Friday, September 18, 2009

The $400 Brick

Someone once said that life is all about constantly "saying goodbye". Well, goodbye fair Eton E1. You were a great receiver while you lasted. Am I frustrated? You bet I'm frustrated.

Note: Problem resolved! See this post.

I hadn't turned this receiver on for about three weeks. Yesterday I thought I'd take it outside and check the WCBS AM signal strength out of New York City (265 miles), as Fall conditions here are dramatically improving and I heard this station on the anemic car radio at mid-day. Mistake. I should have left the E1 on the shelf and me in my innocent, ignorant bliss.

I turned the unit on. It came to life. Spun the tuning dial down to 880 KHz. Drat - splatter from local signal swamper WYSL. The usual. I hit the bandwidth button to switch down to a narrower bandwidth. What's this? The button is ineffective. What are all the other buttons surrounding the display. I check the lock function to see if maybe the radio's controls somehow got locked. No. Not locked. Grim becomes grimmer.

Power off. Power on. Same thing. Reset the processor. Power on. Same thing. Check batteries. Batteries okay. I give up. I'll charge the batteries anyway, overnight, and try again in the morning.

Enter this morning. Batteries charged. Pop them into the radio. Hit the power button. Nothing. Not even the clock. Reset the processor. Nothing. I hunt for the A/C wall adapter. There it is. Plug it in. The display lights up. I have a clock. Perhaps? I press the power button. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I will think about this for a day or two. Too bad, I was thinking about selling this radio because I rarely use it anymore. Now it is worthless. Get it fixed? I doubt it. It's out of warranty. It is just more than a year old. I'm not sure I even want it at this point.

This will be the last portable radio I spend $400 on. If I have $400 to burn again (unlikely), I will add another $200 to it and get a tabletop. Too bad, really. The E1 was every good a receiver as my old Drake SW-8 which is what it was designed after. The AM-sync was unmatched. Excellent sensitivity and selectivity. Passband tuning. Dynamite software control. Horrible display, though. Dark, like a cheap LCD weather station from K-Mart. And a reputation for display problems. Live and learn.

More on this another time if the E1 miraculously resuscitates itself. But I doubt it will. Maybe I'll open the case and have a look at the power button in a day or two. My $400 brick, and my last.


gkinsman said...

Did you check if the light button is stuck? I've heard that this can cause the buttons on the E1 or E1/XM to become inoperative. You may be able to correct this after removing the back from the radio.

Post #10075 on the Yahoo Eton-E1-XM-Radio group, dated 9/17/09, says this:

"But after a few months it suffered the 'stuck light switch' problem, in which the light switch gets stuck and most of the radio's buttons stop working. This lasted for a couple of days, during which I kept gently wiggling the light switch, and eventually the problem corrected itself and hasn't returned since."


Saw that post over in the E1 group right after I read your comment. Posted a question there, then tried your idea and it worked! Thanks for the tip, gkinsman! Now I have my E1 back!

Thanks again!

Bill (Radio-Timetraveller)

gkinsman said...

Hi Bill,

I'm glad it worked out for you.

I've had several E1XM radios, but not one of them worked properly. One developed a broken headphone jack that muted the speaker; one had terrible drift when warming up; two had bad sync detector noise when using USB or LSB sync (but were fine in DSB sync).

I finally gave up on the E1. It's too bad that poor QC ruined a potentially fine design.



Hi Gary,

Wow, you have been through the mill with your E1s. Sorry to hear that.

I do like the radio, though I find that I normally pick up and use my smaller portables first. I probably will eventually sell this beastie-boy. The smaller portables are so much more "cost-effective".

Thanks again for the tip!


Greg said...

I had the same problem with my E1XM and fixed it the same way, by wiggling the light switch. The thing is, it took me a couple of days trying this before it worked. And since then (more than half a year) the problem has never returned.


Hi Greg,

I think yours was the post over at the E1 Yahoo group I looked at and replied to. gkinsman directed me there.

Yes, it was either jiggling the light switch or the sleep timer bar that did it. All seems okay now. Hope it doesn't return anytime soon.

Best to you,