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Author Topic: Novice seeking advice on first "proper"  (Read 674 times)
SPEEDIE
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Posts: 2




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« on: January 17, 2008, 06:50:03 AM »

Hi,
Years ago in my late teens I had an old valve shortwave receiver and was fascinated by all the sounds and distant stations it picked up. I had a length of wire stuffed into the antenna socket and ran it around my bedroom. Later on I bought a card for my Commodore 64 computer that decoded data transmissions (I think it did CW, RTTY and SSTV). Then I discovered the "number stations" and imagined spies in distant countries scribbling down the codes as I listened in! Over the years I somehow lost interest and the old valve receiver died.

Now 20 years on I have renewed interest in SWL and would like to get a decent modern receiver, and plan to install some kind of long wire antenna in the attic of my top floor apartment (restrictions mean I'm not allowed to put up anything externally). I'm looking for advice on the pro's & con's of software driven receivers versus the traditional design. I spend a good deal of time on computers in my day job and at home doing web design, so it seems logical to go for something software driven. Also I'm assuming it will be more straightforward to decode data transmissions, with no additional hardware required?

On the other hand the traditional design receivers are more tactile to operate, eg. tuning seems more intuative when your hand is turning a real dial. Are the software driven systems just as good in terms of design/performance, or are compromises made? The one I'm considering is the Icom IC-PCR2500 - http://www.icomuk.co.uk/categoryRender.asp?categoryID=3510&cCID=6113. Any advice gratefully received.
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WN3R
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2008, 05:23:11 PM »

Consider using an "active antenna" in the apartment.
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NA0AA
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2008, 09:57:50 PM »

If tactile is what you desire, a PC controlled radio is probably not going to meet your needs for that requirement.  But they are very nice radios from what I've seen.

While I don't know for sure, I'd share your thought that any PC radio is going to be easier to work digital since you won't have to do any interconnection.  However, for sound-card modes [pretty much everything except Amtor/Pactor/Winlink], on receive you only need connect the audio output from the radio into the computer soundcard.

If you know you only want a receiver, then your choices in modern gear is limited and usually pricy - they tend to be for gov't work and priced accordingly.  Icom R-75 is a pretty fair price, or you could get an older tube rig again.

You could also buy a tranciever and just listen.  Used HF trancievers are pretty reasonably priced.

As to antenna, I recommend as much wire as you can manage, and use with some sort of pre-selector if you have problems with front-end overload.  Resonance is not as important for receive only use.
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SPEEDIE
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 02:33:09 AM »

Hi,
Thanks for the replies, WN3R when you say active antenna do you mean using some kind of amp to boost the signal?
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