RECEIVER REVIEW: THE BLEENE RM-15P
The Bleene RM-15P is the successor to the problem-plagued RM-13CRP receiver that Bleene introduced two years ago. While the RM-13CRP may have given DXers some reason to question Bleene's committment to quality control, there is little question that the RM-15P will soon be the receiver by which all other receivers are judged.
Let's start with taking the receiver out of the box. The first improvement with the RM-15P is that Bleene assures us that all boxed receivers will be fumigated prior to shipping. So, no worries about getting fleas from the packing materials with this one!
No one who values their life would ever use a Bleene receiver without thoroughly reading the instruction manual first. Like all recent Bleene receivers, the RM-15P only comes with an electronic manual. This one, however, is much more convenient as it can be read on more types of computers than just a Commodore 64.
|Screws for connecting an antenna and ground wire are conveniently right on the back of the receiver!|
Now let's take a look at the radio. When the RM-13CRP was introduced, many reviewers described it as being
butt ugly. (I never understood that phrase since I like to stand on street corners looking at passing butts.) Bleene has taken this criticism seriously and has given the RM-15P a refined classic look with many hand-crafted wood parts. Foremost is the large rough-hewn oak tuning knob, prominently located in the front middle of the receiver. As the knobs have not been sanded, they can produce painful splinters, so I recommend removing the knob and sanding it with first 60, then 120, and finally 300 grit sand paper and then staining it with a high-quality polyurephane finish. Or you could just toss the thing and replace it with a hockey puck with a hole drilled in the middle.
|An old hockey puck makes a good replacement for the main tuning knob.|
Another result of the new classic look is that the built-in vertical 1 meter telescopic rod antenna is made of 1 cm diameter oak wood dowel. Since it is a single piece of wood, it actually doesn't telescope and collapse into the receiver, which is a bit inconvenient when you go to move the receiver. Reception using it also stinks, but it sure looks nice.
Now let's turn the receiver on. In the past, Bleene receivers have always tended to run hot. That's why they always came with several tubes of burn ointment. With the RM-15P, Bleene has finally solved the overheating problem. In the top of each receiver is a slot into which the user can slide a custom formed package of blue ice. Each receiver comes with four packages, so you can swap between the freezer and receiver as necessary. One hard-frozen packet will keep the RM-15P cool enough to touch for at least one hour.
Like any good radio, the front of the RM-15P is filled with nifty controls and meters, some of which not even the Bleene engineers know the purpose of. The RM-15P is the first Bleene receiver to come with both an S meter and Bleene's new patented BS meter. The latter measures the truth factor of the broadcast you are listening to. (Just don't listen to Rush Limbaugh or Pyongyang very long or you could damage the meter by overloading.)
|The Tone knob has a clean 100 point scale so you can always find your favorite tone settings.|
Unlike the RM-13CRP, on the RM-15P the RF Gain knob has not be glued to the front panel, so it is usable even if it does fall off frequently. Bleene has taken care of that problem in a novel way. The RF Gain knob has a tiny radio receiver inside it. If it falls off, just push the "Locate RF Gain" button on the side of the receiver and the RF Gain Knob will emit a loud shreik, helping you to locate it, wherever it may have fallen.
The RM-15P comes with standard bandwidth filters of 2, 3.1, 4.5, and 7 kHz. What's more, the 4.5 kHz filter can be removed and used in any standard coffee maker. Just be sure to rinse and dry it well before putting it back in the receiver.
|A look at the bottom of the circuit board shows that Bleene has made a lot of progress on quality control.|
As with other Bleene receivers, the notch filter needs regular lubrication if it is to properly work. The RM-15P uses a newly formulated avocado and yak butter lubricant, which smells a lot better when the receiver heats up than the old sulphur and petroleum based lubricants. In fact, it smells so good, you may be tempted to taste some. That's not recommeneded as Bleene randomly spikes the lubricant with arsenic to prevent their warehouse employees from snacking on it. (That wouldn't be a problem if they paid their employees better, but arsenic is a lot cheaper.)
The digital readout is guaranteed to be within +/- 10 kHz 95% of the time. In my tests I had a very impressive 96.5% and the rest of the time it was never off by more than 78 kHz. The LEDs in the readout are large, bright, and easy to read. However, if you will be DXing for more than ten or fifteen minutes, it is advisable to wear sun glasses to prevent damage to your retinas. On the plus side, just think of the money you'll save by not needing light bulbs when this receiver is turned on.
To really appreciate the excellant audio fidelity of the RM-15P, you really have to buy the optional P51-MR speaker. This produces phenomenal sound, largely due to an especially powerful speaker magnet. Just don't put anything metallic within one meter of the receiver unless you want it stuck to the sides of the speaker. Also, it's best not to bring things like magnetic strip credit cards into the same room
|The optional professionally-designed outboard preamp can be powered with a simple 9V battery.|
The RM-15P is Bleene's first receiver to offer a USB computer interface with accompanying software. Just install the software on your Windows, Mac, or Linux based computer, plug in the USB cable, and control the receiver from your keyboard. What's more, Bleene has turned this into a way for you, their customer, to win valuable prizes. Every time you run the Bleene control software, it will automatically use your preferred e-mail program to send endorsements for Bleene products, in your name, to everyone in your address book as well as selected others from Bleene's vast archive of over 100 million e-mail addresses. For every Bleene product sold as a result of one of your e-mails, you will receive between 10 to 100
Bleene Points, depending on the product. The points can then be exchanged for valuable Bleene products. For example, five hundred points will get you a high-quality polyester sports coat with the Bleene logo on the pocket, while just 50 points will get you a new tube of Bleene Avocado and Yak Butter Notch Filter Lubricant. What a great way to earn valuable prizes like these by doing absolutely nothing besides your usual DXing. This just goes to show that Bleene is a company that really knows how to treat its customers.