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Author Topic: Portable with good ssb?  (Read 4582 times)

Offline skeezix

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2017, 0141 UTC »
Sony ICF-2010 is a solid performer. I've had one since Apr 1988 and will die with it.

Also have the 7600. Its very meh. It doesn't get used much. Have a ATS-909X and works ok. Also a PL-660. Don't use that much now as the antenna broke (my fault, not Tecsun's).

The RF-B65... I want to get one.
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Offline Lex

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2017, 0955 UTC »
I've had several portables with BFO (beat frequency oscillator) and one without -- the Sony ICF-2010. Both have pros and cons for pirate radio listening.

While the Sony is a better radio overall the lack of a BFO is a disadvantage for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it needs occasional tweaking to adjust to crystal drift and it's not easy to do with the Sony. And the Sony's VFO doesn't tune in fine enough increments to compensate. The Palstar needs the same occasional tweaking but it's really simple to do and the adjustment screw is easy to access. Without that occasional tweaking the pitch will be off on sideband broadcasters that are dead center on the frequency, or whichever fraction the radio can tune to.

With a BFO it's less critical. Just twiddle the knob until the pitch sounds right. You can tune off-frequency to minimize QRM from an adjacent station, then twiddle the BFO to compensate. I had to do that Friday to catch Northwoods Radio on my older Panasonic portable, while there was interference from an adjacent utility station. I just tuned down to 6934 and twiddled the BFO.

Problem is, BFOs tend to be drifty so I need to retune them every few minutes. Same problem with my old Magnavox D-2935. Great sounding large portable but the BFO is drifty.

Right now my Sony ICF-2010 is off pitch on sideband so nothing sounds quite right. It's great in AM though, especially with the sync detector.

So I mostly use the little Panasonic or the Magnavox for pirates, even though I have to babysit the BFO knob.

The Palstar doesn't have a BFO, but can tune in fine enough increments with the VFO tuning knob to get an acceptable pitch, even with sideband broadcasts that aren't dead center on frequency or even drifty. Chris probably remembers that Rocky Mountain pirate station that we literally had to chase with the tuning knobs as the frequency drifted around wildly. Fun challenge, though, not a criticism. You couldn't automate the reception of that station!

The Palstar is a great radio, semi-portable with AA batteries or an outboard battery pack. But it really needs a good external antenna to be at peak performance. Otherwise you'll do just as well with a good portable on a whip. I've hardly used the Palstar the past couple of years since our apartment complex maintenance crews kept zeroing in on my stealth antennas and tearing them down. They were just cheap magnet wire loops fed with cable TV cable as feedline, but it was a hassle to keep putting 'em back up on weekends and holidays.

I've had many other portables with BFO tuning and they're all about the same, including all the popular Sangean or Uniden made Radio Shack models. All were good enough.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2017, 0959 UTC by Lex »
That li'l ol' DXer from Texas
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Al: Palstar R30C & various antennae
Snoopy: Sony ICF-2010
Roger: Magnavox D2935
(Off-air recordings.)
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Offline MDK2

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2017, 1611 UTC »
Lately I've been using my Tecsun PL-600 a lot more than I ever really have. When I first got it, I found that I had a hard time with weaker signals and got the Grundig Satellit 750 within a month, so the PL-600 was neglected. However, now that I have a much better understanding of SWLing, I have to say that I'm more impressed with it, including the SSB. Yes, it can sound extremely distorted - IF the signal is strong. But I have found one workaround - retract the antenna (if using the whip, which if it's a strong signal, is all you need in the first place). That effectively attenuates it to the point of easy listening, and I have to say I'm impressed with the audio quality of SSB once you have the distortion under control.

The problem seems to be that the internal circuitry gives the signal a lot of gain. I'm not sure where (I'm the complete opposite of an electronics expert or a tinkerer), but there's a mod on youtube where someone put in a 1k ohm resistor in and it attenuates that gain. Personally, I'm not sure I would do that because I don't know what that would do to weak signals. But then again, I live far from any non-ham SSB transmissions, so it's less of an issue with me.
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Offline Lex

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2017, 1823 UTC »
...The RF-B65... I want to get one.
Good solid little portable. Here's a video of it, receiving Northwoods Radio's J Geils show on Friday, here in Texas.

Northwoods Radio on Panasonic RF B-65: https://youtu.be/VF4--i3DuH8

I might get something a little smaller and lighter, though, for bicycling. It's heavily made, with an aluminum grille, etc.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2017, 1827 UTC by Lex »
That li'l ol' DXer from Texas
Unpleasant Frequencies Crew
Al: Palstar R30C & various antennae
Snoopy: Sony ICF-2010
Roger: Magnavox D2935
(Off-air recordings.)
Email=my name at hotmail dot com

Offline ThaDood

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Re: Portable with good ssb? Better have $$$$$$.
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2017, 1013 UTC »
     I had a neighbor with a Drake SW8 portable, and I thought that thing rocked well on SSB. Then again, it is a table top unit in a portable package. But, if you have the cheaper portables that use the wobbly sounding BFO's, use a well regulated, non-switching, power supply, and then keep them away from transformers, induction fan motors, and your cell / smart phone. They'll still sound like schytt, but at least they'll be more stable. Trial and error with BFO's from a (Now ribbon defunked.), Sony SW100S, Sangean ATS-803A, and a Kenwood TH-F6A.
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Offline RST111

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2017, 1526 UTC »
I still really like the Radio Shack Dx-440

Agree.  The DX-440 was my first shortwave receiver, and it did great with SSB.  Actually, it did great with a lot of things until the tuning knob broke when I dropped it. :'(
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Offline moof

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2017, 0024 UTC »
DX-440 was also my first one.  It was good in the day but this Tecsun 880 kicks its ass.  I'm still quite happy with it for my handheld quick check alternative.  If I hear it halfway decent on the handheld, then I check the other radio currently hooked up.  The SDRPlay and big old Icom still beat it but what you expect?

Offline BoomboxDX

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Re: Portable with good ssb?
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2017, 1657 UTC »
The DX440 is a good SSB radio, and the narrow filter helps for CW (even thought it's nothing like I imagine a real CW filter is like -- but the narrow filter does help). The 440 isn't quite as sensitive as some modern radios, but with even a decent indoor antenna you can hear the world, and the AGC is natural sounding enough to make for pleasant DXing, whether it's the ham bands or SWBC bands.

The 440's biggest strength is its sound on SW, especially through headphones. Amazing.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 1659 UTC by BoomboxDX »
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