“As someone who doesn’t normally open the backs of radios, this is my mod on my ultralight. All it takes is a bit of electrical tape to hold the belt clip on the loop.”
That is, indeed, a brilliant and simple mod. The SRF-59 inductively couples to the loop antenna, so no soldering is needed; simply tape the belt clip to the loop, making sure the position is convenient for tuning the SRF-59 and the loop’s capacitor.
You can find passive loop antennas ranging from $19 to $50 US. The Grundig AN-200 and the Terk AM Advantage are two models currently on the market. Here are a few places you can check prices:
A couple years ago, someone on eBay had a lot of Sony SRF-39FP units on sale–I jumped at the opportunity to buy one new-in-box for $20 US. The entire lot of SRF-39FPs sold in a matter of hours. Indeed, the ’39FPs were so popular, by the time I prepared a post for the SWLing Post, the seller had already sold out. (I’m kicking myself for not buying at least one extra–!)
Several weeks ago, while Steve researched the reason he was hearing shortwave broadcasters on his SRF-59, he also discovered that the SRF-59 had been discontinued and selling in many places for three or four times the original price.
He found one vendor still selling the SRF-59 for $14.99 plus shipping. I placed an order with this vendor over a month ago, but still haven’t received the product because the vendor hasn’t taken delivery of the final batch of units from Sony. I’m in contact with this vendor and when/if the units are received in stock next week, I’ll post an update here on the SWLing Post (if interested, follow this tag).
If you’re in the market for a Sony SRF-59, here are a few places you may find one new or used:
I check in on your blog frequently. I’ve been a casual SW and AM dxer since my childhood. I’m a mechanical engineer, and have some basic electronics knowledge, but I’m no RF expert, and half forgot most of what I used to know.
On 9-13-15, around 11am eastern time, I was playing with a Sony SRF-59 down low on the AM band. The lowest station I can hear at my location near Valley Forge PA is a Spanish language station on 540–WLIE, on Long Island I think. My dial is badly calibrated but I know I was below that station on 540, maybe even below 530 or 520, and heard some noise. It took some really careful back and forth tuning, but I could hear a voice. I put the radio against my AN200 passive loop and heard the clear unmistakable voice of “Brother Scare”, (Overcomer Ministry). I scanned the shortwave and found a simulcast on 9840, WHRI Cypress Creek SC. The info I have says it’s a 250 kW broadcast.
Grundig AN200 Loop Antenna
I scratched my head and thought there must be a pirate rebroadcasting it on the bottom of the AM band, but I couldn’t hear it on my CC 2E, or my Grundig G3 which tunes continuously from LW into MW. It is really touchy to tune on the SRF-59, but with work, I could hear him barefoot, and very cleanly with the loop. I checked in several times the next few hours and it was there until WHRI went off the air at 3pm I think. Unfortunately, I never got a station ID.
On the morning of Monday Sept 14, at 9pm local time, with the same radio and loop, I got a station ID for China Radio International, and then found the same broadcast on 9570 from Quivican Cuba–also a 250 kW signal. I could not hear it clearly barefoot, as with WHRI, (it is quite a bit more distant) but with the loop is was incredibly clear. Also it doesn’t seem to matter where the tuning dial on the loop is, or how it’s oriented (I was aimed east/west). The radio and loop both function normally higher up the AM band (you need to tune the loop, and the reception is amazing with it).
I know I was below 540, because I passed local stations on the way down–610(WIP), and 560 (WFIL)–and could hear Spanish voice just below that, which had to be 540. The shortwave was just below that. The only thing i get below that on any other AM radio is Cuba and Canada on 530, both of which I can obviously only get at night time. I don’t know how the tuning circuits could jump 9mHz so suddenly.
Call me mystified. I thought I could find something about this on the net; I can’t be the only one with this experience; but no. Have you ever heard of this?
Steve followed up later noting that he is actually able to tune in the whole 31 meter band, as long as a signal is strong enough to overload the SRF-59.
I’ve done a lot of MW DXing with the SRF-59 and had never noticed harmonics, but I’m not surprised they can be heard either. I might try to replicate what Steve did using my AN200 loop coupled to the SRF-59.
Has anyone else as heard 31 meter band signals on their SRF-59?
A few years ago, I heard a lot of buzz in AM/Mediumwave radio circles about a small, inexpensive radio called the Sony SRF-59. Discussions were focused on the incredible performance of this diminutive low-cost radio and how it held it own against some real benchmark receivers. Out of curiosity, I did a search on the radio to see what it looked like–I expected some Tecsun PL-like unit–and found that, much to my surprise, it’s a simple, analog, totally unassuming AM/FM walkman. Say, what?
The far biggest surprise came with my price search, however. The SRF-59 is easy to find at $14.95 US. Really, you ask? Oh, yes–and it’s readily available at many online and big box stores.
So–carefully counting my pocket change–I took the plunge, and bought one.
The radio came in a basic plastic blister pack, and it also included headphones. I can’t comment on the headphones as I didn’t even bother unpacking them; instead, I plugged my new SRF-59 into my favorite Sony earbuds.
I have to admit, the AM band on this little radio does indeed shine. Not only is the receiver sensitive and relatively selective (meaning, I don’t hear adjacent signals when tuned in), but it also has excellent audio. Amazingly, it lives up to all of the praise I had heard about it. I’m quite amazed, in fact, at how well this little unit can null out stations by rotating the radio body a few degrees. Most impressive.
Though I’m no major FM radio listener, I can also vouch for its FM performance, which is quite good.
lightweight–indeed, one can safely say, “ultralight”
very inexpensive, by comparision
operates almost indefinitely on one AA cell
simple design, durable construction
AM (Mediumwave) sensitivity and selectivity comparable to $100 shortwave portables
because tuning is analog, it works in North America just as well as in Japan (see cons)
tuning is analog, thus no stations can be saved to memory and there is a noticeable amount of receiver drift if listening over long periods of time
no fine-tuning mechanism means that tuning in weak stations takes precision skill on the SRF-59’s very small dial
no built-in speaker (this is a Walkman, after all)
In summary, you will regret not purchasing this radio should Sony pull it from the market without warning. While it is a walkman with the above listed limitations, it’s nonetheless a first-rate AM/MW receiver and might be a great avenue into the fun hobby of ultralight DXing.
In short, the Sony SRF-59 is a real gem. But don’t take my word for it, either–go check one out for yourself!