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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: 35 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $$180
Description: One of the best portables ever made!
Product is in production.
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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
WB9YCJ Rating: 4/5 Jun 1, 2003 18:09 Send this review to a friend
Value under $50  Time owned: more than 12 months
Owned at least a three or four.
Full of tolerable annoyances.
If you can get one under $50 total its worth it.
The best portable ever is the FT-817
DONUT Rating: 5/5 Jun 1, 2003 17:49 Send this review to a friend
best portable ever?  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'd vote for it. I bought mine new in 1989, and still use it regularly.

When I was active in medium wave DXing, I used this radio along with a military R-392 receiver that has 28 tubes. The R-392 never picked up anything that the DX-440 couldn't get with the same antenna.

I published a few mods in the "DX Monitor" newsletter of the IRCA back in the mid 90s. One was a way to sheild the built in ferrite bar antenna from the digital display, to get rid of the whining. The other was how to correct the minor frequency drift that seems to be a bit of a problem.

I also plugged a BNC to phono plug adapter into the antenna jack, and then cemented it onto the outside cover, because the phono plug antenna connector seems to be poor quality and was showing wear and tear. When the case is opened, the adapter pulls right out.

This is a great radio, and if you get the chance to pick one up, by all means do so.
KD7KGX Rating: 4/5 Mar 11, 2003 02:11 Send this review to a friend
Great portable receiver but poor clock!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned the DX 440 since the early 1990s, and use it nowadays regularly mainly for AM talk radio, but have used it for SWL in the past before it was superceded by a Drake R8A.

The radio works great... most of the nits reported by others are really minor and most people won't notice them. The mods out there that reduce/eliminate chuffing and whine are easy to do, as is adding stereo capabilities and a DIN jack to the DX 440 so it is equivalent to the 803.

However, the darn built-in clock on my particular unit is horribly inaccurate. I'm sure it's just a simple change of a capacitor or two, but I don't have a schematic. (If anyone else does, I'd appreciate a scanned JPEG of it sent to me via email!).

If the clock wouldn't lose at least an hour a day... I would have given it a '5'. But at least in my individual sample, the clock is useless, so I give it a '4' for a great radio and a useless clock.
RPENA Rating: 2/5 Mar 10, 2003 21:42 Send this review to a friend
Great Sound, but...  Time owned: more than 12 months
The DX-440 has a excellent audio in FM, it has FM stereo capability with earphones, the reception in FM is fair because the intermodulation products are stronger, the AM reception is poor, i canīt listen stations from 60 miles (the spurious of the local stations are present each 10 kHz!), shortwave reception with telescopic antenna is a disaster (I only can listen to BBC), with outdoor antenna the RX is good,however, the noise is high and the tropical bands is impossible.
But this radio has a good selectivity in FM and AM, the BFO pitch for SSB is great.
It is excellent for the novice SWL.
N4SNL Rating: 4/5 Dec 29, 2002 06:33 Send this review to a friend
Radio is good  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had a DX-440 since 1990 and it has been a good performer but the chunking sound was very annoying until I fixed it. But it still makes a noise when dialing in a station. Also the famous whine goes away when I switch on the key lock. Otherwise its a good all around radio and mine is still in perfect shape. Sensitivity is good and it does work better with a long wire and I use a select a tenna on MW AM.
KE4MOB Rating: 5/5 Dec 29, 2002 01:28 Send this review to a friend
Great for SWL on the go!  Time owned: more than 12 months
A Radio Shack DX360 was what got me into SWL, but the 440 was what made the bug bite really hard. During it's heyday (before the arrival of a Drake R8), my 440 pulled in sigs from everywhere...the usual London, Washington, Moscow, Prague, Tel Aviv, etc. but also Nigeria and the UAE. Not to mention the SAC, Coast Guard, and tugs on the Mississippi. This radio is a do anything, go anywhere type of rig.

This radio is still a workhorse. Only negative is a lot of processor whine.
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