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Author Topic: Best ham transceiver for MW reception?  (Read 83944 times)
KD8UEI
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« on: February 07, 2015, 12:14:12 PM »

I am a ham who is also into MW dxing, and I'm looking to get my first HF transceiver. Most ham transceivers put up an attenuater to reduce the sensitivity on the MW band for quite understandable reasons. However, I'm still interested in finding a sub-1000 dollar transceiver that actually performs well for MW dxing. Looks like my choices are:

1. Icom IC-718
2. Yaesu FT-450D
3. Icom IC-7200
4. Alinco DX-SR8T

Which of these perform the best on MW?
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K5TED
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 08:19:47 PM »

Keeping it sub-$1k, you could buy the FT-450D on sale, and still afford an Afedri SDR which will blow away any of the radios you listed on MW.
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K0OD
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 08:28:19 PM »

KD8UEI  "I am a ham who is also into MW dxing"

Let's be clear about terminology. By MW, are you referring to the U.S. AM broadcast band, about 530 KHz to 1750 KHz?

Next question, what antenna will you use? Will you miss any signal that's reduced by an attenuator? (probably not)

Where do you live? Will overload be a problem where you are?

By "DXing," are you referring to distant U.S. broadcasters or do you chase international stations that are often found on different channels than the 10 KHz spacing we use. (in that case, selectivity will be of prime importance). As an offshoot, you might be interested in European Longwave broadcasters in the 160 KHz to 250KHz range. Many ham receivers do well down there, including my TS-850 and TS-430. Plus my Flex-5000 with LW converter.  
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 08:32:11 PM by K0OD » Logged
RENTON481
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2015, 05:52:56 AM »

Don't forget that for any serious MW DXing you'll want a loop antenna or directional antenna of some sort, unless you have a couple different wires laid out in different directions.

You can still hear a lot off of one antenna, but half the fun of MW DXing is turning the radio so you can null out stations and hear others on the same channel.

It's much easier to do with a Superadio than it is with a ham rig, and most ham antennas are optimized for higher frequencies than MW.

Not trying to steer you away from a ham rig for MW Band DX, but just keep in mind that the antenna used will matter as much as the radio, if not moreso.
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KD8UEI
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2015, 06:42:14 AM »

KD8UEI  "I am a ham who is also into MW dxing"

Let's be clear about terminology. By MW, are you referring to the U.S. AM broadcast band, about 530 KHz to 1750 KHz?

Next question, what antenna will you use? Will you miss any signal that's reduced by an attenuator? (probably not)

Where do you live? Will overload be a problem where you are?

By "DXing," are you referring to distant U.S. broadcasters or do you chase international stations that are often found on different channels than the 10 KHz spacing we use. (in that case, selectivity will be of prime importance). As an offshoot, you might be interested in European Longwave broadcasters in the 160 KHz to 250KHz range. Many ham receivers do well down there, including my TS-850 and TS-430. Plus my Flex-5000 with LW converter.  

By MW, I do mean those frequencies corresponding to the U.S. AM broadcast band. By DXing, I'm interested in receiving distant U.S. broadcasters and every other distant broadcasts I can receive. The spacing between channels will not be a problem.
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KD8UEI
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 06:46:22 AM »

Don't forget that for any serious MW DXing you'll want a loop antenna or directional antenna of some sort, unless you have a couple different wires laid out in different directions.

You can still hear a lot off of one antenna, but half the fun of MW DXing is turning the radio so you can null out stations and hear others on the same channel.

It's much easier to do with a Superadio than it is with a ham rig, and most ham antennas are optimized for higher frequencies than MW.

Not trying to steer you away from a ham rig for MW Band DX, but just keep in mind that the antenna used will matter as much as the radio, if not moreso.

Thanks for the tip on getting a directional antenna. I will have to get a loop. Ham transceivers don't come with antennas so turning ham rig wouldn't get me anywhere, but a good loop antenna that I could turn just might be what I need.
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K0OD
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 08:06:39 AM »

Radio spectrum terminology is inconsistent. For most Americans, and especially hams, medium wave (MW) is synonymous with our AM broadcast band. Others define MW as being 1000 meters to 100 meters (or 300 kHz to 3000 kHz). Note that hams have some limited use of frequencies below the AM broadcast band, mostly around 473 kHz. Definitions of LF, VLF, etc seem to vary quite a bit too. "MW" might be defined as including the airport beacons just below the broadcast band.

You won't know kind of antenna is best until you fire up. In some locales you'll have to focus almost entirely on reducing neighborhood noise. No point in buying a fabulous receiver if you're surrounded by homes and powerlines emitting S-9 QRN.

How much land are you able to devote to your antenna? Consider Beverage antennas if your land is pretty much unlimited, as on a farm. SALA antennas may be the way to go if have 1/4 acre (and $1,000) available, and don't mind some wires strung around.  http://www.arraysolutions.com/Products/sal_array.htm

OTOH, a random hunk of wire can be quite adequate in a quiet location. In winter I often hear European longwave stations on my ham vertical. I can even pick up blips from Saudi Arabia on 1521 kHz on my Flex-5000's bandscope, although there's no way I can actually listen to it from Missouri and just one kHz off a crowded broadcast channel. 

Bandscope devices like those on SDRs can allow you to see stations too weak to be heard. My Flex-5000 is worthless below about 530 kHz (I use a Palomar converter with it down to almost DC). Other SDR's do quite well on MW/LW I'm told. SDRs offer useful precise bandwidth control and synchronous detection which helps when copying distant fading AM.
http://amfone.net/Amforum/index.php?topic=31456.0

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W4KYR
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 09:00:42 AM »

I am a ham who is also into MW dxing, and I'm looking to get my first HF transceiver. Most ham transceivers put up an attenuater to reduce the sensitivity on the MW band for quite understandable reasons. However, I'm still interested in finding a sub-1000 dollar transceiver that actually performs well for MW dxing. Looks like my choices are:

1. Icom IC-718
2. Yaesu FT-450D
3. Icom IC-7200
4. Alinco DX-SR8T

Which of these perform the best on MW?

Don't know about the other three but the IC-718 does OK on 530 to 1700 khz. You can find the 718  used for less than $500 on ebay. As others have said, the antenna is an important consideration.

A long outside dipole can work fine for receiving AM MW stations at night far away with an antenna tuner. But you might want to build a directional loop antenna as others have suggested. And from what I read, the best radio is supposed to be the Drake R8 for AM MW Dxing.

Although I don't DX MW very much. Those YouTube videos of European DXers receiving U.S. and Canadian AM MW stations from 'across the pond' are interesting. And then there are those exceptional reports from those AM DXpeditions from Newfoundland.

http://www.dxing.info/dxpeditions/newfoundland_10log.dx
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 09:06:49 AM by W4KYR » Logged

The internet and cellphone networks are great until they go down, what then? Find out here. 
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,111948.0.html

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W9ALD
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 01:02:13 PM »

They are not transceivers, but, many of the old marine radio receivers used for navigation and direction finding work great AND they have built in directional antennas.  I got mine via eBay for under $50.00 delivered.
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KC2QYM
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2015, 08:54:50 AM »

Really?  Just buy the radio you like after you've compared their specifications and they meet your requirements.  Everyone here has an opinion about what their best radio is for receving MW DX, antennas and the like.  I'm sure that any decent radio will fulfill your goal.  Again, you're looking for a dual service radio that performs well on the ham bands and receives well on the MW band.  To enhance your experience on MW a really long wire antenna will help. Something over 200 feet.  I use such a wire thrown up into multiple trees and receive European, African, and South American stations.  This is doable on the East coast...so far no Asian stations received...guys on the West coast probably pick them up.  Not sure how the rest of the country fares.
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K0OD
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 04:29:41 PM »

"Just buy the radio you like after you've compared their specifications and they meet your requirements. "

Where do you find useful MW (or LW) receiver specs?  Sherwood tests are run on 20 meters as I recall. MW can present special difficulties. At my location, line of sight includes one 50-KW and several multi-KW broadcasters transmitting around the clock into enormous towers.
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RENTON481
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 06:10:43 PM »

The comment about being able to hear a lot of MW on just a dipole or wire is very true.

I wasn't intending to mislead the OP with my previous comment about needing a loop.

Re-reading my previous comment I probably made it sound like you couldn't DX MW unless you had a loop.

Actually, any decent antenna will pull in a lot of stations, even a moderate length wire.

In the 1980's I ran my Yaesu FRG-7 into a 70 ft wire and heard JOUB Japan from my area in W. Washington -- not just a heterodyne, but even voice came through.

In 2012 I ran a 150 ft. low wire into the same radio and heard a lot of stations. Obviously a directional antenna isn't necessary to enjoy DXing medium wave.

But a loop or similar antenna can make it easier if you want to reduce local stations, or null a station. But it's not necessary to DX MW using a loop.

Like the others here said, outdoor wires will also do. Something directional could always come later. One or two wires will bring in plenty, especially if you have a radio like a ham rig that has sensitivity and selectivity to bring signals in.
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KD8UEI
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 10:05:24 PM »

The problem with the ham rigs is that they are intentionally desensitized on the MW band. I'm starting to think that perhaps the best way to go is to get a separate radio specifically designed for MW. Too bad though that I cannot find a ham rig that has reasonable sensitivity on MW.

Thanks everyone for the replies!
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K0OD
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2015, 11:23:49 PM »

"Too bad though that I cannot find a ham rig that has reasonable sensitivity on MW" 

I give up.   [BTW, I'm listening to France booming in 162 kHz AM as I type this]
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KD8UEI
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2015, 03:09:41 AM »

Where do you find useful MW (or LW) receiver specs? 

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ignore your question.

I find the specs on the Universal Radio site and also I download the manuals from the manufacturers' sites.
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