Having inherited a portable SW rig that I knew I would not use, I began to look around as to what to do with it. It was broken in two essential sections but they were supposedly easy to repair. I just didn’t have the energy to tackle it! Nursing five fractured ribs back to health and a recent severe ankle sprain (who knew top bookshelves could be so dangerous?), I’ve had enough stuff to wrestle with in getting my HF station’s rewiring project pushed forward. So, what to do?
I worked a trade deal for a SW receiver that I’ve wanted for years, the venerable Drake R8A. This rig was one of those that I salivated over back in the day when I was more heavily into AM DXing on the broadcast band. It feels like 'coming home' even though I’ve never owned one.
The cast of characters in the 'receiving station' in my shack currently includes the Perseus SDR, an SDRPlay SDR, a CommRadio CR1a SDR, and a USB dongle. Hmm… I seem to like SDRs. Yep, I do. But I sold a Japan Radio NRD-545 receiver a few years ago that was purchased new from Rob Sherwood with a filter mod. It sold in 20 minutes for the asking price on QRZed. I’ve regretted selling it ever since but the selling price of just over what I paid for it went to a good use, too.
The Perseus with the Wellbrook ALS-1530+ loop is, by and large, the best Rx pair I’ve ever used. With a Stridsberg Active Multicoupler for HF speading the signal from that Wellbrook loop to four receivers (it's used with a DX Engineering RTR-1A automatic receive switch on the 'transmitting station' part of my shack), I have one port free at the moment. It will feed the R8A when it arrives.
Since the Drake R8A is computer-controllable, it will fit into my receiving scheme well, if I can identify the right software. I have a Uniden BCD-996P2 digital scanner that is fed by an attic-mounted discone. The no-gain discone has a preamp mounted just beneath it which feeds a VHF-UHF Stridsberg Active Multicoupler. This multicoupler feeds four receivers: the Uniden 996P2 (APCO 25 Phase II compatible), a Uniden BCD-396T, the SDR Play, and a USB dongle. The shortwave HF receivers---the Perseus, CommRadio CR1a, and the Drake R8A---will be fed by the Wellbrook Loop, with the Drake taking the last of the four ports since one is taken up feeding my 'transmitting station'.
What software would guide the Perseus and the Drake? I use several free ones---including HDSDR and Simon Brown’s SDR-Console as well as MicroTelecom’s Version 5 software---and am anxiously awaiting the Version 3 release of SDR-Console. But, they do not support the older Drake R8A. What to do?
One great prospect, albeit more expensive than I imagined, is the ERGO program written years ago by John Fallows, sold through Creative Express Corporation (swldx.com). It supports both the R8A and the Perseus, along with interfacing with SDR-Console and HDSDR. Cool! Plus, it has a fully-functioning 60 day trial use. Looks like I’ll be doing that for 60 days at least. The Youtube videos that John has published on ERGO shows that he us both a programmer and an SWL. Great combination as he shows here in this video (you can’t tell that he’s been in broadcasting for a long time, can you?):
Looks like the direction I’m heading in…And, it feels just like coming home. I’m looking forward to my mail carrier making the scheduled delivery tomorrow!