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Scanner enthusiast interested in HF

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abear27

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I’ve been a scanner listener off and on for many years and now I’m thinking about expanding my radio exposure into the world of HF utility listening. I know it will require more patience than scanner listening, but I think it might be more rewarding.

I have a Grundig S350DL Shortwave Radio (with just the built-in telescoping antenna) and it’s great for AM radio DXing, and seems to be okay at getting shortwave broadcasters on the HF, but I haven’t been able to catch anything else.

My thinking is that if I get a better radio - I’m looking at an Alinco DX-R8T - and throw 100ft wire dipole out my window, I might be able to catch something better.

Are there other considerations a scanner enthusiast interested in HF should have before plunking down a bunch of money on this equipment?
 

mrkelso

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"I’m looking at an Alinco DX-R8T - and throw 100ft wire dipole out my window, I might be able to catch something better."

That is a nice Radio, a friend of mine has one and he picks up the whole world. I must tell you that he lives on the top of a pretty tall cliff so he can use a paper clip and pick up signals from remote corners.
 

ka3jjz

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I haven't seen any of the reviews on the R8T but it's certainly worth looking into. If anyone has any links to same (beyond the eHam stuff, that is...) please share...

And I would also investigate antennas before you buy a radio, any radio. While a 100 foot wire will pick up lots, depending on how much room you have, you can certainly do better...our HF Antennas wiki would be a place to start...

HF Antennas - The RadioReference Wiki

A good antenna along with a great receiver is a start to a new world to hear...best regards..Mike
 

ridgescan

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Take a look at this baby too in your shopping spree
ICOM IC-R75 Product Reviews
I love mine-so reliable and tough. I call it the "Crown Vic" of HF radios:D it is in fact a "MIL-SPEC" rig.

Also-now is a good time to spot out potential ground points as close as possible to where your antenna's feedpoint will be. Cold water pipes known to be continuous with no plastic pipe interrupting...
electrical conduit routing to main...I am in an apartment and have one ground to a cold water pipe inside, and one ground to the fire escape at the roof which is bolted to the I-beam frame of this building-these are a few ideas. With HF, grounding is hugely important for quieting.

Take a look at this particular SWL antenna-I hear nothing but great stuff about it:)
PAR Electronics EF-SWL Antenna Product Reviews
 

Token

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Interesting that this thread came up. Just yesterday I drove down to HRO in Burbank (160 miles drive, one way) to go buy the Alinco DX-R8T. I had been looking at this radio for a while and thought it might make a nice addition to the shack, just to supplement the other radios. So, I told the wife I was going to get it, confirmed the Burbank store had one in stock, and off we went for a drive to the LA area.

I sat down at the bench in the store and played with the radio for a while, maybe 30 to 45 minutes. I was immediately impressed with the tuning knob, it had a smooth weighty feel and tuned nicely. However, I was not really impressed with the rest of the radio.

Keep in mind the R-75 was right there on the HRO bench also, and I also own the R-75 already.

The LCD display of the Alinco just looked cheap. I never did find a brightness setting I thought looked good. The Volume, Squelch, IF shift, and RIT knobs felt flimsy and plasticky. The audio was not as good as the R-75, and we all know the R-75 audio is no great thing with the front panel speaker.

The DX-R8T received everything the R-75 did on the same antenna. The filters seems comparable to the R-75. With the I/Q output and third party SDR software you can probably expect the net result to be slightly better than the R-75 in the filter department, but I could not test this.

I do not pretend that my 30 to 45 minutes at the bench in a store is a comprehensive test. But it seemed to give me the indicators I needed.

The end result? I did not like the Alinco as well as I like the Icom R-75, by a significant amount. With the exception of the built-in I/Q output I thought it was lacking in almost every way in comparison to the Icom. In areas it was not lacking it did not appear to be superior. Yes, there is about $120 price delta between the two, with the Icom being the more expensive. I did not think the Alinco was bad, just not as good as the R-75, and the only thing the Alinco had going for it that the R-75 did not was the I/Q output.

I ended up getting another Icom R-75 instead.

T!
 
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Fast1eddie

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Using the Par End Fed with excellent results here, think you'll like it! Ridge is on the money with the grounding. Left the transformer on the default and grounded to cold water pipe as I am on the second floor, excellent signal with little noise. Have had mine up since 2007 with no problems despite severe winter weather.

Thanks for your review, I have been looking at those.
 

E-Man

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I also was very interested in the Alinco, I thought the sdr capabilities looked pretty neat, and the remote head would be cool. I also wondered how it stacked up against against the old Icom :) thanks for sharing, I will have to take another look at the Icom.
 

Turbo68

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I got the Alinco DX-R8 hf receiver in march 2011 so far very impessed with it antenna is a Wellbrook-ALA1530 with 20 metres of RG213 coax cable mainly monitor aero/utilities have tested against other radios ,Aor-7030,Nrd-545DSP,Ten Tec-RX340,Watkins Johnson-HF1000A signal on the alinco was around an S1 less compare to other radios antennas i was using at dads place Rf Systems DX-One Pro MK11 active omni directional,Rf Systems DX-10 active omni vertical,Wellbrook-ALA330S,a friend of mine bought the Alinco DX-R8 few weks ago antenna he is using is the new Wellbrook-ALA1530L and it seems its an excellent combination i also have the 1530L but the location of the antenna is not enough distance from the house have to experiment with it.

Regards Lino.
 

SCPD

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From my recent experiences:

Anyone willing to spend the money to buy a new, stand-alone receiver, I would highly recommend considering a SDR instead. I freely admit that I wouldn't have suggested this even a year or two ago, but my opinion has been forever altered. There are several to choose from at different price points and used SDR receivers are showing up on E-Bay all of the time.

Reasons to get a SDR:

1. You have a good, low-noise antenna system
2. You have a fast computer with (some) technical skills
3. You have a desire to decode digital signals on HF (wefax, rtty, etc.)
4. You can record the RF signal while sleeping and play it back any time!
5. You enjoy the technical sides of shortwave radio -- and not just spinning the dial
6. The Perseus SDR software has support Internet streaming. You can connect to Perseus receivers worldwide and listen remotely.

The only reasons why I wouldn't recommend a SDR:

1. If you have no computer skills and/or tend to shy away from anything technical
2. If you have a slow computer
3. If you don't have a decent outdoor antenna
4. If you simply just want to spin the dial

Common myths:

1. Lack of portability -- some SDR receivers are powered by the USB port and a decent laptop/netbook can mean a really great portable set up. Imagine listening on a 300ft random wire antenna in the middle of the mountains!

2. The SDR audio quality -- the quality is excellent and, in some cases, it can actually be better.

3. Cost -- this was true a few years ago but this is changing all the time. You can get a very simple SDR for $90-100 or a commercial SDR for $500-1000. Used SDR receivers are getting more common.

4. Complicated setup and hard to use -- for some of the do-it-yourself kits, this is somewhat true but most of the commercial SDR receivers are no more difficult to use than a stand-alone unit.

5. Lack of support -- most of us "regulars" have SDR capability and can provide some help and guidance. I won't speak for anyone else but anyone can message me directly for any Perseus-specific questions.
 

datainmotion

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To nickcarr's post I would add this:

Many different SDR clients (most are free) have accomodations for network control/monitoring. I use mine to control/listen to my SDR-IQ on my laptop anywhere withing range of my wi-fi. Think of it as a receiver in every room of the house or outside in the yard!
 
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