Want to listen to HF

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wildbillx

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Hello, Ive been into scanning for a while and want to try listening to HF. I am mainly looking for a radio to listen to military, uscg, and marine comms as I live 2 miles from the beach. I would like some input for a starter radio under $200 and an antenna for under $50. I know you get what you pay for but I just want to see what I can get without spending a lot. Thanks
 

ka3jjz

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At that price range for the radio, you will be limiting yourself to a mid-price portable (or maybe - just maybe - an older HF ham radio, many of which have a general coverage rx built in). I'm not up on the SDR market - let's see if someone jumps in on that.

In any case, we have a wiki category that links LOTS of places for reviews. Do your homework first!

Category:Receiver Reviews - The RadioReference Wiki

If you're using a portable, then active loops are a good choice. Their signal levels aren't as prone to overload the front end of a radio, and the better ones have a gain control. The Sony AN-LP1 is widely considered to be the king of the hill - if you find one in good shape, grab it - it's been out of production for awhile.

Anyway this article has a few such loops that are HF capable (most are MW only), and would at least give you some ideas of what you are looking for...

Loops - The RadioReference Wiki

If you want to put some wire up, at least with a portable, don't put up more than 30-40 foot or so, or you will risk overloading, particularly at night when the lower bands really open up now. Watch out for static discharges - if you clip a wire antenna to a whip, static can blow the front end amp pretty easily. There's a simple schematic about 1/2 way down this page for something you can build to help alleviate this problem...

WD8DAS Spitfire Page

Finally we have several sites linked with online tunable HF radios - even some SDRs!

Live Tunable Receivers - The RadioReference Wiki

best regards...Mike
 

ka3jjz

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If you don't mind having a radio married to a PC, the TenTec RX320D is a fine choice. Used, you might be able to find it for around 250 or so (just a little more than your budget - save!); it's not a software defined radio (but it is software driven), but it's a superb performer on HF SSB. Depending on what software you use, you can have any number of frequency files so you can choose from whatever topic you want to listen to at the time.

I had one for a number of years. Great little black box. The RX320 yahoo group has lots of info on it as well

best regards..Mike
 

joen7xxx

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You could also find a good used HF amateur rig. Most post 1980 radios have general coverage receivers. Just don't transmit without the propeer license. Look for a local ham club. Many hams have older rigs that they will part with, and yu get to see if it works before you pay, (usually).
 

SCPD

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WildBill,

Based upon your original post, I just wanted to make sure that you were aware: this kind of traffic you're seeking is by no way 'routine' and isn't exactly consistent.

The frequencies, time, propagation, mode, encryption on/off, transmitting location -- all factor into the equation of "listening" -- and one thing that is a must is patience.

I'm not trying to convince to you give up on HF -- I just wanted to make sure you understand that it's nothing like VHF/UHF/Trunking scanning. :)

Portable SW listening is a challenge and that's presuming you're in a quiet, noise-free location to begin with.
 

brandon

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To get your feet wet I would recommend you check out SDR-RADIO.com > Home
Download the software and connect to one of the New Jersey nodes (there are several). This will give you a general idea of what to expect on HF and the type of signals received from your location.
 

ka3jjz

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The East Coast has more than its share of military HF comms - but like Nick implied in his message, it's very much catch as catch can - and you must understand that, unlike scanners, that HF is not open 24 hours a day on all frequencies....best regards..Mike
 

wildbillx

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Thanks guys, I am aware that it isnt like vhf/uhf stuff. I started getting bored with that so Ive been listening to fed stuff (not so busy,when not in enc.) and also milair ( very busy just off the coast). So i figured to see what HF or satcoms has to offer. By no way do I expect to be a pro at it, but I was thinking about expanding my knowledge. If anyone else has any input by all means let me know. Thanks again.
 

ratboy

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The main thing is not to get a junk receiver to start with. An SDR would be good, but nothing really is as user friendly as a decent tuning knob for slowly working through the freqs. The mouse works ok, but it's just not the same. There are a lot of decent $200-300 buck used receivers on ebay daily. Some of the ones that look great are dogs, but if you check out the reviews, you can find a decent digital HF receiver for less than $300.
 

w2xq

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There are tried and tested used SW tabletop receivers that would be a better choice than any portable or an HF transceiver. Look to Universal Radio and/or Grove Enterprises as a source. I've used and reviewed the ICOM R-71A and R-75, and the Japan Radio Company (JRC) NRD-525 and NRD-535, among many others. You'll probably find them with additional bandwidth filters installed. All can handle the longest random wire or Beverage antenna you may attach. Of all the receivers on the table in the 1980s and 1990s, I have chosen to keep my second NRD-525 as on European longwave broadcasters (152 kHz and up) the digital display noise is a bit lower than in the 535. Hope this helps.
 
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