Author Topic: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios  (Read 906 times)

Online Carl

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My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« on: August 31, 2017, 07:03:44 AM »


  I am a Ham,but I was once a normal person and so hope to progress this article toward Ham as this progresses .

First ,for the 'bag' radio where size and capability are important...I suggest a bar of soap sized radio for information gathering...AM/FM will do but Shortwave may be a plus.Local talk radio is a good intelligence tool and few emergencies will black out even local broadcasts.Size and common batteries with good operating time are important while DIGITAL tuning,alarm clock and thermometer etc can be good plusses. The internal AM antenna in these radios can provide rudimentary direction finding also,but a low cost compass would be better.

Pocket radios I has used and suggest,there are others ,but these I am familiar with.

($20) The Tecsun R818  is a two AA small radio with digital tuning,alarm clock and 8 shortwave bands. It is adequate as a radio with good battery life and works well on rechargeable AA eneloop cells.$20 price is a PLUS.

https://www.amazon.com/Tecsun-Portable-8-Band-Shortwave-Digital/dp/B0093W7VOE/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=TPM9QG9P8N0R4AS2RZ6G

($20)The Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM is a good quality TWO AA battery power manual tuning radio,basic and rugged with good long battery life,runs well on ENELOOP AA rechargeable cells too.It ,to me,is a better  receiver than the R818 ,but that may just be my arean experience.

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICFP26-Portable-Radio-Black/dp/B012F0DGYE/ref=sr_1_10?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1504167528&sr=1-10&keywords=radio

($45) The Tecsun PL-360 Digital is AM/FM/Shortwave  with auto scan ,clock with alarm,temperature readout THREE AA power (ENELOOP AA great) and many recharge options from USB. I used this while in a long term nursing home recovery and found over 80 hours of use before battery charge was needed and it worked well with the tough,indoor,operation in the facility. It is not a shirt pocket radio though many eye glasses sized carriers will adapt it well for protected carry.It is my choice for long term small package radio.

https://www.amazon.com/Tecsun-PL-360-Digital-Portable-Shortwave/dp/B004QJKO52/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_8?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=TPM9QG9P8N0R4AS2RZ6G


Next is the portable but larger,more run time radio for BOL ,office,or home use and this catagory is more fitted by a battery/electric radio with larger size and speaker.

($25) Sony ICF-F10 Two 2 Band FM/AM Portable will run from two "D" cell batteries only (no AC power) and I use rechargeable TENERGY 8,000 Mah cells that will run this simple radio well over 200 hours without need to recharge...I run it as my sleep radio to occupy my mind and sleep better by covering the silence and bumps in the night. Manual tuning and no other complications ,ake for a great sounding (large speaker) radio with adequate to better than average reception.

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICF-F10-Portable-Battery-Transistor/dp/B0081IKTN6/ref=sr_1_15?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1504167528&sr=1-15&keywords=radio

($20) Kaito KA390 Portable AM/FM Shortwave NOAA Weather Radio with LED Flashlight powered by THREE "D" cells ,AC adapter optional and the single LED light can be a night light to find your way to a 'good' flashlight. The radio has good reception and fair audio quality with speaker on par with the SONY ICF-F10 and good battery life as TENERGY rechargeables run well over 100 hours before recharge is needed. SALE PRICE makes it a budget winner.

 https://www.amazon.com/Kaito-Portable-Shortwave-Weather-Flashlight/dp/B071DXSZ7Z/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_9?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=TPM9QG9P8N0R4AS2RZ6G


For shortwave with SSB radios ,there are many choices , I now just use my Ham radio ,but have used others in the past and while it takes more hands on skill and knowledge of Ham bands to make use of these radios,they can be a benefit for knowledge though because of how shortwave works...local information may be difficult to access as locally HAM HF (short wave) signals can be heard from 10 miles or so and then ,after reflecting from the ionosphere ,be heard fro 500 to thousands of miles away...also this reflecting happens at night on signals below 10 MHZ and above 10 MHZ during daytime and as there are BANDS and not set frequencies ...Hams can be harder to locate with their much narrower (3,000 hertz verses much wider commercial station)

($85) Budget radio  Tecsun PL-600 AM/FM/LW SSB Shortwave Radio is a budget FOUR "AA" battery/AC powered and can use and CHARGE the AA ENELOOP cells with the provided charger. Many alarm/clock options and great digital tuner with good sensitivity and better than average selectivity...works best with external (35 feet  or so) long wire antenna for shortwave/Ham reception but will do OK with the built in whip for commercial reception.

 https://www.amazon.com/Tecsun-PL-600-Shortwave-Radio-Black/dp/B00ESUOMFW/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1504182637&sr=1-5&keywords=ssb+radio+receiver


My current choice,though with a non-standard (18-650)battery is Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception as it has a real quality receiver with better than most sensitivity and selectivity and many digital options.

https://www.amazon.com/Tecsun-Portable-Conversion-Shortwave-Reception/dp/B00IDM4N5K/ref=sr_1_8?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1504182637&sr=1-8&keywords=ssb+radio+receiver


There you have it and note that TWO WAY radio was not even added ,though a good UV-82 or other China Talkie have many options as a flashlight,audible alarm/attention getter and transmit capability...though many options are available...I posted this as a non-Ham post as most information will be gained while LISTENING and unless you have a 'radio community' already or soon to be developed ,you have few people to turn to in time of need anyway. I may cover my thoughts on Ham and NON Ham radios one day,though that has been done already and can be searched easily and I find it not useful to have two way radio without trusted community like one has with Ham radio.

  I am sure I missed something as this is posted off the top of my head and may add more as discussion progresses...post your success and failure to benefit others as rarely are radios,especially two-way,as advertised.

Feel free to ad your tried and true experience with SSB...especially if you are a non Ham ,for the benefitt of others.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.

Online Carl

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 04:05:55 AM »
  I thought I would include the County Comm GP5 as a radio some rave about though I feel it lacks performance for tuning and actually listening to SSB signals as the tuning does not tune in fine enough step to adequately tune Ham operators who rarely use exact ,wide,channels that are more easily tuned. Gimmick appeal is high for this though I find little utility to justify it over the PL-600 or the same size PL-660 ($45) for general and size as a typical easy to carry radio.
I have had hands on play with this $80 or so radio and while it can perform...it is not as capable as the $85 PL-600 I listed above and I would still pick the PL-600 UNLESS SIZE was a major requirement above performance and ease of use.


FROM REVIEW :

The GP5/SSB accommodates SSB by allowing the listener to select either the upper or lower sideband, then use the BFO function to help fine tune and zero-beat a signal.

Specifically, here’s how to tune to an SSB (phone) amateur radio signal with the GP5/SSB:

Turn on either the upper or lower sideband, depending on the meter band (generally, 40 meters and below are lower; all else, upper).
When you hear a signal, use the 1 kHz tuning increments to find where it’s strongest.
Now, press the BFO button once to activate BFO tuning; the U or L (indicating upper or lower) will begin to blink.
While the sideband indicator is blinking, use the tuning wheel to adjust the BFO. Adjust tuning until the voices in the signal sound natural.
Once you’ve done this a couple of times, the process becomes second nature.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the SSB functionality and performance. While I prefer either very fine tuning increments, or a separate BFO knob (no room for that on this tiny radio), I appreciate that CountyComm has used the BFO function to eliminate the need for a separate tuning wheel.

Back to my comments.

  ALL shortwave radios will benefit from a wire antenna of 17 to 50 feet in length with a simple gator clip to aide reception of narrower,weaker,Ham radio signals and some knowledge of Ham frequency bands and time of day usage of the bands is a benefit to successful reception. The PL-600 with a cell phone or PC program was able to receive PSK Ham digital signals and display text while the GP5 had only limited success though I did not have much time to possibly get better digital reception so I don't discount it as possible.Note that even the built in whip can help tailor reception by holding VERTICAL for distance and also more NOISE from atmospherics and remembering horizontal can have less noise and even allow more localized reception on 80-60-40 meter bands for NVIS in the you to 500 mile area closer to you so as to perhaps gain better local intelligence as vertical antennas will not receive these more local signals and this vertical/horizontal tip works with the whip or the wire antennas.

I will probably wind up with a GP-5 as it is cool and hard to resist yet with all of it's features I still think it will be a frustrating radio to deal with tuning Ham SSB for someone without lots of practice and some knowledge of Ham bands and propagation and there is no easy button for skill.

Link to GP5 review from more involved test including off air recordings.

https://swling.com/blog/2014/12/a-review-of-the-countycomm-gp5ssb-portable-radio-a-great-emergency-portable/

https://radiojayallen.com/tecsun-pl-365countycomm-gp-5ssb-amfmsw-radio-with-ssb/
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 04:30:15 AM by Carl »
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.

Offline Cedar

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 08:20:41 AM »
.
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Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 08:22:55 AM »
I am a Ham,but I was once a normal person...

Carl, you're the best!  ;D

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2017, 08:59:39 AM »

...but I was once a normal person...

I have my doubts... ;D
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Online Carl

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2017, 09:37:21 AM »
I have my doubts... ;D

I had a $289.00 (only 4 functions,get one at dollar store these days)  calculator AND a slide rule hanging from my belt in high school and KNEW HOW TO USE IT..and a pocket protector...yes ,looking like Drew Carey ...I was not the babe magnet I am today. Add the bonus that my Dad was ROTC instructor and I was on the Air Force ROTC drill team and we wore uniforms to classes ...yea,I was popular...maybe the reason I don't mind living alone,used to it.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2017, 10:03:36 AM »
I had a $289.00 (only 4 functions,get one at dollar store these days)  calculator AND a slide rule hanging from my belt in high school and KNEW HOW TO USE IT..and a pocket protector...yes ,looking like Drew Carey ...I was not the babe magnet I am today. Add the bonus that my Dad was ROTC instructor and I was on the Air Force ROTC drill team and we wore uniforms to classes ...yea,I was popular...maybe the reason I don't mind living alone,used to it.

Yeah, but you know nerds are cool now, right?

You made it!

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2017, 10:55:05 AM »
Yeah, but you know nerds are cool now, right?

You made it!

You can't judge a book by it's cover.
Plenty of guys how earn $20 million in compensation wear hoodies:


Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2017, 10:59:54 AM »
You can't judge a book by it's cover.
Plenty of guys how earn $20 million in compensation wear hoodies:

The best advice I gave my kids' babysitter was to NOT date the high school quarterback or the most popular guy.  Make friends with the nerds.  They're good people, you'll actually want to have conversations with them, they will appreciate you since you're one of the few that pay attention to them, and 20 years from now, they won't be coming home from work smelling like movie popcorn butter.  ;)

I work with a few guys that made millions on one or two brilliant ideas, and you would never know it by looking at them.

Offline Greekman

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2017, 09:26:11 AM »
nice info on the tuning ability Carl.... you prevented me making a cheap mistake and THEN (if ever) buying right

Online Carl

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Re: My thoughts and recommendations for communications radios
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2017, 12:37:06 PM »
nice info on the tuning ability Carl.... you prevented me making a cheap mistake and THEN (if ever) buying right

I would suggest ,before buying,that people borrow a SSB receiver for a few days and see how the tuning and accessibility of Ham radio signals differs from simply locating a wide,commercial signal and also give thought to how much real information can be gained from listening to people hundreds or thousands of miles away. I don't dismiss the idea but few Hams really share much information ,unless during a specific NET and I found more ,direct info during Katrina by listening (at night) to local radio stations in New Orleans area as they dispensed locations for shelter ,food,safety over AM radio.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.