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fredg

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I have a simple question.... I have been a scanner listener for 30+ years and a Ham for 20+ years. I have not been a very active Ham and only have a Tech license (VHF and UHF only).

I am interested in listening to 20 meter Ham radio operators to get a feel for things and help me decide if I want to bother upgrading my license, however I am very much more a listener than a talker.

This brings me to Shortwave radios... I have been looking at the RadioShack DX-3xx and DX-4xx series of radios, these seem like they should do what I want and are fairly inexpensive and available on eBay.

Dumb question time... Will these radios receive the 20 meter Ham band? It would seem so as they appear to receive in the 14MHz range.

I just can't seem to wrap my head around HF stuff.... I have been reading but it's just not clicking.

Thanks for the help!!
 

w2xq

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I'd get something better than those RS radios as filters are too wide to be that effective on SSB. Lots of discussions here on RR should help; Google, Bing and Yahoo search will uncover more than you'll ever want to read.

More importantly, don't depend on 20m to give you an insight to HF operations. Every band has its differing set of characters. :D
 

fredg

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Thanks trsundstrom! But I still am not clear if these radios (The RS DX series) or other standard shortwave radios will receive 20 meter ham?

I have been reading a lot but can not seem to get the answer to the above question...
 

Token

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If the radio in question covers the frequency range (14000 to 14350 kHz) and is capable of SSB operation, then it will receive 20 meter ham band traffic. Most voice traffic will be in USB, and CW or digital modes can be copied using SSB settings. As examples, the RS DX-150, 160, 300, and 302 will all receive 20 meter ham stuff. But yes, there are better radios.

T!
 

fredg

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If the radio in question covers the frequency range (14000 to 14350 kHz) and is capable of SSB operation, then it will receive 20 meter ham band traffic.
Thank you that's what I was after! No doubt there are better radios and I'm sure the range is $15-$10,000+ but I am just after something to play with.

I just bought an old RS Pro-2006 in mint condition. The owner added a jack for 455KHz to allow the 2006 to receive SSB with a shortwave receiver like described here near the bottom:

http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/tech/radios/mods/tandy/pro2006.mod

This stuff is totally beyond me and I can't even wrap my head around what SSB is. And I REALLY can't figure out why you would even need to do this to the Pro-2006 since the shortwave radio would have SSB already... It's really frustrating as I am used to understanding complex topics (I have been working as a Computer Systems/Network Engineer for the past 20 years) I guess I need to do a lot more reading!!

In the meantime, can someone explain the SSB mod to the Pro-2006?

Thanks again!
 
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ka3jjz

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fred please ask such questions about the 2006 mod in the Radio Shack forum.

More questions about shorwave equipment (receivers) are always welcome here...Mike
 

WB4CS

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Greetings!

If you haven't already seen this, here's a detailed article on single side band: Single-sideband modulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This might be a little more less technical: SSB What is Single Side Band - Introduction to Single Side Band Operating For The New Ham Radio Operator!

The reason SSB is used on the ham bands on HF is due to it's small amount of bandwidth that's used. Since the HF ham bands are small (compared to VHF and above) there's not enough room to use AM or FM modes. SSB takes up a small amount of bandwidth, thus there can be many more conversations going on at one time.

FM is generally used on the upper portion of 10 meters. AM can be used anywhere in HF Voice spectrum, but there are certain frequencies that are "gentlemen's agreement" that are set aside for AM operations. SSB is the main mode of voice communication on the HF bands.

On 160, 75, and 40 meters lower sideband (LSB) is used. On 20 meters and above upper sideband (USB) is used.

If you decide to use a cheaper shortwave radio to listen in, be sure you have a good outdoor antenna. The built in whip antenna will not do a very good job of picking up amateur stations and it might make your listening experience disappointing.

Here's a good starting point for finding out what each band is capable of: HF BANDS - WHAT TO EXPECT - ALL ABOUT OUR HF BANDS Some HF bands are better at night, others are better during the day. Some are better for local communications, while others can open up to the entire world.

Hope that helps!
 

Boombox

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I know that the Radio Shack DX-398, DX-394, DX-390, DX-392 and the DX-440 will all receive the 20 meter ham band, both CW and SSB.

Of those five radios, the DX-398 (an RS badged Sangean ATS-909) is the best ham band performer. I've had one since the late 1990's, and use it all the time.

The DX-398 is sensitive and selective; it has independent USB and LSB. It has a lot of memory 'pages', which can be useful. Also has a world clock which can be used to guess the grey line, by toggling the clock through the time zones. There are other features you won't really need, but they're useful to have at times if you want to use them.

It's weak off the whip on SW, so you would want to clip some wire to the whip antenna or make an external antenna by soldering some wire (even 15-20 feet will do) to a mono 1/8 inch plug, and plug it into the external antenna jack.

I get plenty of Ham and SW stations with just 20 ft. of wire. For the the 20 meter ham band, you just dial up the frequency, press the AM / USB / LSB button until "USB" shows up on the readout, and then use the up and down buttons or tuner knob to zero in on a station. There is a step button next to the tuner knob that turns it into a fine tuner, for clarifying the USB signal.

The radio also has a good AM section for DXing, and FM DXers also have also used it. It also will get longwave.

The only negative about the 398 is that it is a battery hog, so if you get one, plan to buy lots of AA's -- or get an AC adaptor (I have a 4 x C Cell battery pack I plug into mine -- lasts a month or more, depending on use).

The other Radio Shack radios I listed above are also adequate for monitoring -- all have their strengths and weaknesses. I use my DX-390 a lot, and have had no problems monitoring the ham bands with it. But it can get its RF amp transistor static zapped if you're not careful -- I wired protection diodes in the back of mine (an easy fix). Some guys clip diodes or resistors between their external antenna and the ground. The DX-394 has a lot of fans, it has independent USB / LSB and is easy to use. It can overload, so you'd use a shorter antenna with it. The DX-440 is an excellent radio but the others have more sensitivity, and because the 440 is an older model chances may be higher it would need some maintenance.

There are other RS 300 and 400 series radios that probably have SSB but I haven't tried any of them.

I hope this helps in some way.
 

WB4CS

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fredg: Another thing to consider and just throwing an idea out there... Depending on what your budget is you may want to consider getting a real HF radio instead of a SW receiver.

You can usually always find some good used amateur HF equipment online under the $500 mark, and even some entry level new HF radios run about $500. Sure, it's a couple of $100 more than a SW receiver but it will receive the ham bands much much better than a SW radio designed for SW AM broadcast reception.

There's several benefits to getting an HF radio over a SW receiver. If you decide you want to "go for it" and upgrade your license, you'll already be one step closer to getting on the air. If you listen around and decide HF isn't for you, you can sell the HF radio and probably get back most of what you spent on it. There's also the advantage of having a much better receiver, and it will give you a better first hand experience on how to tune around the HF bands.

If your budget doesn't allow for buying an HF radio, you may be able to find someone on the local VHF/UHF repeaters that might have an old stand-by HF radio they'd let you borrow for a little while. I've known several older hams that have more radios than they actually use, and will sometimes allow newcomers to borrow an extra radio until the new operator gets their feet wet and can purchase their own. It might be a long shot, but maybe worth a try.

Also, don't forget, even with a Tech license you already have SOME HF privileges. There's a small section of 10 meters that Tech's have SSB Voice privileges, and a few small portions of the lower bands where you can operate CW if you know Morse Code.
 

fredg

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I know that the Radio Shack DX-398, DX-394, DX-390, DX-392 and the DX-440 will all receive the 20 meter ham band, both CW and SSB.

Of those five radios, the DX-398 (an RS badged Sangean ATS-909) is the best ham band performer. I've had one since the late 1990's, and use it all the time.

The DX-398 is sensitive and selective; it has independent USB and LSB. It has a lot of memory 'pages', which can be useful. Also has a world clock which can be used to guess the grey line, by toggling the clock through the time zones. There are other features you won't really need, but they're useful to have at times if you want to use them.

It's weak off the whip on SW, so you would want to clip some wire to the whip antenna or make an external antenna by soldering some wire (even 15-20 feet will do) to a mono 1/8 inch plug, and plug it into the external antenna jack.

I get plenty of Ham and SW stations with just 20 ft. of wire. For the the 20 meter ham band, you just dial up the frequency, press the AM / USB / LSB button until "USB" shows up on the readout, and then use the up and down buttons or tuner knob to zero in on a station. There is a step button next to the tuner knob that turns it into a fine tuner, for clarifying the USB signal.

The radio also has a good AM section for DXing, and FM DXers also have also used it. It also will get longwave.

The only negative about the 398 is that it is a battery hog, so if you get one, plan to buy lots of AA's -- or get an AC adaptor (I have a 4 x C Cell battery pack I plug into mine -- lasts a month or more, depending on use).

The other Radio Shack radios I listed above are also adequate for monitoring -- all have their strengths and weaknesses. I use my DX-390 a lot, and have had no problems monitoring the ham bands with it. But it can get its RF amp transistor static zapped if you're not careful -- I wired protection diodes in the back of mine (an easy fix). Some guys clip diodes or resistors between their external antenna and the ground. The DX-394 has a lot of fans, it has independent USB / LSB and is easy to use. It can overload, so you'd use a shorter antenna with it. The DX-440 is an excellent radio but the others have more sensitivity, and because the 440 is an older model chances may be higher it would need some maintenance.

There are other RS 300 and 400 series radios that probably have SSB but I haven't tried any of them.

I hope this helps in some way.

That helps very much! Thank you! I am thinking I am going to try and find a nice used DX-398 as it seems I can get one for around $100-$150 which is my budget right now.

And thanks to everyone else that posted! I have learned a bunch!
 

SCPD

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fredg, for the price range, check out the Kaito 1103, or the Tecsun PL 660, both can be bought new for that amount. Check out Universal Radio and AES Ham. E ham. net reviews will also give you reviews on these radio's as others.
 

fredg

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fredg, for the price range, check out the Kaito 1103, or the Tecsun PL 660, both can be bought new for that amount. Check out Universal Radio and AES Ham. E ham. net reviews will also give you reviews on these radio's as others.
I looked at the Tecsun PL 660, looks nice and there are lots of new ones on eBay. I can get one from Hong Kong for $85 LOL.

So just to confirm.... the Tecsun PL 660 will do everything the DX-396 will right?

Edit to add: I am really liking the Tecsun PL 660, for around $130 shipped (from the USA) it sounds perfect! As long as it will allow me to get the HF Ham bands...
 
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SCPD

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Yes, I do have the PL660. One thing to mention as others will, I use a random wire,twenty feet, connected to the external jack, depending on your location and conditions, too much may overload the radio, you might be able to use more. It is an experiment thing, you mentioned 20 meters, at two this afternoon I was able to hear a ham from Minnesota talking to others in Canada and the US from here in Florida. I read your post and after cutting the lawn I figured I give 20 a shot, and that's what I came across, time to clean up, best of luck !
 

SCPD

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fredg, one last review before you go blind, check out SWLing Post, Thomas does a review on the 880 and a comparison to the 660. No way am I an expert, half the fun to this is experiment and reading post's here, recent as well as past , and doing research as you are doing. Give thing's a try, if it works, great, let us know !
 

fredg

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fredg, one last review before you go blind, check out SWLing Post, Thomas does a review on the 880 and a comparison to the 660. No way am I an expert, half the fun to this is experiment and reading post's here, recent as well as past , and doing research as you are doing. Give thing's a try, if it works, great, let us know !
That was a great review! Did it help me decide? Heck no! LOL

Even Thomas can't really decide, his answer is get them both! I think I am leaning to the 880 based on what he said here:

Thomas SWLing Post said:
If your goal is to listen to SSB broadcasts (pirate radio, utility stations, ham radio traffic, so forth) both radios will do a fine job, but the PL-880 is more versatile and, again, has better selectivity.
Thanks again, it will be a few weeks before I can get one but I will post when I do!

EDIT: So now I am leaning to the PL-660 LOL!! I like the fact it uses 4AA batteries rather than the single Li-ion battery the PL-880 uses...
 
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Boombox

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So just to confirm.... the Tecsun PL 660 will do everything the DX-396 will right?
I've never used a Tecsun but from reading about it, it looks like it has the same basic capabilities. Main difference might be build quality. But it would be a new radio.
 
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