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Technical Topics => Equipment => Topic started by: tmazanec1 on December 15, 2010, 1412 UTC

Title: Economical HF receivers
Post by: tmazanec1 on December 15, 2010, 1412 UTC
About 20 years ago I was in the hobby of pirates and especially spy number stations. I am considering going back into the hobby, but my old receiver was defective (it keeps slewing the frequency up to the 29999 top) so I need a new one. I lost my job earlier this year and need to watch my dollars.
What would be a good receiver covering all 3 MHz-30 MHz with a digital display for a minimum of money? I live in a condo, first floor, so I cannot do high antennae.
Tom Mazanec
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Tube Shortwave on December 15, 2010, 1923 UTC
Tecsun PL-310.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: syfr on December 15, 2010, 2338 UTC
"economical" means different things to different people.

For very cheap, a Degen 1103 works well... (~60-70$)

For ~200-300 range, you could do worse than a used Icom R71 ...which was used professionally the world over.

If you can find a local way to buy used you can save a lot of $
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: cmradio on December 16, 2010, 1117 UTC
I love my Eton E5 ;D
($149 + tx brand new)

Peace!
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Pigmeat on December 17, 2010, 0305 UTC
Do a lil' research to narrow your choices then check out the "used/reconditioned equipment" section on Universal Radio's web page. There are lots of deals to be had there. Plus,their service is top notch,IMO.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: syfr on December 17, 2010, 2010 UTC
Another idea could be Eham.com and QTH.net and QRZ.com ... their classifieds sections are full of candidates .
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: ETM71 on December 29, 2010, 0239 UTC
Love my Grundig G5. Not sure if they still make it. I'm always impressed with what it can pull in with just some wire stuck up on the wall. Got Radio Free Euphoria the other night on just the whip while sitting in bed. Very weak but well enough to hear Capt. Ganja signing off. Got it from Universal if I remember right.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Pigmeat on December 29, 2010, 1532 UTC
I've got a G5 and am very pleased with it. It's basically the Yacht Boy 400 under a new name.

It surprises me how well it does w/ just the whip on HF. It has a few images when I hook it up to my 40 meter dipole,but that's easily fixed by switching out of "Dx" mode to "local".

My only complaint is that it doesn't have a USB/LSB switch,but once you get used to BFO knob,SSB sigs are pretty easy to tune in.

I picked mine up at Rat Shack for a tad over 140 bucks w/ the 12 volt adapter as a freebie.

BTW,it performs very well on MW. As for FM it's a tougher call. I live on top of a hill,any FM radio receives well here. However,the G5 doesn't get spurs up and down the band,which is common problem with most other FM radios at my place.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: PresentedIn4D on December 29, 2010, 1929 UTC
For starters, Grundig/Eton G5/E5 works wonderfully. I loved it when I had it. If you're a bit more serious, I recommend a Grundig/Eton Satellit 750.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: tmazanec1 on February 08, 2011, 2025 UTC
Is the Degen 1103 the same as the Kaito KA1103 on Amazon? Some of the reviews of that are rather negative. My birthday is March 5 and I hope I can buy myself something, but don't know yet.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Lex on February 09, 2011, 1112 UTC
Look around for a good used portable.  The Sangeans and Sangean-made Realistics sold by Radio Shack are a good risk.  They'll occasionally show up in pawn shops, thrift stores and yard sales.  Of the dozen or receivers I've had over the past 20 years - including scanners - all but one were used.  The one new portable I bought (don't recall the brand) back in the 1990s was just a fair performer, nothing special.  Otherwise I've had good luck with used portable and tabletop shortwave receivers.  Take sets of AA and D cell batteries with you while you're prowling locally for used radios.  I'd even take a multi-adapter with me - helped when checking pawn shops and thrift stores since an outlet was always available.  Makes it easier to check 'em for performance.

I've had several Sangean made portables sold under Radio Shack's Realistic marque.  The DX-375 and DX-440 in particular were excellent performers, and all cost well under $100 used even when those models were still available new back in the early to mid 1990s.  Also had a relatively uncommon DX-400 (made by Uniden rather than Sangean), which wasn't quite as good as the Sangean made receivers, but still a good portable.  All were very satisfactory medium sized portables and should still be available for around $100 or less.  Only reason I sold or gave 'em away was because I preferred the audio of the Magnavox and Sony.

I'm still using two portables that I bought over 10 years ago: a Magnavox D2935 ($25 at a pawn shop); a Sony ICF-2010 (around $75 at a pawn shop).  The Magnavox D2935 is over 20 years old and for the past three or so years I've had it running 24/7.  I hardly ever shut it off and mostly just turn down the volume.  It barely runs warm.  Great portable but usually overpriced on the used market, thanks/blame due to glowing reports like mine on the internets.  It was worth $25.  It's even worth $100.  It's not worth the $200 some sellers ask for it nowadays - you can do better for that kind of money.  Same with the Sony ICF-2010 - excellent portable but usually waaay overpriced now, so skip it unless you luck into a bargain.  You can do much, much better than the ridiculous prices the used market now demands for that model.  The same money will buy a good used tabletop receiver.

The worst performer I've owned was the Realistic DX-160.  Intermod and phantom images galore.  But it was such a cool looking radio with the matching battleship gray speaker, I didn't care.  Wish I'd kept it, if only as a shelf decoration.

Browse through the archives of the used index at Universal Radio (http://www.universal-radio.com/used/sold.html).  Great radio porn catalog, kinda like those Modern Photography annual December issues for camera porn.  Universal's prices are generally on the upper end of fair market value but they have a solid reputation so it's probably worth paying a little extra to buy from them if you aren't comfortable with buying used from unknown sources.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: tmazanec1 on February 12, 2011, 0842 UTC
Maybe later in the year. I got a Kindle for Xmas and am still having a lot to read on it. Maybe if I get my Social Security disability.
Thanks for the advice, guys and gals.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Lex on February 12, 2011, 1031 UTC
Heh!  My mom got herself a Kindle too last month.  Took both of us to figure it out, but she's very happy with it now.  Probably one of the few genuine bargains around in personal electronic devices.  It'll even play audiobooks, tho' the current implementation isn't as intuitive as the text section.

Meanwhile, there are some online tuners you can try while getting reacquainted with shortwave.  Globaltuners offers several receivers worldwide.  I tiptoed through there at first, being careful to observe their policies, but it all turned out to be much easier than I'd anticipated.  My own reception has been pretty sketchy this year so I've used globaltuner remotes to catch several recent pirate shows.

Good look with the SS disability.  Been in that battle myself.  Very aggravating and time consuming.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: SW-J on May 08, 2011, 1403 UTC
Is the Degen 1103 the same as the Kaito KA1103 on Amazon? Some of the reviews of that are rather negative. My birthday is March 5 and I hope I can buy myself something, but don't know yet.

The same; for the money, the Degen is VERY, VERY good.

For a portable, I would say EXCEPTIONAL, and I own a variety of receivers as my tagline shows.

For a 'tactical' field receiver, I don't think it can be beat ...

The only thing I would change is: make the narrow IF filter even narrower ... for SSB use.

Review, including technical testing:

http://www.radioscanner.ru/info/article11/


Things I love about it:

o Sounds great for SSB and AM! I use it during morning walks to copy the 1990 kHz 160 Meter net (before dawn here in Texas) with W5VYY and the group and to listen to the AM guys on 3890 kHz during the Texoma AM Traders Net on Saturday mornings.

o I love the external antenna feature. GREAT for trying other antennas like loops, and dipoles and such.

o There is a AUDIO LINE OUT jack that is independent of volume control! And, it's STEREO (FM) output!

o Attenuator switch: sometime it's nice to be able to 'cut' the local noise (like switching power supplies) or static crashes while copying signals on 80 Meters

o Coverage: from like 9 kHz (below 200 kHz using 1711 trick; see below) through 30 MHz! And Stereo FM broadcast!

o The "Enter 1711 kHz and scan down" trick allows whip or external Antenna use in lieu of internal ferrite loopstick for MW and LW .. and extends coverage below 200 kHz ...

 
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: synthman78 on June 02, 2011, 1157 UTC
I've had great results with me Degen 1103 (same as the Kaito) and the 20 foot wire antenna that comes with it. Whenever I go camping I get quite a few pirates, as well as some great DX. It performs circles around the Eton S350. There are a few drawbacks compared to an ICOM R71, but the thing to keep in mind is that it's a portable and it fits into your shirt pocket.
Even the little active loop antenna (DE31 I think) works very well in my apartment. I have ordered a Redsun RP2100, and I'll let you know how it is once I've had a chance to check it out.

Cheers all.
Title: Re: Economical HF receivers
Post by: Nella F. on June 10, 2011, 2304 UTC
I agree with Lex. Recently I found a used and very dirty dx-440 in a local thrift store. They wanted six bucks. I found an adaptor for two. Works great. I bought one way back when it was new & it lasted... can't remember exactly but I knocked off the table one too many times. Then I bought a dx-398 (shortly after "9-11") which I use mostly now. Great radio. Had weird problems with it for a while but not lately. With the demise of shortwave as a hobbie one should find a bargin fairly easy due to increasing ignorance.