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Author Topic: Dedicated rx vs transceiver for swl?  (Read 43668 times)
NZ8J
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Posts: 45




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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2015, 09:05:45 AM »

I agree, the TS-590S is a great LW/MW/SW receiver when you move the internal jumper to increase the sensitivity below 1.8 mhz. I used one to log NDB's and it is very sensitive in the LW band. As a matter info, most is not all the current Kenwood transceivers have the same jumper and most Icoms do not disable their preamps below 1.8mhz. The new Icoms are very sensitive on the LW/MW bands. Yaesu not so much. If you look at the QST reviews of various transceivers there is usually an AM sensitivity figure measured at 1KHZ which will give you a fair indication of the sensitivity of the radio in the low bands.

Tim
NZ8J
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NZ8J
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2015, 09:27:56 AM »

Sorry, that should have been 1 MHZ not 1 KHZ for the AM sensitivity reading...
Tim
NZ8J
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AB1DQ
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« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2015, 10:45:49 AM »

I'm saddened by what is available on the SW bands these days.  I started out SWLing during the end of the Cold War in the 80s, and my God - what fun was that?  Radio Moscow, Radio Tirana, Radio RSA, Radio Beigjing, Radio Kiev, Radio Sophia, Radio Budapest... and on and on...

Anywho - since I'm more inclined to tune into easier to receive SW broadcasts than hunt rare SW broadcast DX, I've got a nice Echophone EC-1 that I recapped that sits on my operating bench alongside my HF Transceivers.  The EC-1 is classic retro, tube-based, and does a fine job tuning in the likes of Radio Habana, CRI, WBCQ, Radio Japan, Voice of Vietnam, Vatican Radio, etc Smiley

73 & good listening!
AB1DQ/James
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2016, 10:45:20 AM »

I would suggest a RX Ensemble by Fivedash. They sell built units probably for less than a Tecsun PL660, which is a great portable. You need a soundcard that has a stereo line in input. The RX Ensemble is quite robust to intermodulations, can be connected to a large antenna, is sensitive enough, has any digital filters and is all mode (AM, LSB, USB, RTT, CW and FM).

Just trying to revive this thread topic...  After reading the thread it isn't clear what the answer is to the question regarding how something like a Tecsun 660 or 880 compares to a transceiver when it comes to receiving (with respect to sensitivity, selectivity, and audio quality).  Anyone happen to have a 660 or 880 and also a popular Yaesu, Kenwood, or Icom transceiver that can share your impressions of how the dedicated receiver and the transceiver perform? Thx
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 10:48:17 AM by HAMSTUDY » Logged
KC2QYM
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2016, 09:27:16 AM »

If you're an amateur who already owns a modern HF transceiver, why in the world would you ever want to purchase a dedicated SW receiver?  If you're seeking English language programming forget about SWLing as it will not be a satisfying endeavor.  Most international broadcasters are not beaming English programming to North America anymore.  Gone are the days of English language BBC, Deutsch Welle, Radio Moscow, and others.  The only English programmed stations I hear well in the US are China radio, Radio Romania, Radio Havana, and a plethora of religious stations.  All the other stations are different languages and that's not worth investing the time in unless you speak those languages.  International airline SSB frequencies are less active.  If you're into digital modes (RTTY and the like) there is still that sort of traffic to glean. If you have a backup transceiver you can dedicate it for SWLing and not have to spend a nickel...In my opinion, seeking out a top tier receiver is a waste of effort and money if you're after broadcast stations.  There are also plenty of boatanchors out there that many guys think are worth their weight in gold. Without any truly interesting things to listen too they're all over priced.  When you consider that most modern rigs have decent reveivers in the range up to 30 Mhz then it's the transceiver that wins the contest hands down as a dual purpose radio.
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2016, 09:04:14 AM »

If you're an amateur who already owns a modern HF transceiver, why in the world would you ever want to purchase a dedicated SW receiver?

"Why in the world?"  Uh, because I don't have a modern HF transceiver or any HF transceiver.

If you're seeking English language programming forget about SWLing as it will not be a satisfying endeavor.

Ok, that's an interesting opinion - perhaps a bit broadly assumptive - but thanks for the heads-up.

Most international broadcasters are not beaming English programming to North America anymore.  Gone are the days of English language BBC, Deutsch Welle, Radio Moscow, and others.  The only English programmed stations I hear well in the US are China radio, Radio Romania, Radio Havana, and a plethora of religious stations.  All the other stations are different languages and that's not worth investing the time in unless you speak those languages.  

I will defer somewhat to your experience but I've been under the impression that English is a popular language around the world and I was thinking that there might be a few people from the U.S. and the former British empire, as well as other people who speak English either as their primary language or in addition to their native language.  I was thinking that English might be heard during not only broadcast programs but also during ham contacts - at least occasionally.  I guess overall I'd be willing for to take the risk to hear what is being transmitted on the various bands - both in terms of languages and modes.

My thought is to sample what's out there with a relatively less expensive RX-only radio before investing considerably more in a transceiver, and then move the RX radio to other uses.

It seems that dedicated SW/multiband (and sometimes multimode) radios start at around $20-$50 and work their way up to $200 and beyond.  I'm just exploring the possibility of investing in a less than $150 or so portable radio that eventually might be nice for music, news, sports, or other purposes but that could potentially first be used as bit of a "test bed" to see what both broadcast and ham communications are like on various bands and in various modes.  However, if the quality of the reception is so inferior to what is achieved with a good transceiver then maybe it wouldn't be such a useful test bed.  Or if the price of a good RX-only radio is half or more of a desired transceiver then maybe it isn't an economically good experiment.

International airline SSB frequencies are less active.  If you're into digital modes (RTTY and the like) there is still that sort of traffic to glean.

Thanks for the breakdown on traffic types.

If you have a backup transceiver you can dedicate it for SWLing and not have to spend a nickel...

As mentioned above, I don't have a HF transceiver, backup or primary.

In my opinion, seeking out a top tier receiver is a waste of effort and money if you're after broadcast stations.  There are also plenty of boatanchors out there that many guys think are worth their weight in gold. Without any truly interesting things to listen too they're all over priced.  When you consider that most modern rigs have decent reveivers in the range up to 30 Mhz then it's the transceiver that wins the contest hands down as a dual purpose radio.

I hear you, and thanks for all the information.  

As you can see I have read your post and I have tried to reply to the information you have provided and the questions you have asked.

Now, back to my post.... (in my post I thought I asked pretty much different questions than what you addressed).

To recap I asked:
.... how does something like a Tecsun 660 or 880 compare to a transceiver when it comes to receiving (with respect to sensitivity, selectivity, and audio quality).  Anyone happen to have a 660 or 880 and also a popular Yaesu, Kenwood, or Icom transceiver that can share your impressions of how the dedicated receiver and the transceiver perform? - italics and bold added for emphasis

Any chance given your experience that you could answer or somewhat address the questions I asked?

An additional question comes to mind:  in your post the implication is that a dedicated RX radio is only or largely good for listening to broadcast stations; wouldn't it be feasible for a RX-only radio to also listen to ham communications?

I'm mostly just trying to understand the technical and performance oriented trade-offs for things like sensitivity, selectivity, and the overall ability to discern signals and produce good sound quality when comparing a roughly $100-175 RX radio and the receive side of a $750-$1500 transceiver.  

(I'm inclined to think that much of the cost of a transceiver is in the amplifier/transmitter chain, so maybe a relatively less expensive RX-only radio can compete with the receive side of some relatively more expensive transceivers.  I don't know and I'm just trying to understand where the crossover might be economically and what you get technically and performance-wise as you go north with additional receive capabilities.)

Thanks

PS, it might be necessary or at least helpful to address these questions in the context of two scenarios:  one with a built-in or simple indoor antenna, and one with a more serious outdoor antenna.  But again, the idea of the RX radio is largely to get a sampling of what is out there (activity patterns?) on the bands and modes before choosing a HF+Multiband/Multimode transceiver.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2016, 09:45:28 AM by HAMSTUDY » Logged
W1VT
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Posts: 3395




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« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2016, 09:35:44 AM »

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/schedules/2015/americas_audienceguidetolistening_october15.pdf
A recent BBC schedules notes that there are no shortwave broadcasts in English to this region (the Americas).

The first shortwave station I recall hearing was Radio Australia on a Radio Shack kit receiver--built on a red plastic perf board.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Three-Transistor-Short-Wave-Radio/
Someone recreated that kit--I don't think RS sells any shortwave radio kits today.  Roll Eyes

In those days, if you lived in a wood frame house, you could usually count on hearing stuff with just an indoor antenna.  It is much harder these days--it just takes one bad switching power supply out of perhaps dozens in a modern home to wipe out reception.  Switching power supplies are using in TV sets, computers, lighting, and battery chargers--they are quite ubiquitous.

Zack W1VT
« Last Edit: March 05, 2016, 09:52:15 AM by W1VT » Logged
HAMSTUDY
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2016, 09:55:23 AM »

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/schedules/2015/americas_audienceguidetolistening_october15.pdf
A recent BBC schedules notes that there are no shortwave broadcasts in English to this region (the Americas).

The first shortwave station I recall hearing was Radio Australia on a Radio Shack kit receiver--built on a red plastic perf board.

In those days, if you lived in a wood frame house, you could usually count on hearing stuff with just an indoor antenna.  It is much harder these days--it just takes one bad switching power supply out of perhaps dozens in a modern home to wipe out reception.  Switching power supplies are using in TV sets, computers, lighting, and battery chargers--they are quite ubiquitous.

Zack W1VT


Thanks - it seems that on the one hand the amount of broadcasting (perhaps at least in English) is down (probably due to the rise the Internet, cell phones, etc.) and noise is up (perhaps due to Wifi, cellphones, and power supplies driving many items).  But to me, this is one of the reasons to give a simple RX radio a try.  If nothing else it helps a new ham like myself establish a baseline of what is out there in terms of both signals and noise.  Plus, I'm really only partially interested in using a RX radio to listen to broadcasts; I'm equally or more interested to listen to ham operators on various frequencies using various modes including SSB and CW.

As mentioned in some other posts, I just recently got my Technician license (and am thinking ahead / preparing for the General).  In the meantime I just started using a HT and a UHF/VHF mobile (as a base station).  Each step along the way (using the HT, adding a small portable UHF/VHF antenna, being able to dial up from 5 to 10 to 50 Watts, etc. with the base station) is a very informative and fun learning experience.  So, I'm just thinking about getting a preview of HF with a RX-only radio and I'm curious to learn how much different the listening experience would be with a semi-decent RX radio vs. the RX side of a good transceiver.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2016, 10:05:09 AM by HAMSTUDY » Logged
KJ6ZOL
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Posts: 820




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« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2016, 10:32:08 AM »

I see, you want to get your feet wet with ham frequencies before you go for your General ticket. You can buy older digital readout HF rx's for $100-200 on ebay. Some of the older Kenwood rx's like the 600 can be had for around $100. I found that licensed hams are leery of selling transceivers to anybody who doesn't already have a ticket good for HF. It's probably a legacy of the SW pirate radio era, where young people would BS transceivers out of hams then use them for illegal broadcasting. If you just want to get accustomed to protocol on the ham bands, what freqs to avoid, what freqs are used by nets, etc, then simply buy a rx off ebay. I got my General first, then had to spend about 18 months learning the ropes.
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2016, 11:20:39 AM »

I see, you want to get your feet wet with ham frequencies before you go for your General ticket. You can buy older digital readout HF rx's for $100-200 on ebay. Some of the older Kenwood rx's like the 600 can be had for around $100. I found that licensed hams are leery of selling transceivers to anybody who doesn't already have a ticket good for HF. It's probably a legacy of the SW pirate radio era, where young people would BS transceivers out of hams then use them for illegal broadcasting. If you just want to get accustomed to protocol on the ham bands, what freqs to avoid, what freqs are used by nets, etc, then simply buy a rx off ebay. I got my General first, then had to spend about 18 months learning the ropes.

Thanks - just did a little looking on the web/youtube regarding the R600 - looks like an oldie but a goodie.  On eBay a couple that were advertised as "NOS" sold for about $150.  Anyway to know how a 600 is likely to compare to say the Tecsun 880 (or something similar) in terms of it's ability to pull in stations with good sound quality?
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2016, 04:21:15 PM »

I see, you want to get your feet wet with ham frequencies before you go for your General ticket. You can buy older digital readout HF rx's for $100-200 on ebay. Some of the older Kenwood rx's like the 600 can be had for around $100. I found that licensed hams are leery of selling transceivers to anybody who doesn't already have a ticket good for HF. It's probably a legacy of the SW pirate radio era, where young people would BS transceivers out of hams then use them for illegal broadcasting. If you just want to get accustomed to protocol on the ham bands, what freqs to avoid, what freqs are used by nets, etc, then simply buy a rx off ebay. I got my General first, then had to spend about 18 months learning the ropes.

Thanks - just did a little looking on the web/youtube regarding the R600 - looks like an oldie but a goodie.  On eBay a couple that were advertised as "NOS" sold for about $150.  Anyway to know how a 600 is likely to compare to say the Tecsun 880 (or something similar) in terms of it's ability to pull in stations with good sound quality?

The early digital Kenwood ham rx's were pretty good rigs, and will blow most cheap Chinese portables out of the water with regards to performance. The down side is no bells and whistles such as direct entry keypads and such. They're very basic rigs. "NOS" means "new old stock" and is basically an item that is pretty much new, as differentiated from "NIB" which means "new in box" and is a pristine brand new item. If you keep your eye out for used but still working rigs, you might be able to get a 600 for $100 or even less. Look for the sellers who say "my great-uncle was a ham radio guy and left us a garage full of stuff which we have no clue what it is or does, and we just want it gone yesterday". That seller is the one to pay attention to. You can use search terms like "hf ham radio receiver" and get plenty of results. Stick with Kenwood and Icom. 1980s Yaesu rx's had a number of problems-I owned a FRG-8800 for a while and had to baby it lest it get scrambled for a while. I had to plug it in to a surge protector and turn off the protector's switch after every use, to prevent a power hiccup from messing up the rig.
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2016, 05:57:33 PM »

Yep, I'm familiar with what "NOS" means Smiley; only reason I pointed it out was that while they were claimed to be NOS I don't think they had the original boxes.  Maybe the were really old but new (not used) and just didn't have the boxes or maybe they might have been better listed as "mint" or something.

Back on the radios, any idea how a Kenwood R600 might perform vs an AOR8000?

Also, are radios such as the R600 and AOR8000 going to deliver good performance with a simple indoor antenna or to make them shine are they really going to need/deserve a better outdoor antenna?  Thx
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K0KZO
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2016, 11:58:57 AM »

I think a standalone receiver like the R75 is excellent for general purpose SWL/HF/Utility listening. 

It has all of the sensitivity that you can possibly use (even for MW).  It has RF gain to tame the receiver on noisy bands.  Remember you need attenuate the receiver and ride the RF gain a bit.  Noise overloads receivers and masks the signals.  No preamps are necessary except when the band noise is near the receiver's noise floor.

Wires and verticals work great.  They don't need to be resonant.   I use my 40 meter vertical for all of my listening.   

Alinco has the DX-R8T.  Gets okay reviews.  CommRadio makes an SDR radio that looks cool.  It's a true SDR with a tuning knob and buttons.   

Transceivers are good, but the reason I like receivers for listening to things other than the ham bands is that you can keep the RX set up specifically to the task of listening and the TRX set up for normal ham radio use.   

SDRs like the SDRplay are great too.  I have one and it's fun to use, but I'm in the information technology profession so at the end of the day I like analog radios with buttons and knobs more so than looking at a computer screen and mousing around.   I don't even have a computer dedicated to my shack.  I grab my laptop if I need it.  My smartphone takes care of QRZ lookups and DX spotting Smiley

73, Doug NG0K.   
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AUSSIE
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« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2016, 12:32:32 PM »

Hi the Kenwood-R600 is a good receiver but not stable its always a few khz from the original frequency as for the Aor-8000 its a hand held and can easy overload the Icom-R75 got 2 of them performance is excellent main intrest for me is monitoring hf aircraft dont bother with radio stations waste of time and i do have receivers from alinco,aor,drake,elad,grundig,icom,palstar,
sangean,ten tec,winradio at the end of the day if you have a decent hf receiver and a good
antenna you are going to hear lots of stations but if you choose a portable receiver they can easy overload with an outdoor antenna.I also had a few sdr from commradio,rf space sold them with no regret still got an elad,winradio dont think much of them due to noise from computers to make an example my location is australia early morning i listen to hf aircraft from gander,new york,shanwick if i pot on my elad fdm-s2 can receive aircraft but clarity is not clear but any of my other receivers like the ten tec-350D can hear the signal nice and clear.

Regards Lino.
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2016, 08:12:36 PM »

if you have a decent hf receiver and a good antenna you are going to hear lots of stations but if you choose a portable receiver they can easy overload with an outdoor antenna

Thanks - this is something I've been trying to understand/determine.  Is this due to the fact that portable radios are typically designed to work with their built-in antenna where more serious receivers are designed to work with an auxiliary/outdoor antenna?
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