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Old 11-05-2018, 8:57 PM
   
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Default recommended receivers for listening

My father-in-law just retired and is wanting to listen to local emergency traffic on a scanner. I've got him set up with local shop here in Indiana. Eventually he wants to listen to HF...does not want to talk just wants to listen. Can anyone advise what receivers are recommendable for around $500?

Thanks!
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Old 11-06-2018, 9:47 AM
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That's a very decent price point for a used receiver. Icom recently discontinued their well regarded R75 desktop- checking used boards like the one on Universal Radio's website is likely better than going to eBay, where you never know what you might get.

Palstar put out excellent HF receivers - not many frills, but very solid and basic performance. Even many modern ham transceivers have general coverage receive built in.

Universal sells a huge book on this subject, and is well worth getting if you are interested in doing some serious research on the subject

https://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/books/0004.html

And there's a little preview of the contents here...

https://www.dxing.com/rx.htm

Now no matter how good the radio, it needs a good antenna to go along with it. What is your father-in-law's situation? Can he put something outside, away from the house (always best)? If so how much room does he have to work with?

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Old 11-06-2018, 10:11 AM
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If he wants to go portable I'd recommend the Icom IC-R20, they usually go for around $300-400 used on ebay. I had one until I accidentally plugged in the wrong power adapter and fried it Excellent receiver for DX
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Old 11-06-2018, 10:30 AM
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For HF & $500 then the Alinco DX-R8 is a good candidate (30 kHz - 35MHz). I'm sure there are others but I have experience of this particular model. An added bonus is that it can be computer controlled (like many) and I have written a free program to do just that, called DriveR8. See my signature for link.

Something you may wish to discuss is whether your father-in-law would like/prefer real traditional style hardware receiver for might like to venture into SDR (software defined radio). Decent SDR ket can be obtained for well under $500.

Other models to consider are: (prices quoted are in UK pounds not dollars)

Target HF3/W SSB Receiver (250) 30 kHz - 30 MHz
AOR AR-8600 (600) (covers 100kHz to 3000MHz so would kill both HF and well above)

Tecsun S2000 (300) 100kHz-30MHz - plus FM 87MHz-108MHz - plus airband 118MHz-137MHz
Tecsun S8800 series ((300) 100kHz-30MHz - plus FM 87MHz-108MHz - no airband

Would also add that there are more options if transceivers are consider. Going down this route opens up the possibility of him getting into HAM radio. These transceivers have good receivers and one does not have to transmit.

Alinco DX-SR9 (600)
ICOM IC-718 (600)
Yaesu FT450D (560)

The *disadvantage* of some transceivers is that will not receive the lower frequencies of the Long and Medium Wave broadcast stations, FM broadcast radio stations. If these are also required then (with the exception of the Alinco DX-R9 which covers AM broadcast but NOT FM broadcast) stick to receiver only rigs.

The Tecsun kit has a good reputation and as you will see above covers the broadcast AM and FM bands, Shortwave and Air band.

It is best that your farther-in-law writes down what he is interested in. Having the rig that covers his interests (possibly including listening to broadcast AM & FM stations in bed at night or during the day) right from day one is never a bad thing and could save money in the long run.
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Last edited by Scan125; 11-06-2018 at 10:35 AM..
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Old 11-06-2018, 10:48 AM
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I'd stay away from the 8600 - at least on this side of the pond, it has a rather spotty reputation on HF.

Yes, the Alinco R8 would fit the bill - Universal has it for about USD430, but it does require a separate power supply which adds to the cost And certainly there are a good many SDRs (software define radios) that will do the job under the USD500 limit. If you want to research these, start with our wiki...

SDRs with HF Coverage - The RadioReference Wiki

If your father in law is a techie kinda guy, this would be right up his alley. It does take some work to get a SDR performing properly. .

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Old 11-06-2018, 10:48 AM
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Welcome to RadioReference! If you can tell us your father-in-law's rough location and what cities and counties he may be interested in listening to, we can make a good scanner recommendation. A good digital scanner, if one is needed, can eat up most or all of the $500 radio budget.
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Old 11-06-2018, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka3jjz View Post
Icom recently discontinued their well regarded R75 desktop- checking used boards like the one on Universal Radio's website is likely better than going to eBay, where you never know what you might get.
Truer words have never been spoken. I highly recommend the Icom R75 HF receiver for shortwave/ham/utility listening. Above all, my favorite HF receiver.

As for a scanner in and up to a $500 budget, I would hold out a little longer, as long as it takes to save an additional $150-200 and get a top of the line all-in-one scanner such as the Uniden SDS100, or hold on until after the new year and see what both Uniden and Whistler have to offer in the form of a base station sdr scanner. Next year should be interesting in the new scanner market

JD
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:13 AM
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shep911 - ICOM IC-R30 is your best bet , it covers 100 khz to 3304 MHz . its a Handheld Receiver that also has a lot of Scan and Search modes. It scans FAST at 200 Ch a Second . and can Decode AM, FM, NFM, SSB, CW, D-STAR, P25, dPMR, NXDN, DCR, it has Built in GPS and can Detect the Towers you Programmed in wethin 100 Miles. It also has Bluetooth for using a BT Speaker or Wireless Headphones for Discrete Listening. helpful for HF it has Dual VFO for Monitoring two Frequencies at a time , and it has Dual Record as well for Recording his Favorite broadcasts. It has a Large Clear Display with a Backlight. to help with HF it has a backlight. its IP57 Rugged , dust proof and waterproof.
it lasts 8 Hours on batteries and it can be AC powered as well. ICOM IC-R30 is $599.99 most stores.
Its a REAL sensitive Receiver without overloading on Strong signals. it can even be used to Monitor the Police using P25 Digital .
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Old 11-07-2018, 7:49 AM
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Keep in mind that none of these wideband receivers like the R30 can trunktrack. These receivers can't follow a conversation that jumps from one frequency to another; it will be very broken up and difficult if not impossible to follow

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Old 11-07-2018, 10:23 AM
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I've been fooling with radio for a long time, and my suggestion would be to use a purpose-built scanning receiver (Uniden, Whistler, etc) for local public safety/emergency service monitoring (especially trunking systems) and a purpose-built HF receiver for AM broadcast, short-wave broadcast, HF utilities, and amateur HF bands.

If monitoring from home, I would also suggest the use of desktop-style receivers rather than portable (handheld) models. While more portable and compact, handheld receivers can often have significant RF overload and/or intermod issues when connected to larger antennas.

Congratulations to your Father-in-Law on his recent retirement.

... my two cents.
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Old 11-07-2018, 2:03 PM
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Unfortunately the HF desktop market - putting aside the many HF ham transceivers - has virtually collapsed with only Alinco and Palstar still in the market. There's still many good used desktops out there, and you need to do some research to know which ones you might want to consider, hence the resources I mentioned in a previous message in this thread

SDRs have largely filled this void. Like I mentioned earlier, it's clear that it is something of a learning curve (one I hope to go on shortly) but offer a lot of flexibility and features simply not possible with most HF desktops of yesteryear

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Old 11-07-2018, 3:08 PM
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I have very mixed feelings about not just HF coms receivers but also the new SDR technology.

I'm probably more of a traditional radio kit fellow (and other equipment) where real hardware, real controls, knobs, buttons, AND REAL TACTILE FEEDBACK are what we want and "get off on".

I've dabbled with SDR on a dongle and on the IQ out of my Alinco DX-R8 and now have an SDRplay RSPduo to play with and learn from. Band scope/waterfall/etc is all great but there is something missing (at the moment).
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Old 11-07-2018, 4:16 PM
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I'll take a whack at the tabletop receiver choice. I haven't seen shep911's reaction to any of the commenfs made to date or a statement on the local environment (city, suburb, rural). So...

IMHO it is a waste of money to buy a tabletop (Alinco or Palstar or something used) or SDR unless at least some kind of antenna (say, a random wire with a minimum length of 30 fset) can be put up outside (with all the attendent safety stuff). If there is a high electrical noise environment or nearby high-powered AM broadcasters, those factors should be considered. It may not be worth playing in the frogpond.

What does your father-in-law want to listen to? My guess? He won't know.

First superficial impressions of the tabletops still on the market? (Looking at the specs...)

The Palstar lacks a narrow filter. A 2.5 kc filter won't hack it for digital modes.

The Alinco for one wearling glassss may well be a pain to use. Buttons are tiny and closely spaced. Not for me.

I would suggest a different approach to figuring out what may be of interest. Assuming there is a PC or tablet in the household, play with the shortwave receivers on the web. Most are free, some have small membership fees. I occasionally tune in these:

GlobalTuners - Home
https://sdr.hu
http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901

And there are others. Search for "remote receivers" and the like. These work on my Android tablet. I also listen to foreign broadcast stations using primarily https://tunein.com (or its app).and others.

There are many streaming sites too that I listen to at times, such as but limited to these.

https://mytuner-radio.com
Radio Garden

My best.recommendation? Don't spend big dollars without further research on what may be of interest on the shortwave bands.
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Old 11-07-2018, 5:09 PM
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I would only disagree with the assertion that a 2.5 khz filter won't hack it for digital modes. Many such non-ham modes really don't require that narrow a filter. If you're scanning the ham bands, yes it's helpful, but non ham modes like Sitor-B and HFDL simply don't require it. Modes like this can be copied with a good quality portable. Even the Radiogram tests which use ham modes further prove that you don't always need the extra selectivity. But I suspect that the OP's father in law is not yet into the digital world, at least not yet. Not until we find out more about his interests, as Tom says.

We have a list of online web receivers here, which includes what Tom gave, and others...

Live Tunable Receivers - The RadioReference Wiki

Yes, as I mentioned in my original message, the antenna is as important as the radio. A poor antenna connected to a good radio will produce poor results.

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Old 11-07-2018, 7:39 PM
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Mike, I was spoiled by the narrow JRC filters that made my NRD-525, NRD-535 and JST-245 just boogie in the digital HF modes I played with.
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Old 11-07-2018, 8:25 PM
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Understandable and I'm envious of anyone having those old rxs. Sadly not everyone can afford them, but you do see them every once in a while on the used market - for a lot of money...Mike
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Old 11-07-2018, 8:52 PM
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shep911,

Just wanted to jump in here and say Welcome to Radio Reference!

Are you a fellow E9-1-1 Center employee?

Cheers! Dave
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Old 11-08-2018, 2:39 AM
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From the first post, it sounds like father-in-law is already set up with a scanner and is now looking for a decent HF receiver - IMHO this is the best way to go. The DC-to-daylight receivers perform adequately well, but what happens if you want to listen to the local LEO's and scan the HF bands at the same time? Often they only have one antenna connection - what do you attach to that - a nice discone? That won't do HF very well! Two receivers, two antennas - works well. Universal radio was mentioned as a source - good idea - you'll get a money-back guarantee that you won't get on EPay. Stick with the well-known current manufacturers even if the radio is a few years old - Icom R75, JRC NRD 515 to 535, Kenwood R2000 to R5000 - all good. SDRs are great but they may be a bit too 'advanced' for a new user.
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