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HF/MW/LW Equipment - For general and technical discussion of all receivers which cover the HF bands. For HF tranceiver discussion please use the Amateur Radio Equipment forum above.

View Poll Results: Out of these three, which one would you choose?
Tecsun PL-660 3 37.50%
Tecsun PL-880 4 50.00%
Sangean ATS-909X 1 12.50%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-06-2018, 3:51 AM
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Default Portable Shortwave Receiver, which one?

I've been considering purchasing a shortwave portable receiver. I don't expect a lot out of it, but I'd like to get a decent one. My major requirement is good SSB reception. I've read countless reviews and I've narrowed it down to three, but I'm still on the fence as to which one.

Tecsun PL660
Tecsun PL880
Sangean ATS-909X

I'm leaning toward the ATS-909X What say you?
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Old 04-06-2018, 5:18 AM
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Default Country Comm GP5/SSB Gen 3

For the size and DSP alone and the fact it does SSB along with lots of memory channels its the way to go. Best portable on the markt for the money in my opinion. But some will say otherwise. It also comes with a rotatable ferrite bar antenna, carrying case and batteries as part of the package. Whats not to like?
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Old 04-06-2018, 7:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danesgs View Post
For the size and DSP alone and the fact it does SSB along with lots of memory channels its the way to go. Best portable on the markt for the money in my opinion. But some will say otherwise. It also comes with a rotatable ferrite bar antenna, carrying case and batteries as part of the package. Whats not to like?
I had checked that out previously, however do you actually own one, or just reading some reviews? This is what I've found:

The SSB mode uses a BFO. The tuning steps are only 1 KHz, too coarse for amateur Ham radio SSB. It also drifts after the radio has been in use for awhile.

The AGC is too reactive and does not deal with fading adequately.

The tuning knob is cheesy.

No numeric keypad.

Audio from it's tiny speaker is poor and sounds tiny.

The antenna jack for the external AM ferrite loop antenna is weak and prone to breaking internally.

It almost requires you hold it in your had while using it. It will not sit up on a table.

The reviews on CountyComm are weak if not almost non-existent.

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Old 04-06-2018, 8:22 AM
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I don't have one but from what I've read, the 660's sideband performance is better than the 880s. I wouldn't even think of the Sangean unless I was getting an enhanced version, and even then, I think the tuning step on sideband is 30hz, which is really odd..

Do some homework. We have a number of places with reviews linked here...

https://wiki.radioreference.com/inde...ceiver_Reviews

Most of the popular portables have Yahoo groups where you can ask actual owners. Don't neglect the antenna (we have a separate forum for this). A great portable will fall flat in terms of performance without a good antenna.
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Old 04-06-2018, 8:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka3jjz View Post
I don't have one but from what I've read, the 660's sideband performance is better than the 880s. I wouldn't even think of the Sangean unless I was getting an enhanced version, and even then, I think the tuning step on sideband is 30hz, which is really odd..

Don't neglect the antenna (we have a separate forum for this). A great portable will fall flat in terms of performance without a good antenna.
Regarding the 660 & 880, I've read the same on numerous reviews. So I guess I can rule out the 880.

When you say 'enhanced' version of the Sangean, are you referring to the ATS-909X? It uses 40Hz steps on SSB.

https://www.universal-radio.com/cata...able/2909.html
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Old 04-06-2018, 8:52 AM
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I have one, and the Grundig/Drake Satillit 800 blows everything away I have ever owned, including my Icom R70, DX440, my Zenith Transoceanic 7000, and my DX302a
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Old 04-06-2018, 9:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iMONITOR View Post
Regarding the 660 & 880, I've read the same on numerous reviews. So I guess I can rule out the 880.

When you say 'enhanced' version of the Sangean, are you referring to the ATS-909X? It uses 40Hz steps on SSB.

https://www.universal-radio.com/cata...able/2909.html
Yep you got the steps right. Still very odd.

There's an enhanced version of the 909X that is sold by RadioLabs, here...

Modifications

but I still think the 660 is better...Mike
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Old 04-07-2018, 8:16 AM
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My choice would be the 909X. Sangean make a good product. Hopefully whatever bugs that were reported in 909X;s last year (or was it the year before?) have been worked out by now.

40 kHz steps is adequate for CW and SSB. I have a 909 (DX-398) and you can tune in SSB voice just fine with the same tuning steps.
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Old 04-08-2018, 5:00 AM
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Yes I own one and before the that the TECSUN brand of the non-SSB model. Some of your points are sound but others I would disagree with. Yes it will not stand up on its own. The AM antenna has never broken on mine and yes the audio could be louder BUT the pro's outweigh the cons IMHO. See the EHAM.net reviews for more insight.
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Old 04-09-2018, 4:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danesgs View Post
For the size and DSP alone and the fact it does SSB along with lots of memory channels its the way to go. Best portable on the markt for the money in my opinion. But some will say otherwise. It also comes with a rotatable ferrite bar antenna, carrying case and batteries as part of the package. Whats not to like?
Since you asked, battery life, even when not in use, is truly a big black mark on the GP5/SSB. I've had two and the batteries will last all of 3 to 4 days.

As for the poll, if I were making the same choice today, I'd probably go with the PL-880.

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Old 04-09-2018, 9:34 PM
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I have had a 880 for about 8 months and I really like it a lot. I am glad I purchased it.I think it might be the only small radio that uses a 18650 battery that last a very long ,long time.

I have read like everyone else and 660 gets great reviews too. I have a 600,380. The 600 does get ssb but not the greatest but it does work ok. The 380 is a nice smaller radio that I like also just no ssb.

I don't know anything about the 909X.Probably a good radio too.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:43 PM
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After reading countless reviews, and weighing out all the pros & cons, I chose the Tecsun PL-880.

My reasons why (not all technical):

Triple Conversion

Long Lasting Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cell

Can be charged/powered by common 5V USB source

Manually: tune into a station manually and store them

Semi-auto storage: storing stations during auto-scan

Auto Tuning Storage (ATS): automatically tune into and store stations

SW Single Side Band (SSB): individual reception of Upper Side Band (USB) and Lower Side Band (LSB)

Auto-sorting memory: sorting stored stations automatically according to meter band and frequency, removes duplicate stations.

Clean un-cluttered display, clean un-cluttered controls/layout

Nice size, form factor, and appearance!

Reasonable price


I ordered from Anon out of Hong Kong. They include an extra battery at no charge. $149.95, no tax, free shipping FedEx.

Anon Co (also on Ebay)
https://www.anon-co.com/product/tecsun-pl880-ssb-radio

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Old 04-12-2018, 1:32 PM
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Unhappy Tecsun PL880

I would opt for the Tecsun PL880.
Beautiful radio well made and solid design.
The only thing I do not like about it is that it is a pig to program.

All the Youtube vids I have checked (Many Many) is they give you a look at the radio and tell their thoughts.
I have not come across anyone of the vids where they actually show you how to program it.
No one on the net seems to know.

Still its a very nice radio and would be better if its manual was`nt so garish.
Its crap...the manual.

Thats me done.

Cheers

Billy725
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Old 06-29-2018, 8:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy725 View Post
I would opt for the Tecsun PL880.
Beautiful radio well made and solid design.
The only thing I do not like about it is that it is a pig to program.

All the Youtube vids I have checked (Many Many) is they give you a look at the radio and tell their thoughts.
I have not come across anyone of the vids where they actually show you how to program it.
No one on the net seems to know.

Still its a very nice radio and would be better if its manual was`nt so garish.
Its crap...the manual.

Thats me done.

Cheers

Billy725
There is no "programming" to be done with the PL-880. You can store frequencies in the memory preset slots manually by tuning to the desired frequency, pressing the "M" button, then using the tuning knob to select which memory slot you want to use as the preset for that frequency. When you've selected the memory slot you want (indicated in upper right of display), you simply press the M button again to save the frequency into that memory slot. If you don't turn the tuning knob after pressing the M button, the radio will save the frequency you have selected into the first available memory slot.

You can also store frequencies into the memory slots by using the ATS buttons - simply long-pressing the ATS button for the band you are listening to will cause the radio to seek out all stations it can hear on that band and store them into the memory slots.

There are other methods of storing frequencies into memories using the radio...see the manual.
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Old 06-29-2018, 8:17 AM
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Default Battery Life With GP-5 SSB Rev. 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbott View Post
Since you asked, battery life, even when not in use, is truly a big black mark on the GP5/SSB. I've had two and the batteries will last all of 3 to 4 days.

As for the poll, if I were making the same choice today, I'd probably go with the PL-880.

--
Mike
I just bought the GP-5 SSB Rev. 3, and the battery life with NiMH Eneloop cells is outstanding in my radio.

I think the GP-5 SSB Rev. 3 is excellent for its price and size. It lacks the refinement and speaker and some features of the larger portables, but I think it offers a good value at its price point.
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Old 07-02-2018, 5:06 PM
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Originally Posted by muskrat39 View Post
I have one, and the Grundig/Drake Satillit 800 blows everything away I have ever owned, including my Icom R70, DX440, my Zenith Transoceanic 7000, and my DX302a
Wow, now that is saying something! I had an Icom R70 and it was an awesome receiver. I couldn't deal with the constant hiss in the audio when DXing with headphones so eventually sold it, but it was a killer RX.

What antenna do you use with the 800?
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Old 07-02-2018, 11:30 PM
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In fact I think my Degen 1103 is better then my Tecsun PL 600 in resolving SSB as the BFO/CIO on the 1103 is continuously variable rather than stepped - if you 'zero beat' the BFO against an AM station or WWV, then it remains perfectly tuned for any SSB station that has a quoted stable frequency, HF Aero MWARA stations for instance.
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Old 07-05-2018, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjxii View Post
Wow, now that is saying something! I had an Icom R70 and it was an awesome receiver. I couldn't deal with the constant hiss in the audio when DXing with headphones so eventually sold it, but it was a killer RX.

What antenna do you use with the 800?
Iíve owned the 800 two separate times over the years and I always regret getting rid of it. That radio is such a beast lol. I donít think people understand how BIG that radio is if they havenít seen one in real life.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:36 AM
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sven - Although I only owned it once, I regret having to get rid of my 800 since it was one of the ones that wasn't beset with manufacturing problems. Airband was a real treat since it didn't use the wide filter, and the audio response was about as good as being in the tower itself. I just cry when engineers put all that work into something on paper, and the qc / manufacturing floor lets us down with those units that had problems. I think about how disappointed the engineers must have been too, since it really wasn't their fault.

iMonitor - I think you've discovered that NO dsp-based receivers in this price class are good for ssb. I haven't tried them all, but I have had all 3 listed above. While "good" is relative, I can't stand them for one reason:

The agc, be it rf / if / or af, is absolutely horrid, because while yes, they can incorporate ssb reception into a broadcast receiver, the dsp engineers just don't understand how utility or amateur comms need an agc designed with the proper attack and decay for intermittent transmissions from a station or stations that emanate from different locations and strengths. They only seem to be familiar with steady-state broadcasts, and might pile on fine tuning, but tossing the baby with the bathwater by not incorporating the right agc. I suppose the main purchasing demographic is for ECSB usage, but I digress....

So most utility / amateur ops just blast the first syllable or two - nevermind even the blast of the first dit or dah of cw! Uncomfortable to listen to, unless you only listen to weak signals, or attenuate the heck out of it - which I found to be an unacceptable standard operating procedure of the Grundig 750 (albeit the 750 using an all-in-one analog boombox am/fm chip) with ssb hacked in. What a let-down from the properly designed 800!

It the dsp manufacturers in the portable classes just put in a *little* thought to agc attack and decay appropriate to intermittent transmissions, ie fast-attack and slow-decay, it would go a long way.

Heh, my 2C...

Last edited by hertzian; 07-06-2018 at 1:09 AM..
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:43 PM
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@hertzian: The AGC problem is my biggest complaint with the Sangean ATS-909X. It allows me to reduce the RF gain, but that's no help if I can't switch off the AGC altogether, like I can with my R75. With the high noise level at my location, disabling the AGC and reducing the gain is the only method that has helped me make weak or fading signals a bit more intelligible.
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