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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Sangean 803A/Radio Shack DX 440 Help

Reviews Summary for Sangean 803A/Radio Shack DX 440
Sangean 803A/Radio Shack DX 440 Reviews: 31 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $$180
Description: One of the best portables ever made!
Product is in production.
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AKREIDER Rating: 4/5 May 25, 2005 22:26 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a new one over ten years ago and used it to hear stations from over 100 countries. It could handle a 100 foot or more antenna without being overloaded. Built more solidly than the Grundig YB 400.

The thing I wanted to highlight is the crazy microprocessor. Many people know that strange things happen when you take out the two batteries that store memories, but I suspect few people realize how you can use this to your advantage.

Basically, if you take out the batteries and replace them at the right time (or do this with the AC/DC adapter) you can dramatically increase the frequency coverage.

It is possible to get coverage down to 1 khz (though the first 10 khz is useless due to internal noise). And it is possible to get wide-fm coverage down to around 30 mhz (mostly useful for TV audio).

You want to restore power before you are meant to. So that when you turn the radio on, and hit the AM button, it will go to blank or 1 khz. Then quickly store it in memory.

Sensitivity is seriously reduced as you get out of usual frequency range, but what other portable radio goes down to 10 khz?
YI9VCQ Rating: 5/5 Apr 16, 2005 08:24 Send this review to a friend
A $5 Fleamarket Gem!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I picked up a DX-440 at a local fleamarket from a guy who obviously didn't know what he had on the table. As soon as I verified the receiver worked, he asked $5 for it and I jumped on it.

This little receiver has served me well in Iraq for general listening. It was my companion until I was able to set up my station.

The receiver is very good on the SW bands. I had no problems listening to VOA from Kuwait and also the other "big broadcasters".

I don't understand why people compare this receiver to top-of-the-line receivers and then gripe about the performance. Compare apples to apples. Of course it doesn't have the sensitivity or selectivity of my Icom ProIII nor do I expect it.

Attaching an external antenna or just a long length of wire to the whip antenna works wonders.
KI4GST Rating: 5/5 Apr 16, 2005 04:38 Send this review to a friend
Love it  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got my first DX-440 back in 1990 had it till it was taken out by lightning in 1996. Had always enjoyed using that radio. Picked up just about anything out there. Had been trying to get another DX-440 for a long time and just this week I was able to get my hands on one.
NN2G Rating: 4/5 Oct 7, 2004 13:18 Send this review to a friend
Good overall  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned DX 440 several years ago and it performed fairly good. I did the "anti chugging mod" on it and it helped tuning around the dial.

I give it a 4.5 because it performed just like I expected. The only thing that I did not like was that Radio Shack did not include the AC adapter with it like Sangean did.

The Shortwave and SSB and AM worked OK and I do not recall picking up more than one or two beacons on the Longwave.

The price was OK at the time and it had SSB and widely available at the time at Radio Shack. If you wanted a affordable SSB portable, this would be the one you would likely get at the time.

If you can pick one up now for $75 or less, It would make a good backup shortwave.
W9LBB Rating: 3/5 Dec 28, 2003 19:50 Send this review to a friend
Not the worst portable around...  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned both the Rat Shack 440 and Sangean 803A versions of the radio. I now own neither one. I was somewhat disappointed by the first one (The RS). After a couple of years had gone by, and a Christian Science Monitor labeled Sangean presented itself at a price I couldn't refuse, I thought that maybe I'd been a bit too harsh the first time, and I should try it again.

No, I hadn't been too harsh. When a friend developed a burning desire to own the Sangean, I happily sold it to him.

That's not meant as a put-down of the radio, but more as a warning to some potential buyers.

These radios showed me that I'd long ago outgrown thier capabilities. After many years of using the BEST full blown communications receivers that I could lay my hands on, the performance of these portables seems to me to be second rate, and the idiosyncracies and limitations of them are intolerable to me for any serious uses. Next to something like a Collins R-390, a Sangean portable seems like a toy.

Just the same, it WAS handy at times to have a simple portable available. On the workbench, it was good to have something to take a quick check to see if an oscillator in a project was actually running, and at what frequency (to the nearest full KHz ONLY tho). On trips it was nice to have a general coverage receiver available to me, even if it DOES have some warts.

In terms of stability, these radios are adequate for most uses; they'll do a fair to middling job on SSB signals.

I found them to be a bit short on sensitivity tho, but if that was corrected by hooking them to a REAL antenna (rather than the whip) the result was intermod up the wazoo.

My biggest dissapointment was the poor sensitivity on LF... one of my favorite activities is beacon hunting, and these radios are totally inadequate for the job (even tho they cover down to 150 KHz), in addition to the low frequency range being plagued with overload crud from the local AM broadcasters.

As a beginner's radio, I'd recommend them... but for someone with enough experience to have more refined tastes, I'd have to say No Way!

There ARE much better portables out there for more advanced tastes (look to the Sony entries).

For what it is, the RS / Sangean is ACCEPTABLE... but I can't endorse it any more highly than that.


Tom, W9LBB

KB3IQD Rating: 4/5 Jul 12, 2003 09:50 Send this review to a friend
Nice Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months

Nice overall radio. hungry on Batteries!
DC Supply connector on radio is poorly mounted and tends to come loose.

Easy to use receiver!
KE5GK Rating: 4/5 Jul 12, 2003 09:43 Send this review to a friend
Good Starter SW Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Owned one years ago. Good general coverage unit.

Worked several QRP QSO with it.CW/SSB a bit critical to tune.

Best portable is still the Sony 2010.
K3ANG Rating: 4/5 Jul 12, 2003 09:14 Send this review to a friend
Bought it new back in 1991  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought the RS version just after Iraq invaded Kuwait back in 1991. Yes, I paid about $140 for it then. But I've kept it and to be honest will not let it go. It's a good radio, even better when I attach the simple dipole I strung for it in the attic. The receiver really comes alive with it. Find one that you know has been taken care of and you won't be disappointed.
KC0ODY Rating: 5/5 Jul 12, 2003 01:13 Send this review to a friend
Fun & great sounding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It has been a long time since I owned a general coverage SW receiver- perhaps 20 years or more- but I decided, after reading a number of reviews and joining a reflector of 803A/DX 440 aficionados, to purchase a used 803A from a fellow amateur radio operator in Canada.

I have NOT been disappointed by this radio's performance. Its receiver is excellent; I listened for hours to MW last night and delighted in the clear reception of stations 1,500 miles from me- and this on a summer's night.

I have noticed the 'chuffing' thing while tuning with the tuning knob; doesn't bother me at all.

I have not used the clock or alarm functions and probably won't, as I have another radio devoted strictly to that purpose.

If you can find a used 803A/DX 440 in good shape, buy it. Seventy-five bucks or so should get you a very good receiver that will make you happy, and it won't take up much space at all in a travel bag either.

Many 73 de Jackie
N5NSL Rating: 4/5 Jul 11, 2003 18:47 Send this review to a friend
A very good radio!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Outside of a few minor trim differences, he Realistic DX-440 and the Sangean 803A are basically the same radio. Radio Shack sold these radios from aorund September 1988 to some time in the early 1990s. The DX-440 remains one of the better radios Radio Shack sold. In the 13+ years I've owned and used the radio, it has held up very well and maintained it's excellent usability and performance against newer models. (There's also a 12kHz IF mod available for it to receive the correct bandwidth for DRM (Digital Radio Mondial--digital audio shortwave radio) signals to be routed to a PC or other decoder for relatively high-fidelity broadcasts over shortwave. In my experiences with the radio, I've grown familiar with its in and outs.

The Good:

The DX-440 is simply easy to tune, easy to add an external antenna to (via an RCA phono jack input), easy to dual power (with a 9vdc positive-ring adapter or six D-cells), easy to carry around with it's over the shoulder-length carrying strap, and easy to set upright on a shelf or angled with it's own fold-out wire stand. Audio quality is excellent with Bass, Treble, and Volume slider controls, and it resolves broadcast FM stereo using headphones or external speakers from its 1/8" side-mounted jack. It has a BFO in/out switch with a stable BFO adjustment knob and a wide ranging RF-Gain knob. The LCD display is large, easy to read from many angles, resolves the frequency in integer kHz, and is side-lit (on-demand only) by an incandescent bulb. It has a 24 hour clock, 24 hour single alarm, a 120 minute sleep mode, and a display for the meter band (10m to 120m) band being tuned. It uses its effective built-in whip antenna or the RCA jack-connected external antenna for frequencies from 1621kHz to 29999kHz and an internal ferrite coil antenna for 150kHz to 1620kHz. The internal ferrite coil is by its nature directional to be perpendicular to the ferrite rod and can be positioned by turning the entire radio. The buttons are strong and well built, surviving much keying over 13 years. The slider and rotary potentiometer controls are similarly well built, having some "scratching" after years of use which sometimes disappears entirely with exercising the potentiometer every once in a while.

The interesting:

The radio is tuned by keypad or by a side-mounted tuning knob, and as it the case being a digitial synthesized radio tunes only onto integer frequencies. (There is no way to offset the tuning by 0.x kHz for example.) As such, it may not tune perfectly to very narrow CW stations which are transmitting off an integer frequency (which will sound quieter than optimal to the listener and cannot be corrected by the BFO.) However, in my cases, this is a rare and minor inconvenience which only affects CW stations and is irrelevant to SSB and AM stations). Also, the radio is deaf to around 452 to 456kHz as it receives and feeds back onto its own IF stage. (I understand there is a mod involves moving some wiring inside the radio to minimize the deafness to those frequencies.) However, using the alarm feature and BFO on an unmodified radio, the radio can be tuned to feed back onto it's own IF at a certain time, creating a loud and randomly warbling squall guaranteed to wake the dead.

The Bad:
(And honestly, these are weak "bads")

The radio can "chunk" quietly when tuning with the tuning knob on no signal or extremely weak signals, and at regular points in the tuning knob's rotation it can induce a quiet square-wave whine into the audio section during weak signal, no signal, or volume-zereod conditions. The whine can be worked around by slightly rotating the tuning knob without changing the frequency. Also, there is no battery power meter--you know when your batteries are going dead when the LED indicators grow dim, the display grows faint, and the volume response is diminished.

In all, it is an excellent radio which remains modern and comparatively excellent even 14 years after its first introduction.

--Ed N5NSL
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