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  • shortwave portable

    In the 1980s, before the internet, I wanted to listen to shortwave broadcasts from New Zealand and Europe. I went through three or four radios, always those that were recommended by Passport Guide to World Band Radio.

    But living in western North America I rarely succeeded in getting good reception. The further north I was, the harder it was to get European stations.

    Although the internet has largely rendered SWL obsolete, I still sometimes get the urge to have a portable which I can just switch on, to search for some clear voice or music from far, far away. I don't want to listen to drunken hams.

    What's the best shortwave portable for less than $300? Has there been any major improvement in active antenna design?
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    There is a problem with modern radio designs. They used synthesized oscillators and microprocessor control along with "radio on a chip" digital circuitry. While this makes them very agile and provides a lot of nice features it also makes them a lot less sensitive than the old superheterodyne double conversion receivers using discrete components.

    The problem is all the spurious noise from the unavoidable RF generated by the digital logic. This produces "quieting" of the first stage preamp agc. It just isn't possible with any of the designs I have used and own to match the performance of the old designs. I currently have four wide band radios, two portable and two fixed base. The oldest is a Hallicrafters S-40A vacuum tube set circa 1955 that still works. While it has terrible image rejection it is also by far the most sensitive of the lot even compared to my Yaesu FRG 7700 which is an entirely digital radio.

    I haven't looked to see what is on the market in recent years but if there is anybody still making a non-digital set that is what I would recommend.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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    • #3
      I agree completely with Evan - the digital and synthesized systems are noisey and require an excellent external antenna. After all these years it's still pretty hard to beat the old Collins 51S-1 receivers. It's also hard to overcome the sticker shock on 40 year old technology.

      Comment


      • #4
        http://www.ccrane.com/

        Lots of portable radios. And antennas.
        Gene

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with the above as well, there are many older SW sets at very reasonable prices. As for the antenna and for what you need, stick with a home brew dipole. Heres a good start.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dipole_antenna

          And by the way, a majority of us are not that way.

          Cheers, VA3 BBY

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Quetico Bob
            And by the way, a majority of us are not that way.
            Cheers, VA3 BBY
            No offense intended. Perhaps I should have just said that SSB is not a priority.
            Last edited by aostling; 05-24-2009, 07:12 PM.
            Allan Ostling

            Phoenix, Arizona

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            • #7
              None taken Buddy, I have very big shoulders. And it is always the way, a few spoil it for the many. Although not neccesary, I take my hat off to you for the reply.
              It's Sunday, go fishing!!!
              Cheers, Bob

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by topct
                http://www.ccrane.com/

                Lots of portable radios. And antennas.
                Wife was told to buy a Crane(overpriced)(CCRadio plus DX AM FM TV WX alert) for at work was supposed to cure all the problems with getting a strong clear signal by the Building iron work IT wiring and lighting.
                It didn't work as good than a 20 year old portable I had at home.
                The radio for all it hype sucs even at home outside with the antenna fully extended. Its hard to get the weather channel to work all the time.

                I have to agree with what has been said about old radios as I have had three SW of the radio shack brand that the passport book recommended. Each one with more fancy chips was worse than the one it was supposed to replace.
                And now with the above explanations Now I know why, thanks.
                Glen
                Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
                I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
                All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only

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                • #9
                  Perhaps building one would be the most satisfactory solution. There are plenty of plans online for very simple radios with excellent performance. You say all you want to do is listen to some distant stations. Then a simple regenerative set with incredible sensitivity might be the answer and can be built for perhaps $30 if you must buy all the parts.

                  Here are a couple of links:

                  http://www.electronics-tutorials.com...o-receiver.htm

                  http://www.mtmscientific.com/swradio.html
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    For quite awhile what Evan said was true. The present state of digital art where hot receivers are concerned is mine boggleing. Because of the super hot front ends they are now able to rearrange the stages in todays radios such as the Icom Pro III that I have. Believe it or not to loearn to play this radio you have to un-learn the analogue rigs. On mine I have to actually work the radio and not just tune up and down the dial. Example, I go to second stage attenuator and punch up the pre-amp to 1st stage. I then turn on the ANL (automatic noise limiter) and the signal I want to hear drops dramatically BUT the noise disappears completely.


                    If you bought a new Pro III and just turned it on you would be very dissappointed if you tried to operate as the older style radios.

                    Good Luck NV2A

                    BTW, don't expect much out of the 40 inch or so telescopic antenna the radio comes with. These days the Solar Flux has been in the toilet, many days with absolutly no sunspots whats so ever. You will need an outside antenna. Then,keep in mind that a lot of the stations you want to hear are no longer on the air as they have recently made all of the commercial frequencys available to Ham Operators, many of which are sober like myself
                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                    Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                    It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

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                    • #11
                      The first digital tuner that I bought was disappointing (Onkyo).
                      It didn't have the vernier tuning capabilities of the older analog systems.
                      You could quickly get to the frequency but it may, or not be correct and listenable (my word).

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                      • #12
                        Your Old Dog,
                        Nothing like dating yourself with a 4 digit call sign.
                        Cheers, bob

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Evan
                          Perhaps building one would be the most satisfactory solution. There are plenty of plans online for very simple radios with excellent performance. You say all you want to do is listen to some distant stations. Then a simple regenerative set with incredible sensitivity might be the answer and can be built for perhaps $30 if you must buy all the parts.

                          Here are a couple of links:

                          http://www.electronics-tutorials.com...o-receiver.htm

                          http://www.mtmscientific.com/swradio.html
                          Regen sets are among the very most sensitive but lack selectivity. For that you need a decent tuneable front and and a proper antenna. Here's a nice page on simple antennas a guy could put up over a weekend.

                          http://www.hamuniverse.com/shortwaveantenna.html

                          More homebrew fun: http://www.hobbytech.com/crystalradio/crystalradio.htm

                          Still have my original Advance call: WA6ZGL
                          Last edited by dp; 05-24-2009, 09:55 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Look for a Drake 2B, Drake r4c, or
                            Colins .$ from low to high.
                            W2bnc

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                            • #15
                              Nothing like dating yourself with a 4 digit call sign.
                              Yea but with out the" N" better with W or K
                              Wb2nec

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