a couple of exceptions in Italy) . I have an old YB400 which allows direct frequency entry but you only have to go to 2 decimal places if actually entering a non standard 0.05MHz offset FM frequency. And if the frequency ends in .0, you just have to enter the decimal point and thats enough ( for example you can enter 107. for 107.0)

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 29 Nov 2016 18:05

If only things were that simple in our car.

I wonder if Citroen have deliberately designed the tuning to be different so people don't use it while driving. The presets are slightly more straight forward, but still buried in the display.

I *will* do a video of all this, one day. ;)

Thanks for the info.

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mediterraneandxer
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by mediterraneandxer » 13 Sep 2017 20:29

I remember in the old days American car radios were tops for A. M. (MW) DXing
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Nick Gilly » 13 Sep 2017 20:57

The way the capture ratio is described on that car radio is the same on the RBRX Encore receiver. It has a tendency to flip back and forth between two contesting signals which can be a bit disconcerting if there is noise/QRM on the channel. It's certainly sharper than the XDR. Maybe it has the same chipset?
Good DX.

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 13 Sep 2017 21:10

Unfortunately I won't be doing a more detailed video review of that car radio as I don't have the car anymore.

The radio in the old Focus I have now does not come into the running order.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by zach_m » 13 Sep 2017 22:25

I've read somewhere, I don't remember exactly where it was, that the same Sony XDR chipsets were used in a car radios. Perhaps they are still in manufacture?

Although I successfully improved sensitivity of my Sony SA3ES by adding a distribution amp and boosting the stignal, after splitting etc. however, I am very close to jump onto an SDR bandagon.

Looking forward to good tropo conditions, so I can test the Sony.

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