NASWA Journal Columns · Equipment Reviews

Alan Johnson, N4LUS • 2490 Sharon Way • Reno, NV 89509 alanjohnson◊

Equipment Reviews, January 1998

The Drake R8B Communications Receiver

A frequent complaint that SW listeners and DXers have had for years has been that receiver manufacturers don’t listen to what hobbyists say they need and want in receivers. I’m pleased to say that the R. L. Drake Company has invalidated that argument with their R8 series of communications receivers.

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Equipment Reviews, September 1997

The Alpha Delta Variable Response Console

Let’s face it–shortwave broadcasting is not a high-fidelity medium. Most of the reason is the inherent noise and interference of the medium as well as the vagaries of ionospheric propagation. Some receivers can be part of the problem due to small speakers and weak, non-optimal audio amplifiers. There is a constant conflict between the desire for wide-band filter and audio response for “arm-chair” copy and the necessity of narrower selectivity for interference rejection with the accompanying muffled audio. I find that I am always on the look-out for products that can make SW reception sound better.

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Equipment Reviews, May 1997

The Becker Mexico Car Radio

Good shortwave reception in the car has been a dream for many of us who spend any appreciable amount of time behind the wheel. There have been various approaches to the problem in the past, such as using a portable radio in the car with an external antenna or converters, which shift segments of the SW bands in frequency so that they can be received on the car’s AM radio. There have intermittently been radios which can be mounted in a car’s dash which provide SW coverage. This is the ideal solution, in my mind, as it provides a secure location which is usually easily accessible by the driver. Models have occasionally been imported from Europe over the years, usually with limited shortwave coverage. A few years ago, the Phillips DC-777 in-dash receiver was available. It did an admirable job of receiving SW signals and provided a wide range of coverage, but many units had premature display and keypad failures.

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Equipment Reviews, February 1997

The AOR AR7030 General Coverage Receiver

I cannot remember a receiver in recent times which has been greeted with so much controversy at its introduction. The manufacturer’s published specifications were called into question and whether or not the radio’s operating system was designed for use by mere mortals was a point of contention. However, as owners and reviewers have gained experience with the receiver, it is now being praised as offering an excellent combination of performance and value, and was selected as the “Best Tabletop Receiver 1996/1997” by the World Radio TV Handbook.

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Equipment Reviews, October 1996

The Baygen Freeplay Portable Radio

The BayGen Freeplay is an innovative new product — a portable AM/FM/SW radio that requires no batteries! Power is provided by an internal spring-driven generator. It’s one of those “Why didn’t I think of that” products.

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Equipment Reviews, July 1996

Sony ICF-SW40

NASWAn Koji Yamada of Tokyo sent me a copy of the instruction manual for the new travel portable from Sony. It measures 6 3/4 x 4 1/4 x 1 7/16 inches and weighs 14.5 ounces, including batteries. Shortwave frequency coverage is from 3850 to 26100 kHz and tuning is via a side mounted knob in either 5 or 1 kHz steps on SW. There are twenty frequency presets and, as I read the instructions, all twenty presets can be used for SW, if desired. There are timers for two “On” events–the radio shuts off after 60 minutes. According to Koji, the price in Japan is 22,000 Yen or about $230. I would expect the price in the North American market to be lower.

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Equipment Reviews, March 1996

A Hamfest Shopping Guide

Since there is currently a seeming dearth of new receivers and equipment to review (although it appears that the new AOR-7030 has been released in the European market) and since Spring is just around the corner, I thought that I would step back in time and take a look at receivers that may be appearing at hamfests and swapmeets near you in the coming months. Older receivers have a lot going for them–the older tube units may represent a nostalgic return to our youth for the older listener or may be an introduction to older technology and operating techniques for the younger ones. The later solid-state receivers are an excellent step-up from portables for the frugal hobbyist or newcomer. Either type can serve well as a second receiver for band-scanning, DX station spotting or, especially in the case of the tube units, program listening. The one main caveat concerning some of the older units are the poor frequency resolution of the dials. Accurate and precise frequency readout is something that we now take for granted with PLL frequency synthesis and digital readouts, but it wasn’t always this way. That’s why there may seem to be an excess emphasis in this review of the tuning resolution of particular receivers.

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