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Author Topic: New To Shortwave  (Read 25664 times)
TONY3D
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Posts: 10




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« on: July 28, 2016, 01:15:47 PM »

Hi all, This is my first post on this board. I remember as a kid my dad was into shortwave, and I thought it may be a nice hobby to take up as I prepare to retire in the next ear or so. Been looking at two different units. The Tecsun 880, and the Sangean 909X. Was wondering what your thoughts were on each. I know very little about SWL, but thought it would tie in nicely with my other hobby, electronics! I would probably only use the whip antenna, and perhaps a long wire. The unit will be used mostly on the second floor of my house in my electronics man cave LOL! Anyway, any input would be great! I know there is not much to listen to these days, but hunting down whats left may be fun!
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KAPT4560
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 03:12:33 PM »

 Welcome to eHam. Skim through the eHam reviews for real tests of shortwave receivers.
 I remember my dad's Lafayette AM/SW portable that got me hooked. I now have several boatanchors and listen one most evenings at the bedside before drifting off to sleep.
 Many times you find something worth listening to, but the golden age may have passed. You hear news that you don't hear here.

 PL-880:
 http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/11457

 909X:
 http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9659

 Both look like fairly good reviews. Chinese quality control is variable.
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TONY3D
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 10:56:07 PM »

Thank you!
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RENTON481
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2016, 05:03:22 AM »

If you're going to use a wire antenna, of the two radios you mentioned (PL-880 and Sangean 909X) the 909X will probably handle a longer wire (longer than 20 ft.) a lot better. But the tradeoff is it won't be quite as hot just off the whip.

I use the 909X's predecessor, the Sangean 909 (DX-398), and get good results with a 25 ft indoor wire.

And indoor wire on your second floor might do OK for most SW listening. I hear a lot on mine when atmospheric conditions are good.

RE: Shortwave in general: Lately the atmospheric conditions have been mediocre to fair, which doesn't help things much. But there still are a lot of stations to hear, especially from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

You may not hear much English, but if you learn to identify foreign languages (by sounds), you can still DX stations and ID them.

If you get a radio with SSB, don't forget to tune the ham bands. Sometimes they have more activity than the SW broadcast bands.

Good luck in your choice of radios.
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WA8ZTZ
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2016, 06:45:00 PM »

Hi Tony,

Welcome to the hobby.

Take a look at the Grundig Satellit 750.  Got one for the shack here about a year ago and it has become my go to SWL radio.  The nice thing about it is that it has external antenna inputs for all of the bands.  The built in ferrite and the whip do a fair job but a good outdoor antenna really makes a big difference.  The PAR EF-SWL is a good LW-MW-SW antenna.

Anyway, as you mentioned, not as much on the SW broadcast bands today compared to the Cold War days but still plenty of other interesting stuff.  Whatever you do, make sure the radio you get can copy SSB so you can listen to  hams and utility stations both CW and voice.  There is also the whole world of AM BCB DXing,  FM DXing especially this time of year with tropo and E-skip openings, and chasing NDBs (beacons) on the longwave freqs.

Have fun with whatever radio you select.
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TONY3D
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2016, 02:47:46 PM »

Hi Tony,

Welcome to the hobby.

Take a look at the Grundig Satellit 750.  Got one for the shack here about a year ago and it has become my go to SWL radio.  The nice thing about it is that it has external antenna inputs for all of the bands.  The built in ferrite and the whip do a fair job but a good outdoor antenna really makes a big difference.  The PAR EF-SWL is a good LW-MW-SW antenna.

Anyway, as you mentioned, not as much on the SW broadcast bands today compared to the Cold War days but still plenty of other interesting stuff.  Whatever you do, make sure the radio you get can copy SSB so you can listen to  hams and utility stations both CW and voice.  There is also the whole world of AM BCB DXing,  FM DXing especially this time of year with tropo and E-skip openings, and chasing NDBs (beacons) on the longwave freqs.

Have fun with whatever radio you select.

Hi, and thanks for the information! I was looking at the 750, and actually have it being held for me at Ham Radio Outlet till tomorrow. Is your unit the latest version with the rubber on the tuning knob? Looks like they went to plastic knobs, is this true? Kinda scared about buying it, because I've heard it has a lot of quality issues. Is that still true? How do you like yours, and is it still holding up well? Is the backlight even on the display? I will probably be using it on the second floor of my home, and running a wire down my 30' loft when I'm using it. I really like the retro look of the unit. My other main hobby is electronics, so this should compliment that nicely. Is the rotating ferrite rod still an issue with static? Any, and all info on this unit that you can provide me would be great, as they will only hold till tomorrow night. Have you ever dealt with Ham Radio Outlet? I called the Georgia store. Thanks.
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TONY3D
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2016, 04:50:53 AM »

Well, I guess I'm going to order the Grundig 750 today being held for me at Ham Radio Outlet! If anybody thinks this is a big mistake please let me know. I'm just hoping I get a good one. Is the unit with the rubber around the tuning knob the newer versions? Looks like plastic to me. For me it was between the 750, and the Sangean 909X. The form factor wins out for me. From everything I've read, their both pretty similar in performance. I'm completely new to this, so any advice is welcome.
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WA8ZTZ
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2016, 05:46:35 AM »

Well, Tony, will try to answer your questions,  my 750 has metal knobs.  They feel very substantial.  In fact, all the controls and pushbuttons have a good tactile feel to them.  The backlight comes on for 5 seconds when you spin the tuning knob or enter a freq with the pushbuttons.  The light can also be switched on full time if you wish.  Have had this radio for about 1 1/2 yr. now and has held up and performed well.  Very easy to use, controls are pretty intuitive.  You will have to experiment with your antenna installation.  Be aware that an indoor antenna may pick up electrical noise from around the house.  Have done business with HRO and always received good service. 

Currently listening to an AM expanded band station out of Chicago (about 250 miles distant) on the 750 in the basement with just the ferrite antenna...  not bad for daytime AM BCB. 

Buying any radio is a big decision, they all have their good points and weak points.

Let us know what you finally decide upon and how you like it. 
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WW7KE
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2016, 06:18:46 PM »

Well, I guess I'm going to order the Grundig 750 today being held for me at Ham Radio Outlet! If anybody thinks this is a big mistake please let me know. I'm just hoping I get a good one. Is the unit with the rubber around the tuning knob the newer versions? Looks like plastic to me. For me it was between the 750, and the Sangean 909X. The form factor wins out for me. From everything I've read, their both pretty similar in performance. I'm completely new to this, so any advice is welcome.

I've had one for over 3 years, and while it'll do a good job for AM & SW broadcasting, it's a poor receiver for CW and SSB because it tunes in 1 kHz steps. You'll have to diddle with the BFO for good SSB and CW reception.  That makes it almost useless for SSB, although opposite sideband rejection is decent. 

It is very good for PSK31 and other digital modes because it is rock stable.  Use your decoder software (Fldigi or equivalent) to "tune" within the passband.   The audio output jacks on the rear panel work great when connected to a PC, and you can have the volume control down all the way and they'll still work.

A good antenna is a must, and if you live anywhere near FM stations, an FM trap in the transmission line is mandatory if you have no tuner.  It tends to overload rather easily.  Dynamic range is limited, and with no trap or a good tuner, you'll hear your local FM stations in several places, especially above 10 MHz.
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