1st Shortwave Receiver

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May 10, 2015
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442
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San Angelo, TX
#1
Hello everyone,
I am getting interested in shortwave radio. I am wanting a "Portatop" radio (or something a bit bigger that a portable receiver), similar to the Tecsun S-2000 or grundig satellit 750 that has digital readout, general coverage, preferably a tuning knob and SSB option. I'm just not a fan of the price of those two radios. Does anyone have any recommendations on other receivers?
 

ka3jjz

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#3
First let's start with a definition. The term 'portatop' was first attributed to Larry Magne of Passport to World Band Radio, and described a radio with characteristics of a desktop (multiple selectivity filters, for example) with a portable (had a carrying handle and ran off batteries).

Sadly the days of those radios are done. Ever since the demise of the CommRadio CR1A and Eton E1 (which didn't have carrying handles, but could be battery powered), the market for them has pretty much vanished. Now the best you can do in a portable market are radios like the Tecsun PL880 and PL660.

John, are you looking for something that you can take on a trip or is is being used in the house? I wouldn't ignore various ham transceivers, since you're a ham - the Yaesu FT817 QRP radio has a VERY hot general coverage receiver and runs off batteries, as an example (I had one for awhile). Many of the newer models have general coverage rx built in

For reviews of various radios, take a look at our receiver reviews page in our wiki...

Category:Receiver Reviews - The RadioReference Wiki

Mike
 
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#4
I had the Satellit 750 and was not impressed with it. In fact I sent it back. I have a Sangean ATS-909X which is a very good radio and runs about $250 at Universal. I mostly use my ICOM R-75 that I really like but it's a little costly.
 
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Feb 23, 2014
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#5
Looks like the Satellit 750 may be discontinued. A decent radio for casual SWLing. Has external antenna inputs available for all bands and runs seemingly forever on the D-cells. If you can still find a new one out there for the right price you might want to grab it because it is probably the last of what may be considered a "portatop".
 

ka3jjz

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#12
The R75 is not a portatop, as the OP had requested. See the definition on message 3 of this thread - let's stay on topic

Onward...Mike
 
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#13
Thank you all for the replies. I didn't realize portatops weren't really a thing anymore. I guess I'd be more interested in a table top model as I will just be using it at home. I like the Drake SW8 but the price is almost triple what I'm wanting to spend. I also like the Tecsun S-8800 but can't seem to find it any where. I like the features of the Tecsun 880 but am looking for something a little bigger.
 

ka3jjz

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#14
Hate to say it, but the days of the desktop are gone. You will find them on used lists or fleaBay, but be careful. The only ones still in production is the Alinco R8T Icom's new R-8600 and the Palstar R30A. The Drakes are sadly gone...

Anyway since you're just using one at home, any good modern HF ham transceiver has a built in general coverage radio built in.

The big push is in Software Defined Radios (SDRs). You can get one with very decent performance for about the price of an old desktop (many times much less than that). We have an extensive set of wiki articles starting here...

Software Defined Radios - The RadioReference Wiki

Mike
 
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#15
Excellent older models are the Kenwood R1000, and ICOM R71A both are "portable" to the sense they have handle options and you can in fact travel with them! The R1000 is a bit more portable and is an excellent RX,

The R71A is a better RX but chunkier and heavier . Given the age, the R71A you buy should be one that had some TLC and the volatile system memory battery replaced.

I have had both over the years and was pleased with them. My R71A is now owned by a freind and still working to this day.

Expect to pay < $200 for an R1000 and <$400 for an R71a


https://swling.com/blog/2016/05/the-kenwood-r-1000-a-resurgence-in-popularity/
 
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SE Michigan
#16
A new Palstar R30A is a small desktop that is expensive. A used R30CC would be a lot cheaper.
It does not have a lot of bells and whistles but is a solid performer with Collins filters and nice audio.
The receiver can be loaded with 10 AA batteries for portable use but the top cover must be removed with six screws. That's kind of a pain in the butt.
I use a rechargeable 12V drill motor battery to run it when I take the receiver to the park and roll out hundreds of feet of wire on the ground for quiet listening.


Sorry Mike, I missed your earlier post mentioning the R30A.

Jim
 
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Naples Florida USA
#17
Thank you all for the replies. I didn't realize portatops weren't really a thing anymore. I guess I'd be more interested in a table top model as I will just be using it at home. I like the Drake SW8 but the price is almost triple what I'm wanting to spend. I also like the Tecsun S-8800 but can't seem to find it any where. I like the features of the Tecsun 880 but am looking for something a little bigger.
John, approximately what would be your targeted budget? Would I be correct in assuming you wanted a portatop to carry out in the yard and/or hooking up a more serious antenna than using a small portable's whip indoors with lots of household noise? Both would be good reasons. Do you want it for broadcast stations or is SSB of any importance? That helps with recommendations. I have a fondness for tabletop receivers that can use internal batteries, all of the ones I've owned are top notch performers.
 

ka3jjz

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#18
No worries Jim. The Palstars are very famous for being superb MW DX machines with a nearly bullet proof front end which is very good at resisting overloading. But as you say, they're expensive

Every older receiver has their quirks and some are serious - if that operating system battery goes in the R71, there goes the radio. Fortunately there are replacement boards for this, but at least in one case I know of (the Piexx board), installing it is not for the casual hacker.

I played with a R1000 for some time. It really has a very hot front end - so much so that if you live in an urban area, overloading and MW spurs might be an issue. An external gain control - or better, a passive preselector - is a worthwhile thing to have. Great radio with not too many bells and whistles (like the Palstar) but can be had for a lot less.

We have a wiki category with all sorts of links to reviews - this is a good place to go to educate yourself on foibles like this...

Category:Receiver Reviews - The RadioReference Wiki

And since I mentioned passive preselectors, here's a brief run down on the subject. See that topic in...

Improving HF Reception - The RadioReference Wiki

Mike
 
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San Angelo, TX
#19
I have decided to go with the Grundig Eton Field BT. It does not have SSB, but I got a good deal on it so I can't complain. I have never played with shortwave before so when I get the radio nehere, that will be my first time. I have several questions. I guess my first and most important question would be, is there an external antenna I could buy for this radio. My second question is what band can I find utilities at? IE Aviation/Marine?
 

ka3jjz

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#20
If you want to hear utilities, you need sideband - same as if you were trying to listen to hams. If that radio won't do it, I'd return it, do your homework and go for it...Mike
 
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