Shortwave Followup

My earlier shortwave post, written during a fit of rage at my frustrating, useless $35 Radio Shack box of disappointment, was short on details. Lets add some sideboards:

  • Price: Price range of $100 – $200. If I can get sufficient quality/features at $50 I’ll buy whomever recommends the right solution a beer as a finder’s fee. I’d love a $400+ HAM transceiver but it isn’t in the budget. If I spend in excess of $200 I will find myself sheepishly apologizing to Mrs. Curmudgeon for my my wastrel foolishness. Who needs that kind of pressure?
  • Price / Bacon: I’m willing to trade up to 1/2 pig’s worth of pork for a very awesome transceiver. It would have to be pretty impressive ’cause bacon is way cool. For a good deal I’ll deliver. (Road trip!) I’m just puttin’ it out there.
  • Used: If it’s certain to work I don’t mind used.
  • Old: I’m old, I can live with tubes and/or desk systems.
  • Ugly: I’m ugly too. I can live with that.
  • Portability / Size: I’m flexible. If it’s lighter than a bowling ball and smaller than a ream of paper it’s golden. It doesn’t have to fit in a shirt pocket. If there’s something dirt cheap and/or super awesome (tubes?) I can live with a behemoth that requires a fork lift.
  • Truck Radio: Why don’t they come in configurations like a CB or dash radio for my truck? Ever listen to FM on a long trip? It kills brain cells. I’ve never had much luck with a portable SW tossed on the passenger seat but it would be cool if it worked.
  • SDA: I’m not allergic to software defined radio but I only do Linux and computers piss me off. If a SDA can be configured on a laptop and used without a laptop tether I might give it a shot. If it’s dirt cheap or super cool I’m all ears.
  • Speaker: I’d prefer at least one speaker integrated in the case but it’s not a deal breaker. Cheap external powered PC type speakers and a headphone plug may be good enough.
  • External Speaker: If it doesn’t have a plug for external speakers I can’t run it through my truck’s dash radio or plug it into my computer for Fldig. That would suck.
  • Power: The best solution would be plain old batteries (or rechargeable) with a plug for charging/running on AC. I’m not ruling out a deep cell “grid down” backup but that’s rather extreme. I am not impressed by hand cranks.
  • Antenna: I’d like something small that’s attached to or carried with the radio and a plug for when I get off my ass and string X meters of longwire across the pig pen. If it has no plug that’s a bad thing.
  • Rugged Case: If it’s tough enough to toss in the passenger seat of the truck without falling apart that’s good enough. It doesn’t have to be waterproof.
  • AM/FM: Required so I can sneer at Rush Limbaugh and retch at NPR.
  • WX: Not required but appreciated. Bonus points for alarm.
  • 2m: Bonus points if it can pick up 2 meter band. Not required.
  • Transmit: If it can transmit that’s cool. My price range may be too low for that.
  • MP3: A timer that will record a broadcast in the middle of the night is “neat” but I’m not sure I’d use it much.
  • Digital: A tenkey to type in a frequency is pretty nice.
  • Dials: All men like to turn knobs and dials.

I really do appreciate all recommendations. Unlike politicians I’m open to the idea of making better choices with the benefit of other people’s experiences. It might take several weeks before I muster the funds for a purchase but once I buy something I’ll post a picture; then I’m putting a bullet through the pathetic Radio Shack portable.


P.S. Who is the euroweenie that decided to call “shortwave” by the utterly uncool marketing term “worldband”? Is that new? I was not informed. “Worldband radio” smacks of African children singing socialist propaganda in Esperanto. WTF?

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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17 Responses to Shortwave Followup

  1. Wolfman says:

    This one seems to fit your parameters

    No clue as to the quality if construction or the machine’s actual ability, though. Just found it on Amazon.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We unwashed masses demand video of the execution. Or maybe a graphic still or two of the aftermath, that would be ok.

    • Patience… Castle Curmudgeon is a bit light this week. It’ll be a few weeks before I buy a SW.

      On a related note… I wonder if I should add some tannerite to the festivities? Considering Radio Shack’s craptacular circuitry the first time that radio will react to input may be when it vaporizes.

  3. M1A2Panzer says:

    Check out the Yaesu VX-3R. Its a dual-band ham transceiver with wideband receive. No personal experience, but its supposed to have excellent shortwave reception once you get rid of the stock rubber-ducky.

    For receive only, the Tecsun PL660 listed above is supposed to be good, but wiring in a non-stock antenna could get interesting.

    Available at Gigaparts for $182

  4. D. Augustyn says:

    $225 AOR AR8000 (any version)
    $200 AOR AR-Mini
    $250 Icom R5 or R10
    $314.95 (brand new) Kenwood TH-F6a (tx on 2m/1.25m/70cm) (ssb receive)
    $309.95 (brand new) Yaesu FT-1Dr (but no SSB)

    At about $300 you get into the range where it’s more cost effective (in my opinion) to go with a used amateur HF radio. Used HF/VHF/UHF radios start at $400, and go up.

  5. PJ says:

    This is the one I got:

    I think I just need to get serious with the antenna. It runs on batteries (AAs) but you can plug in an AC adapter too (not included).

  6. wyowanderer says:

    I’m a little late to this party, and no doubt I’ll see what you bout, but the best SW receiver (I know, you want a transceiver) I’ve ever seen is my Hallicrafters S-38E MKII. I have 2, and they’re great radios. Either one, using a slinky for an antenna, will pick up better than my old Panasonic SW, my C Crane SW, and my small Grundig SW. And I can fix the Hallicrafters myself.

    • Better late than never. Actually I bought a TecSun PL-880 over Christmas. I wasn’t going to do it but some tips on my blog made it seem like a good idea.

      I’ve been planning an “after action report and product review” after I’ve messed with it for a while. So far I’m pleased, but I haven’t had time to build an external antenna and I’m curious to see how that goes with it.

      Slinky you say?

      • wyowanderer says:

        Yup. Run a stout cord through it between two anchor spots (attic is perfect) so it doesn’t sag, tie your antenna wire to it, and go. You can hang it in the living room, depending on your wife and personal taste. The cord isn’t strictly required, either, but there’s a bit of sag without. If your radio has provisions for grounding, do it-makes a difference on some radios. Furnace ducts are great grounds, usually.
        Examples here: and here:
        No need to buy a bunch of shit to make it work. If you spend much, spend your cash on a good outside antenna and insulate it from the house so lightning doesn’t burn the house down.
        Best of luck!

      • Well the plan was an outside random length wire antenna but it’s cold out and I’m not overly motivated. I intend on grounding the outdoor antenna at a pipe where I also ground an electric cattle fence (assuming that’s OK?).

        For the indoor antenna I think my radio just has a plug, no grounding facility.

        From a radio standpoint, does it matter if the slinky sags? I might be ordering a slinky on Amazon soon. (And a plug to solder to it.)

      • wyowanderer says:

        I don’t know whether the fencer ground will cause trouble, but it’s just ground and won’t hurt. If the slinky sags it just looks a bit more redneck.

      • I’ve delayed antenna tinkering until spring. I decided to get serious and sting something big… but not over the snowdrifts.

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