Tag Archives: Analog Radio

Edward reviews this unmarked thrift store radio find

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Ganshirt, who writes:

I spotted this “keychain” radio [pictured above] at a Savers thrift shop. Savers is a chain of thrift stores in the Northeast that is an outlet for Goodwill and possibly others. What caught my eye is (in addition to price) an 11 band radio: AM, FM and 4.75 to 21.85 Mhz in 9 short-wave bands. It has no brand markings (or FCC id) and of course made in China. I purchased it for less than a latte at Starbucks and brought it home.

It uses 2 AA penlight batteries and has a 14″ telescoping antenna. Turning it on demonstrates its low performance.

It has ample sensitivity on FM but difficult to tune clearly. AM band is better. Shortwave is a different story.

At night I get several shortwave stations, difficult to tune in. Connecting an external antenna demonstrated its weakness. I picked up the entire AM band and every other station below 30 MHz no matter what setting the tuning knob was set to, with varying signal strength , depending what short-wave band setting selected. I live less than 4 miles from a powerhouse radio station on 680 KHz that bleeds through the IF filter. Deconstructing the radio reveals its design shortcomings

It contains 2 chips: A CSC2822 stereo audio 8 pin dip and a 16 pin CSC2003P “jungle” chip. Comparing app notes to the receiver reveals short cuts in the design. Just absolute minimalist component count–only one 455KHz IF filter.

Fortunately, it has a ferrite loopstick antenna. (That explains why it works on AM. There is less IF bleed-through on AM).

Using a signal generator, on shortwave reveals non existent image rejection, beat notes on harmonics of the local oscillator (yes it is a superheterodyne).

This is a radio to take to the beach. If the tide grabs it and washes it into the ocean or a sea gull snatches it, you would not be disappointed.

In my opinion it was a bit steeply priced. You don’t win them all but I will still go to Savers in the future for other buys as they present themselves.

Thank you for your report, Edward. I think what is highlighted here are the shortcomings of inexpensive–truly “cheap”–radios. They have only the most basic components, regardless if they resemble a quality radio aesthetically. Edward listed the hallmarks of a cheap analog receivers: overloading, stiff inaccurate tuning controls, mediocre sensitivity/selectivity, poor audio, and poor shielding.

Thanks for pulling this one apart and taking a look inside, Edward.

Taking it to the beach, Ed? Let us know if it floats or–better yet–if a seagull decides to grab it–! Who knows, they may tune through the FM and find one of their favorite 1980s songs:

(Sorry, couldn’t help the reference–it is Friday after all.)

VOA Radiogram 128 on a cheap Tesco shortwave radio

VOA-Radiogram

SWLing Post reader, Christopher, lives on the north coast of Labrador, Canada. He recently contacted me regarding the purchase of a new receiver–he’s currently stuck with a very inexpensive analog portable he purchased at the UK grocery store, Tesco: the Tesco RAD-108.

While the RAD-108 has poor sensitivity and selectivity, it’s still (evidently) more than capable of receiving the VOA Radiogram. Many thanks to Christopher for sharing this video he found on YouTube:

NY Times: “Recalling the Imperfect Radio and TV Reception of the Past”

TV-Analog-Noise-SnowMany thanks to my dear friend, BJ Leiderman, for sharing this brilliant piece by Dana Jennings in the NY Times.

I’m only including a few quotes from this piece (below), so please visit this link to read the full article about the adventures, charm and nostalgia of analog TV and radio:

by Dana Jennings

I miss the television snows of yesteryear. And I don’t mean easy nostalgia for the inevitable reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I’m talking real television snow, a longing for static, ghost images and the picture endlessly rolling and flip-flopping. While we’re at it, I ache for well-used vinyl crackling like bacon sizzling in a skillet … and the eerie whistles and wheezes from terrestrial radio.

This eccentric pining for the primitive electric hiss and sputter of my 1960s childhood is an honest reaction to our modern culture’s unhealthy addiction to (apparent) perfection. We want it all, we want it now, and we want it sublime.

We not only demand our television, radio and music in unblemished HD on whatever device we choose, but also our weddings, children, houses and bodies. And in our heedless embrace of digital cosmetic surgery, we’ve forgotten that it’s the flaw that makes a thing all the sweeter — like the bruise on a peach.[…]

[Like TV, my] radio needed the human touch, too. As I listened to Boston Red Sox night games, I’d grip the radio like a vise, its hot, orange guts stinging my hand; my skin would lobster up, but I didn’t care, because I could hear the game better. (That radio, a yellowing white Sylvania, also hummed constantly, kind of like the ringing in your ears hours after a Metallica concert.)

Then there was the utter delight of reeling in a far-away station late at night: from Montreal, from Wheeling, from Nashville. Even more bewitching were the otherworldly soundscapes to be found between station stops: eeps and boops, trills and squeals, shrill dronings from the ether that maybe signaled an alien invasion, or first contact with another galaxy.[…]

Read the full article on the NY Times…

Leeds Radio featured in the NY Times

(Source: NY Times)

WHEN an insurance company declared the merchandise at Leeds Radio “not pilferable” last year, it meant that the store’s hundreds of thousands of analog electronic parts — all manufactured before 1968 — were unlikely to be stolen anytime soon.

[…]And yet Leeds, one of the oldest electronics stores in the country, has plenty of paying customers. Located at 68 North Seventh Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two blocks from the Bedford Avenue stop of the L train, it attracts a steady stream of musicians, hi-fi aficionados, ham radio buffs and the kind of people who build Tesla coils in their basements.

The 2,500-square-foot space smells like a vintage record shop (an odor Mr. Matthews describes as equal parts phenolic resin, adhesive, old cardboard and wire insulation) and appears shockingly disorganized. Cubist piles of boxes overflow with switches, capacitors, Bakelite knobs and watt meters. The floor glitters with the glass of shattered vacuum tubes.

Sounds like my radio room, though on a much, much larger scale…the part with piles of boxes, at least. Thanks to the Herculodge for leading me to the NY Times article. We actually posted another article about Leeds Radio when it was featured on WNYC. As both articles mention, radio parts shops like Leeds are certainly on the decline [understatement alert]–luckily, the internet opens up a whole world of mom-and-pop vendors like Leeds, though with a virtual store front, so there is still hope.

Read the full article here.