Sunday, March 29, 2020

What do I look for in a shortwave radio?

A common question that I've been asked on my blog. What are some features that you find very important in a shortwave radio?

My listening preferences include talk radio, news, music, digital transmissions, and ham radio voice/data. Each person has different tastes when it comes to shortwave radios and I will try to generalize my list of must haves. but know there is some bias in my opinion. I am also interested in hearing about your opinions in the comments!

Must Have Features:
  • Physical Attributes
    • Sturdy, tactile feedback on the controls
    • Feels durable, not flexible
    • Ergonomics designed for frequent operation
    • Direct entry keypad
    • Rotary tuning knob
    • Tuning in 1KHz steps
    • RF attenuator (local/DX)
  • Frequency Coverage
    • Can listen to all commercial broadcast bands and amateur radio bands up to 29 MHz
  • Audio
    • Clear and intelligible sound from internal speaker for talk and music
  • RF Selectivity
    • Ability to reduce interference from nearby stations +/- 3KHz
  • RF Sensitivity
    • Ability to pull in signals at 2% over the noise floor (this is subjective as some radios measure sensitivity in dBµ/m or µV/m)
    • Adequate built-in antenna(s) to receive weak signals
  •  Double conversion receiver stages
  • Single Sideband (BFO or true LSB/USB)
  • Station Memory Recall
    • Ability to store at least 10 frequencies for quick access

 Nice To Have Features:
  • Large, bright, clear, and readable digital display
  • Selective backlight on/off toggle
  • Dimmable backlight
  • RF Gain Control
  • Triple Conversion receiver stages
  • Reputable internal components including filters
  • Dual power sources (house power and battery)
  • Recharging circuit to charge user supplied batteries
  • Line out jack
  • External antenna input
  • Audio filters (bandwidth, notch,tone)
  • RF Sensitivity to pull in signals below noise floor
  • Built in DSP signal decoders (DRM, CW, RTTY)

Friday, March 6, 2020

Radio Update

I've been very fortunate to pick up a "blue label" Sangean ATS-505 and Radio Shack DX-398 / Sangean ATS-909 this week. Both radios are expected to be delivered next week.

The current "red label" ATS-505 that I own has a bad encoder. I bought a replacement online, but it needs to be modified to work with the radio. The DX-398 has a deteriorated magnet in the speaker (common problem). My initial plan is to use the speaker from the ATS-505 "red label" for the DX-398.

I don't know if I will eventually repair the "red label" ATS-505 or just use it for parts in the DX-398 since many of the components are the same.

The good news is that I will be able to provide more content to you including modifications, enhancements, and repair information! Stay tuned!

Jesse W9JES