Car Shortwave Radio

sw_car_audioTonight on Allan Weiner Worldwide (WBCQ  7490 kHz coming in beautifully on my FRG-7) Allan mentioned a shortwave radio converter for car radios. The package uses a small box which plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and can either use an antenna made for the converter or an antenna supplied by the user. The unit can display frequencies through the FM RDS display, and has a key-fob controller for scanning and saving stations into memory.

Here are some of the features listed by the manufacturer:

Excellent sensitivity – 0.5 microvolt at the antenna connector will stop the preset scan and provide a very listenable signal.
Automatic Gain Control – Keeps audio levels constant for weak and strong stations.
Full Shortwave band coverage – tune to any 5 kHz spaced AM channel from 2.3 to 26.1 MHz.   The frequency coverage is actually from 150 KHz to 30 MHz but with reduced sensitivity when operating outside of the shortwave bands, especially below 1.8 MHz.  This extended frequency range lets you listen to the 10 and 160 meter ham radio bands as well as CB channels.  If you are close to the transmitting antenna, you can even hear airport beacons in the 200 to 400 KHz radio-location band.
DSP (digital signal processor) selectivity – Sharp 3 kHz for speech or wider bandwidth for Hi-Fi music.
Noise Blanker – A digital noise blanker greatly eliminates any spark plug noise from car engine that can disrupt reception.Built-in crystal controlled FM transmitter –  Has RDS to display 5 digit tuned shortwave frequency and preset channel number/ “S” meter on the vehicle’s FM radio.
Four BST-1 broadcast FM frequencies can be selected by the Key Fob Controller so you always have a clear FM channel to use.  Programmed with 88.3, 88.5, 88.7, and 88.9 MHz – one of these channels will always be clear to listen for the BST-1’s FM transmitter.
If you know Morse code for the numbers 0-9 (very easy to learn), you can use the Key-Fob to activate a Morse code annunciation of tuned frequency.   This aids in operation if your FM receiver doesn’t have RDS display or if you can’t look at the display on the FM radio while driving.

Key-Fob command for instant selection of WWV channels – 5,10,15, and 20 MHz for accurate time and signal propagation checks.

High or Low sensitivity selection by the Key Fob – Optimum performance can always be obtained during conditions of very strong signals.
Rugged construction – Designed for automotive use.
Memory storage of up to 100 preset channels-  After changing channels, the preset channel is shown on the RDS display for 3 seconds and then the display switches to show the “S” meter.
The BST-1 can be manually tuned to any 5 KHz channel in the turning range and if desired, that new frequency stored in preset memory (up to 100 presets).  Note that the BST-1 radio is AM reception only so 5 KHz tuning intervals are optimum since all International Shortwave stations are on 5 KHz channels. A digital AFC (Automatic frequency control) circuit in the BST-1 is used to automatically compensate for stations that are slightly off (+/- 150 ppm) the exact 5 KHz channel.
Pre-programmed- The BST-1 is ready to start listening right away.  Comes with 50 popular U.S. and International shortwave stations as well as WWV at 5,10,15 and 20 MHz.
Easily add or delete preset channels using the Key Fob controller.

For a starting price of $179.50 (as of this writing) plus shipping, this is an intriguing possibility for having shortwave radio in the car. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Car Shortwave Radio

  1. 13dka

    My previous car still had at least the 49m-band in the audio system, which was pretty much all I wanted because all SW I want to hear in the car would be there, in particular The Mighty KBC. Reception was absolutely exceptional on all bands anyway, a true MW and FM DX machine with excellent sensitivity and selectivity.

    My new car (same brand) has a much more flashy stereo, and it still has the 49m-band for shortwave, these radios are traditionally expensive as hell and they have a very elaborate circuit design… but then some idiot in the design department found that the (already shortened enough to impact reception) antenna was too big and ugly and so they replaced the small black whip with some stubby 15cm dummy load that barely receives all stations coming from the nearby FM transmitting site, don’t count on your radio if you’re between cities on the autobahn. Of course reception on AM and SW is abysmal too.

    Just so you can appreciate this fully – they sell a 3,500EUR stereo with AM/LW/SW and FM diversity RX capability and all the finest stuff you can find in there, and then pair it with a 10 chinese zloty bucks rubber antenna that wouldn’t have much output if it were struck by a lightning, not to mention SW reception on a day with less than awesome conditions. The only way to correct that would be to get the bumper antenna setup they used in the predecessor of that model, which makes you think really really hard why they didn’t use that in first place if some moron in that company hates antennas.

    Now you might be asking what car maker is doing such dumb %^#@$… I’m curious if someone here would dare a guess. 🙂

  2. DanH

    I could listen to Voice of Korea during morning commute now that the 1530 UTC broadcast has moved into the to the eight o’clock hour, PDT. VOK, where all of the female vocalists are contraltos and all of the rockets are large caliber. On second thought, automotive listening to VOK may induce road rage and I want to keep my insurance rates low.

  3. Mario

    Thanks for the post Robert. Kudos to this company for taking the road less traveled and offering a mobile shortwave receiver. The key fob is a novel idea too. I like the way they think.

    Yes, SSB would be a plus. Could practice our code copying skills during the commute hi hi. Imagine listening to W1AW while driving home.

    1. Michael Black

      I don’t know if anyone is doing it now, but decades ago the magazines would have bits about hams operating CW mobile. Strap the key to your leg (there were such things surplus from WWII) and arrange things so the controls were accessible. People good at it, likely the ones doing it,
      could do it high speed, and copy in their heads.


  4. Cap

    This is the car shortwave radio mentioned last year on this blog:
    The Noise Blanker is a nice touch and essential for in car operation with dirty alternators.

    U.S. sales only though, for those wanting Shortwave for the car in Europe Et Al. I have a Pioneer DEH-4550BT which works well with a Kinetic DAA-7001 in-line amp that I use in my small car (with the stock car antenna), works pretty good. I picked my radio up for £99 off eBay about three years ago, probably out of production now but can still be sourced second-hand or new/old stock, or newer models may sport similar features (remote, bluetooth, USB, shortwave, RDS, FM, MW etc.). I use Bluetooth ‘a lot’ for phone & podcasts etc. and have a DAB adapter hooked up as well for the BBC World service when in range of a DAB Transmitter site.

    If this new Shortwave in car receiver was around two years ago, I would have bought it.

    1. Ronald

      I have a Pioneer car radio like yours. And it work fine for me.
      I have programmed my favourite stations into the memory presets.
      There are quite a few radios still available with SW on it.
      The above unit looks interesting though.

  5. Michael Black

    That’s no converter as we know them. It’s a whole receiver, feeding a modulator to feed the car radio. Not only does it sound like quite a receiver, but it’s making use of the RDS display.

    “Heathkit” could learn from this, even though it’s not a kit.

    A converter would be just a mixer and oscillator, to heterodyne shortwave frequencies down to the broadcast band, which would be the am band if one wants to receive am.



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