When I started DXing in 1999, I lived on the 2nd floor of a condo building high atop a hill in Woodbridge, VA, and I utilized indoor dipoles and rudimentary radios to DX.  In 2002, I moved to a townhouse about a mile away, and although I was able to enjoy a rooftop antenna, my reception living at the bottom of a hill wasn’t a match to my pre-2002 days.  In 2017, I ironically moved back to the same condo neighborhood that I lived in pre-2002, albeit into another condo building 200 feet away from my previous one.


Unlike most DXers, I actually operate fully out of two separate shacks in my home.  My condo spans two floors of the building, most of it on the 3rd floor, with a small loft on the 4th (top) floor.  Except for the area directly under the loft, the condo has sloping ceilings and minimal attics, providing interesting and differing reception conditions in all areas of the home.

I utilize a very small IKEA desk in my upstairs shack for DXing.  An old solid wood TV/VCR stand serves well as a radio shelf.  The top shelf holds an Insignia NS-HDRAD2 Rev_B and a Sony XDR-S3HD.  An Airspy R2 software-defined radio (SDR) sits behind the S3HD, out of view.  The lower shelf holds another S3HD, the Denon TU-1500RD, and the Zenith DTT-901.  An HP Pavilion 590-p0032 desktop computer, just out of frame in the picture above, facilitates usage of the Airspy SDR and allows me to research potential new logs that I receive as it happens.

Click above to view my FM dial scan on the Airspy R2 SDR radio.

During normal everyday dial scanning, I mainly use the Airspy SDR radio, as it is very quick to use.  I can use remote desktop programs to do this from anywhere in the world, which is extremely convenient.  If I find anything interesting, I will also use one of the Sony XDR radios to compare reception conditions.  During major DX events such as strong Sporadic E or tropo openings, I actively DX on the two Sony XDR radios.  I have the audio from these radios routed through my computer in a way that I can listen to both radios at once, one radio on the left audio channel, and the other radio on the right.  This allows me to get many radio stations at once that I may not otherwise log.  At the same time, I utilize the Airspy SDR to record a 10 MHz portion of the FM band, allowing me to record up to 50 individual FM frequencies at once to detect any incoming DX signals.  For example, I can set the SDR to record from 88.1-98.1 MHz, 96.9-106.9 MHz, or any other combination of neighboring signals within the band.  The Airspy is more of a “set it and forget it” setup during intense openings, since I can review the recorded SDR files at a later time to pull out audio IDs and RDS screenshots from any frequency recorded.  As you can imagine, this can take a lot of time after a huge opening.

My home office is on the lower floor of my condo and it is where my downstairs shack is located.  In that office, I have a Sony XDR-S10HDiP, which is used for general listening and minor DXing, as I do often receive different reception downstairs compared to my main shack upstairs–sometimes better reception depending on the direction of the stations received.

Although not pictured, there is a sweet spot on my staircase where I can often null out many of my local FM signals to allow other distant signals to come in instead while using the Sangean HDR-14 and Insignia NS-HD01A.  I’ve logged many new stations that way.


Living in a condo building provides a huge disadvantage when it comes to antennas.  I can’t put an antenna on the roof since I don’t own it, and I don’t have access to the small attic above my shack.  I had to improvise.  I used an old solid wood IKEA lazy Susan meant to turn heavy tube TVs and, with a second piece of wood for stability, attached a pole and mounted my two main antennas, the Britta Products V-30-H FM antenna, and the 1byone OUS00-0551 UHF antenna.  The antenna is located immediately behind my main shack on a large table, as seen in the picture below.  When not in use, the antenna array moves close to the wall so it is not in the way.  The setup works well.  I can easily turn my antenna to zero in on weak signals simply by reaching behind me and turning the lazy Susan.  I also use the Tecsun AN-200, seen below to the right, for AM radio reception.  I usually keep this antenna in my downstairs shack, but I can move it around as needed.


Current radio and TV tuners used

Below is a list of radios that I currently use at my home and when I travel.

Airspy R2

(2017-present).  Read my review of this radioThe Airspy R2 is a software-defined radio that can record up to 10 MHz of FM at once, with the right computer configuration.  It also is highly sensitive and selective and has a customizable IF filter, rivaling the Sony radios I own.  It is quick to decode RDS and displays the PI code immediately upon an RDS lock.  I own two of these radios–one in my upstairs shack and another one as a spare.


(2008-present). Read my review of this radio. Considered by many to be the best FM tuner ever produced in terms of sensitivity and selectivity, the Sony XDR-F1HD was one of the first commercially-available HD Radio-capable tuners on the market in 2008 and to this day, it often fetches large sums on internet auction sites.  I was one of the first FM DXers to try out the radio.  My F1HD served me well over the years, but it unfortunately developed an audio hum and other related issues in 2017.  Although it is not currently being used in my shack for DXing, I do still use it during major DX events to take screenshot pictures of RDS and HD Radio decodes, as it can still tune in signals perfectly.  The radio is, thankfully, identical under the hood to two other radios I own, the Sony XDR-S3HD and Sony XDR-S10HDiP.

Sony XDR-S10HDiP

(2015-present).  Read my review of this radio Identical internally to the Sony XDR-F1HD and XDR-S3HD, this radio is a little more rugged than the F1HD and has built-in speakers.  I have two of these radios: one used in my downstairs shack, and one that I keep in storage as a spare.


(2017-present).  The S3HD is identical to both the S10HDiP and XDR-F1HD in terms of its selectivity and sensitivity.  The only difference from the other two radios, instead of appearance, is that the S3HD has a headphone output, which makes it easy to hook up to my computer for unattended recording.  I have two of these radios, both used in my upstairs shack.

Denon TU-1500RD

(2006-present).  This is a superb radio on par with the Sony XDR radios I possess in both selectivity and sensitivity.  A friend modified this radio in 2006 to have 110 kHz filters in narrow mode, which greatly improves on reception.  I replaced the tiny stock knob with a much larger knob from another stereo in 2007 to improve functionality.  This radio is in my upstairs shack.

Sangean HDR-14

(2018-present).  Read my review of this radio This is the latest addition to my shack, a superb and tiny portable radio that decodes RDS and HD Radio on both the FM and AM bands.  This, along with the Insignia NS-HD01, are my go-to radios while traveling.  I have two of these radios: one that is used regularly around my house and while traveling, and a second one that I keep in the box as a spare.

Insignia NS-HDRAD

(2020-present).  Read my review of this radio.  This radio is a portable HD Radio and RDS-capable tuner that is the earlier version of a radio that I have used for years, the NS-HDRAD.  This radio is kept in my downstairs shack.

Insignia NS-HDRAD2 Rev_B

(2020-present). Read my review of this radio. This radio is a portable HD Radio and RDS-capable tuner.  I used a previous version of this radio (the “Rev_A” version) from 2017-2020.  That radio’s antenna broke and I replaced it with an updated version of this radio in 2020.  I typically bring this radio with me when I travel, but it is kept in my upstairs shack.

Insignia NS-HD01A

(2013-present).  Read my review of this radio.  The NS-HD01A is a portable HD Radio and RDS-capable radio that is tiny.  I usually bring this radio and the Sangean HDR-14 with me when I travel.


2012 Honda CR-V Radio

(2012-present). I use the radio in my 2012 Honda CR-V, with RDS capabilities, for logging stations while out and about within 30 miles of my home.  The radio cannot decode HD Radio.

Zenith DTT-901

(2013-present). The Zenith DTT-901 is one of the premier digital television tuners that those in the DXing community uses for DTV DX.  It’s actually a digital to analog converter box that debuted in 2009 in connection with the U.S. digital television conversion.  The DTT-901 has manual tuning by RF channel number, meaning I can easily see what signals are coming in during a DX event without the need to constantly scan for new channels.  I have two of these units–one in my upstairs shack, and a spare.  The DTT-901 is used with a video capture card to facilitate the transfer of TV images to my computer.

Wiring Diagram:

The diagram above shows how everything is wired in my upstairs shack.  My setup is split into three “prongs”: My main antenna, the Britta Products V-30-FM, is connected to the Airspy R2 and Sony XDR-S3HD at all times.  When needed, I switch from a 2-way splitter to a 3-way splitter to include the Denon TU-1500RD.  The Denon is not always connected to the setup because of the attenuation that a 3-way splitter puts in the signal line.

The middle portion of the diagram above shows my Digital TV setup, which includes the 1byone OUS00-0551 UHF antenna.  It is connected to my Zenith DTT-901 and the AV outputs of that is connected to my computer for screenshot taking.  To take advantage of differing reception conditions that a dipole antenna has vs. a big Yagi antenna, my Sony XDR-S10HDiP is only connected to a simple pair of unamplified rabbit ears.  With both Sony radios close by in my shack, I can quickly compare signal conditions between my antennas.

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