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Author Topic: Need Suggestions on a Radio - Question from a Non-Hobbiest Wife  (Read 17423 times)
JANETP
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Posts: 8




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« on: March 01, 2016, 11:52:54 AM »

I will apologize up front here for having to ask about a topic I can well imagine being the least favorite on a forum like this, but I have little choice. As the result of an accident some 5 months ago, my husband became an expanded paraplegic (also lost the complete use of one arm / hand). He is therefore now quite limited in his activities and potential hobbies. He is 60 years old, so roaming the internet endlessly holds no attraction for him; he is a bit more old school. As a young man, he held an amateur license, but let it expire after about 5 years. Today, he has a pretty good interest in shortwave radio monitoring but he does not want to pursue it because he thinks it is too much trouble. I, on the other hand, know that a radio is exactly what he needs, and I intend to surprise him with a radio set-up.

The trouble is that I have no background in this topic. I have attempted some light reading on the internet, but I am really out of my depth on this subject. I have learned some but not nearly enough. I am especially unclear on frequency range = bands. In the end, I am sure a local ham radio club will help me with the physical set-up and installation, but I do not want to even talk with them till I get a better grasp of what I am after. So, it seemed reasonable for me to ask the questions here first.

I am after a radio receiver for my husband, with the budget price limit for the radio itself at about $1800. New or used is fine. His listening interests are:  traditional shortwave, all amateur bands, and U.S. commercial AM & FM radio broadcasts (is this medium band?). Preferably one radio to cover all this, but if it must be two radios, then so be it. If there is a real need for a specific accessory(s) to go along with a given radio suggestion, please also mention the accessory.

Due to my husband's physical limitations and my own technical limitations, it is important that the radio(s) be readily understood and usable – right out of the box. What I mean by this is that endless tinkering and complicated ongoing programming will not work. The necessity of using a PC to complement ongoing radio usage is not preferable. For these reasons, I am thinking that an older receiver(s) would be preferable to completely new ones that are complicated to understand and program??

So, I would appreciate suggestions of specific radio models that would accommodate these needs. Any other related comments, pointers, and suggestions will be appreciated.
After this basic request for specific radio suggestions, there are two follow-up questions. I have had it suggested to me that I need an All Band / Wide Band radio like the AOR AR-8600 MKII. But, is that not overkill – it looks like that would cover way more than I asked for above? Also, it being a newer radio, it will be substantially more complicated than what I need, and will involve complicated substantial upfront and ongoing programming?  Also, is this radio not more of a scanner than a traditional receiver?  If so, am I correct in thinking that a scanner is not best for my husband's needs – in that there is the constant problem of ongoing signal overload, which causes you not to be able to hear much of anything clearly (Obviously, I hardly know what I am talking about here).

Last thing, if I end up getting a used radio, am I correct in thinking that I can and should send it to the manufacturer or to a general radio service center to have it serviced and topped out?  If the answer here is yes, does anyone have a suggestion of a good service center to use?

Anyhow, there you have it. Any and all comments will be appreciated. I thank everyone in advance for even considering these tedious questions.

JanetP
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AUSSIE
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2016, 12:28:19 PM »

Hi Janet i own an Aor-8600MKII its an excellent wideband receiver but its not easy to use i do have other receivers from alinco,drake,elad,grundig,icom,palstar,sangean,ten tec,winradio why not get a seperate hf receiver and a vhf/uhf scanner i find these days that receivers are complicated to use what about an Icom-R75 hf receiver which i own 2 of them performance is excellent and a Uniden-BCT15X its not easy to programm but its an excellent vhf/uhf scanner or a second hand Gundig Satellit-800 you can also go the SDR path where the hf receiver is hooked up to a pc in my opinion performance is not as good as a receiver they pick up to much noise from the pc i had and have a few of them and sold them with no regret.

Regards Lino.
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WA8ZTZ
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2016, 02:26:52 PM »

Maybe start with something relatively inexpensive yet somewhat capable receiver.  My suggestion would be the Grundig Satellit 750.  Can be had new for around $300.  It covers AM, FM, Shortwave including the HF ham bands ( it does receive SSB sideband), Longwave, and even VHF air band.  It is easy to use, no complicated menus.  A simple wire antenna will suffice to get it working.  Additional antennas can be added as necessary.  It is no match for the more expensive, specialzed communications receivers but does a good job for what it is.
It is a good place to start without spending a ton of money.  It is available from Universal Radio and Ham Radio Outlet to mention a couple of places.  If this sparks his interest then literally the sky is the limit.  Good luck with your search.  Smiley
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KS2G
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 09:57:46 AM »

I'm not up on current radios, but "back in the day" perhaps the top-performer of the type of radio you're seeking was the SONY IFC-2010.

See description at: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/0841.html

And reviews here on eHam.net: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/479

Many second-hand 2010's can be found on eBay for a small fraction of your budget.

I suggest that you contact Universal Radio
They carry a good selection of both new and used receivers of the type you're seeking.
http://www.universal-radio.com/
614-866-4267

Finally, bear in mind that whatever radio you acquire, an external antenna will be needed to get the most out of it.

As you surmise, you local amateur radio club should be helpful with that.

Best of luck.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 10:03:16 AM »

Maybe start with something relatively inexpensive yet somewhat capable receiver.  My suggestion would be the Grundig Satellit 750.  Can be had new for around $300.  It covers AM, FM, Shortwave including the HF ham bands ( it does receive SSB sideband), Longwave, and even VHF air band.  It is easy to use, no complicated menus.  A simple wire antenna will suffice to get it working.  Additional antennas can be added as necessary.  It is no match for the more expensive, specialzed communications receivers but does a good job for what it is.
It is a good place to start without spending a ton of money.  It is available from Universal Radio and Ham Radio Outlet to mention a couple of places.  If this sparks his interest then literally the sky is the limit.  Good luck with your search.  Smiley

The Satellit 750 is a pretty good deal and not difficult to use.

However, an old-fashioned shortwave receiver, with a separate one for AM/FM broadcast (which of course are very common and "everywhere") might be easier and in some ways better.

Nothing should cost anywhere near $1800.

If you'd like to simulate hubby's interest in ham radio again, so that perhaps he progresses to becoming re-licensed and active "on the air" (GREAT hobby for someone with physical handicaps!) a receiver that does a really good job in the ham bands can be had in perfect working condition for about $300 or so and will outperform the Grundig Satellit 750.  Bigger knobs, easy to adjust, big audio output amplifier that can drive a big speaker, etc.

If you buy a used receiver from someone who is a serious restorer/collector, you won't need to send it anywhere to have it checked out.  Just buy it, plug it in, add an antenna, and use it.

Depending on the exact nature of his handicap, he might find something with "big knobs" easier to use than a small radio that takes lighter and more precise handling.

If you tell us where you live (city, state) I can probably recommend a local source so you could go "see and try out" a good used shortwave receiver -- more fun and less risky than buying on line, sight-unseen.
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ONAIR
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 04:30:19 PM »

Get him a HF transceiver that works well as a communication receiver!  That way he may become motivated to get back into the Ham radio hobby.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 12:47:30 AM by ONAIR » Logged
K0OD
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 09:56:45 PM »

"He is 60 years old, so roaming the internet endlessly holds no attraction for him; he is a bit more old school."

That's silly. I know 90-year olds who use the internet everyday.  I'm pretty sure the average age on this board is over 60. 
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W1VT
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2016, 07:32:41 AM »

If he wants to actually listen to radio programming in English from overseas radio stations, all that has moved to the Internet.
There is still some broadcasting in foreign languages to third world countries.

With a modern computer and a good Internet connection, you can listen to the BBC while surfing the Internet.

Zack W1VT
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 07:35:31 AM by W1VT » Logged
JANETP
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Posts: 8




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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2016, 10:50:44 AM »

I would like to thank everyone so much for the vast amount of information that has been sent to me. A lot of it came by private message, in which many of you conveyed personal messages of support and encouragement. I am very grateful for that too. Nevertheless, as a result of this posting, I want to report that I think I have been given much of the info. I need and thus found my starting point. I will specify the info. here as I hope it might be useful to individuals in the future who might be in a similar situation. Individuals, who are not technically oriented or are already part of this hobby.

I plan to purchase for my husband the Icom R75, as the initial main radio. It appears that I can still get one of these "new." It seems that this radio covers many / most of the areas my husband has an interest in. Should there turn out to be a need to go further into VHF & UHF (and even FM broadcast), then I will likely go with the Icom R7000. Beyond their initial purpose, I know that should my husband eventually elect to get back into amateur, these radios would have further utility. I know that the antenna is key to decent reception. Now that I have some small idea and understanding of the radios, the bands, and the overall situation, I am sure I can get proper guidance on the antenna from a local amateurs club. Two of my husband's closes friends are amateurs, but they have naturally declined to press my husband on this subject.

In my initial ignorance, there are several things I failed to make clear in my initial posting. I mention them now, again - in case this could help some other novice in a similar situation. Based on listening to my husband's commentary over the years, I know his preference would be for an actual general communications receiver, with all the features and "feel" that such implies - as opposed to small portables, scanners, or scanner hybrids. I realize that many broadcast types are available over the internet; my husband laughs at that and does not believe such would be of interest to true radio enthusiasts. He has no interest in the internet other than as a quick reference source. He and his small group of close friends believe that endless internet roaming and fascination to be a characteristic of children and child-like adults ( I never thought about it before in my own mind, but I guess I would have to agree). I make mention of this since this was brought up here and considered "silly." They would consider such an opinion as silly and child-like. I did not mention this in my original posting because I had no wish to offend anyone. I have no wish to offend anyone now, but I wanted to make clear that the internet is not any kind of solution or option for my husband. I realize that such an opinion seems especially smug coming from a man, or a group of men when including his close friends, who holds a doctorate, but that is just how it is with them. Although few people admit it, I have come to find that everyone has their prejudices. Some are just bigger than others.

Again, many thanks for the help, information, and good wishes. It has all been a godsend.

JanetP
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AUSSIE
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2016, 11:39:04 AM »

Hi Janet the Icom-R75 is an excellent hf receiver not hard to use i use both of mine everyday and never had a problem with them.

Regards Lino.
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K5TED
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2016, 07:37:16 PM »

"He has no interest in the internet other than as a quick reference source. He and his small group of close friends believe that endless internet roaming and fascination to be a characteristic of children and child-like adults ( I never thought about it before in my own mind, but I guess I would have to agree)."

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ONAIR
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2016, 10:08:06 PM »

If you can convince him to go for his Tech ticket, he can use a smartphone to get onto Echolink!  He could work the world without a transmitter.
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SOFAR
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2016, 11:20:42 PM »

If you can convince him to go for his Tech ticket, he can use a smartphone to get onto Echolink!  He could work the world without a transmitter.

Talking over the internet, is not 'working the world'.

Why not skip the license and install the Zello PTT App? That's a worldwide pseudo radio also.
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KD2DNZ
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2016, 09:08:29 AM »

"He is 60 years old, so roaming the internet endlessly holds no attraction for him; he is a bit more old school."

That's silly. I know 90-year olds who use the internet everyday.  I'm pretty sure the average age on this board is over 60. 

To each his own.  You think it is "silly" others don't.  I think she was looking for information on radio receivers not a sarcastic response.
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ONAIR
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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2016, 04:42:06 PM »

If you can convince him to go for his Tech ticket, he can use a smartphone to get onto Echolink!  He could work the world without a transmitter.

Talking over the internet, is not 'working the world'.

Why not skip the license and install the Zello PTT App? That's a worldwide pseudo radio also.
    So is HamSphere, but you can't get on Echolink without a Ham ticket, and he'd get to talk to actual Hams all over the world 24/7.
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