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Author Topic: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire  (Read 1935 times)

Offline IZS4

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2019, 2224 UTC »
One more thing I would like to advise when buying any rig is to think about buying some fancy rig for 400 dollars that's 10/15 yrs old vs buying a newer unit for maybe 500/550 that is a bit more simpler, but has way less usage Kinda like having $15,000 to spend and deciding if you want a 1993 BMW or a 2019 Honda Civic. That's my 2 cents

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2019, 0951 UTC »
If I decide to get more serious about radio performance, I've decided I'll go the SDR route.  Based on posts I've read of yours, I'm sure you appreciate this.  My understanding is that you need to start spending 5 figures to outclass a powerful computer with a good SDR attached.

A reasonably decent SDR starts around $200. (SdrPlay, AirSpyHF+, or the under appreciated for the money AFEDRI). Yes you can spent more for more performance, but any of those will already by way ahead of any portable radios. You don't need a super powerful computer, I've seen acceptable used laptops in the $150 range. You could always get a KiwiSDR, all the processing is done in the unit itself, you just need a computer with a web browser. Or even a tablet. And you can share your SDR with the rest of the world.
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2019, 1006 UTC »
When you say "nice communications receiver" I assume you mean something like an Elecraft K3, or top of the line Icom, Yaesu, or maybe something older like the Drakes that are highly praised.  These are amazing radios, but they can't be carried from room to room or out on vacation like a shortwave "boombox."  And there is a certain "fun factor" that I cannot explain, but I'm sure you understand what I mean, that I find in the several portables I now own that my KX3 does not have. 

I have a 7600G that I use for sniffing out RFI, or for my recent experiments with a big MW loop antenna: https://www.hfunderground.com/board/index.php/topic,54431.0.html  But I don't use it for general listening. I started with a portable way back in the late 70s, which I used for a month or two before Christmas brought a shiny new DX-160 under the tree. It was communications receivers after that, until SDRs arrived. Once I got an SDR, pretty much stopped spinning the dial, since it was easier for me to see the entire band at once, and pick stations to check out.  I suppose if I had a regular habit of listening to certain stations on a schedule, and away from the shack (say out on the deck or in the living room) a portable would make sense. Or use a tablet and KiwiSDR, but I confess to not getting the "fun factor" of a portable  ;D 

A lot of it probably depends on a particular hobbyists interests and workflow. I do a lot of time shifted DXing, particularly the 43m pirate band. I record it each night, and then check the results in the morning, having gone so far as to write an app specifically to make it quick and easy to check them all out: http://www.blackcatsystems.com/software/sdr_iq_recording_playback_program.html  I can go through an entire night in about ten minutes, assuming i don't find anything to listen to. If I do, I listen to it while going through the recordings, or generate some WAVE files to listen to later.  I can go back and look for a transmission reported by someone else.  I don't miss anything (that I could potentially hear) and often get a few bumps in the night that escape other listeners. It really makes me wonder how many pirate transmissions from back in the pre-SDR days of the 70s 80s and 90s were completely missed, or at least never made it into the ACE logs.

I think my comment stemmed from seeing quite a few people (usually on the Facebook SWL groups) complaining about not hearing stations others are reporting, especially the pirates. But they usually have a slew of portables, perhaps a dozen or more. Every so often they'll talk about a new one they just got. I can't help but think that one decent communications receiver would have cost the same or less than all those portables, but would have significantly better performance. And of course you need a decent outside antenna - which could be the other part of the problem, living in an area where they cannot have an outside antenna, so perhaps they're almost restricted to portables anyway.
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline IZS4

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2019, 1118 UTC »
Yes- I know you cant buy a new car for 15,000. I was thinking of a different time period.

Offline i_hear_you

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2019, 1708 UTC »
I think my comment stemmed from seeing quite a few people (usually on the Facebook SWL groups) complaining about not hearing stations others are reporting, especially the pirates.

Ah, now I follow you.  When I say I enjoy DX with the portables, what I mean is I enjoy seeing what they can do and maximizing their performance.  They have a coolness factor for me not unlike the fascination I feel when I see an old muscle car.  Before I began SWLing, I would spend time with the KX3 monitoring ham chatter.  Compared to any of my portables, the KX3 is the superlative receiver, but I just don't find it as fun to use!

I'm certain I'll eventually arrive at a dedicated SDR monitoring station.  I have an rtl-sdr that I used for UHF/VHF monitoring, and was blown away when I realized I could have it recording several channels at once, limited mostly by the computer I was using.  I saw a forum post at an FM and TV DXing site detailing recording a whole 10Mhz of broadcast FM during a sporadic E opening for later analysis, like you do for SW pirates.  This is powerful stuff.

Offline Josh

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2019, 1740 UTC »
If I had a kx3, it'd be my goto hf rx for portable use. Here I am lugging my IC-775DSP around like it was a ghetto blaster.
Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline i_hear_you

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2019, 1822 UTC »
lugging my IC-775DSP around like it was a ghetto blaster.

lol

I make a distinction between DXing and SWLing. If I want to pick out signals that are just barely above the noise floor, I plug headphones into the KX3 and use the combination of onboard physical and DSP filtering, noise reduction and antenna tuning.  Lately I've enjoyed tuning a shortwave broadcast on a portable, turning up the volume and moving to the next room to do something else while listening.

Offline Rizla

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2019, 2133 UTC »
I also totally hear you on the magic of portable radios. There's something insane about picking up stations from Asia on a little hand-held unit, plus as you said: the aesthetics. things like the ICF-2010 are in the "they ain't never make this again" category, some of them are, historically,  a peak of Japanese tech of the 1980's, rather like the Toyota 4Runners of the time. I mean, dozens of buttons for presets. Who on earth will understand that these days? I'm sad to say my '2010 needs repair which I would gladly do if I had the time, OTOH I can donate it to a thrift store and someone might get the bug themselves. The Tecsun stuff these days are very good too.

I would say that if you really want to get into antennas, which are another bug in themselves and a topic which will never grow old, there are some "entry level" Yaesus like the 891 which are reasonably priced and quite useable as SWL rigs. But of course, you need a power supply. Which brings up other interesting topics like battery packs and solar panels and so on. There are so many "bugs" in this hobby -- look at the Boat Anchors forum on eHam.

Having portable radios as a hobby is cheap, as you said you can hand them down too. Radio per se goes so deep into physics and human history, it's just fun and gets you off the damned social media/internet, and I wonder why more people don't get it. Their loss. I suppose for the Angry Birds era it's all too much work.  I appreciated your post, thank you!
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.

Offline pjxii

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2019, 0154 UTC »
Interesting discussion!
I enjoy older radios and particularly portables but more along the lines of tabletops that operate from internal batteries, they are better at handling larger wire antennas than the traditional small portable, and I enjoy old fashioned bandscanning with a tuning knob.
I have both the Sony ICF-6800W (not the WA "Orange") and CRF-1, the 6800 is odd in that it's whip works better than an external into the SO-239. The CRF-1 is just the opposite, whip is useless but on an external it really shines. The Kenwood R-300 and Bearcat DX-1000 use D cells as do the Sonys. I enjoy both especially below 2 MHz (I read that its best to use a preselector with the Bearcat but I find its still enjoyable without one). I've wanted to try Panasonic's RF-B600 and the Yaesu FRG-7 but haven't yet. You might want to give one of these a try if you find one at a good price just for fun and a change of pace. The AOR-AR3030 operates from internal batteries as well but AA cells and they last only a half hour.
I've used a T2FD in the past and highly recommend it, very low noise even in a suburban enviornment allows for weaker signals to be heard. That report about a 6' whip is something I read before, maybe proper matching is the key to the Apex 303WA-2 getting good reports.
I'm kind of surprised that long wire doesn't cause problems on your portables.
It is fun using any radio that isn't expected to receive much but finding that you're listening to things completely unexpected with it. That's why I like my DX-1000, the bad reviews said to stay away but it's my favorite receiver (not best, just favorite).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 0229 UTC by pjxii »

Offline i_hear_you

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2019, 1638 UTC »
the 6800 is odd in that it's whip works better than an external into the SO-239. The CRF-1 is just the opposite, whip is useless but on an external it really shines.

Is it possible the 6800 has an attenuator on the external antenna plug?  My ICF-2010 goes deaf on MW if I plug the skywire into the plug. 

The AOR-AR3030 operates from internal batteries as well but AA cells and they last only a half hour.

 :o Ouch, what's the point with that burn rate!?

I'm kind of surprised that long wire doesn't cause problems on your portables.

I have isolating transformers on both ends of the feedline and assume they aren't very efficient, introducing enough attenuation to prevent overloading.  The Tecsun does have problems with this antenna system sometimes.

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2019, 2201 UTC »
I doubt an additional 100ft will add much save for in ambc and vlf work, I suggest a vertical antenna if you have none. On hf rx antenna length, the USN did a study and found a 6ft vertical probe, matched for maximum energy transfer to the feedline, would do in most any instance. That being said, they had a US warship and an entire ocean as the ground plane.

Vertical antennas can be useful. You can use two of them to support your horizontal dipole  8)
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline Josh

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2019, 2307 UTC »
"Is it possible the 6800 has an attenuator on the external antenna plug?  My ICF-2010 goes deaf on MW if I plug the skywire into the plug."

I suspect insertion of the antenna jack disconnects the ambc loopstick.




Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline pjxii

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Re: More Wire, Higher Wire, Longer Wire
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2019, 0227 UTC »
the 6800 is odd in that it's whip works better than an external into the SO-239. The CRF-1 is just the opposite, whip is useless but on an external it really shines.

"Is it possible the 6800 has an attenuator on the external antenna plug?  My ICF-2010 goes deaf on MW if I plug the skywire into the plug."

Never considered that, it might be the case. I know that the later WA "Orange" version had a 20dB attenuator switch on the back which the earlier version did not. Perhaps giving users the option was one of the updates, though I've never heard of any reference about an external antenna attenuator on the original. The difference between external and whip is noticable on HF. I've never used the SO-239 for MW, just the internal ferrite.

The AOR-AR3030 operates from internal batteries as well but AA cells and they last only a half hour.

" :o Ouch, what's the point with that burn rate!?"

Good question! 


I'm kind of surprised that long wire doesn't cause problems on your portables.

"I have isolating transformers on both ends of the feedline and assume they aren't very efficient, introducing enough attenuation to prevent overloading.  The Tecsun does have problems with this antenna system sometimes."