school me on old shortwave radios

semlin

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so i want to buy one of those big old shortwave radios to replace the old ghetto blaster at our cabin. all we use it for is to tune in to an am radio station 100 miles away and it doesn't do a great job of that anymore.

what's a good but inexpensive one to look out for?

ideally it should do a better job of picking up am radio stations 100 miles away than the receiver on an early 90s tape deck. otherwise, i guess i'd like something that can pick up other cool signals, preferably using the built in antenna or a cheap unobtrusive antenna. vhf weather would be nice but not essential. the tape deck is big and bulky so a replacement the same is fine, but i'd rather not go fully old school and stick to transistors.

i can power it off 110volt ac from our inverter (sine wave) or off batteries.

i had a look at ebay auctions and the "grundig" models i immediately thought of go for hundreds of dollars.

any suggestions on something that will do the job for less?
 

WB8LBZ

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I think one of the features you should look for is an external antenna connection. I use computer based radios for the most part so I have not kept up with portable models. I have a computer connected receiver that covers from AM broadcast to above the TV bands. It all depends on what you want to listen to.

Larry in El Paso
 
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Are you opposed to new? The Chinese are putting out some really good small radios for cheap. There is a YouTuber "Two hands and a radio" or similar. You definitely want an external antenna - for AM/SW a strand of wire as long as you can make it.

If you get one of these small radios with an ouboard powered speaker your energy consumption will be miniscule compared to an old big radio.

Like a lot a things right now you're going to pay for vintage cool. And even then with solid state electronics there will likely be reliability issues as it ages. I see some cool vintage radios at junk/antique stores but pretty much always pass as they are decades old and will fail if they haven't already.
 

Kofoed

 
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If you have an external ant jack wire up a 100' spool of 20 or 22 guage wire and run it out the window and on the roof. I have had Kaito radios which have some very good features (continuous tuning, side band, hot receiver, etc) but SUCK for their rechargeable batteries and the radio just freaking dies---twice.

For good ole AM broadcast the Sangean PR-D18 and PR-D19 sound really good.
 

semlin

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so i bought a grundig satellit 500 and a circa 1970s montgomery ward 8 band transister radio which has a full vhf band.

the grundig is am/fm/sw and super technical to use and will definitely not work out as a cabin radio anyone can enjoy. the other one looks simple enough but is not here yet.
 

semlin

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actually, does anyone know if a 4' cb whip antenna will help shortwave reception on this thing? i have one doing nothing and i see it takes an external antenna.
 

WB8LBZ

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I'm not familiar with that model but it might have an external antenna connector/terminal that you can test with a short wire or clip lead. I saw glowing reviews on it from an old eHam.com review from the early 2000s.

Larry in El Paso
 

45Kevin

 
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This is mine.
I haven't used it for decades, but plan to dust it off for our trip to Baja this coming winter.
Just looking for CBC, BBC and NPR.

No provision for an external antenna other than the one it has, but it does have a port for a 6V external power.

20190924_210247.jpg
 

1911

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actually, does anyone know if a 4' cb whip antenna will help shortwave reception on this thing? i have one doing nothing and i see it takes an external antenna.
Very doubtful that a cb antenna would do anything for you - cb is 11 Meters wavelength, and all the commercial short-wave broadcasts are longer than that. Commercial AM radio has MUCH longer wavelengths, 187-545 Meters.
 

semlin

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well i got nothing at all on the shortwave spectrum last night using the built in whip. tried between 10 and 11 pst punching in a bunch of frequencies of active shortwave stations from web searches. sometimes i could see bouncing on the signal meter but only once did i hear very faint voice from a radio new zealand frequency aimed at the south pacific islands.

the am and fm work like a hot damn. i could get am stations from 500km pretty easily and the signal clarity on local stations is ridiculous.

i guess i need to look into an external antenna.
 

semlin

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Very doubtful that a cb antenna would do anything for you - cb is 11 Meters wavelength, and all the commercial short-wave broadcasts are longer than that. Commercial AM radio has MUCH longer wavelengths, 187-545 Meters.
thanks. i knew cb was technically shortwave but it looks like i need a real sw antenna.
 
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There doesn't seem to be as much broadcast HF in North America as there used to be now. No more BBC, no Voice of Russia.

I don't know why you'd want an old HF receiver, like a Hallicrafters, Zenith or Heathkit, other than limiting yourself with space and performance. The old radios could have poorer sensitivity than new.

For sure, an external outdoor antenna is a must. I have bought a quite compact AM/SSB/CW Sangean radio, i'm happy with it. There's cheaper Chinese radios too. If you want to add a laptop, and lose the nostalgia, there are many SDR USB dongle receivers well under $100.
 
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SDR via USB to computer is the way to go for low-entry point and decent performance.

I do think it goes against his ease of use needs though. I was happy with the Sangean. Alinco has a more expensive communications reciever if you want to get more involved. The Alinco may not be any better built though. Chinese variants are a few steps below that, and are of course, false economy.

Stay away from a ham transciever unless you have a callsign for it.
 

semlin

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so it turned out my house sucks for shortwave. i put a 70' long wire antenna up on the roof and still got barely anything. all i can pick up clearly are wacky religious stations from the us south.

then i took the grundig to the our summer cabin a few weekends back and with just a short wire extension i got a ton of pacific rim broadcasts. lots of china, japan, new zealand, north korea, plus some brasil, cuba and other stuff.

only trouble is almost none of it was in english and most of it was words. the north korean music was about the only thing entertaining.

so my plan is to take a long wire antenna down to the coast and use it there.
 
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It's more likely you have an antenna issue of some kind, or perhaps local interference at your house versus cottage. If your cottage is in Colorado and your house in death valley, then these would be expected results. Height of location shouldn't matter so much when receiving HF broadcast.

You can try a few sites in your area using sdr.hu, there are many receivers on there, and you can compare your results to theirs. No replacement for a real radio though. Nuts and volts.
 
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Try the WWV time signal station:

WWV operates in the high frequency (HF) portion of the radio spectrum. The station radiates 10 000 W on 5 MHz, 10 MHz, and 15 MHz; and 2500 W on 2.5 MHz and 20 MHz.

Different frequencies perform better than others depending on time of day, sun spot cyles and other factors. You should always be able to hear WWV on one of these freq's.
 
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