Category Archives: AM

Guest Post: More Anti-Noise Ideas

In a previous guest post, SWLing Post contributor TomL, shared his “Evolving, Morphing, SW Listening Station” where he detailed the many ways he’s trying to fight heavy radio interference at his listening post. The following post is TomL’s update:

More Anti-Noise Ideas

(Continuing the hunt for better reception in a foul RFI environment)

by TomL


I have made the following changes:

  • Created a prototype mini-loop based on a crossed-parallel idea from VE1ZAC (Jeff).
  • Added a balun from LNR Precision (Parfitt’s EF-SWL) in an experimental configuration.
  • Added to the balun, an outdoor amplifier – Wellbrook ALA-100M.
  • Added a noise canceling unit (MFJ-1026).
  • Added 2 preselectors, an old Grove TUN-3 connected to the main loop feed and an MFJ-1046 connected to the ground connection of the balun. Both feeds go into the MFJ-1026.
  • Added BHI Compact In-Line DSP filter and two switch boxes to cut it in/out as needed.
  • Added a medium wave noise canceling unit that I have not figured out how to use yet. (Quantum Phaser). The MFJ unit does not work on medium wave without modification.
  • Purchased from eBay a used Grundig Satellit 800, a somewhat more robust fixed-station receiver to replace my aging Sony ICF-2010.
  • Other non-related (not shown): Whistler digital scanner + UHF over-the-air TV + FM broadcasts + an AM/FM HD digital radio + high pass filters from – (audio from all these sources is passed to an existing high fidelity stereo power amp and NHT Super One speakers on the computer desk for near-field monitoring). Associated antennas are also hidden on the outside deck (shhhhh!).
  • Large charge card balance!!

So, here are some pics for the crossed-parallel loop. VE1ZAC web site has all the references if you want to explore further or google him. Mine is purely a prototype and not finished. And should eventually be placed on a rotor (but how to keep my Nazi-like condo association from finding out?!?!?!?).


It is three 14 inch quilters hoops from Joann Stores plus some 1-inch copper strips cut from a small 2 meter roll of thin copper from eBay. Then, it is wired in parallel with silver-plated aviation wire on each side with a feed in the middle. Not an optimal placement of the feed, (should go straight down along the pipe). Will fix things up whenever I get some more time.


Seems to be an efficient way to prototype small loops. It is now mounted on a short ¾” inside diameter PVC pipe into a cheap plastic sand-filled deck-umbrella stand. Loops are light and somewhat flimsy, so I mounted the three loops on a plastic triangle ruler and dowel sticks glued to the sides for some extra strength. Good enough for now.

The EF-SWL balun is also in an experimental configuration. Since I read somewhere that loop antennas have a very low impedance at the feed point (like, 10 ohms or lower), I thought I might try a balun that is meant to lower the impedance and mount it backwards. I don’t have a picture of it but the SO-239 output is facing the loop and the screw terminals are facing the direction of the radio. My feeble brain thinks since it is a passive device of coils on ferrite, it should work bidirectionally for receive only applications like this. It seems to work but I have the excuse that I really don’t know what I am doing! 🙂


BHI unit in action.

The BHI DSP filter is useful in some circumstances but I find it fatiguing to listen to. The audio from the Sattelit 800 is so nice, I mostly like it without the DSP. The DSP narrows the bandwidth significantly, somewhere around 4 kHz or less from my hearing. I like that the Grundig has two tone controls. And it also has a stable SSB and on very strong signals with clear audio, I like to listen with SSB lower or upper sideband. But the DSP is useful at times for hash-like noisy signals; it is not quite as good on buzzing noise and I wish the Satellit 800 had a noise blanker, but that would have been a more costly purchase, like a Drake R8A.

So, in a nutshell, I have a discovery about noise here: it is all around me and ubiquitous, like the air I breathe!

I find it hard to null and also worry about peaking a station signal at the same time. However, I do have a lower noise floor with the experimental loop sitting outdoors, especially on medium wave (the Wellbrook amp + loop works great on the lower frequencies – am able to get eight different medium wave stations carrying Major League Baseball games at night – it would be nine to get WFAN for the New York Mets but the local Chicago Cubs station covers the adjacent frequency with horrible digital hash! ***Bleeping*** digital junk!).

Also, the signal level is noticeably lower using the loop. Then, add in the effect of the MFJ Noise Canceling unit, the usable signal gets even weaker.

The bottom line is, I can now finally enjoy listening to many SW broadcasts, BUT only the strongest signals. Anything else is still hopelessly lost in the noise. So, gains are limited.

On the other hand, and something else I learned by doing is that, any 1 or 2 dB signal/noise ratio improvement will help with the final audio output in the end product. Using low-noise amps, loops, noise canceler, preselectors, grounded connections, ground isolators at the input of every receiver, high quality stereo amplifier and speakers, tone controls, SSB vs. AM Sync, weird antenna configurations, etc, etc. It all helps in the end to some degree.

Tinkering is an art that involves a lot of thinking/doing iterations! And high quality parts must be used all along the chain or it could degrade the signal.

Below are some audio samples, not very well recorded, but can give some idea of the incremental improvement with each enhancement (turn up the volume). NOTE: other people may get better or worse results depending upon individual situations, type of antennas used, etc, etc.

Recording 1: R. Marti. First 10 seconds an indoor antenna with no noise reduction, second 10 seconds the outdoor loop without the MFJ-1026, the third 10 seconds with the MFJ-1026, then switched off and on to hear the difference.

Recording 2: R. Marti. MFJ -1026 is ON. Last 15 seconds is SSB, very thin sounding. Really only good for strongest signals. I liked the AM Sync better (Satellit 800 is really a Drake SW8 in disguise with a quality AM Sync). But, SSB can sound excellent with very clear voices with a steady and strong signal (The Satellit 800 does NOT have IF-shift or a BFO to fine tune an SSB reception, so the station must be exactly transmitting on the kHz mark, which most are nowadays).

Recording 3: R. Marti. MFJ-1026 is ON. Last 20 seconds you hear me switch in the two audio switches and the BHI DSP is on its lowest setting. Narrower and clearer with some reduction of background noise. I find I only like going up to about 4 on the DSP dial, after that the audio fidelity starts getting more choppy with digital artifacts that sound like dripping water. I tend to like higher fidelity. One nice thing about the BHI DSP is a faux-stereo that helps a little with voice intelligibility by helping the brain naturally filter the noise. Faux-stereo is ON even when the noise reduction circuit is manually turned off (power must be on and bandwidth still sounds narrowed).

Recording 4: R. Nacional Brazilia. First without MFJ-1026, then ON, then OFF, then ON, then with the BHI kicked for the last 20 seconds.

Recording 5: Greece. Switching the MFJ-1026 on and off every 5 seconds. In this particular case, the signal was weak and fading a lot. The MFJ OFF was also weaker than with it turned ON. That is interesting behavior, usually it is opposite. It pays to play with the settings a little. At other times, and less frequently, the MFJ unit turned OFF sometimes sounds better than with it ON and tuned for less noise. Go figure!

After all the tweaking is done, and I cannot get any more performance out of this, I will probably have to move to a nice, quiet neighborhood and setup a nice antenna farm!!

In the meantime, I do enjoy listening to the stronger stations from North America, Cuba, Brazil, Europe, and Australia with less noise than before.


TomL from NOIZEY Illinoiz

Once again, Tom, thanks for sharing your RFI elimination journey!

I love how you take on this noisy problem by experimenting and seeing it more as a challenge than an obstacle to enjoying your hobby.  Great job! 

Medium wave DX: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela heard in Oxford, UK


Hi there, I thought I would share a few recent medium wave DX catches from South America. In the past month or so, I’ve managed to record signals from Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and one that I’m particularly happy about – Ecuador, which is rarely reported in Europe. All catches were obtained with my usual indoor home set-up – the brilliant little Elad FDM DUO coupled to the equally brilliant Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop antenna. I have started to take the Elad on DXpeditions now, having constructed a battery pack for it, but the results I’m yielding outdoors are so far mainly with shortwave reception, where the improvement in SNR is quite obvious in the size of the carriers I’m observing and much improved modulation/ audio clarity on the Tropical Band. Hopefully in time, similar results will yield on medium wave. In the meantime, Im very happy with the indoor performance and these catches demonstrate that. There are many more reception videos on my YouTube channel Oxford Shortwave Log, including a large number of signals recorded from North America on medium wave. Direct links follow below and further down, embedded reception videos. Thanks very much for watching, listening and I will you all excellent DX.

Medium wave DX: Radio Huellas 1470 kHz, Cali, Colombia, first reception


Medium wave DX: Bethel Radio 1570 kHz, Lima Peru, first reception


Medium wave DX: Radio Santa Maria 1490 kHz, Azogues, Ecuador


Medium wave DX: YVKS RCR 750 Radio Caracas 750 kHz, Venezuela


Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Rare Hitachi KW-WSI WorldSpace Receiver on Ebay

This is the first and only “WorldSpace” satellite receiver I’ve seen on Ebay, currently offered at a $175 Buy-It-Now price from a seller in Australia:

The radio is listed as in excellent condition with the original box and literature. Besides the long-gone WorldSpace satellite frequencies, the radio covers medium wave, FM, and most of the shortwave range. A brief PDF data sheet for the radio gives a description of features and operations.


Wikipedia describes this radio’s satellite service as 1worldspace, formerly known as ‘WorldSpace’, is a defunct satellite radio network that in its heyday provided service to over 170,000 subscribers in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia with 96% coming from India. It was profitable in India, with 450,000 subscribers.

I wonder if the Hitachi KW-WSI is a reasonable performer for shortwave listening? Does anyone know any technical details of this receiver?

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

Sangean WR-22: Bill’s tale of radios and outdoor antennas


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill, who writes:

I was interested in the Sangean HDR-18 which showed up on SWLing Post. But I ended up going for the similar-looking WR-22 (here on the Sangean site) because it lookscooler. Well, yes, it also costs a bit less. Also, it trades the HDR-18’s HDRadio capability for Bluetooth streaming. Since I have a phone that canstream, and since there is as yet only one HD radio station, which streams,and which I can also get in my car, I thought the Bluetooth might be a bit more use to me.

I got the WR-22 expressly to use outdoor antennas. I had been using a CCRadio 2E for that purpose. The CCRadio actually worked better hauling it out of the house, out to the picnic table in the back yard, clear of the aluminum siding and the household electronic buzz. It’s nice to be able to use the portable as a portable.

I’d hoped the WR-22 would both stream from my phone and work on AM and FM as well as the CCRadio. It surprised me by working far better. Therein hangs a sad tale of radios and outdoor antennas.


I have a rooftop FM antenna I’d used on an old stereo. The CCRadio doesn’t have an external FM radio jack, so I could never use the FM antenna with the CCRadio.

The CCRadio does have screw terminals for an AM outdoor antenna. A few months ago, I put out a temporary one in the back yard. It’s quite modest, within the ability of anyone with a small back yard. A ground rod pounded into the ground outside the drip line of the roof, where the soil will get wet; wet soil makes for a better ground, I’m told. Then a bit less than 50 feet of insulated copper wire, looped across the back yard to a pine tree branch and then to a post we used to have a satellite TV dish on. Nothing too complicated here.


The results were disappointing. I could get signals with this antenna not quite as well as the CCRadio would do on its own on the picnic table. Oh well, maybe nothing better was possible?

Then, after I’d ordered the WR-22 through the mail, I came across a description of a different external AM antenna. I found it on two web sites, but C Crane’s own web site has a description of the thing. Here’s thearticle.

It could use the wire I’d already strung across the back yard and the ground rod I’d already planted, so why not try it? I couldn’t see how an antenna that didn’t connect to the radio directly could be any better than one that did, but hey, it didn’t cost anything to try.

Here’s how to make the antenna: String an outdoor wire somewhere SAFE, well away from anything carrying electric current, both because it can get you fried and because of radio noise. Reserve some of the wire to wind a coil at the end of the wire inside the house, near your radio. Wrap a coil in the wire near where your radio will be. C Crane says a 3 inch coil with 7 turns, another site said a few turns of 6 inches diameter; apparently it’s not too critical.


The wire continues unbroken through the coil, back out of the house again, and to your ground rod outside. It doesn’t connect directly to your radio at all. Of course you could do the wire in several pieces; have a separate coil which attaches to the aerial wire and the ground wire with alligator clips, for example. This would let you replace the different parts, experiment with different sizes, shapes, and orientations of coils, and so on.

As with any inductively coupled antenna, you get this loop to work by moving the coil around the outside of the radio until you find the “sweet spot” where it couples best with the portable radio’s internal ferrite bar.

Good heavens! It worked far better than coupling the wire directly to the CCRadio. I was astonished! I planned to put out a longer antenna- I have the space for it, if I’m careful- and a neater installation, with a neatly wound coil. I planned a program of trying different coils to see what would work best. However, I had the WR-22 on order. Since that was where I wanted to attach outdoor antennas, I decided to wait until it came in before experimenting with any new antennas.

It came in and I set it up.


To my disappointment, the coil-type outdoor antenna didn’t seem to send the WR-22 any signal at all. Before getting all antisocial about it, I hooked the external antenna to the WR-22’s AM antenna screw terminals.

My goodness, all over again! Where the CCRadio hadn’t responded to this setup at all well, the WR-22 lit up with all sorts of signals. Now, I’d read on your site that the HDR-18 coupled the external AM antenna via a coil wrapped around its internal ferrite rod. Perhaps this radio already HAS the magic coil that seems to make so much difference built in, from the factory.
It goes to show that your mileage may vary; a little experimentation with your particular setup never hurts!

I have a problem I’m sure a lot of your readers would love to have; there are exactly NO really powerful AM radio signals in my area. Today I set up several radios for a rough comparison to give you an idea of how things work here.

Tecsun PL-880, no external antenna, sitting on the “best” windowsill in the back of the house: 4 AM (Medium wave) stations.

  • CCrane CCRadio 2E, no external antenna, same windowsill, 8 AM stations.
  • Car radio outdoors, 14 AM stations.
  • Sangean WR-22 with the external antenna: 20 AM stations.

This was during the day. At night pretty much anything lights up on most of the AM frequencies; I expect the WR-22 will do well here, although I haven’t tried it yet.

As for FM, with the rooftop antenna, the WR-22 did well enough. I got anything I could reasonably expect to get with it. I had unreasonably hoped to get a certain second public radio network I like to switch over to when the main public radio network here goes to a pledge drive (which is approximately 11.5 months a year, it seems). Didn’t get a peep of it. I had only been able to get it with the CCRadio, twisting the antenna to a 45 degree angle to the vertical in a certain direction.

The rooftop antenna is horizontal. I read somewhere that FM signals are polarized at 45 degrees to the vertical so that they would work on both horizontal TV antennas and vertical car antennas, therefore for maximum discrimination a FM antenna that could also be tilted to 45 degrees would be helpful. I don’t know if that’s true or not. As textbook writers say when they are lazy and don’t want to do their job, building a rotating rooftop FM antenna with variable remote-adjustable tilt is left as an exercise to the reader.


If you’d like to see what I’ve received with this radio so far, click here for my
station log map.

Yellow is AM daytime signals, green is FM, red is AM nighttime signals; only about three of those so far. I just did a quick bandscan to show you so some of the identifications may be a bit shaky, but it gives an idea of the performance I’m getting.

WR-22 performance

What about the radio itself?

I have no way of measuring performance with test instruments, but with the external antennas at least sensitivity and selectivity seem to be perfectly good.

The radio comes packed in good quality materials, very well protected. It is heavy and seems very solid. I like that the remote control actually allows tuning the radio from across the room, not just switching from one memory to another. I think this is the first radio with remote I have had which allowed this.

Sound is very good. As another reviewer said of the HDR-18, the WR-22 has a loudness function to boost bass (and probably treble too). It wasn’t hard to find the setting to turn that off, and I prefer sound without it.

I found no electronic birdies anywhere in either band. Bluetooth pairing was easy and quick to my Samsung smartphone, and the sound when streaming Bluetooth is also very good.

The only thing I don’t like about the radio so far is that in switching source you have to go through all of them: from AM, push the button to go to USB to Aux 3.5 mm plug input to Bluetooth to FM and back to AM again. That’s a pretty minor irk.

I’d expected this radio to have an external power supply. The manual, in fact, says to put the power supply away from the radio in order to prevent AM interference. But my WR-22 doesn’t have an external power supply, just a power cord. Mine is the USA version; the manual describes two different versions. Perhaps the other has an external power supply.

I’m not complaining. I prefer a radio without a wall wart.

I’m happy with this set. I have no idea how it would work without external antennas, but it works beautifully with them.

Thanks, Bill, for sharing your antenna experiments and your review of the Sangean WR-22. As you’ve discovered, often finding the performance “sweet spot” of any given radio requires a little experimentation! The AM performance of the WR-22 is very encouraging!

The Sangean WR-22 can be purchased at:

A Good Friend Who’s Always There

cas-pro-relaxThis summer has been a tough one for me in many ways, not the least of which is the minimal amount of time I have been able to spend playing radio. I have several commitments involving radio each week/month, but I do not consider that “playing” radio. To me, playing radio is where we get to sit down in front of a radio of any kind and do something with it just for the pure joy of it. The good thing about this hobby is it is always there whenever you are ready. It is like a good friend who is always there. Radio is, in fact, a bit like my dog.

For those who enjoy dogs like I do, one of the most rewarding things is to come home and find your dog waiting for you, tail wagging, and excited to see you. It does not matter how long you have been gone — a short trip elicits the same excitement upon your return as you would get being gone all day. Good dogs require very little maintenance to be happy, and they are ready for love and attention whenever you are available to give these to them.

My radios do not wag their antennas when I walk into the room, but they are there ready to go when I am, and they provide a world of enjoyment when called upon. As I sit here looking at the radios in front of me (only a small portion of the radios I have around the house overall), each one means something special and calls to mind enjoyable times. My 220 rig gets very little use overall, but it always reminds me of an amateur radio friend who was an Elmer to me in the hobby.

As I am typing this my 2-meter APRS channel has come alive with signals from the digipeater in the International Space Station (ARISS) and I am hoping for a contact or two. This past week I made a contact with AF4B in Texas, which was his first ISS contact! What an honor that is for me — whenever I have the privilege of being someone’s first contact in any manner of radio I am thrilled!! It always brings to mind my “firsts” and how exciting were those moments!

As I look at my Uniden Bearcat BC898T I remember going to my first Dayton Hamvention and buying this beautiful analog scanner. One of the fellows there tried to talk me out of it because it was only analog, and some of the local departments had moved to digital. Fortunately there are still many analog signals to catch in my area, and I am interested in more than just Public Service transmissions. I like Marine, Aviation, Railroads, Coast Guard, and a dozen other things which can be picked up by analog scanners. The 898T was my entrance back into the scanning hobby after many, many years away from it. There was a great deal to learn, but this was my re-introduction to scanning.

I have previously talked about my Yaesu-Musen FRG-7, in some ways the ultimate in shortwave radios for nostalgia, quality workmanship, and manual control of a radio. 40+ years old and still a gem!! Oh yes, and then there is my Swan 350, another marvel of a radio from the past. Never known as a top-of-the-line rig by any means, I treasure its heft, its vacuum tube warmth, and its mechanical tuning which turns like tire compared to the optical tuning wheels on modern rigs. In fact, its a lot like me — slow to get going and needs some time to warm up, but gets the job done eventually. (Why does it seem getting up out of bed and getting started each day gets harder and harder . . . I can’t be that old, can I??)

Fall and winter are coming, definitely great times of the year to play radio, and I hope to do just that. A little work on my antennas should get me back up to  speed in terms of capabilities, and my hope is life will slow down enough to let me have some fun. I know whenever I have the time my old friends will be there ready and waiting! I hope the coming months are filled with radio fun for each of you! 73, Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.