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Author Topic: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for  (Read 4796 times)

Offline DXB Guy

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Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« on: September 09, 2014, 0025 UTC »
Hey folks,

        I hope the is the right thread to post this question in as I am new here.  Aside from operating VHF/UHF as a pilot and what I have seen/found on YouTube and Wikipedia, I am basically 99% clueless about Shortwave, still I would like to buy a radio.  The problem is which one and from where?

I might be interested in a desk (external antenna, maybe even one that runs out of the window) model for home, but I would like to start with something simple and portable/travel ready.  I would also like one that has the ability (freq' range) to pick up "number stations", the "clock" or atomic clock freq' (not sure what it is actually called), a unit that would be appropriate to help in all types of emergences and has a portable yet external antenna.  Most importantly, easy to use for a beginner.

I do knot know anything about the bands, high, top, side, low etc etc.

Links appreciated. 

Thanks, DXB Guy.

Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 0043 UTC »
IMO, the Sony 7600 would be your best buy. It's got everything you want and has been highly regarded for 20 years.

If you poke around the interwebz,you can find them new at around 150 bucks, American.

Even Al Fansome has one.

Offline DXB Guy

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 0057 UTC »
Thanks for the quick reply!  Looks good. http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICF-SW7600GR-Shortwave-Receiver-Reception/dp/B00006IS4X

Also looks a bit complex however.  Should I purchase this item as well?  http://www.amazon.com/Sangean-ANT-60-Short-Wave-Antenna/dp/B000023VW2/ref=pd_sim_e_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1EGVC4CZGJ7MA2QX3NE4

  I recently came across the "The Buzzer" on YouTube, IDK why but it is festinating. 

Cheers.

Offline skeezix

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2014, 0115 UTC »
There's a couple of other popular portable radios: Sangean ATS-909X and Tecsun PL-660. These (plus the ICF-7600GR) each have their merits. But if I could only have one portable, it would be the Sony ICF-2010. This old timer hasn't been made in a while, but solid performer and, IMHO, outperforms those three modern ones. It was my first SW radio that I bought in 1988 and still have to this day.

While you're deciding on a radio of your own, try this online SDR over in The Netherlands:
http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901

Minneapolis, MN

Offline DXB Guy

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 0124 UTC »
Awesome link and tips.  I just found this on the PL-660 after your recommendations, it's a YT video from Comm-prepper.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6arKILs6XYs 

In a nutshell, what is single side band?

Offline Jari Finland

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 1139 UTC »
In a nutshell, what is single side band?

I looked Wikipedia article on topic, right, I wouldn't get that either, if it was the only source.

In nutshell: using SSB makes possible to separate two different transmissions in the frequency space that one AM signal uses. AM uses both sidebands, SSB only lower or upper, that's why it's called single.

What one need to know: broadcast radio uses AM. Shortwave Maritime radio, air volmets and radio amateurs use ssb. Under 10 MHz amateurs use LSB, over 10 MHz USB. From the point of view of listener this information is enough to select a right button.

Decades ago (sorry...) there were experiments by Radio Sweden and HCJB among others to transmit programmes on SSB, but it never became popular as average portables of the time didn't have ssb feature.

Offline Token

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 0208 UTC »
In a nutshell, what is single side band?

Without getting to technical, SSB (Single Side Band) is a form of modulation.  A source of electromagnetic energy (radio waves) is not the intelligence (sound, data, image, whatever you want to send) itself, it is just a way to carry the intelligence.  When radio waves are generated they can be "modulated" with the intelligence that you want to send, you superimpose the intelligence on RF energy so that it rides on the RF.  There are many different ways to modulate the RF energy, each has a different name.

You are familiar with the terms "AM" and "FM" when it comes to radio, like an AM or FM radio to listen to music/news/sports?  They are two different modes (ways) of modulation.  AM means Amplitude Modulation, FM means Frequency Modulation.  They are not compatible.  To understand what is being sent on an AM transmission you must have an AM capable receiver.  To understand what is being sent on an FM transmission you must have an FM capable receiver.

SSB is another mode of transmission.  It has greater power density than AM and is much narrower banded.  This means it is more efficient than AM, better for long distance communications.  There are actually two types of SSB, one is USB (Upper Side Band) and the other is LSB (Lower Side Band), SSB means only one of these is used at a time.  DSB (Double Side Band) happens when you transmit both USB and LSB at the same time.
 
On Short Wave the common modes of modulation are AM, USB, LSB, and CW (CW is Morse Code).  Broadcast stations, like Voice of America or Radio Moscow, are typically in AM.  Most of the other types of voice transmissions, ham radio operators, aviation, maritime, etc, are in SSB, most commonly USB but LSB is also used.  Numbers stations use a mix of AM and SSB, some are one mode, others are another.

Ideally you want a radio with AM, USB, and LSB, possibly CW also, although you can receive CW traffic in USB or LSB.  Some radios have only "SSB", while this will work to receive USB, LSB, or CW, it is not as good as a receiver with dedicated modes.

Hopefully that did not just confuse the matter further.

T!
T!
Mojave Desert, California USA

Offline Essay

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2014, 0824 UTC »
I own a Tecsun PL-660 and it is a very good and ergonomic portable. Cheaper and smaller than the sony 7600 and the Sangean 990X.
This Tecsun (I think the other ones too) accepts an external antenna, so you can add an external antenna to the receiver.

On the other hand, an old tabletop (Yaesu FRG-7, FRG-7000, FRG-7700 or Kenwood R-1000) can also be had cheaply, and will give you a lot of fun.

Offline DXB Guy

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2014, 0905 UTC »
Essay, Token, Jari,

      Cheers for all the great info / lessons (a bit beyond me still), I will go through all the reviews on Amazon and make a purchase shortly.  Will advise what I end up with.  Is the roll out wire antenna really a factor / benefit?  I do not know why, but I have a fascination to dial in strange and far away transmission, aside from having a radio for general preparedness.  Eager to get started. 

Thanks,
DXB-Guy

Offline BoomboxDX

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2014, 1631 UTC »
If you get a small digital portable SW radio, the roll out wire antenna (that either plugs into the side of the radio, or attaches to the whip antenna) is indeed a benefit because it will help the radio to pick up more signals.

Although you could make a 'roll out' antenna on your own, if the radio you want doesn't happen to come with one.... just attach 15-20 ft of speaker wire to an alligator clip and clip it to the radio's whip antenna.

Or solder the end of the speaker wire to a 3.5mm -1/8th "  mini mono plug, and use it to plug into the radio's external antenna jack.
An AM radio Boombox DXer.
+ GE SRIII, PR-D5 & TRF on MW.
The usual Realistic culprits on SW (and a Panasonic).

Offline DXB Guy

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2014, 0300 UTC »
Copy, now that I CAN do.  Thanks.

Offline Rizla

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Re: Shortwave radio / What to buy, What I am looking for
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2014, 0718 UTC »
Token, great post. It hasn't been said any better than that.

Skeezix: I agree with you on the ICF 2010, and of course I'm biased. This radio was a peculiar jewel that will never happen again. The weirdest thing is, the 2010's are somewhat "robust", as they say. As in "fixable". I've had the same one for 20 odd years. The Tecsun PL-660 looks very good for the price, and I'm always curious about older Grundigs, like the 700. Curious about the Grundig 700 SSB reception. Skol, R.
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.