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Author Topic: Yet another "what should I buy" thread  (Read 10008 times)
JAYMOT
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Posts: 17




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« on: December 20, 2015, 09:51:57 PM »

Sorry. You guys must be getting kind of tired of trying to answer this question, but as I'm kind of strapped for cash any SW radio purchase will have to work out pretty well for me and be a keeper as I can't afford to keep buying replacement radios, so if I'm going to buy one it will need to do pretty much what I want and last me for quite a while so I want to make sure I get something that's pretty good.

I've been an SWL for around 40 years off and on. The way I like to listen is to check out the various bands to see which ones are active, pick one, then just start tuning around to try to find interesting stations. Then I'd look up the frequencies in my WRTH or Passport to try to identify the station, which for me was half the fun: trying to catch something kind of unusual. I'd change bands as some became active and others not so much due to the time of day.

My requirements (must-haves):

First, low price. I can maybe come up with $50 or so, including S&H (to the Philippines.)

Second, adequate performance. Lack of birdies and spurs, decent sensitivity and selectivity, pretty accurate frequency display, low sensitivity to local noise sources (computer, fluorescent lights) and hum from its AC power supply. So I guess that means dual-conversion with some halfway-decent filtering or DSP.

Third, pretty good build quality so it doesn't fail or start to fall apart after a few years of regular use (in the tropics where it's usually pretty warm.)

Fourth, it has to be easy to see (my eyesight isn't what it used to be, which was never that great anyway) and operate. I don't have much patience for poorly-designed ergonomics. I can get used to "interesting" quirks that have a learning curve but not something that's just a pain to try to use.

Fifth, OK audio from its speaker. I can't use earbuds due to my non-standard-size earholes (small). Buds won't stay in. I suppose I could get some over-the-ear 'phones though, but adequate audio from its speaker would still be very nice. (By adequate I mean wide-enough audio range that I can hear what someone's saying, rather than, say, hifi-quality for music.)

Nice-to-haves:

DSP, which would probably satisfy my performance requirements.

Digital frequency display, as like I mentioned above I like to look up the frequency to try to ID the station I'm hearing. Just an analog display would be OK though as long as the dial wasn't too crowded to make discerning the frequency difficult, and was accurate.

PLL to prevent drift, unless the particular radio is stable without it (after warming up.)

BFO for SSB capability as I occasionally like to tune in to the utes or hams if I can't find any interesting AM broadcasts, or if I'm in the mood to see what numbers stations are on the air. Lack of a BFO isn't a deal-breaker though, of course, given my limited funds.

A real tuning knob! I used to have a Sony ICF SW1 and didn't really care for just pressing an up or down button and waiting for it to chuff its way to a live station, which it would usually chuff right past so I'd have to chuff my way back to it to try to hear it. I guess I'm just old-fashioned but I like a tuning knob, so this one is a really nice-to-have, almost a must, unless everything else about the particular radio is exceptional. Then I'd probably adjust my expectations. Smiley


Doesn't-matters:

MW BCB reception, FM, extra bands like aircraft, police/fire, or even LW. I'm pretty much interested in just HF.

Size, up to a point. I used to have a Sony ICF-6500W which was really a small tabletop-size, more luggable than portable, especially when full of batteries. I sure wouldn't mind having another one of those! I intend to do most if not all of my listening at home at the computer desk anyway. I don't have room for a boat anchor or anything around that size, though. (I'd make room for a Kenwood R1000 if I could afford one!)

Bells and whistles such as station memories (I can use a logbook the old-fashioned way), alarm clocks, MP3 players, scanning ability, direct frequency entry and stuff. I doubt if I'd ever use them that much anyway, even if I had them.

Age of the radio and/or its technology, or whether it's new or used, as long as it works OK and is reliable. In fact, to get the features I want at the price I can afford I'll probably have to look for older radios anyway in hope that the latest hotshoe DSP models will drive the older-style ones' prices down, unless there's a low-cost yet decent new DSP model out there.

What do you guys/gals suggest I look for? (Probably on eBay from Chinese sellers to keep shipping costs low as many of them offer free or cheap international shipping.)

[Edit] After browsing around and reading reviews I'm kind of leaning towards a Tecsun PL-310ET as it seems to do everything I want except USB, which isn't that big a deal. Currently around $43 on eBay with free shipping from Hong Kong. Would this be OK, or would you recommend something else?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 12:21:56 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
KB0XR
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2015, 05:01:00 AM »

Grundig G6 portable.  There is one for sale in the eham classifieds right now.


73,

KB0XR  Bob in Minnesota
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JAYMOT
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2015, 10:28:53 PM »

Grundig G6 portable.  There is one for sale in the eham classifieds right now.


73,

KB0XR  Bob in Minnesota

Looks like a nice radio but it's over my $50 budget, especially factoring in the shipping costs to the Philippines from the US. Too bad, because it has SSB as well as a big tuning knob on the front.  Sad
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VK6IS
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Posts: 244




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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 06:39:38 AM »

Hmm - that,s $50 inc S&H ?.
- that'll be a bit too low, even for your location.
at least go with $50, excluding the S&H.
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 06:42:47 PM »

That's why I was thinking of buying from one of the eBay sellers in China proper or Hong Kong. They offer very cheap or even free shipping.

I actually have enough money in Philippine pesos to pay any extra costs such as customs. I could probably even afford to buy a radio locally were any available here. The problem is limited funds in dollars in my US bank account that's tied to my PayPal account. I had to raid my US savings earlier this year to pay for emergency surgery for our dog and there's not much left. Smiley
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KC2QYM
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 09:26:41 AM »

Buy cheap, get cheap.  If you can't come up with a higher budget what can you expect to buy for $50?  You sound like a kid.
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K5TED
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Posts: 1218




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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 05:20:06 PM »

You have internet access. Why not just use the web controlled radios that are out there available to you from all over the world? $50 is gonna get you squat in the way of usable shortwave receiver.

If you have a PC, and can afford to spend maybe a few bucks more, like maybe $69, keep your eyes on eBay and look for the Icom PCR-100 computer controlled receivers. They pop up from time to time and although are not all mode, receiving only AM/FM/WFM, are outstanding receivers for the money.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 05:23:51 PM by K5TED » Logged
JAYMOT
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2016, 12:22:06 AM »

You have internet access. Why not just use the web controlled radios that are out there available to you from all over the world? $50 is gonna get you squat in the way of usable shortwave receiver.

I enjoy listening to what I can hear here, not at someone's listening post thousands of miles away. I like to play the current propigation to snag a wee bit of DX now and then. Plus there's the lag: if I change frequencies I have to wait a while before I can hear what's on the new freq. Then if the radio is already in use I don't get to "drive" but just have to be content with listening to the other guy's selections (which is kind of fun too, as we can chat and share info on what we're hearing.)

Quote
If you have a PC, and can afford to spend maybe a few bucks more, like maybe $69, keep your eyes on eBay and look for the Icom PCR-100 computer controlled receivers. They pop up from time to time and although are not all mode, receiving only AM/FM/WFM, are outstanding receivers for the money.

Thanks for the advice. Maybe later on I'll look into them when I have a bigger budget (I already ordered a radio.) Meanwhile a small portable set will have to do for me until I can afford better.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 12:39:38 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
JAYMOT
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2016, 12:36:11 AM »

Buy cheap, get cheap.  If you can't come up with a higher budget what can you expect to buy for $50?  You sound like a kid.

I'm 58 years old. Not everybody has tons of money to squander on what's just a mere hobby when all's said and done. Some of us have responsibilities that are higher in priority. Families, for instance. "What can (I) expect to buy for $50" was the very question I asked, as that's all I was willing to budget for personal pleasure at this time.

Anyway, I already explained that I have limited funds in my American bank account which is tied to PayPal. The rest is deposited here in a local bank, in the local currency, and not immediately accessible via PayPal. So I'm limited not to what I have, money-wise, but what I'm able to pay via the online sellers' required payment methods (PayPal.) My priority is having sufficient, local funds to meet my family's daily needs here in my country of residence plus extra for emergencies.

I was asking for advice on the best bang of a radio for my limited bucks, as explained above. I'm not expecting a nice HF receiver (oh, how I miss my old KW R-1000!) but just want something that works OK without a ton of harmonics, buzzes and squeaks, etc. I once bought a Realistic-branded Sangean from Rat Shack when they first came out just to try it (a DX-220? I forget, but I think that was it) and in my apartment in downtown Seattle almost all I could hear across the HF spectrum were local broadcast stations due to nearby transmitters, something I never had problems with with my Sony portables nor my Kenwoods. I ended up returning the Sangean for a refund. I don't want to have the same kind of experience again. So I was seeking advice since I've been away from the SWL hobby for several years: the new DSP-controlled radios are completely new to me. PLL was the latest thing last time I bought a set.

So you see, adults have to prioritize necessities over wants. ("Sound like a kid", indeed! Smiley  No grudges though, maybe you were just having a bad day when you posted this. I get in grumpy moods too.)
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 01:57:47 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
N4OI
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2016, 05:27:24 AM »


I'm 58 years old. Not everybody has tons of money to squander on what's just a mere hobby when all's said and done. Some of us have responsibilities that are higher in priority. Families, for instance. "What can (I) expect to buy for $50" was the very question I asked, as that's all I was willing to budget for personal pleasure at this time.[...]

You could try to find an old boat anchor receiver locally by contacting the amateur radio clubs or other.  If there is something like Craigs List there (online swap meet), you could start with that.  Hope you are successful!

73
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K9RZZ
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2016, 09:56:48 AM »

Start going to every local swap meet, rummage sale, yard sale, or whatever kind of sale you have near you where people sell what they don't want any more. Be patient and persistent and you'll find something good within your budget.  Wink
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2016, 07:46:10 PM »

Tecsun PL-310
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