Author Topic: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout  (Read 13751 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« on: March 18, 2015, 08:47:50 PM »
It may have been mentioned before ::) that nighttime skywave broadcast AM radio is the way to get outside news in a grid-down situation.  Here's a mega-shootout of pretty much every AM-capable battery radio that matters, from a slightly obsessive radio enthusiast:
http://radiojayallen.com/am-portables-mega-shootout-2015-update/

It's good the way he's broken things out into six tiers of performance, makes it easy to sort through the options.  As much as I like my Tecsun 660, it has me seriously thinking about getting a C. Crane.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2015, 12:30:42 AM »
CC Radios rock!!

Amazing AM reception, good FM, great sound from the speaker, runs forever on 4 D cells, and stupid-easy to operate, unlike SW radios.

Offline The Professor

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2015, 01:45:54 PM »
I really wish they'd redefine "portable." 

"Portable," to me, is something I can throw in my BOB or GHB that doesn't weigh a pound or two (or three or a dozen).  The "Six-Star"-rated Panasonic RF-2200 weighs in at over 7 lbs with batteries.

I wish someone would do a similar articles on smaller radios that are more likely to be in your kit that run on AA or AAA batteries.  Radios I could stuff in my pocket and plug into my ear as I try to make my way home during a disaster.

The Professor

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 06:32:17 AM »
I really wish they'd redefine "portable." 

"Portable," to me, is something I can throw in my BOB or GHB that doesn't weigh a pound or two (or three or a dozen).  The "Six-Star"-rated Panasonic RF-2200 weighs in at over 7 lbs with batteries.

I wish someone would do a similar articles on smaller radios that are more likely to be in your kit that run on AA or AAA batteries.  Radios I could stuff in my pocket and plug into my ear as I try to make my way home during a disaster.

The Professor
I think portable is also relative based on what you want it to do.  My understanding of the antenne needed to have truly "good" AM reception makes "good" AM portables bigger than "good" portable FM radios.


Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2015, 08:18:37 AM »
Looks more geared toward AM DX work
where a prepared person would be better served by a pocked size low power consuming
AM/FM for more local news. What percentage of dirty fan incidents involve an area that a
tank of gas won't get you out of? Sure ,if you have the small dependable pocket radio
and want a bigger,slightly more capable radio...go for it.

Same goes for HAND CRANK...my 2 "D" Sony radio runs over 200 hours on a pair of"D" cells ,
why would I want to crank a handle every 20 minutes just to hear a radio?When for the same weight
I can have effective batteries.

I guess the hand crank auto will be the next trend?

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 05:53:15 AM »
I wish someone would do a similar articles on smaller radios that are more likely to be in your kit that run on AA or AAA batteries.  Radios I could stuff in my pocket and plug into my ear as I try to make my way home during a disaster.
Just published this weekend: http://swling.com/blog/2015/03/gary-debocks-2015-ultralight-radio-shootout-review/

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 06:33:24 AM »
Looks more geared toward AM DX work
where a prepared person would be better served by a pocked size low power consuming
AM/FM for more local news. What percentage of dirty fan incidents involve an area that a
tank of gas won't get you out of? Sure ,if you have the small dependable pocket radio
and want a bigger,slightly more capable radio...go for it.
Being able to get some news and information that's not some controlled message doled out by the local "authoratahs" is of huge importance in any major emergency.  Carl, you helped with Katrina, but you weren't down here in the middle of it.  The lack of any real outside news and the surplus of wild rumors for weeks on end was one of the worst parts of that storm's aftermath.  A $100 radio plus learning some DX skills fixes this.  In a real national emergency, I wouldn't want to just rely on local stations.

Quote
Same goes for HAND CRANK...my 2 "D" Sony radio runs over 200 hours on a pair of"D" cells ,
why would I want to crank a handle every 20 minutes just to hear a radio?When for the same weight
I can have effective batteries.
I agree.  They're little more than gimmicks.  Most of the examples I've seen are easily broken as well.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 08:44:30 AM »
Being able to get some news and information that's not some controlled message doled out by the local "authoratahs" is of huge importance in any major emergency.  Carl, you helped with Katrina, but you weren't down here in the middle of it.  The lack of any real outside news and the surplus of wild rumors for weeks on end was one of the worst parts of that storm's aftermath.  A $100 radio plus learning some DX skills fixes this.  In a real national emergency, I wouldn't want to just rely on local stations.
I agree.  They're little more than gimmicks.  Most of the examples I've seen are easily broken as well.

About that...two local New Orleans AM stations were on the air HOURS after the storm passed ,running on back-up generators and much of the news I got of Katrina was from them. They had the details of life lost and flooded areas that were important...while the Short Wave covered the storm a bit ...the shortwave stations HAD NO DETAIL that would be needed by locals that was not covered hours earlier by the local broadcasters doing their part as per FCC agreement.

While I enjoy news from a different viewpoint as do you,I also need TIMELY news with local detail that foreign broadcasters would not cover A different political slant can be important,but the weather is not yet political.Did you get any information that was of value due to political slant...perhaps I am in the dark still.

But my interest in Shortwave is much like yours,there are no wrong answers...I just don't tune Shortwave for the weather or traffic report or local news as those things are needed in detail and in a time that excludes the viability of shortwave ....

I was not physically in New Orleans,though our area had food and fuel shortages as 15% more people were in town and supply lines were not able to handle the direct load and re-supply and I got little sleep as 911 calls from much of the gulf region were mine to route to resources as best as I could to expedite rescue and support efforts.

I am glad that I wasn't there...here is where I did the most good as many of my friends did rush there to assist.

Was there any news of Katrina that was politically slanted ? I admit I was busy and did not listen to Short Wave at that time.

I started another radio thread that asked about the survival/prepper radios as this interests me(I actually started it before now)

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 07:59:53 PM »
Hey Carl, I think that I inadvertently tiptoed into tinfoily stuff here.  Let me back up...

After a couple of days, here on the coast we could get a couple of local FM stations.  One was a lash-up of whatever gear several stations in Biloxi & Gulfport could get to work, the other was a little low-power FM that a ham club in Hancock County runs.  But all they were saying was "get your water at the Walmart parking lot, MREs next door at the K-mart parking lot, and there's a temporary tent hospital in front of the flooded-out supermarket."  And of course there was WWL-AM in New Orleans, but they were concerned with the New Orleans situation.

What we couldn't get from this local stuff is what was going on in the rest of the country, useful info like "If I scavenge all the gasoline I can and try to drive out, can I get gas when I get close to empty somewhere in the middle of Alabama?  Or are pumps dry all over the southeast?"  Also, there were rumors going around about upcoming forced evacuations and gun confiscations.  Without outside sources, all we had were super-local get-me-through-today repeated announcements of "get your water at the Walmart parking lot, MREs next door at the K-mart parking lot, and there's a temporary tent hospital in front of the flooded-out supermarket."  Wash, rinse, repeat.  It got eerie after a while, and to be able to get some news, any news, from the rest of America would have been welcome.  That's where some decent nighttime AM DX would've come in, if I'd had a radio that was worth a hoot at the time.  That's why AM DX is so interesting, and why I think it is vital to any emergency comms plan.

Now about foreign SW, nah, not so important in such times.  Perhaps of some interest to dial around on after dark, but not nearly important as domestic AM DX.


Back to the New Orleans stations, I'm not even sure if WWL ever even went off the air.  I do remember listening to them that Monday evening and a little bit in the coming weeks, but they were wrapped up – understandably! – in their own situation.  Pretty remarkable the job they did.

And... once again, thanks for helping out in this whole mess.  Can't say that enough.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 10:54:32 PM »
No worries Alan...I wanted to see if I missed something...Katrina and Rita a week later created a situation that
covered an area larger than one would imagine ever happening. They called it a 100 year storm and though
New Orleans was the preoccupation of the Television News (what a joke they were re-running what little video
they had of a few bodies and a bunch of kids singing "please help us" while I talked to people who died ,waiting for rescue)

Where was I...oh yea ,the Mississippi gulf region took more storm damage, some entire towns were missing...not to
slight the flooding of New Orleans. I had been on call that night ,but breathed a sigh of relief and went to work as
I was not needed ....about 10 AM I got the call to go to the Communications Center...that was not planned either.

And YES,some police began to attempt to collect guns from people in their home(why not kindly ask the gangsters who were
armed and looting to hand over their guns? Most were not confronted if getting food/water...ln fact little was done with
those who needed huge flat screen TV's and BEER for survival...National Guard,Coast Guard ,and Navy were some of the real heros during the event...but then I was stressed from too much information and remember one call "Please find our two police offices who volunteered to help...the call ended with But don't call me with news after 9PM.....OMG ...I lost it and said ARE YOU SERIOUS? I HAVE BEEN HERE 6 DAYS WITH LITTLE SLEEP.......I HUNG UP.

Crap ,I wandered off again..

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 04:30:05 PM »
C. Crane just sent me an email for a sale on the CCRadio-2E thru the end of the month. 

It's only $10 off the usual $170, but there's no orphans listed on their site currently, so it's the best deal you'll likely find.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2015, 09:51:54 PM »
Just published this weekend: http://swling.com/blog/2015/03/gary-debocks-2015-ultralight-radio-shootout-review/
And now Universal is throwing in a free AN200 AM loop antenna with every Eton Traveler radio, until the end of June: http://universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/6003.html
Those AN200's just plain work for AM DXing.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2015, 06:17:34 AM »
And now Universal is throwing in a free AN200 AM loop antenna with every Eton Traveler radio, until the end of June: http://universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/6003.html
Those AN200's just plain work for AM DXing.

Now that is an impressive looking radio for the LIL or BOL  (Live In Location,I made up a new abbreviation)

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2015, 06:36:12 AM »
And now Universal is throwing in a free AN200 AM loop antenna with every Eton Traveler radio, until the end of June: http://universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/6003.html
Those AN200's just plain work for AM DXing.
You sir, are trouble.

I just ordered one.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2015, 06:47:35 AM »
You sir, are trouble.

I just ordered one.
I know a good lawyer, if domestic disharmony ensues.

Also, here's an old review of the AN-200: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=34568.0
Not much has changed since then.  Three years later the antenna still works and looks like new.  Broadcast AM hasn't changed much (except that Baldy & The Blonde are no longer on the air :(), and neither has WSM's music.  Things are good.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2015, 05:19:06 AM »
You sir, are trouble.

I just ordered one.
It just arrived.

Nerd night in the barracks tonight!

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2015, 06:20:17 AM »
It just arrived.

Nerd night in the barracks tonight!
Reminds me, that little Sony that Carl recommended, mine came in last week.  I've been casually testing it ever since, will post a review probably over the weekend.  So far it's pretty good, falling somewhere between the Tecsun 660 and Kaito 321 on local-but-weak AM stations.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2015, 07:59:06 AM »
Reminds me, that little Sony that Carl recommended, mine came in last week.  I've been casually testing it ever since, will post a review probably over the weekend.  So far it's pretty good, falling somewhere between the Tecsun 660 and Kaito 321 on local-but-weak AM stations.

GREAT!,I want to hear other opinions of the Ten Buck wonder.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2015, 01:10:35 AM »
Hmm.  So the AN200 antenna came with the Eton Traveler when I ordered from Universal Radio.  The Eton Traveler does not seem to have an antenna port that I can find.  Do I just clamp the antenna wire onto the telescoping whip antenna?  It can't hurt, just wonder if anyone has dealt with this before, is there a super-secret antenna port that isnt in the instructions?

Additional: Are ALL manufacturer radio instruction manuals crap? I havent gotten a good one yet.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2015, 05:43:04 AM »
Hmm.  So the AN200 antenna came with the Eton Traveler when I ordered from Universal Radio.  The Eton Traveler does not seem to have an antenna port that I can find.  Do I just clamp the antenna wire onto the telescoping whip antenna?  It can't hurt, just wonder if anyone has dealt with this before, is there a super-secret antenna port that isnt in the instructions?
No clamping required, in fact the whip antenna probably has little to do with the AM portion of the radio.  Point your radio in the direction of a weak station, as you usually would.  Put some kind of support under it to bring it up so it sorta will be in the middle of the ring.  Put the ring near or even over one end of the radio; again, it's not critical.  Now things are inductively coupled.  Turn the antenna's dial until the signal gets stronger.  That's all there is to it.

Kind of short on time this morning, but I'll try to post a picture later today.

Quote
Additional: Are ALL manufacturer radio instruction manuals crap? I havent gotten a good one yet.
I think that manuals written by native English speakers are bad enough.  Throw in cross-language difficulties and radio manuals are in a class of their own.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2015, 06:26:10 AM »
Hmm.  So the AN200 antenna came with the Eton Traveler when I ordered from Universal Radio.  The Eton Traveler does not seem to have an antenna port that I can find.  Do I just clamp the antenna wire onto the telescoping whip antenna?  It can't hurt, just wonder if anyone has dealt with this before, is there a super-secret antenna port that isnt in the instructions?

Additional: Are ALL manufacturer radio instruction manuals crap? I havent gotten a good one yet.

The tuned loop acts like a radio magnet.
It only needs to be near the radio to help.
Just like tin foil for your rabbit ears on the TV.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2015, 08:05:59 AM »
donkey shorts gentlemen

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2017, 05:49:23 AM »
AM radio shootout updated for 2017:
https://radiojayallen.com/am-portables-mega-shootout-2016-update/

Funny, it clearly says "2017" at the page, but the url is for last year...  meh.  Down at the bottom there's a whole bunch of little bug-out-bagable radios discussed too.

Offline Carl

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2017, 05:59:51 AM »
AM radio shootout updated for 2017:
https://radiojayallen.com/am-portables-mega-shootout-2016-update/

Funny, it clearly says "2017" at the page, but the url is for last year...  meh.  Down at the bottom there's a whole bunch of little bug-out-bagable radios discussed too.

Good find Alan,the UPDATE is a great addition.

Offline armymars

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2017, 04:21:01 PM »
Don't forget the G5-SSB from County Com.  It has an external rod antenna for AM. Small and good battery life.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2017, 05:55:23 PM »
Don't forget the G5-SSB from County Com.  It has an external rod antenna for AM. Small and good battery life.
By all accounts it's a fine radio.  Also down in the reviews, there's this:
Quote
UPDATE: I have evaluated a prototype of an updated version [of the CC Skywave travel radio] which will be essentially the same design but will add SSB reception. When the new model is finalized and available I will update the  review.
I really like my little Skywave, adding SSB to it would make it just about perfect.

Offline chad

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2017, 12:04:32 PM »
Thanks Alan....just dropped $170 for a C Crane :)


I justified it as it'll likely be the last am radio I need to buy.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2017, 12:59:33 PM »
Thanks Alan....just dropped $170 for a C Crane :)
8)  Very cool!

I saw your other post, but not having any direct experience with them, I'd say just try AM with the built-in antenna to begin with; it gets rave reviews.

As for me, I'll suffer ( ::)) along with my Tecsun 660 & tunable loop antenna for the time being.  I'd like to try a head-to-head comparison of the two that way.

Offline chad

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2017, 01:12:15 PM »
Yah I'll try the radio as is first. I read your review of the An200 antenna, I dropped one in my Amazon cart just in case.

I have horrible "RF noise" in my house, no am radio works well inside, outside there fine.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2017, 01:23:57 PM by chad »

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Broadcast AM Portable Radio Mega-Shootout
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2020, 11:23:37 PM »
I went down the AM rabbit-hole in 2020 and decided to try as many of the current productions on RadioJayAllen's list as I could.  The surprising thing to me is that CCrane has managed to remain at the top of the heap in AM performance, after all these years. 

I've been running the CCRadio-2 daily for the better part of a decade (with an older CCRadio-Plus before that) and it's an absolute workhorse.  Just to see if anything had changed I got the latest CCRadio-3, which has additional Bluetooth connectivity, and found that the AM performance is no better than my older models.  Curious about how the much cheaper analog tuned CCRadio-EP Pro performed, I found that the reception and speaker sound performance were pretty much equal to the more expensive digital model.  However, I find analog tuned radios to be prohibitively painful for finding specific stations with the overcrowding of broadcast radio in my area.  For someone out in a rural area with few stations I think the EP Pro would be pretty easy to live with as a daily driver, but for me it's more of toy to play DX with than a tool for finding specific stations efficiently.

Take either of the CCRadios outside on any given night and their TwinCoil Ferrite antennas easily pull in Seattle 1000 miles away with minimal static that's comfortable to listen to.  They're really amazing at pulling in AM DX without having to go the external antenna route.  I've got the Tecsun tuned loop mentioned above and it really does an amazing job at bringing in those same distant stations on just about any AM radio but none I have tried it with managed to improve their performance enough to equal the CCRadios' internal antenna.

I agree with Jay Allen that the digitally tuned Sangean PR-D4W is probably as close as any other brands have managed to get to the CCRadio's combination of performance and ease of use.  It's less than half the price, more compact, and runs forever off 4 D cells like the CCRadio-2e, with just a little less performance in terms of reception and speaker quality.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2020, 11:30:20 PM by FreeLancer »