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Friday, March 6, 2009

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER'S Eton E1 Review

Serial Number: NX00529

GENERAL

Eton has produced a remarkable portable receiver in the Eton E1. It has many tabletop qualities about it. I was a long-time Drake SW-8 owner, and the E1 out of the box is very similar in performance. You might call it an SW-8 in portable form. This doesn't surprise me, as the E1 was designed by Drake.



I purchased my E1 from Universal Radio. They are great folks to deal with, and I have been dealing with them for more than 20 years now. After arranging an equipment trade-in with them, Toni of the service department contacted me directly by phone upon shipping and gave me some pointers on initial start-up of the E1 and some tips on using it. He answered all of my questions. Great service.

My Eton E1 is the plain version, without the XM satellite radio option. As of this writing, Universal sells it for $399.95.

PACKING

The E1 came packed very well, a box within a box. The unit itself was encased in a styrofoam block, itself in a box with a nice sleeve. This was placed in a shipping carton with adequate packing. Included in the E1 package was the unit itself, an operations manual, and an AC wall adapter. Universal also includes a unit checkout sheet, showing how they have gone through the unit and checked everything before shipping.

CONSTRUCTION & BASIC ERGONOMICS

The E1 is assembled in India, the latest country (I gather) to get into electronics mass-production. It is built very well. The radio itself is 13 1/8 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall by 2 9/16 inches deep to the top of the knobs, slightly larger than the Sony ICF-2010. It is quite hefty and has a rubberized coating on its surface. The rubberized coating does seem to attract a fair amount of dust over time, but will wipe clean fairly easily with a damp cloth. I had occasion to use the unit in a dusty outdoor desert environment for six months and it got quite dirty because I didn't clean it often enough. Keep after it. Tip: Keep a small brush handy to brush away excess dust from the surface and cracks before wiping. The rubberized coating is thin - thin enough that it will indeed wear through. Mine did at the corners of the unit where it was exposed to extra friction where it was stored while riding in a pickup truck.

Although heavy, the E1 is easy to grip, and care must be exercised when carrying it. Unfortunately, no carrying case is provided. A carrying case, even a cheaply made one, would have added much value to the overall package. Universal carries the specially made #3480 Tenba case for the E1 for a whopping $139.95. It is semi-rigid with carrying handle. The E1 has a flip stand on the back which which I found quite handy to elevate the radio while on a desk. Reports have stated that it is unsteady, but I have not experienced that problem. Any unsteadiness comes from not opening the flip fully enough. Be sure to open it out fully and you shouldn't have any troubles. I found I liked the radio elevated a little higher, so I pressed a paperback book into service under the flip stand. Also available from Universal is their #3873 clear plastic radio stand made for the E1, at $16.95.

The layout of controls and buttons is sensible and logical. Rotary controls have a solid feel to them, are easy to grasp and rotate smoothly, though controls are oriented for a right-handed person. Controls (the rotary ones) on the E1 are exposed unlike the famed Sony ICF-2010. They protrude upward from the front panel so you will want to take extra care in carrying the unit so not to bump them. The Main Tuning dial and Passband tuning is to the extreme right, the keypad centered at the bottom, the display at top-right (with "soft-function" push buttons lining its bottom and right sides), the speaker to the left, and the Volume, Bass, Treble, and Squelch controls at the extreme left. The Main Tuning dial on my example had a very slight (let me emphasize "very slight") top-to-bottom wobble to it, but not objectionable. The soft-function push buttons, although tiny, have a solid snap to them when depressed, as do the other push buttons on the keypad and elsewhere. You indeed know when you have pushed one. Elevation of all push buttons out of the case were consistent. That was a relief, as I had trouble with my Kaito 1103 where some of its buttons did not protrude through the case very far, making them hard to push. Quality control on this unit is good.

The whip antenna is beefy and telescopes down entirely within the unit, out of the way. Fully extended it is 41 inches tall. The last section must be pulled fully out of its retaining tube before the antenna can be folded over. The radio design uses the whip antenna exclusively for the antenna for all bands - it contains no loopstick antenna for the longwave and mediumwave bands.

CONTROLS & BUTTONS, FRONT

A huge display, 4 3/4 inches wide by 3 3/4 inches tall is the first thing that will catch your attention. Keypad is in correct telephone format, with the zero key at bottom center. To the right of the keypad are Store, Delete, and Tag push buttons that control memory operations. Also, a two-sided, wide Select button allows tuning up or down in prescribed increments. It is also used for memory operations. A DX button enables or disables the preamp (10db for LW, MW, and SW, and 17db for FM). A power push button switch is at the top-right.

Also to the right of the keypad, a Timer button allows activation/deactivation of either of the two timers. A Seek button starts or stops the scanning function on the selected band or scans through memory locations. T.Scan allows the marking of selected memory locations for selective scanning.

Seven unmarked soft-function push buttons are in a line horizontally along the bottom of the display and correspond to items on the display when the radio is on. Likewise, seven soft-function push buttons are in a line vertically to the right side of the display and work the same way.

A nice front-firing four-inch speaker is included at left. Rotary controls lined up vertically at the left front of the unit control Squelch, Bass, Treble, and Volume. The volume control is somewhat larger than the other three. Bass and Treble controls have a center detent, a nice feature.

The Main Tuning knob is at center right and tunes in precise 10 Hz, 100 Hz, or 1 KHz increments. Beneath the Main Tuning knob is a single push button Fast/Tuning Lock that controls tuning increments and tuning lock. Finally a rotary Passband tuning control (a.k.a. IF Shift) is at lower right, allowing the receiver passband to be moved plus or minus 2 KHz from the received frequency. No RF gain control is incorporated into the E1.

CONTROLS & BUTTONS, LEFT SIDE

Additional controls, inputs, and outputs are located on the unit's left side. The E1 has both Line-In and Line-Out jacks, both capable of stereo input/output.

Also found are two separate antenna switches: one for LW/MW/SW and one for FM - to switch between Internal (telescoping whip antenna) and External antenna. The single external antenna input is a European PAL style jack. I knew this ahead of time and was a little hesitant about it, being unfamiliar with the style. It is actually a quite sturdy push-on/pull-off connector and I'm very happy with it. You will need to adapt it to coax of your choice. Radio Shack carries a PAL to F adapter, #278-265, for $4.49. Universal also offers their #1156 PAL to F adapter for $2.29, or their #1052 PAL to KOK adapter for $14.95. Be sure your PAL adapter is the female one. Its center pin will be hollow. Do not attempt to push on a PAL adaptor which has a solid center pin as you will likely push the receiving pin on the radio right through and need costly repairs.

The AC adapter jack is 9V, center pin positive.

Last to be found on the left side is an external speaker jack and a headphone jack.

CONTROLS & BUTTONS, TOP

Two buttons are found on top of the radio. A Light button, when depressed, cycles through the 3-stage display backlight brightness. Unfortunately (see "The Display"), this button is also used to display current battery level.

Lastly, a very wide Snooze/Sleep button can be used to activate/deactivate the receiver for a specified time. You will find this button very easy to accidentally press which turns the radio on when you least want to.

THE DISPLAY

If the E1 has any shortcomings, they are in the display's visual quality. What were they thinking? Darkish grey characters are displayed on a darkish grey background under a shiny plexiglass window that has so much glare that reading the information is problematic except under precise lighting conditions. It is my biggest disappointment with this radio. Though technologically the display is a 21st century marvel, the visual quality is reminiscent of a cheap digital weather station. My hope is that the LCD contrast doesn't fade after time like I have seen some car radios do, or the radio will become useless.

The display is best viewed almost dead on, making sure no low angle incident light is striking the plexiglass, because the associated glare will reduce the already deficient LCD contrast to almost zero. Some help can be gained by a 3-stage backlighted dial light, an odd and "cold" blue in color, which is cycled by the Light switch at the top of the radio.

In another design deficiency, the Light switch is also depressed to check the battery level, which then also cycles the backlight to the next stage. This is annoying, as if you like to run the radio with the backlight off and want to check the battery, you will find that the backlight is now on. One extra button should have been included on the front of the radio for checking the battery level.

Getting back to the backlight, unfortunately it is nigh on invisible during daylight hours, so it is of little use except at night. Activating the backlight will also drain your batteries at a greatly increased rate, so beware. You will find a contrast control in the battery compartment which is useful in adjusting the LCD contrast. One of the first things you should do is open the battery compartment door and adjust the display contrast to maximum and leave it there. Stay away from windows and incident light. Buttons and controls on the radio are not lit, a shame, making tuning at night in the dark impossible without secondary light. The $85 Kaito 1103 has lit buttons.

TECHNOLOGICALLY SPEAKING, however, Eton has hit a home run with the display. All information is at your fingertips and is no more than a button press or two away.

A beautiful, 21-bar graduated S-meter shows signal strength up to +60db over S-9 in precise increments. The exact level of the squelch is also shown on a separate, smaller barred-graph just underneath, its length changing as you rotate the Squelch control. This is a handy indicator and will show you at what exact S-meter level the squelch will activate. The S-meter bar graph also shows battery level when the Light button is pressed.

A text indicator also shows the current antenna switch position, External or Internal. Another text indicator even shows if headphones are plugged in!

Two clocks are available, a local clock and a GMT clock, although only one is displayed at any given time, and separate from the frequency display. The clock displays in hours and minutes only, no seconds, in 24-hour military time. Seconds would have been nice for those hourly ID checks. Once clocks are set manually, the radio will sync itself to U.S. national standard stations WWV or WWVH if power is present through the A/C adapter and a usable signal is present at your location.

The frequency display is large digits like you might find on a huge digital clock. They are a bit toyish-looking to my taste, though they do the job. Frequency can be displayed in either Megahertz or Kilohertz, selectable from the settings menu. Just beneath the frequency is displayed the shortwave band in meters if you are tuning shortwave within prescribed band limits. A stereo indicator rounds out the frequency display for FM work.

Separate textual indicators show Low Battery, Controls Lock, Tuning Lock, Timer Active, Seek Active, and Mode - VFO or Memory. Memory operations are also carried out within the display.

A row of soft-function push button controls are at the bottom of display, horizontally, left to right. They are:

1. Menu button brings up the menu interface. The menu is clear and easy to use. It allows setting of default radio and audio parameters, clocks (there are two), and timers (there are two, each having an on and off event).

2. AGC button selects either Fast, Slow, or Auto AGC. Auto AGC will enable the radio to switch automatically between fast and slow AGC. In this mode, fast AGC is switched in only when tuning. The E1 remembers the last AGC setting for the chosen mode (AM or SSB), a nice feature. No AGC off position has been incorporated, a shame. Shutting off the AGC is often very useful when used in conjunction with an RF gain control, which is not found in the E1 either. The AGC button is not functional in FM mode.

3. BW (Bandwidth) button cycles between three bandwidths: 7.0 KHz, 4.0 KHz, and 2.3 KHz. The E1 remembers the last bandwidth selected for the chosen mode (AM or SSB), a nice feature. The Bandwidth button is not functional in FM mode.

4. PBT (Passband tuning) button enables/disables the Passband rotary control at the right side of the radio. This control allows you to set the receiver passband plus or minus up to 2.0 KHz from the center frequency. The PBT button is not functional in FM mode.

5. AM button selects either AM or AM Sync (AM Sync is available in LSB, USB, and DSB).

6. SSB button selects Lower (LSB) or Upper (USB) sideband when in single sideband mode, or LSB, USB, or DSB when in AM Sync mode. The SSB button is not functional in FM mode.

7. Tune button, when in memory mode, dumps the currently selected memory channel frequency into the VFO, allowing you to tune normally from there.

A row of soft-function push button controls are at the right of display, vertically, top to bottom. They are:

1. AUX button selects the auxilliary input (the Line In connector) for playing of audio through the radio. Stereo is possible with a stereo input.

2. FM Band button selects the FM band. 87-108 MHz or 76-90 MHz is available, menu programmable.

3. SW Band button tunes to the last frequency previously tuned in the SW spectrum. It also doubles as a SW band changer. How? Press the SW Band button again while already tuned to a SW band and within three seconds use the Main Tuning dial or Select button to scroll through the SW bands, up or down, from 120 meters to 11 meters.

4. MW/LW button toggles between mediumwave and longwave band reception. Pressing the MW/LW button tunes to the last frequency previously tuned in each of the MW or LW bands.

5. VFO button returns the received frequency to the current VFO setting (that frequency saved in the VFO register when you left VFO mode). It is used to return to the previous VFO frequency when exiting Memory mode.

6. Memory button enters Memory mode and returns to the previously selected Memory location (locations 1-500).

7. Country button enters Memory mode and returns to the previously selected Country location (locations 501-1700).

BATTERY COMPARTMENT

A battery compartment with a front-facing access door is at the lower left of the radio. The door is quite hard to open (it flips out) with the tip of your finger. The E1 requires four D-cell batteries.

Also inside the access door is a rotary contrast control, allowing you to set the display's contrast to your liking. I recommend setting the contrast at maximum, as you will need it due to the glare problem.

A reset button, accessed through a tiny hole using a paperclip, is also inside the battery compartment. Use it to reset the radio if it hangs (which has not seemed to happen yet). Memories are not volatile, so will retain their settings.

Lastly, a 20-pin factory programming connector is found inside as well. No information is given in the manual for its use.

MEMORY DESCRIPTION

The memory description is best described from the E1 manual itself.

"The E1 receiver contains 1700 memory channels that can be used to store and recall commonly monitored frequencies. The first 500 of these [1-500] are referred to simply as MEMORY channels. The remaining 1200 [501-1700] are referred to as COUNTRY channels. The 500 MEMORY channels are displayed in groups of 10 per screen and each saved frequency can be stored with an identifying name. They can be scanned using the Seek function which can stop on any stored channel that has a predetermined signal level, [and] the MEMORY channels can be scanned selectively using the T.SCAN function. With MEMORY channels programmed, you can use the T.SCAN function to selectively monitor desired MEMORY frequencies. The following operating parameters [are] stored in any MEMORY channel:

1. Frequency
2. Mode
3. Bandwidth
4. AGC setting
5. PBT setting
6. Synchronous Detector setting."

IMPRESSIONS

Audio.

Audio is relative to the listener of course. The Sony ICF-2010, often praised for good audio, has some of the worst mushy, bassy, indecipherable audio I have ever heard. Audio on the E1 is resonably crisp and clear, good at the 4.0 KHz bandwidth in AM mode, and excellent at the 7.0 KHz bandwidth. The 2.3 KHz bandwidth is acceptable for SSB mode, but quite mushy of course in the AM mode unless detuned. Helpful in any event is to detune the receiver a little off the signal, perhaps one KHz, either with the Main Tuning or the Passband tuning control. Some of the best clear, crisp, distinguishable audio I have ever heard is on my cheap Kaito 1103 at wide (comparable to the E1) bandwidth.

Audio-wise, I would rate the E1 right up there with the best in pleasant-sounding audio, and the Sony ICF-2010 a disaster. In my experience over more than 40 years of DX listening and Ham Radio, I have found that crisp, clear audio tailored to voice frequencies brings in weak DX the best. It's all in the intelligence able to be extracted from the audio. I run the E1 with the Bass up just a little to give the audio some presence, and the Treble maxxed out. And of course use headphones. Expensive stereo phones are not necessary, or even preferable. I use a cheap pair of Koss phones, $4.99 at Walmart.

Sensitivity and Antennas.

This is an extremely sensitive radio, in my testing it's equal to or better than the Sony ICF-2010. I was fooled at first, thinking it had hearing problems until I figured out that external noise was getting into the radio, raising the noise floor and masking the weak stuff. Other radios I have, the Sony ICF-2010, Kaito 1103, do not have nearly the noise sensitivity problem, though the Kaito can generate extreme display noise when held in certain ways. In a quiet location, the signal gathering capability of the E1 is remarkable. It is seemingly bulletproof to overload (so far), even when using an external wire antenna. It does very well with a longwire antenna at my location, and I am situated only 5 miles from a local 20 KW AM station and 10 miles from a 50 KW AM station.

Noise Susceptibility.

Although highly sensitive, this radio is a noise magnet. Household noise of all kinds: computers, switching power supplies, AC wall warts, standard fluorescent lights, the new CFLs, light dimmers, thermostats, will get into it like no other I have ever owned. The display gives off some noise too, and certain positions of the telescoping whip antenna in relation to the display, or certain hand positions while holding the radio can introduce a bit of display noise.

Beware of noise on your AC line jumping the AC adapter and being transmitted to the radio as well. A quiet environment is essential. If using an external antenna, locate the feedpoint to your antenna away from your house as far as possible and ground everything. A balun with a ground connection at the feedpoint helps. Use batteries if possible to avoid the AC adapter.

General Tuning.

The tuning display on the E1 can be set via the menu to show frequency in proper Megahertz or Kilohertz format.

The E1 has VRIT, Variable Rate Incremental Tuning. Spin the Main Tuning dial fast and you will notice it. It cannot be turned off, but I have not found this to be a hinderance.

Cycling the Fast/Tuning button, tuning rates can be selected at 1 KHz, 100 Hz, and 10 Hz, sufficient for most tastes. You will want to use 10 Hz especially for SSB or ECSS work.

Fast/Tuning Lock (actually the same button as the Fast/Tuning button described above), enables one to lock the Main Tuning dial. Pressing this button for two seconds does it. Unfortunately, the tuning rate is advanced too.

AGC, Bandwidth, and AM/AM Sync/SSB modes are remembered when switching between LW, MW, and SW, a nice feature. Passband tuning is not remembered, but stays at its current setting.

Selectivity & Bandwidths.

Three bandwidths, 7.0 KHz, 4.0 KHz, and 2.3 KHz are fairly well chosen. Though the 7.0 KHz filter is adequate, I would lower it to 6.0 KHz, sacrificing very little fidelity for better selectivity. Filter skirts are sharp (Passport describes them as "Superb" to "Excellent") and perform well with strong nearby interference, particularly when tuning a station in synchronized AM (USB or LSB) or ECSS modes (see selected specs). In the selectivity department it is miles ahead of the stock Sony ICF-2010 and light years ahead of the Kaito 1103. I find it quite similar to my old Drake SW-8.

Passband Tuning.

Often found only in tabletops, this is a great addition to this radio. The passband can be varied a full 2.0 KHz above or below the tuned frequency. Passband tuning is in 100 Hz steps. It is particulary helpful in SSB mode, as it allows you to tune off the received signal a bit to counteract interference while maintaining clarity of the signal. The Passband tuning is also effective when in synchronized AM mode, allowing you to detune a little more to avoid nearby interference. The radio will hold lock quite a way from the tuned frequency, depending on the strength of the carrier and your bandwidth setting.

Synchronized AM.

Eton has hit another home run here. Signal lock holds on with iron jaws, even with weak signals. I have owned three other radios having synchronized AM capability, the Sony ICF-2010, Drake R8A, and Drake SW-8. The E1 has them all beat for its ability to hold on, particularly at extremely weak signals levels, and deliver a readable signal. Especially nice in the E1 is the DSB (double sideband) mode for synchronized AM, allowing audio from both sidebands to be passed in the detection process. This has made the difference for me on several occasions in station identification, pulling the weakest of the weak out of the mud when no nearby interference was present.

SSB & ECSS

Tuning the E1 in SSB or ECSS mode is almost as good as with tabletop sets. The 10 Hz tuning steps make all the difference when tuning for single sideband clarity. Tuning is smooth, and the change in carrier beat note is slow and steady as you zero in on your station. Enhanced SSB, a seemingly-new option, introduces additional audio-phasing circuitry to further reduce rejection of the opposite sideband by an additional 30db. This option can be turned on in the menu settings panel. I have turned this function on and left it on.

A small disappointment, the audio level, or "presence" when tuning in ECSS on my unit I have found wanting a bit. It seems that the signal recovery seems less, as if the detection process is not passing enough signal as the AM mode. Therefore, I often use synchronized AM instead, which does not seem to suffer from this malady.

Another nice feature of the E1 is the retention of bandwidth for the AM and SSB modes. When switching to the AM mode, the receiver returns to the last used bandwidth in AM mode. When switching to the SSB mode, the receiver returns to the last used bandwidth in SSB mode. The same applies to AGC and Passband tuning settings, these are retained as well.

Memories

Memory storage is sweet, simple and intuitive on the E1. To store a memory channel, just tune to the station, set your preferred operating parameters like bandwidth, mode, AGC, etc., press the Store button, rotate the tuning knob to select the memory channel, press Store again, enter some identifying text (or not) using the Main Tuning knob (to scroll through the alphabet), then press Store a third time to complete the process. If you care not to enter identifying text, simply press the Store button a third time without entering it.

Tuning through memory channels is even easier. Press the Memory button to enter Memory mode and use the tuning knob to scroll through the channels, 10 memories per page. Receiver memory is something I almost never use. Ten or twenty memories would be sufficient for me, and it seems every new iteration of receiver comes with more and more memories. The ease of operation of the E1's memory system may make me rethink my use.

Saving identifying text on the 1200 Country channels is not possible, as only the station frequency is displayed in Country mode. It is possible to modify existing country names. Memory locations 1611-1700 (90 locations total) are initially "blank" countries and appear at the end of the country paging system. It is possible to enter your own country names here as well.

A nice thing about the inexpensive Kaito 1103 is that the radio remembers the previously tuned frequency for each shortwave band. So, for instance, changing bands from the 41 meter band to the 19 meter band and then back will return you to the previously listened to frequency in the 41 meter band. I have found this a great convenience with the Kaito 1103. The E1 does not do this, a shame, as it returns you to the start of the band instead. I have tried to remedy this by setting up pseudo VFOs at the first part of the memory system, slots 1-4. I've named these locations VFO-A, VFO-B, VFO-C, and VFO-D. Now it is a simple matter of quickly storing the current frequency in one of these pseudo VFOs before changing bands. This way I can return to where I left off if I decide to return to the previous SW band.

On another note, it would be nice to be able to temporarily tune out of a memory location without destroying the VFO register, so that one may return the the VFO frequency after dabbling around a memory frequency. However, one must press the Tune button to enable tuning out of the memory location, which destroys the saved VFO setting.

Scanning (Seek)

This is something I almost never use. I never got the point of it all for shortwave. To me, shortwave is about bandscanning using the main tuning dial. Maybe I'm just an old-school, radio glows in the dark with dials kind of guy.

For common bandscanning, the E1 will scan or seek within the current aggregate bands: LW, MW, SW, and FM, stopping on a carrier that breaks the squelch. The book claims it will either stop on that carrier indefinitely or continue scanning after 5 seconds, depending on how you set the menu option. I have tried "Time" scanning, but have yet to get the radio to continue scanning after lighting on a station for 5 seconds. Possibly it is my technique.

Memory scanning works similarly as described above. Additionally, Tag scanning (T.Scan) can be used, allowing you to "tag" selected memory locations for exclusive scanning.

Internal Antenna

As already stated, a sturdy telescoping whip antenna is supplied with the E1. It has no loopstick antenna for the LW and MW bands. Much has been made of this and the controversy still swirls about whether this is a deficiency or not, particularly in the ability to null mediumwave stations. Recognize the following: The E1 approaches tabletop standards, and you will not find loopstick antennas on tabletop radios.

For nulling ability on the LW and MW bands, the CCrane TCA Twin Coil antenna, retailing at $99.95, seems to be the antenna of choice to hook to this radio. I have not personally tried it yet, but I may as funds become available. Of course many homebrew loop designs, at minimal cost, could be used to accomplish a similar result.

Batteries

The E1 requires four D cell batteries. Battery drain is considerable, particularly if you use the internal speaker. I am getting perhaps 10 hours off a set of 2500 mAH rechargable batteries using headphones if I don't use the backlight too much. Do yourself a favor and get a set of 2500 mAH rechargable NIMH batteries. Walmart sells two-packs of these for $9.99 each, so four batteries will set you back $20. Then of course you need a charger good for NIMH. However, the money savings in the long run will be enormous. You can charge the batteries overnight or during the time period when the radio is not in use. Remember, using the E1 in battery mode may also reduce your noise level if the radio is used in the house. It will also allow you to go on mini-DXpeditions out in the yard! Note that when you check the battery level on the radio by using the Light button (it's read on the S-meter scale), rechargeable batteries will read somewhat less than what alkalines do because the cell voltage is about 1.2 volts versus 1.5 volts.

Warm Up Drift

The E1 does drift somewhat for perhaps a period of 30 minutes after turning the radio on. Mine drifts in a downward direction. Total drift on my unit seems to be about 30-40 Hz, which seems to be about what others are experiencing.

My unit was also off calibration about 60 Hz (high) when first powered up out of the box. On the back of the radio, near the label, look through the air slots and you will see a small trimmer. Adjust this trimmer carefully while tuned to a standard reference to zero the calibration.

No Overload

I have not been able to get this radio to overload, even though I live close to two rather high powered broadcast stations and use a longwire antenna at times. Dynamic Range is good, and Image Rejection is greater than 90db, a superb accomplishment for a portable.

Overall

The E1 is an overall winner in my book, even though the display contrast is pathetic. I can learn to live with that. I consider it roughly equal in performance to my old Drake SW-8, but better in some key areas, particularly the synchronized AM capture ability and memory management. I am somewhat disappointed with the signal recovery when tuning in the ECSS mode. Battery consumption is on the heavy side. I will keep this radio around for a long time.

SOME SELECTED TECHNICAL SPECS

Frequency Range-
LW/MW/SW: 100 KHz to 30 MHz
Mediumwave station increments are 9 or 10 KHz, menu programmable
Longwave station increments are 5 KHz
FM: 87-108 MHz or 76-90 MHz, menu programmable

Main Tuning Steps-
LW/MW/SW: 10 Hz, 100 Hz, 1 KHz
FM: 20 KHz

Selectivity-
7.0 KHz @ -6db, less than 12 KHz @ -60db
4.0 KHz @ -6db, less than 9 KHz @ -60db
2.3 KHz @ -6db, less than 5 KHz @ -60db

Image Rejection-
Greater than 90db

AM/SW Dual Conversion-
1st IF: 45 MHz
2nd IF: 455 KHz

FM Single Conversion-
1st IF: 10.7 MHz

Memories-
1700 total (500 general [1-500], 1200 [501-1700] by predefined country - 10 slots per display page, also 10 slots per country)

Preamp-
10db (AM/SW)
17db (FM)

Power Requirements-
4 D-cell batteries
AC adapter (9V @ 1A)
7-14 VDC (if externally powered)

9 comments:

sparkman386 said...

Does anyone have SCHEMATIC DIAGRAMS for this receiver?

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

sparkman386,

Sorry, I have not located any schematics for this receiver.

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER

Jones Morris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert scorpio said...

Inreresting that the filters are very similar to the Sat 800 and Drake SW8 -
but as a non expert - IF I want to hear
SSB ...this receiver can go to 10 Hertz fine tune- a big asset.

Radios like the SW8 do not tune this fine and have no BFO...similar to the
SONY 2010 with no BFO and no very fine tune.

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Thanks for your comment, Robert.

I have owned (in the past) the Drake SW8 and the R8. I believe the Eton E1 to be a better receiver than the SW8. The R8 was in a class by itself.

Bill
RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER

Robert K Scorpio said...

Thanks Bill..I like listening to SSB and a little DXing also..
I got a Grundig G3
then stepped into a Satellit 700 which is nice but not sensitive enough..( was a bargain purchase though)
I think the E1 would be a very versatile and fun radio...not as good as R8 especially the R8b or R8a ..

The Satellit 800 is similar to SW8 later serial numbers( with Whip pre and Dual SSB SYNC) but I appreciate your comparisons hands on because I am only reading specs and Reviews...

I wonder about the 50 hertz fine tune on Drake SW8 and Sat 800 ( Drake Design ) NOT showing on the display ?

Meaning display only shows to hundred hertz but there's a little wiggle room to tune in 50 hertz on SSB ? ¿

Anyway with no BFO I like the fine tune of E1 IF I can find one but have the feeling that SW8 or Sat 800 will be less versatile but more durable.

And R8b is still over $1200 new but R8 is a bargain around $500 used.

Am I correct mostly here...?

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Hi Robert,

The E1's sensitivity is really phenomenal, and approaches or equals the sensitivity of the higher priced table tops. I acquired an old but pristine Panasonic RF-2200 a couple of years ago, and it is perhaps close to the E1 in sensitivity, though many of its other parameters make it less desirable than the E1.

The 10 Hz tuning of the E1 is exceptional for a portable radio. It makes tuning of SSB smooth as silk. The radio has an excellent AM sync mode as well. It also has Passband Tuning, the ability to vary the I.F. curve around the received signal.

The E1 is darn near at the same level as the R8. It was designed by Drake engineers.

No ferrite loop, though, for AM. Only the whip and external wire antenna available. Some view this as a negative. That means no signal nulling is possible as on a normal portable, unless you figure out how to connect an external loop to it.

The E1's engineering downfall was the crappy display. And I mean crappy. I have often compared it to a cheap Chinese weather station. Poor contrast. Cheap-looking.

Many of the E1s had glitches and also display problems. Mine developed a system hang of some sort, where none of the buttons would respond to clicking, as if hung. The tuning wheel would tune and the volume control would work, that's all. I was occasionally able to clear it by rapidly pressing the backlight display or sleep button - the wide buttons on top of the radio. I never did figure it out. Others have had the display go out on them. If you buy one, beware!

When I carried the radio to Arizona a few years ago, it didn't seem to hang anymore. Maybe it was the dry air. I eventually gave it to a good friend of mine to fool with.

I don't remember the 50 hertz fine tune on Drake SW8. It's been too many years and my old brain has forgotten it, sorry.

Bill
RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER

Robert K Scorpio said...

Thanks Bill- I have since acquired a really nice E1
and the Ebay Seller did not mention the sticky coating had been professionally removed.
Everything you said- even the little speaker is very very good.
The sidebands are about 190 hertz off the VCO so the 'sweet spot' on SSB is always set about 200 hertz low so Trenton Military Aviation is actually 15034.00 USB but I will tune to 15033.81 etc.

The AM sidebands are about 10 hertz off each other[ in addition to the OFFSET] which I want to have calibrated because this will improve Fidelity and I can hear the slight comb filtering/flanging in AM Mode from the asymmetric halves.
Remember I have good ears but NOT an electronics guy.
On Satellit 700 I merely set each sideband as close to ZERO - THEN tweaked them for symmetrical pitch and no beating like tuning a Guitar ( but my Guitar is better lol ).On Satellit 700 this is just a screw through back of receiver and you switch from USB to LSB then turn it...
Then double check on AM Mode both Sidebands together.

I have read Sooooo Much about the E1 and NO ONE has mentioned if this is how it's done on the E1.

The Service Manual PDF has a long long Procedure way beyond me or most Radio Techs and the E1 is a fragile device..lol.

Many say ' leave it alone '
Have you ever done a basic alignment on yours ?

The SYNC functions very well and all the controls do also...and my screen is a little better than you describe- one guy said it was like an Etch a Sketch...Etch a Sketch has terrible reception...

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Hi Robert,

Congratulations on your new E1. It is an exciting radio to own and operate, undoubtedly the best digital portable ever made. I don't think you will see anything like this ever made again. There isn't a market for it anymore.

I never tried aligning my E1. It looked a little scary to me. Anymore, I don't have the electronic equipment for radio alignments. I haven't done any Ham stuff in more than 15 years. And shortwave and mediumwave DXing has been only an occasional hobby of late.

I did have success cleaning the rubberized goop off. Glad yours came with it removed. It is a tedious procedure.

Over the years (I've been in radio since about 1960), you will find all radio's alignment off just a tad, 10 KHz or even more.... Factory tuning/setup is approximate. Yours seems pretty close.

If you can find one, get yourself an RF Systems magnetic balun, hook a longwire to it and feed the E1 with it using a short length of coax. It will match any length of wire on any frequency, broadcast band to 30 MHz, and increase signal strength dramatically. They used to cost about $40, but are no longer in production. Of all the gadgets I bought over the years, this one was the best thing I ever bought in the antenna department.

Universal Radio link to discontinued product:

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/sw_ant/1484.html

Have fun with your new toy!

Bill