Every once in awhile a product comes along that becomes a game changer for its category. Alinco has just done this with the DJ-X11 wideband receiver with IQ output. The DJ-X11 is a wideband all mode portable receiver that covers 0.05 to 1,299.99995MHz that costs around $329 (online). The price of the DJ-X11 alone places it a good $200 to $400 less than its nearest competitors in the portable wideband all mode receiver category. With the inclusion of the IQ output coupled with Software Defined Radio, the DJ-X11 can even begin to approach the performance of a desktop wideband receiver costing considerably more. I would say that Alinco has hit a homerun here, and the other guys will be racing to catch up. That is not to say that the DJ-X11 is perfect, but it is an excellent little receiver for the money. That being said lets dig into the details of the DJ-X11 and my personal experience with the DJ-X11 after owning the radio for two weeks.
- 2VFO simultaneous RX
- Main-band coverage: 0.05`1,299.99995MHz all mode AM/FM/WFM/SSB/CW (BFO for SSB/CW receive. An external antenna required for practical HF monitoring. Internal bar antenna for AM broadcast reception and earphone antenna feature inclusive.)
- Sub-band coverage: VHF:118`171MHz/UHF:336`470MHz in AM/NFM
- 1200 memory channels with adjustable memory banks using utility freeware (optional PC cable required)
- IQ signal and Discriminator output features: DJ-X11 has an IQ signal output that can be used with 3rd-party software to operate as a SDR. 10.7MHz IF discriminator signal can be used with other receiver-related software available on the net such as AIS-plotting.
- Voice-guidance system reads entering/entered frequency in English
- Easy-to-use twin dials
- Pocket size unit measures 61 (W) x 106 (H) x 38 (D) mm / 2.4 (W) x 4.17 (H) x 1.50 (D) in (without projections)
- Rigged Polycarbonate body with rubber protectors
- Selectable tuning steps: 0.05/0.1/1/5/6.25/8.33/9/10/12.5/15/20/25/30/50/100/125/150/200/500kHz/1MHz
- Various scan modes: Preset, programmed, memory, VFO and tone scan
- 3 selectable scan speeds (VFO: 25ch/s, 33ch/s, 100ch/s, Memory: 4.5ch/s, 8.3ch/s, 20ch/s)
- TSQ and DCS decode
- Wire remote-control using optional EDS-12
- Long-lasting 1800mAh Li-Ion battery pack provides nearly 15 hours of operation at full audio output in a single RX mode
- 1200 Alphanumeric (up to 16 characters) memory channels
- Additional 100 memory channels are available for each Dual-mode memory, Search-pass, Priority monitoring and Programmed Scanning pairs
- Large, brightly illuminated full dot-matrix LCD and keypads
- Dual channel-scope (Alinco’s patented spectrum-analyzer alike feature)
- Frequency counter and flash tune
- “Bug detector” function searches for hidden transmitters
- Illuminated keypad for comfortable operation
- Standard Drop-in charger fully charges empty EBP-74 in 4 hours
- RF gain and attenuator for both main/sub VFOs
- Analog inversion-scramble decoder (European Models Only)
For you that care about the numbers.
- Receiver range: Main VFO 0.05 – 1299.99995 MHz in All available modes / Sub VFO 118 – 170.995MHz & 336 – 469.995MHz in AM/FM (Cellular frequencies 824.000 – 849.995MHz, 869.000 – 894.995MHz blocked on T models. EGR model receives Ham and Broadcast bands only. 225 – 335.995 MHz in AM/FM may be usable although out of specification and warranty)
- Mode: FM,WFM,AM,SSB(USB/LSB),CW(CU/CL)
- Antenna Impedance: 50 ohms (SMA)
- Supply voltage: DC 3.7V (EBP-74) / DC 4.5V (EDH-33) / DC 5.4V – 6.0V (external regulated source) negative ground
- Current consumption: approx.130mA Mono band / 180mA Dual band
- Temperature range: -10 to +60 dig C (+14 to +140 dig F)
- Frequency stability: -7 to +3ppm(-10 to +60 dig C)(+14 to +140 dig F)
- Dimension without projection: 61 (W) x 106 (H) x 38 (D) mm / 2.4 (W) x 4.17 (H) x 1.50 (D)
- Weight: Approx.235g / 8.29 oz (Ant.& EBP-74 inclusive)
- Receiver: Triple-conversion super heterodyne AM/SSB/CW/FM in Main VFO / Double-conversion super heterodyne AM/FM in Sub VFO and WFM in Main VFO
- Selectivity: SSB/CW -6dB: 2kHz or more -50dB : 7.5kHz or less, AM/FM -6dB : 12kHz or more -60dB : 35kHz or less, WFM -6dB : 180kHz }40kHz -20dB : 470kHz or less
- Sensitivity(typical value within the band: 10dB S/N:AM/SSB/CW , 12dBSINAD:FM/WFM):
Main-band: 0.050~0.531MHz (AM) 5dBu 0.531~1.62MHz (AM) 2dBu 1.62~76MHz (AM) -5dBu 1.62~76MHz (SSB,CW) -10dBu 1.62~76MHz (FM) -15dBu 76~108MHz (WFM) -3dBu 108~136MHz (AM) -6dBu 136~174MHz (FM) -14dBu 175~221.75MHz (WFM) -6dBu 221.8~336MHz (AM) 0dBu 336~475.75MHz (FM) -13dBu 475.75~770MHz (WFM) -13dBu 770~1260MHz (FM) -9dBu 1260~1300MHz (FM) -6dBu
Sub-band: 118~136MHz (AM) -3dBu 136~170MHz (FM) -14dBu 336~470MHz (FM) -14dBu *225~335.995 MHz in AM/FM may be usable although out of specification and warranty. Sensitivity is better closer to 336MHz. This band is closed at the default setting,
- Audio Output power: More than 100mW (8ohm)
What Comes in the Box
Whip antenna (EA-154)
Li-Ion battery-pack (EBP-74:1800mAh, 3.7V)
Drop-in charger kit EDC-174A (120V) or EDC-174E (220V)
Dry cell case (EDH-36)
As you can see, you get several accessories along with the DJ-X11. The drop in charger is an welcome inclusion. It makes a nice base for using the DJ-X11 as a desktop SDR radio. It can charge the battery alone or when it is attached to the radio. It also has a mini USB connector on the back for using the ERW-8 programming cable. The ERW-8 cable can also be used to power the charger from your computer at a slower charge rate. There is no additional charging jack on the DJ-X11, so the drop in charger is the only way to charge the DJ-X11. Alinco thoughtfully included a dry cell case so you can keep a backup battery with you. Oh, and go ahead and pick up an SMA to BNC adapter. You are going to want to connect a bigger antenna, right? Throw in a 1/8 inch stereo cable because you or going to want to use the IQ output feature or the discriminator output.
Once you unpack your shiny new Alinco DJ-X11, pick up the manual and give it a read. It’s actually fairly well done, which is not always the case these days. It gives you a good overview of the radio and will save you some time down the road. Some of the more advanced features you may not use right away, but at least you will know they exist. I would highly recommend you go ahead and order the ERW-8 cable when you order the radio. You will want to use the ERW-8 cable along with the Cloning Utility software that will allow you to quickly program and customize your new DJ-X11. Be aware that Alinco also sells a less expensive ERW-7 cable that is used for cloning only and will not allow you to control the DJ-X11 using your computer. The ERW-8 cable appears to contain a USB to Serial converter that terminates in a mini USB jack that plugs into the back of the drop in charger. So, you can not use just any USB cable with the DJ-X11. The ERW-8 cable can be a little hard to find, but I was able to order one from Universal Radio at about $45 plus shipping. You will also want to check your DJ-X11 to see if it has the latest firmware. Mine did not. The latest firmware update will address a couple of issues that are present in the oldest firmware. One is to allow access to smaller frequency step sizes in the SSB mode. This is useful for more accurate fine tuning of SSB signals. The second issue, depending on your firmware, is the addition of an IQ shift setting. If you don’t have the IQ shift feature installed, the DJ-X11 will not work well with some SDR programs. The latest firmware and instructions for checking your firmware version can be found at Alincos’ website.
The build quality of the DJ-X11 is quite good. Nothing creaky and no squishy buttons to be found, just nice and solid. I will go ahead and assume the case is made from high impact polycarbonate like most radios of this type. It does appear to be a bit tougher than my Uniden BC-246T. However, I won’t be intentionally throwing either one on the concrete to see if this is true. Even with the battery installed, the DJ-X11 is a fairly light radio. The two sets of concentric knobs on the top of the radio have a positive click feel to them and send commands to the radio with no skipping. The side buttons are rubber coated for a positive feel and helps with the grip of the radio. The display is sharp and easy to read with green backlighting. Viewing angles are quite good when viewed directly or from slightly above the display, but drop off rapidly from the sides or below the display. This pretty much standard for these types of LCD displays. You can also tweak the display slightly by adjusting the contrast, what text shown in bold, or shown in a small or large font. Some of the icons used on the screen are very small, but due to the resolution of the screen they are easy to see. So overall, I felt the build quality was above average.
Ease of Use
I would say very good. The DJ-X11 operation and settings logic is a bit easier to follow than some recent receivers and HTs I have owned. The keypad is laid out well and reasonably easy to use. Above each key is a label for an alternate function when the side Function key is pressed. The internal menus are well laid out and easy to make adjustments to using the keypad and the top knobs. However, with that being said, I would prefer not to program this radio by hand if I had more than a dozen frequencies to input. This is true will all the receivers and scanners I have owned in this size category. I just don’t have the patience for it, too many tiny buttons tu press. Besides, why do it by hand when the Cloning Utility is your friend. Once it the DJ-X11 is set up, it’s a breeze to operate. I really like the fact that Alinco decided to use the “old school” multifunction knob arrangement on this radio. Turn the top knob to tune, the lower knob for volume, and press down on the top knob to adjust the squelch. Good job Alinco! No hunting around for what button combination you have to press to just simply adjust the squelch. I had thought the manual squelch knob had all but disappeared. There is also a Mon key on the side to allow you to temporarily open the squelch. I also like the Voice Guidance feature that tells you what keys are being pressed. Very useful, for us who always don’t see too well while pushing those small buttons. You may also remap some of the keys to perform shortcuts or reassign their function using the Clone Utility. You can also customize the Welcome message you see on power up.
I would say the audio quality is pretty much what you would expect from this size of radio. It’s fairly clean and goes loud enough for most listening environments. However, if you have the DJ-X11T on your belt in a construction zone, you probably would not hear it. The audio quality will also vary depending on what mode you are listening to. For example, the AM and Wide FM modes sound pretty good, but the audio quality gets a little thinner with the additional filtering added for Narrow FM and SSB. This of course is to be expected with any multimode radio. However, you can adjust the audio quality some using the High Cut and Low Cut settings provided in the Audio menu the radio. These settings are only off and on, but the high cut filter does help to remove a little extra hiss if you are listening primarily to public service frequencies. The nice thing about the DJ-X11 is when used in the IQ mode with SDR software, you can dial in just about any audio quality you want depending on the capabilities of the SDR software and the quality of your PC speakers.
The Dual VFOs
This is a very cool and useful feature of the DJ-X11, You can receive two simultaneous frequencies with the Dual VFO feature. For example, you can monitor an FM broadcast station in VFO A while listening for activity on your local ham radio repeater on VFO B. Just be sure to turn up the volume for VFO B so that it can be heard over VFO A. If you want to then just listen to VFO B, just turn the volume down for VFO A or press and hold the Sub button. This will make VFO B the main VFO. This feature can also be used to monitor the input and output frequencies of repeaters. Alinco even provides a way that you can store a list of these repeater pairs in a bank. The dual VFO feature will even let you scan a separate bank or banks in each. For example you can scan public service frequencies in one VFO and aircraft frequencies in the other. If you will notice that in the Specifications section above shows the Sub band has a more limited frequency and mode capability than the main band. Through the menus you can add the additional coverage of 225~335.995 MHz to VFO B with some loss of sensitivity for this range. You can also scan up or down from the VFOs set frequency at up to 100 chs/s. In my testing, I did not notice any skipping of active frequencies at the 100 ch/s setting as long as they were strong enough to open the squelch.
The DJ-X11 has one. It will show nearby active channels on the left and right of the center frequency. The range is usually some thing like 20,40,60,80,100 kHz on either side of the center frequency. I usually don’t find these very useful, but it is nice to be able to see if there is any activity close to where you are monitoring. You can then tune to the frequency to see what’s going on.
First of all let me just say that scanning was not a top priority for me with this receiver. My past experience with other wideband radios has been usually scanning is sort of an afterthought. However, with the DJ-X11 scanning seems to be well thought and well implemented. I will try to just hit the high points here. Scanning speed can be set at 4.5ch/s, 8.3ch/s (default), and 20ch/s. The 8.3 ch/s mode seemed quick enough for me, but the 20 ch/s mode really flies. I did not notice any skipped frequencies at 20 ch/s, but your mileage may vary depending on the frequency, mode. or squelch settings. You can scan by VFO, a bank, or linked banks. There are 1200 memory locations that can be assigned to banks. The nice thing about the banks is that they can be set to a custom size with the Clone Utility. For example if you only have 10 frequencies in a bank, you can define the bank size as 10. This way you do not have to go in and set the DJ-X11 to skip the other 90 like you would on some scanners. However, you do have to make sure that the memory account is always 1200. You will have to assign those 90 frequencies to another unused bank using the Clone Utility. Each frequency memory setting can store such information as a label, mode, tone squelch, DCS, and others. The scanning resume can be set to BUSY (default) or an ajustable timer(1s to 25s). There is another scan resume mode called Periodic. This mode allows the DJ-X11 to dwell on a channel from 1 minute to 5 minutes and then move to the next one regardless of the squelch setting. I suppose you might find something interesting to do with this. Actual scanning can be accomplished by a single bank, linked banks, or all banks. You can quickly lock out channels from the scan sequence with the Clr key. These channels can be locked out or unlocked at will, but you have to get used to looking for a small dash next to the channel number indicating whether the channel is locked out or active. There is also a preset scan mode that simply lets you do a search type scan of the AM, FM, or TV audio band(not sure why the TV audio band was included). There is a Programmed scan mode that lets you search between frequency pairs. You can define up to 50 of these pairs and label them. You can also do a Tone Scan or a DCS scan on a given frequency. There is also a bank that can be programmed to skip individual frequencies in a search that may contain birdies or constant carriers. There is also a Bug detector scanning mode that is basically a bank of common bugging frequencies. There is a section in the manual that describes how to use the DJ-X11 as a bug detector, but I didn’t play around with this feature much. So you can see that the DJ-X11 has plenty of scanning features that allows it to work very well as an analog scanner.
Fcount and Ftune
Like a lot of scanners these days, the DJ-X11 has the ability to automatically lock on to nearby signals. The Fcount feature acts as a frequency counter. It will display the frequency of a nearby signal. I found that the Fcount feature worked very well, locking quickly onto the frequency my 2M was transmitting nearby. The Ftune feature locks onto a strong nearby frequency and loads it into the main VFO allowing you to hear the audio of the nearby frequency. There are three settings for the Fcount / Ftune setting (1,2 (default), or 3) that determines how quickly a frequency is locked on to. It’s sort of like a fast to slow setting. You will have to experiment with the settings to see what works best for your environment. I found the 3 setting seemed to work the best for me using Ftune.
The DJ-X11 comes with a fairly standard wideband SMA whip antenna. It works pretty well on VHF / UHF frequencies, but don’t expect much on HF with it. To Alincos’ credit, they even state this in the manual. To get the most out of HF, you are going to have to use a long wire antenna or other larger HF antenna. To accommodate larger antennas, the DJ-X11 has an RF-Gain control that can be set for both VFOs. This will allow you to back down the RF-Gain if you have a station overloading the receivers front end. In my testing on HF using a 20 meter dipole, I didn’t have to reduce the RF-Gain, but your mileage may vary. There is a built in bar antenna for AM broadcast, that can switched off in favor of whatever antenna you have connected to the SMA antenna jack. You can also switch off the SMA antenna and use the headphone wire as an antenna. Nice! Just the ticket when you want to put the receiver in your pocket and let everyone think your are listening to your iPod. The FM reception is not stereo. Speaking of in your pocket, Alinco also sells an EDS-12 wired remote controller. The remote controller lets you operate several functions of the DJ-X11 like volume and tuning with a small wired remote. Additionally, you can do some customization of the keys for the controller to map the keys to your own preferred function. When another audio source is plugged into the controller, its audio is allowed to play through until the squelch is opened. At that time the DJ-X11s’ audio is allowed to play through. I think you might be able to come up with some interesting applications for the EDS-12.
Sensitivity and Reception
I did my reception testing using three antennas. The included whip, an attic mounted discone, and an attic mounted 20 meter antenna. You can see that I am a bit antenna deficit here because of the neighborhood CCRs. First of all, I found that the DJ-X11s’ sensitivity was very good to excellent across the bands I tested. So I will just break it down for you by band.
In my area we only have about two AM broadcast stations that we can receive. One very strong and one very weak. Using the DJ-X11 with the internal bar antenna, thats pretty much what I got. The DJ-X11 seems to perform on par with other wideband receivers I have used that have an internal bar antenna. I did not try an external antenna, but I did switch to the included whip and received nothing. So, I would say the DJ-X11 does a respectable job on AM broadcast.
The DJ-X11 does a very nice job on FM broadcast reception with the included whip antenna and even better with an external antenna. I was easily able to receive FM broadcasts from 100 miles away with the whip. I was messing with the Ftune feature while connected to the Discone antenna and it locked on to an FM broadcast station 300 miles distant (go figure). So, Wideband FM sensitivity and selectivity was excellent. The audio, while not HiFi, sounds pretty good also.
Narrow FM and AM Aircraft
In the Ham Radio Science lab there are a lot of stray signals floating around from the computer systems nearby. Using the included whip, the DJ-X11 seemed to perform on par with my other scanners or even slightly better in some cases. However, as are most wideband radios, the occasional stray signal might interfere with a frequency I was trying to monitor. Connecting the DJ-X11 to the discone which is further away from the noise sources pretty much resolved this. The DJ-X11 also did a very nice job as an airband scanner. DJ-X11s’ performance as an NFM and AM aircraft radio scanner was surprisingly good.
HF Broadcast and SSB
Ok, here is where I thought the DJ-X11 would fall apart. I expected overload and selectivity would run rampant. Nope, the little DJ-X11 held it’s own. There were plenty of HF broadcast signals to be found and no overload. The DJ-X11 did a very good job with SSB signals and CW signals. However, since the DJ-X11 is not a dedicated HF receiver, you do not have the benefits of additional filtering and noise reduction. You will run into some selectivity issues. For example, if you have a very strong SSB signal coming in, it will wipe out the weaker SSB signals nearby. That being said, when you use the DJ-X11s’ IQ output coupled with a good SDR program, the selectivity problem is reduced greatly or removed entirely. The SDR program now provides a whole new signal processing environment for the DJ-X11 with additional filtering and noise reduction. Overall, I would say that even without SDR the DJ-X11 does a very respectable job on HF.
The DJ-X11s 1800mAh Li-Ion battery pack is rated at 15 hours in single VFO mode. I can’t confirm this since it never ran down over the several days of testing. However, I imagine that it is pretty close to what Alinco claims, which is very good. I suspect that a lot of factors will come into play as to what you actually get. Things like, using dual VFOs, volume level, backlight usage. and such will reduce the battery life somewhat. There are some power saving features available in the DJ-X11 to help the battery last longer. There is an adjustable Battery Save function that allows the DJ-X11T to use less power during standby. An adjustable APO (auto power off) function is available that will turn off the DJ-X11 after the set time has passed. The APO time will automatically reset if you press any key, but will not be reset if you just leave the radio scanning. There is also a Battery Setting that lets you chose between using the Li-Ion Battery Pack or Dry Battery Case. This allows you to get a more accurate battery level reading for the battery type you are using. This setting must mach the correct battery type.
There are four software packages for the DJ-X11 that can be downloaded from the Alinco Web Site.
Firmware Update – This program updates the firmware for the DJ-X11. Just be sure to set the correct comport if you are using the ERW-8 cable and the program will do the rest.
Clone Utility – The Clone Utility either lets you clone one DJ-X11 to another, or upload frequencies and other settings to the DJ-X11 using a PC. You can also use this program to backup your DJ-X11 settings to a file. Some settings for the DJ-X11 can only be accomplished through the Clone Utility like setting the bank sizes. The Clone Utility will also let you import frequencies from a CSV file. The Clone Utility is very simple to use and pretty well done. If you are using the ERW-8 cable ignore the cloning information in the manual since it primarily deals with cloning two radios. The only trouble I had with the Cloning Utility was that I kept getting an Error message while trying to upload or download a set of frequencies. The message just said Error, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. There is not much documentation for the Cloning Utility, but after a look at Alincos’ web page, I was able to resolve the problem. At the top of the Cloning Utility Screen there is an area to select your DJ-X11 country version. These are labeled J (Japanese), E (European), and T (USA). If the button is not set to your DJ-X11s’ country version it won’t upload or download frequencies and settings. You need to remember to set the country mode every time you use the Clone Utility.
Remote Control Program – The Remote Control Program allows you to control the DJ-X11 from your computer if you have the ERW-8 cable. The Remote Control Program is a very simplistic program that offers two views to control the DJ-X11 by clicking on buttons. One of the views is a virtual representation of the Alinco DJ-X11 with all its knobs and buttons shown. The display of the virtual view echoes what frequencies are being shown on the actual DJ-X11s’ VFOs. You can click on the Volume, Squelch, Tuning knobs, or any key to control the DJ-X11. The program shows green arrows to indicated the direction you are turning a knob as you click on it. Other buttons like the function key are also highlighted to let you know you are
clicking on them. The only feedback the program shows from the button clicks is anything that changes the frequency. No other setting icons or settings show on the display, just the frequency. The Remote Control Program also offers a table view. This is a larger simpler display that lets you control fewer settings on the DJ-X11, but I felt it was more useful. The table view mode lets you enter in frequency settings for tuning VFOA and VFOB, change the mode, switch to IQ mode, and a few others. The table view mode of the Remote Control program is very handy to use along side SDR software to set the DJ-X11s’ center frequency.
KGSDR – KGSDR is a very basic SDR program to use with the DJ-X11s’ IQ output. It is very simplistic, but works reasonably well and is a great introduction to SDR software. KGSDR is very easy to set up and use and has been customized to support the DJ-X11. Actually at this time it is the only SDR software that supports direct tuning of the DJ-X11. The KGSDR program has a control panel with a S-Meter, frequency display, mode settings, volume, squelch, noise reduction, wave file recording, and a simple frequency database for quick tuning. There is also a keypad for entering the center frequency. A waterfall display is available for showing signals on either side of the center frequency and tuning to them. There is also a pretty decent Noise Reduction algorithm built into KGSDR. You can use your mouse scroll wheel to tune around the center frequency. It would be nice if the mouse tuning would support direct tuning of DJ-X11 instead of the keypad. That way you could rapidly scroll through the frequencies or set a new frequency very quickly. KGSDR is the only SDR program that supports the DJ-X11s’ IQ offset frequency function. The frequency display shows the DJ-X11s’ offset frequency in small numbers above the frequency display while the main frequency display shows the actual frequency. The IQ Shift feature only has to be set once during a monitoring session. If it is not set correctly the SDR software will not be able to decode the signal properly. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to do. First tune to a know frequency like a National Weather broadcast using the KGSDR keypad. While in IQ mode just press the shift key and use the VFO A tuning knob to adjust the offset plus or minus until you can get a clear decoded signal on either side of the center frequency (depends on whether you use a plus or minus offset). Use the KGSDR keypad to tune to your reference frequency again and KGSDR will be able to show the correct frequency readout for any new center frequency settings. It will also give you the correct frequency readout for any signals you click on in the waterfall display. I found that a +8 setting worked well for me in KGSDR and when used with other SDR programs. The DJ-X11 will usually remember the offset setting. Unfortunately, the KGSDR software returns it to 0 every time you restart it, so you will have to remember to reset it manually before using KGSDR. I would highly recommend even if you are familiar with SDR software to start off with KGSDR to get a feel of how the DJ-X11 works with SDR.
Just wanted to mention that there is one. You activate it through the menu and it uses the headphone jack as its output. This will come in handy if you want to simply decode packet data without using a SDR package.
Ok, this is where Alinco has really made a large leap forward over the other wideband receivers in this class. By providing access to the IQ signals from the receiver, the DJ-X11 begins to approach the performance of a wideband desktop receiver costing hundreds more. If you are not familiar with IQ signals, these provide an audio signal containing information about what your radio is hearing in its passband. The IQ signal can then be routed to your PCs’ audio card, where the SDR software can process and decode the signals heard in the receivers passband. The SDR software can then provide additional filtering and processing of the signal. You can use the SDRs signal display to quickly identify and tune to signals within the receivers passband. Most SDR receivers do away with the frontpanel altogether and allow the computer to become the front end for the radio. Dedicated SDR receivers also offer more sophisticated ways of getting the signal from the passband and much wider passbands. Of course these SDR receivers cost two to three times more than the DJ-X11. Speaking of passbands, I will go out on a limb here and say that it looks like the DJ-X11s passband is about 96 kHz wide. Alinco is one of the first to provide us with more of a hybrid type receiver in the DJ-X11 wideband receiver and the RX8 HF receiver. You can use the receiver as more of a conventional radio or an SDR receiver. I suspect that we will begin to see more receivers offering IQ output in the very near future. With the standard IQ output from the DJ-X11, you can use and SDR package that supports IQ input from your computers sound card. Right now, most 3rd party SDR programs don’t support tuning of the DJ-X11s’ VFOs, so you will have to ignore their main frequency displays. You can just use the Remote Control software to set the center frequency. You might want to try out Spectravue, HDSDR. or SDR-Radio.com SDR software packages and see which one works best for you. For weak signal work, I particularly like SDR-Radio.com with the DJ-X11. If you use SDR-Radio.com you will need to select the invert IQ signal setting or the settings for USB and LSB will be reversed. Remember, none of these programs will tune the DJ-X11 directly. The only one that has some potential is HSDR which allows for a plugin to tune other radios. Maybe a handy programmer type will develop one soon.
Before press-time, I did run into one small problem. I noticed when receiving an 800MHz frequency if you turn up the DJ-X11 volume to about 2/3, the radio begins to make a feedback type sound. If you turn the volume all the way up, it begins to squeal. You can mostly eliminate the problem by turning on both the high pass and low pass filter and the problem is mitigated. However, this is something that should not happen at all. I emailed Alinco technical support and got a reply from one of the engineers saying they are looking into the problem. Maybe a future firmware upgrade will fix this, since it sounds like a filtering issue in this band. It is not bad enough of a problem to be a deal breaker, but is kind of annoying.
Overall, I would say that the DJ-X11 is a heck of a bargain for a portable wideband receiver. With the inclusion of the IQ interface its a steal at this price. I was very pleased with the overall performance and feature set, and was pleasantly surprised at how well the DJ-X11 worked for a radio in this price range.
Video Demo of DJ-X11 using the IQ output for Software Defined Radio Reception
60 thoughts on “Alinco DJ-X11 Review”
Nice review, thanks! Might the 800 MHz issue be microphonics? The vibrations from the speaker gets back into the VCO and modulates the VCO, which in turn affects the reception. Perhpas its only affecting the 800 MHz VCO?
That is exactly correct! Since writing the review, I have gotten verification that it is a microphonic issue affecting only the internal speaker. It is also only limited to the 800MHz band. The problem does not occur with an external speaker. Alinco, is looking into the problem.
Great review,thankyou for a thorough
analysis of the dj-x11,thanx also for
the info on the new firmware. Have ordered
one on the basis of the review. My supplier
was not aware of the new firmware but
assures me it will be installed..
Thanx again for a detailed and objective
very good review.
i got really curious for this receiver – especially for the IQ and discriminator output.
for ‘The only one that has some potential is HDSDR which allows for a plugin to tune other radios. Maybe a handy programmer type will develop one soon.’:
i don’t think there’s something to program. the supported CAT interface looks very similar to the Kenwood protocol. maybe you or someone else can try with the OmniRig support with a modified kenwood.ini? at least direct frequency control should be that easy – i hope.
can you provide some demo .wav file recordings with I/Q and discriminator output?
many thanks for this very interesting review!
Actually, I did spend many hours looking at interfacing the DJ-X11 with OmniRig. The command structure of the DJ-X11 is fairly straight forward, but OmniRig seems to have some weird limitations that I could not find a way to work around.
A. I could get OmniRig to send commands fine as long as they were in Hex. This was because, I could not find an easy way to get OmniRig to send a carriage return at the end of a command if ASCII was used.
B. OmniRig would not accept the entire 10 character string for the frequency. However, this may not be a huge problem.
C. The real show stopper was that to set the frequency on the DJ-X11, it requires the command to contain all 10 characters of the frequency. OmniRig seemed to only be able to send 7. The DJ-X11 won’t change frequencies unless it gets all the characters.
Maybe someone that is more familiar with OmniRig can find a work around. It sure would be nice if it worked.
Can someone with an ERW-8 post details about the interface, like the pin-outs from the FTDI chip to the mini-USB connector? It should be possible to home-brew an interface for about half the cost of what it retails for. I’ve deduced that Pin 1 is +5V power source, Pin 5 is Ground. If the enclosure on the FTDI chip can be opened, it would be great if someone could do an electrical trace of the conductors.
Thanks in advance.
There are only three connections used as far as I can tell if you look at the bottom of the DJ-X11 where it connects to the charging base which the ERW-8 plugs into. One has to be +5 volts that charges the radio from the USB. The other two must be serial data in and out. I would guess that one of the connections acts as a ground. Problem is that the pinouts are not listed anywhere yet.
So then they are probably using an FTDI TTL-232R-PCB chip with leads connected to PWR, RXD, and TXD. Now to figure out if it’s the RXD or TXD that shares the ground…
I found the scheme for both the ERW-7 and ERW-8 on this web site: http://www.af6yw.org/index.cgi/gas
Tom replied to my questions and I finally built a ERW-7.
It worked for him so it should work for me too I thought.
The problem I have is that I get “Error-01” after trying to update the firmware. The leds on the top panel do not blink at all (the manual says they should) and I get the error after few seconds I clicked “START”.
Connection is OK, port is ok too.
It’s my third attempt. First was with WinXP, second with Win7, last one with Win Vista.
Please help me 🙂
I had the same problem with AR5000 and OmniRig. You can use following as example:
For “debugging” you may use “Portmon für Windows 3.02” from Microsoft(Sysinternals).
Thanks!! I will try it!
I noticed your comment about AR5000 and OmniRig. Do you have an INI file for the AR5000 for OmniRig? I am trying to find one.
73 – David, AG4F
No, but it is not terribly difficult to make your own is you have access to the AR5000’s command set.
Thanks very much for the reply and info! I do have the necessary documentation. I was just hoping I could be lazy. 🙂
Best regards – David
Please don’t forget to report. I’m very curious.
Been away from the Omnirig project for awhile, however there may be another solution for controlling the DJX-11. I am looking into it.
Anybody else have a problem with the VFO being off in LSB mode on the HF bands? When I compare signals on 40m between my HF rig and the DJ-X11, I have to tune the DJ-X11 almost 2kcs down to receive the same audio. It seems like USB is off in the other direction on the higher frequencies. Kind of disappointing. The whole reason I bought this radio was for the SSB support as well as the SDR ability.
Did you do the latest firmware update. This increases the tuning step for SSB. If you are using SDR the offset setting will affect the frequency displayed when using SDR software.
I don’t know what the firmware version is on my radio. I don’t have an interface cable and am just using the receiver itself for now. I did a reset by the instructions in the manual, and the SSB tuner is still off both in LSB and SSB on all the bands.
You can check your firmware version by doing the following:
To verify the version, key-lock the unit by pressing FUNC key for 2 seconds, then press  key for 10 times consecutive. Numbers shown on the display is the serial of the firmware. Just press any key to go back to the operation mode.
If you don’t have version T2.30 then there is your problem. The previous version of the firmware will not let you set the step size in SSB small enough to accurately tune the radio. T2.30 fixes this.
It’s 2.30 T. I can put the tuning steps down to 50 Hz. On 40m, if I listen to a QSO or transmit on my FT-857D, I have to tune the DJ-X11 does 2 KHz to hear it. So for instance, if there is a QSO on 7.150 MHz, the DJ-X11 hears it at 7.148 MHz. The error is in the other direction in USB. I would have to tune to around 1.2 KHz higher on 2m USB. All other modes (AM, FM) are just fine. I’m wondering if this is something I need to address with Alinco, or if anybody else has this issue.
Well I made the jump and purchased the DJ-X11T and the ERW-8 cable. The scanner is fantastic, but connecting the computer to the receiver just doesn’t work for some reason. I’ve enabled the remote comm port under settings, set the port speed at 57600bps under device manager, made sure the port settings matched software and still nothing.
If you are using Win XP, you will need to install the drivers for the cable linked from the Alinco website. If you are using Win 7, the cable should automatically identified. Check with device manager and see what com port the cable is identified as. Set your software to use that comport.
Win 7 didn’t support the ERW-8 cable on my machine. I did go to Alinco’s website and through their link downloaded the latest FTDI driver. The computer seems happy with the installation and shows the ERW-8 working correctly. But it seems no matter what I do the scanner will not get recognized. SIGH :>
What software are you using? I did find that on my setup that the ERW8 would loose connection quite frequently. I would have to unplug it and plug it back in right before I used any software with it. I recently reinstalled the OS and it seems to be a bit more stable. Worth a try 😉
I too have problems with the PC connection, using the ERW8 interface. The cloning utility doesn’t work. I always get a message: port error. The program only sees one, the first stored memory from the scanner. I got the right port selected, as well as my part of the world (Europe).
The other program, controling the scanner with the PC works flawless.
I will be very grateful getting some advice.
This error usually shows up if you do not have the Cloning Software set to match the country for the model of radio you have. The DJ-X11T is the North American model and the DJ-X11E is the European model. So, if you are in Europe and have a DJ-X11T, you will need to select the T setting. If that is not the problem try unplugging the ERW8 from the computer and plugging it back in and try again. It appears that for some reason the serial port does not get closed properly all the time, even if you restart the computer.
i have exactly the same problem, i’ve tried changing port settings and even risked the firmware update but still the same… will only read the first memory in bank 0,0 then port error! then i click on ok, the software then completes it’s cycle but only shows the one entry?
Wel, I too have the same problem guys. The weird thing is that I can read the memories one by one.
Even if the reading is successful I get the pop-up window with “Port Error” message showing up.
I also tried to click “Read All” from the COMM drop-list but despite receiving a positive message, no frequency is showed in the list except the first memory.
I tried many time to unplug and re-plug the ERW-8.
Same story here.
Then, after loading all the 30-40 memories one by one, I saved them into a file and I had the brilliant idea of clicking “write all”.
It worked fine but the memories now lost their alpha tag and the first memory of each bank is labelled as “skip”.
I guess this software/interface is some kind beta version and should not have been released by Alinco 🙁
I should have listened to my instinct and bought a IC-R20….
Be sure to check that you have the country setting on the software to match the country code of your radio. The default setting may be wrong for your radio. I did not do this the first time I used the memory manager software and it would only write one frequency then give me a com error. Once I changed the setting all was good.
I did it. In fact, every attempt with either the T or J version failed. I think the E version is OK.
Nevertheless I still receive lot of port errors, even when the reading was successful.
I, too, got hold of one of these radios after reading this review.
I am new to SDR
I am using it to take a feed from the IF of my Icom R8500, into my Acer laptop with a Realtech HD Sound card built in. Using SDR-radio.
CQWW contest a good test and it’s brilliant tuninjg around the bands. Couldnt believe i was hearing a KH7 on 10m with a random long wire outside! (I am in England)
Couple of wierd issues:
1. Huge sprog on the centre freq – having tuned SDR radios online this does not appear to be that uncommon.. don’t know if it is a limitation of the sound card or the Alinco radio.
2. If there is a strong-ish signal in the passband, there is a repeat signal 48khz up (or down) from where I am hearing it. I dont think it’s an image the gap is always 48khz and it’s the same sideband (i.e. if the original sihgnal is usb, so is the repeat signal up (or down) the band)
Is this down to the I/Q output from ther Alinco, or a problem down to the sound card, or a setting I need to change somewhere???
This is not all that uncommon with SDR radio. You didn’t mention what software you were using. Some programs have image reduction capabilities that will eliminate or reduce the duplicate image. The Alinco also has an IQ shift function that might help also. You might want to try out PowerSDR as a software decoder. It will not tune the DJ-X11, but it will decode the IQ signal very nicely.
I’m using SDR-Radio by HB9DRV. I have Power-SDR installed as well, but the sounds keeps cutting in and out very rapidly and I cant get the waterfall display to make much sense.
What will the IQ shift do? I just thought it would shift the output signals in frequency as seen by the decoding software – might this help with duplicate images as well?
The Alinco is fixed at 10.7Mhz, but can tune the Icom R8500 remotely with HRD no problem.
Are you getting tuning data from the DJ-X11 into SDR-Radio? If so how, I didn’t think that SDR-Radio could read data from the DJ-X11 for tuning purposes.
Be sure you are using a stereo jumper cable between the radio and sound card. It seems like I remember you had to use the swap IQ channel setting in SDR-Radio to make it work correctly with the DJ-X11.
You are right about the IQ shift. It simply offsets the center frequency within the passband. Some SDR programs require this to work correctly. KGSDR also takes the offset into account the offset for tuning. Most programs do not.
PowerSDR won’t tune the DJ-X11, but does have spur reduction. It seems to work ok with the DJ-X11. I like SDR-Radio, especially if it can now tune the DJ-X11.
I’m using a separate program (HRD) to tune the Icom R8500.
The IF output socket on that radio feeds the Alinco which I leave tuned at 10.7Mhz.
I am using a stereo jumper cable and I am virtually certain that the line in is stereo as well, as it has a ‘balance’ control as well as volume. I have not had to swap the i/q over.. when I tried it, signals on 10m were in LSB!
Interesting. I have not heard of anyone using the DJ-X11 this way, so I am not sure what you are going to get passing the R8500 if output to the DJ-X11 then decoding the signal with the DJ-X11 IQ output. There is probably all kind of weirdness that might happen 🙂 It would probably better to use the DJ-X11 for a panadapter for the R8500. However, non of the SDR programs that support external radios support the DJ-X11 software wise. The only one that comes close is HDSDR with Omnirig. I keep hoping some clever person will come up with a profile for the DJ-X11 for OmniRig. I tried and got close, but haven’t had a chance to get back to it.
Since you have a R8500, you might want to take a look at the LP-Pan since it supports that radio.
Did you know that after connecting the Dj-X11 to the PC via the ERW-7 cable you can force the Dj-X11 to connect to the PC by clicking both the upper main tuning knob or the upper sub tuning knob?
Mine is E version and this was not reported in the manual.
BTW I still have a time-out error when I try to connect it to the PC so no Firmware update.
Last minute update.
Finally the Firmware update with the home-made ERW-7 cable was successful.
Let me tell you how I did it.
After I connected the Dj-X11 to the PC through the ERW-7 I set the appropriate COM port and I pressed the upper main dial. Only after that my Dj-X11 looked for the connection to the PC and now it found it.
But this is not reported in the manual I have!!
Now I’m a happy owner of a 2.10 E version 😉
I bought one about 18 months ago and I am not happy with it. I have spent 40 odd years in the electronics industry but have not done much radio. In retirement I thought I would listen to all the bands to discover what interested me. The DJ-X11 seemed a good starting. On any AM station (short, medium or long wave) and I tune off by one click-stop, it howls. Tapping it doesn’t alter the sound as it would if it was microphonic. I also think it is very noisey but I do not have another receiver to compare. It was sent back via my one man dealer to Nevada, the UK importer. They contacted Alinco who advised some adjustments pending further investigations. They recently said that I was the only one to complain and that they would do no more.
The microphonic howling is definitely an issue with certain parts of the 800mhz band. It only happens when the volume is turned up fully. It can be mitigated with by using the built in highpass filter with the loss of some volume. I haven’t heard of anyone having problems with the AM band.
First off thanks for the first useful review of this rigs IQ function i’ve ever read.
i’m really let down to find that one needs to use the Mains charger to activate the sdr functions, when i first heard of this handy i thought: great, i can hike to the middle of nowhere with laptop & scanner, record the band away from electrical qrm, then analyse it at home. – i already earmarked a local hill to hike up!
now it seems a mains electrical supply is needed, i’m not saying i won’t buy one as i can forsee using it in hotel rooms etc on vacations
but, damn what a missed opportunity, do you think Alinco would be interested in suggestions for a future improved model?
Thanks for the most in-depth review of this receiver on the web. I am primarily interested in HF for camping and backpacking, along with being able to listen to VHF & UHF. My only radio is a Sangean AT606 which I use with the reel-type antenna and it works pretty well. Any idea how the DJ-X11 would compare to the Sangean using the same type of antenna? Most seem to think HF in a wideband receiver is useless but, if so, why would Alinco (and Icom) even bother? Thanks again.
On HF the Alinco needs a good antenna. The included whip won’t do much on HF. I would suspect the Sangean would beat it. The DJ-X11 is at it’s best on HF with a good antenna and using the SDR functionality.
i just replaced my knackered Alinco DJ-X2000 (a great little unit)with the Alinco DJ-X11
i’m currently in the learning phase but so far i’m very impressed
first thing i need to do is replace the crappy stock ant. with a super gainer
heres some test I/Q files centered on 1440khz using an IQ offset of +12khz and recorded with KG-SDR
bandwidth seems about 48khz but thats a limitation of the sound card on my wheezing old laptop
you’ll hear my part 15 tx on 1440 and mix of “Gold” & the BBCs asian network on 1458
great belt clip- no chance of losing the unit now
Long wave is actually usable with the internal bar ant- a first on a scanner for me
not happy with the charger, it makes poor contact with the unit and has to be on a perfectly flat surface
but glad of a rechargable battery back to save on buying packs of AA all the time
the manual is hilariously badly written and the advertising has been utterly vague about the sdr functions i can’t be the only person who delayed buying one due to all the misinformation swirling around
the good news is you CAN use the sdr functions without the mains charger and therefore without mains, so you can hit the great outdoors with it and bring recordings home to analyse
managed a short bandscan on saturday before the rain returned, using the crappy stock ant.
conditions were poor but it might give you an idea of performance
love the twin vfos on top of the unit with their own volume and squelch knobs
also you can change the typeface on the alinco to make it bolder and even switch off one of the vfos to de-clutter the display
the ant has an SMA connector so my stash of scanner ants are useless now but thats a minor quibble
it has a Freq counter as well as Flash Tune/Close Call, at home the counter locks on to a very strong nearby mobile phone mast @ 955mhz
without doubt the best handie i’ve ever owned and my “desert island” radio
heres an I/Q file of Radio Brest from Belarus on 69.68mhz in their lower FM band. it was recorded yesterday morning
never let anyone tell you the old Russian FM band is dead!
Recorded on the Alinco DJ-X11 w/ “super gainer” whip on the window ledge
using KG SDR with a +12khz IQ offset
remember to swap the I &Q channels if you’re not using KG-SDR
hope you’ll excuse this exasperated cry for help, i wasn’t sure where else to put it:
re: wierd pc problem
as you know i had the Alinco DJ-X11e working as an sdr in august when i posted some I/Q files, i had also been using the RDR54D1 in I/Q mode on hf using KG-SDR /HD SDR etc on my 2008 vista laptop, the problem started when i bought a 64-bit windows 7 pc in september
none of my sdr freeware would work on it (perseus FM+ & excelsior are fine) i got garbled digital audio like bad mobile phone reception, so i went back to the vista laptop and now thats got the same problem, even spectrum lab suffers the same problem. have uninstalled and reinstalled everything and am at a total loss, theres no point getting a newsky until i solve this
reminds me of the problem i had with my old xp pc (r.i.p) when spec lab stopped working in ’07-ish for some reason and nothing i did could resolve it
that was a real downer as JF had installed me winrad +wave lab and together with speclab it turned it the Icom R75 into the best mw set up i’ve ever had, for a few months it was amazing i could view the carriers on spec lab and listen to the audio on winrad at the same time and record a 9 khz band overnight- i know how quaint 9khz bandwidth sounds in 2012! but if i centered the recording on 1471.5 i could get 1467, 1470 & 1476 in one recording! i remember watching the Korean carrier on 1467 come up to audio levels and getting an ID- you still can’t do this on perseus unless you listen in am mode! (ECSS/SSB is preferable for dx)
this is part of the reason for my hostility to computers along with aggravating my arthritis – they give you the world then take it away! 😀
just to drag this vaguely back on topic: 4 months on, i’m still not experiencing any buyers remorse with the Alinco, while walking the dog in a flat unpromising landscape i was able to listen to New York Taxis on 31mhz via F2, at home i frequently listen to the Kazakh Taxi op on 28.255mhz nfm and CRI on 17.490, i’ve even heard the Turkish fire brigade on 34mhz on the Alinco & mrw-210 whip
if anyone here has access to FMlist my recent bandscan at Tudweiliog (Wales) was mainly compiled on the Alinco, including my reception of Cable TV leakage from Dublin, Ireland in the UHF Mil air band. next year i have to attend a family wedding in Cyprus- i can’t wait to see what the alinco does closer to the equatoR!
On Aug 20, 2011, WA5DA reported that the LSB/USB frequencies were off a few Khz. I am very concerned about this and before purchasing the radio, could someone verify that the SSB frequencies on various HF bands are accurate? Thanks!
Im still trying to get this free sdr software to work
on it. I wish they would come out with a new update
for this free sdr software.
Or make a new one that people can buy. I would buy it if it was made for the DJ-x11T
The free software is indeed horrible, its the same for the dx r8 receiver. You would think they could come up with something better. I would use HDSDR which supports both. The DX11 is a great rx though and rivals the much more expensive AOR handhelds in my opinion.
Just wondering if anyone can shed some light on this conundrum I Have: I have just purchased a used Alinco DJ-X11E and was referring the firmware update and during the test to see the version of firmware installed it reported back as version 2.80E where as on Alinco’s website it only lists 2.60E as being the most recent.
Is this simply a case of the fixes were not fully justified for release to the masses where as in the factory production run they choose to install the most recent and relevant version on this receiver?
my alinco dj-x11e,when i started the power,display the message,,Region ERROR,,and don t permit access the MENU. who tell me what happen please…
Is there any short wave radios available out there that transmitt and also receive as we are looking for something preferrably portable that would replace the cell phone incase of an emergency ? Sure would appreciate any and all info or something to purchase..
Jim:This one is very small and should do what your asking for
I thought I would add a couple of things that have come to light since this was written.
1: There is now an ExtIO DLL file for the DJ-X11T that allows full control with HD-SDR and some other software. You can find it here: https://hamradioscience.com/new-extio-for-alinco-dj-x11-allows-for-third-party-sdr-software-support/
2: I’m pretty sure that the pinouts for the DJ-X11T programming cable are the same as many Icom radios. I was looking into this since I already have a pile of programming cables including one of the universal kits. I will report back when I try it.
I must be tired, as I just noticed the link for the ExtIO file points back to this blog. Please excuse me for that error.
Hi Anybody have trouble getting the priority mode to work ?. I seem to get the frequency registered ok but the mode doesn’t work.
How do you programme the memories on the Alinco DJ-X11E in easy to understand language please?
I recently bought a DJ-X11E (UK) version to replace my Yeasu VR500 – the screen finally gave up after
being repaired twice, and no spares available.
I have noticed too that the frequency in USB , LSB, and CW is out by about +/- 1.6 khz depending upon which mode you use, when checked against one of the 5/10 mHz radio clocks.
Also when in VFO mode with the scope on, after each time the scope silences the audio to conduct an adjacent channel data collect, when the audio is switched back on, the beat frequency note drifts down by about 1 kHz. This see-sawing continues the whole time the scope is selected.
Also upon switching on , the frequency selected can be seen to drift for a few seconds. well out of the quoted ppm stability figures.
The previously mentioned audio feedback is present on any strong broadcast station selected in LW,MW or SW, and can only be controlled by reducing the volume.
A lot of not good things for £350!