Review by Guy
Back in December,
I e-mailed RadioLabs to ask them if they would modify my radio.
At the time, they were only selling pre-modified radios, but they
told me to give them a call. Long story short -- RadioLabs agreed
to do the "Super mods" to my radio. I UPS'd my radio to
him, using the RMA instructions on the "Repair" section
of the RadioLabs site.
It took a few weeks to get my radio back, but there were very good
reasons for the delay. First and foremost was the fact that RadioLabs
had not planned on being in the "mods" business -- they
were planning on selling pre-modded ATS-909's as they had time to
build them. I know they had to wait for more custom-design filters
to arrive from the manufacturer.
I got an e-mail from RadioLabs when it was ready, and confirming
UPS tracking numbers from both him and the UPS shipping system.
I had RadioLabs ship it to my office.
Two business days later, I saw the UPS guy in my office window,
and met him at the door.
My Super ATS-909 looked exactly the same until I flipped it over.
There, on the upper right-hand side of the back was a new RCA jack
for an external FM antenna.
I put some new Alkaline batteries in it, and powered it on.
My presets were still there, so I was treated to WWL-AM, my "Priority"
station, in a rich, full CLEAR sound.
I was floored.
Why? Because my office is in one of those flat-roofed,
metal-studded, radio-unfriendly buildings full of RF from a couple
of dozen networked computers and various other noisy electronic
gizmos like plotters, copiers, laser-printers, and dozens of fluorescent
light fixtures. I've never been able to hear radio there except
near a window -- and even that was noisy.
I pulled up the antenna and tried shortwave. Too much noise there.
Perhaps 11:00 AM inside wasn't the best time to try ;)
That evening, I put it on my nightstand and plugged in the AC adapter
and my 75-foot random-wire antenna.
BLUE! The display was not what I expected -- I executed some "bluish"
white light (instead of the algae-colored green), but what I see
is a very deep blue color, reminiscent of something it would normally
take neon to produce. It's like indiglo on steroids. The display
is very readable, and though the display is a little brighter than
it used to be, it is not an unwelcome new night-light. I can see
a dim reflection on the ceiling in a pitch-black room. It's nice.
I was in luck -- propagation conditions were "good." WBCQ
in Maine came in great (even on the whip), and I live near New Orleans.
Of course all of my old favorite presets did as well -- only they
didn't fade nearly as much as before. Then, another surprise --
It literally took me an hour to get through the 49-meter band, because
it was full of newly-listenable signals to explore.
I came to really appreciate what RadioLabs had done with the "AM
RF GAIN" knob. It will now zero, which is a HUGE help when
you're trying to find a direction on MW or LW. Tuning shortwave,
I found that I was using it quite a bit to help fine-tune signals.
It is quickly obvious that the sensitivity has been boosted considerably.
Setting the bandwidth to "wide" on a powerful signal results
in a very clean, full sound. When DX'ing, the "NARR AM"
is different than before. It now seems to actively isolate a signal.
It's fairly difficult to get two signals at the same time in that
setting -- which I was trying to do to review this radio so I could
use SSB to zero-beat a signal.
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