The Digitech AR-1780: a new SSB shortwave portable

[UPDATE: Click here to read our full review of the Digitech AR-1780.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Cap Tux, who writes:

This radio seems to have recently been released in Oz, no idea of its performance on SSB et al. but seems to do everything the C.Crane Skywave does. Heavy on batteries though at 4 x AA and nearly twice as heavy with similar dimensions to the Skywave, not major if it performs well and has good battery life.

Apparently the AR-1780 uses the SiLabs DSP chipset going by comments on Radio Reference. Also has RDS, Temp, the keypad layout looks similar to a Eton G3.

Taken from Jaycar’s website site:

This is a very compact world band radio, covering the most popular frequencies. It features rapid digital tuning, 1000 memory presets, and an easy to read display. Single Sideband Modulation (SSB) is used to listen in on 27MHz CB radio, short wave amateur radio and morse code. The large internal speaker provides clear audio, and you can connect your favourite set of headphones for personal listening. Powerful enough to receive what you want, and compact enough to take wherever you want.

– Single Side Band (SSB)
– Telescopic Antenna
– 3.5mm socket for external antenna
– Selectable Bandwidth: 1 – 6kHz

Radio Bands:
FM 87.5 – 108MHz
MW 522 – 1620kHz / 520 – 1710 kHz
SW 1711 – 29,999kHz
LW 150 – 450kHz
AIR 118 – 137kHz
Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)
Weight: 253g (Excluding Batteries)
Dimensions: 150(W) x 95(H) x 30(D)mm

Many thanks for the tip, Cap!

This looks like a full-featured portable. As mentioned, it certainly resembles the Grundig G3 in many respects.

If the AR-1780 performs well, it’ll be a very welcome addition to the Australia and New Zealand markets.

Please contact me if you’ve purchased the AR-1780 and would like to write a guest post/review. I’m very curious how well this portable stacks up against other portables especially in terms of overall sensitivity/selectivity and noise floor.

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52 thoughts on “The Digitech AR-1780: a new SSB shortwave portable

  1. Jeff Jones

    Does anyone know the current load when the radio is going if it is around 3mah when turned off..want to hook up to 12v in motorhome so need to drop voltage down and need to know current draw!! Cheers!

    1. DL4NO

      From China you can get “postage stamp” voltage regulators für about US$2 a piece. They are rated at 3 A and the output voltage can be set as long as it is lower than the input voltage.

      The 3A are more than enough for such a radio. As long as you use a reasonable antenna (with a counterpoise!) the RFI problems of these small switching regulators are managable.

  2. David Morton

    Just got one of these (Oct 11th) after years away from listening to Shortwave. I’m not even sure I can be of any help, except for a few questions I’ve seen above.
    1. Tune muting, well there is no noise in the auto scan mode, which I like. Now, if you switch to the large side dial it does let the static through. It also has a push to select mode for fast, slow and stop tuning.
    2. Yes, it has a foldable back stand.
    3. Yes, it can recharge NiMH batteries, it’s not my only Digitech that says it does that. I never saw a gain in the AR-1747 after charging, it would only charge for 2 hours I think. I haven’t tried with this one.
    4. Yes, it has 64 MHz FM. Turn it off, press the FM button and it will let you choose that range, among others. I had to read the manual for this one, OK and I’ll admit also for battery charging.
    I tend to scan the manuals of all my Jaycar products, so maybe someone can give me a place to store it once I’ve rendered it into PDF.

  3. Pedro Moreno

    After some internal electronic troubleshooting I have concluded the current is been drained from the CPU board of the radio. Maybe the uComputer used for this radio is not very energy saving.

    1. Thomas Post author

      I imagine you’re correct, though I’m very confused why my unit has not depleted batteries like yours has. Again, I’ve had the same set of AA batteries in it for almost two months and they’re still going strong.

      I’m hoping someone else can chime in with their experience. Perhaps there are variations among units?

      1. Golan Klinger

        I’ve been using my AR1780 a lot since I got it, with the light and speaker on too, and the no-name, generic AA batteries I threw in to test it are still working just fine.

      2. Greg Ross

        I measure the current drawn by my AR1780 when turned off as 0.12mA. ( one eighth of a milliamp)
        This was with alkaline batteries that have been in moderate use for a couple of weeks.
        Bought mine a couple of weeks ago on special from the Melbourne Jaycar store.
        Very happy with it so far.

  4. Pedro Moreno

    After a few weeks playing around with the Digitech AR-1780, my overall satisfaction for the radio was decreasing due to the fact batteries are eaten by the radio when in off mode. If I leave the radio for a few days off, then the batteries gets completely depleted, even if the radio has never been turned on and no alarm is enabled. After some troubleshooting I have discovered the current used by the radio when is in off state is about 2,7 maH, witch it a lot compared with other radios. For instance the Grundig G6 only uses 23uA. This is really an issue for the Digitech AR-1780.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Note this is same reply I left on your comment in another post:

      Very interesting! Thank you for your comment. I haven’t had this happen to me yet. I put a fresh set of AA batteries in my AR-1780 when I first got it on August 15 (–they’re just generic cheapo AA Alkaline batteries from Harbor Freight Tools. I ran a load of tests and comparisons on the AR-1780 end of August and September for a review that was posted in the October issue of the Spectrum Monitor magazine. I just checked and that same set of batteries is showing a full charge on the AR-1780’s display. One thing I do though, any time I turn off the radio, is engage the key lock. Perhaps this turns off whatever is pulling 3 mah on your receiver??

      1. Pedro Moreno

        I use new VARTA NIMH 2200mah batteries, and also lock the radio whenever turn it off. I have tried to reset the radio to factory configuration, changing the display from temp to time or to set the beep to off to no avail . The power consumption steadily shows a 2,6 mah draw in all scenarios.?

        1. Thomas Post author

          I’m not sure why my radio isn’t experiencing this problem. I did not purchase mine from Jaycar. I’m curious if it is different internally? My batteries are not even as good of quality as yours.

          1. Thomas Post author

            I don’t have a functioning multimeter at the moment (two died on me this year!). I might take it with me to a buddy’s house and measure drain.

  5. James Patterson

    I have the old 1945 model with SSB and Ive not had a problem with birdies etc.Only major problem I have is that it does not like working SSB arround electrical interferance.Like household electrical,led lights,TV etc.It makes the BFO give off another tone that interferes with SSB clearity.Takeing it to the beach or up in the hills away from buildings and power lines and it works very well.But Im yet to try out this new one we are all talking about after I have paid a few bills if there are any left !!

  6. James Patterson

    Tuning on the new AR 1780…Is the side knob just a fine tuner only? Is the only way to go up or down the frequencies the buttons on the front? Is there an actural tuning knob?

    1. Thomas Post author

      There’s a dedicated Fine Tune dial and, above it, the main tuning knob/encoder. The main knob can be set to 1 kHz or 5 kHz steps on SW. Buttons on the front can also step through freqs.

      My full review of the AR1780 was just published in the Spectrum Monitor.


      1. Jack K

        T – Nice article in the Spectrum Monitor (and thanks for turning me on to the publication). How often did you come across birdies and other hets while tuning around? This was always the biggest complaint about the DigiTech over its CC Cousins.

        Sucks about the carry case – that’s almost as imperative to a travel rig as the lock button!

        1. Thomas Post author

          Thanks, Jack. I didn’t notice birdies in any of the important parts of the bands. I attempted to map out birdies on the AR-1780, but because of muting between frequencies, it simply took too much of my time. I did do the “quick and dirty” method of having the ATS scan find them. It only stopped on a handful in the HF portion of the spectrum.

          IN truth, I shouldn’t complain too much about a case myself, since I’m a bit of a pack geek and have plenty of pouches to put it in. Still–a very inexpensive addition to skimp on, I say.

          Glad you liked the review and TSM!


      2. James Patterson

        Just thought I should add to the reveiws of the 1780 pocket size portable receiver.Ive found very handy when takeing a trip.It also works very well on UHF air bands,and is as strong and sensitive as my Tecsun 660.BFO on the fine tuner works excellently for upper and lower SideBand for all the HF utility stations,and SSB is very clear and readable.When tuning to a new frequency it takes a couple of seconds for it’s computer to tune to it,but locks on very well.The 1780 also works very well on long distance AM stations without the need for an outside antenna.FM is excellent and an outside antenna will not over load the filter for incoming HF signals.In fact I would recomend this radio over the much older and bigger 1945 model that chews through the size D batteries.I have found, as in my earlier posts that local electrical static interferes with tuning SSB and find it very hard to get the tuning exactly right for SSB signals.Hence the tuning knob fine tunes the BFO.So my choice has to be the 1780 pocket radio that does everything you would expect it to do at a very reasonable price NZ$.I bought mine from JayCar NZ and couldnt wish for better.!!

  7. Jack K

    Curious… the photo above shows a WX in the left side, bottom button, whereas all other photos have this button clearly labeled “light.” Since there has been no mention of the weather band (and the radio is primarily an Australia offering), is this just wishful thinking?

      1. Golan Klinger

        I’ve noticed that the images with the WX button don’t have the Digitech label on them which makes me suspect they’re directly from the Chinese manufacturer and that Digitech had the button retasked to “Light” for the Australian market. Since this is more or less the same radio as the C.Crane Skywave SSB which does have WX, my hope and belief is that the WX functionality is there and can be accessed some other way. I can’t wait for mine to arrive so I can experiment with it. Finding that it has WX functionality would be a huge bonus.

        1. Jack K

          Not to throw shade on the conversation, but I honestly don’t think this and the Skywave SSB are the same / nor similar radios. Too many differences in size and layout. Full disclosure – I don’t have either, only the original Skywave from CCrane.

          Thomas, you have both units – any similarities in their builds? Certainly price tag isn’t close! 🙂

  8. Pedro Moreno

    Using a set of four fully charged NIMH 1000mAh the radio has been playing FM/AM and SW continuously 20 hours at medium volume. Not bad.

  9. James Patterson

    In my post about the AR 1945 and the new AR 1780 I miss printed the model number.I put 1790,it should have been the AR 1780.Just realised this and too late to edit it out.Thanks guys.

  10. Pedro Moreno

    Tested SSB/USB (14198KHz) with a 7m cable connected to the ant input. Very good reception and easy to adjust with the fine tuning wheel. Equal or better sensitivity than Sangean 909x with SSB.

  11. Pedro Moreno

    Some interesting technical details:

    S/N (Signal to Noise) Sensitivity:
    FM: >3uV 🙂
    MW: >0.5mV/m (Wow!!!!)
    LW: >10mV/m 🙁
    SW: >10uV
    AIR: >0.5uV
    AM Selectivity: >80dB
    DC in: 7v
    Built in Speaker: 16ohm 0.5W -that means low battery consumption 🙂

  12. Pedro Moreno

    Just received my new Digitech AR1780. Nice radio. SSB is well presented in the display and the fine tune wheel works perfect. Sound is nice both in FM and AM/SW/AIR. Quick test against Sangean 909X and sensitivity seems to be on par for MW, SW and FM. Very good. LW is a little poorer than Sangean but still better than most Tecsun sets.
    Soft mute is noticeable when using the tune wheel but not as much as for instance the Grundig Satellit 700, you can surf the waves more or less comfortably. Even better when using the fine tune wheel.
    Air band seems to be more sensitive than previous digitech radios, for instance the AR1733 and found new frequencies that prevously I was not able to copy with the AR1733.
    The display is very much the same as in TECSUN devices with signal strenght indicator showing in dBu/dB.
    FM RDS works very well.
    Quite happy so far………

  13. Cap

    How about setting up a crowdfunder to buy the AR-1780 radio, send it to Thomas so he can review it?
    If it’s decent, this would be a great travel SW radio: Airband, SSB, Selectable bandwidth and half the weight of a PL-660

  14. Pedro Moreno

    This is the response I have received from one seller in australia to my questions:

    “Unfortunately, a lot of your question I don’t think I can answer, as there is not much information provided by our supplier.
    But I am sure it is simply a copy of Grundig G3, And it is the most likely from the same manufacturer distributed as an off-brand product. Therefore, if you check the specs of Grundig G3, you should have all the answers.”

  15. James Patterson

    Maybe a nice change from the AR 1945 model that I bought from Jay car over here in NewZealand about three years ago.I checked 3 of them befor I settled on the one I have hence the extremely poor SSB clearity.I do alot of SSB DXing,not so much SW listening so a good SSB BFO is a must for me. Distant AM and FM station receiption I find is very good and battery life on the size D batteries is very good.But any outside electrical interference really plays havic on the BFO Side band receiption infact I find it seems to amplify it.So takeing it away out into the countryside away from city limits seems to be best.In actural fact it’s more of a “Boys” radio or more suitable for a novice first time radio listener.AM receiption right through all SW bands is very good if just wanting to listen to SW.The Air VHF band is very clear aswell,with the adjustable telescopic antenna,enableing tuning the frequency wave lenght.I fitted the larger Antenna socket to the back of the radio enableing my “Ham” antenna coax cable to fit on.So it’s a portable I can take to the beach or for a picnic with no worries if it gets knocked.But concerning the SSB/BFO on the new AR 1790 if anyone has been able to try it,who knows how to use the BFO mode properly,I would greatly like to know how it performs.If it has a very strong BFO.

    1. Pedro Moreno

      I bought the AR1945 two months ago and my SSB reception is wonderful.very precise and with four different tune setp from 5Khz to 1Hz…. wow…..
      Also I have shielded the computer board (keyboard plane) and although it did not worked wonders I believe some noise from the controller was eliminated.
      Now I’m working on adding a internal lithium pack of batteries in the radio that will recharge internally using 3 regular 18860 batteries.

      1. James Patterson

        Very good on all you have done with the AR 1945 model.Im staying with mine cause the SSB does work best when away from electrical interference away from houses and the city.Out in the hills is the best place for it.I recently bought the Tecsun S 2000 shipped over to NewZealand from the Australian importer.It has turned out to be the very best radio Ive ever owned.I have a very good report on Tecsun Australia,excellent service and shipping overseas on time. I have a few portable radios,all very good,but you cant beat the Tecsun S 2000.Anyway for anyone who hasn’t got the AR 1945,sounds as though the new AR 1780 would be the best buy.

        1. Pedro Moreno

          Still too few information availale over the AR1780. Some clarifications are needed in order for me to buy it:
          .-I would like to know if this Digitech AR-1780 model also exhibits the infamous tune muting nuisance of other DSP radios, for instance the Digitech AR-1733….
          .-Another question would be if this radio also have the rubber covering similar to the Grundig G5/G6 that becomes sticky overtime.
          .-Does this radio uses internally rechargeable NICAD batteries?
          .-Does this radio have a foldable backstand?


  16. DL4NO

    About the AA batteries: I LIKE them! They are universally available as primary or secondary (rechargable) cells and cheap.

    I even have a (quite old) cellphone that can use AAA cells. I preferably buy portable equipment that can use them: The FT-817, my 20-year-old 2m/70cm handheld, my camera…

    My handheld is still operational because I bought a AA cell battery case for it. I replaced the Ni-Cd cells of the original battery pack, but you cannot do that twice. The same is true or my camera. It has a 5 MP sensor but the pictures it takes are still good enough for me.

  17. Pedro Moreno

    Another question would be if this radio also have the rubber covering similar to the Grundig G5/G6 that becomes sticky overtime.

  18. Jim

    A possible replacement for the G6 I let go at a hamfest a few years ago (and regretted). It will be interesting to see how it reviews.

    I like my Skywave, and often wished it had the SSB feature.

  19. mp

    Interesting equipment.
    For me it lacks only FM starting at 64 MHz.
    I am also curious about the details of its RDS reception.
    From now it looks like it shows PTY (as shown on the photo).

  20. Pedro Moreno

    I would like to know if this Digitech AR-1780 model also exhibits the infamous tune muting nuissance of other DSP radios, for instance the Digitech AR-1733….

  21. Pedro Moreno

    I would like to know if this Digitech AR-1780 model also exhibits the infamous tune muting nuissance of other DSP radios, for instance the Digitech AR-1733….


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