Tag Archives: Wideband receivers

TC notes differences between Kenwood TH-D74 and TH-F6A on MW/SW

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TC, who shares the following response to Ivan’s post about the Kenwood TH-D74 on mediumwave:

A couple of years ago, I published a side-by-side comparison of the TH-F6A and the TH-D74 on YouTube comparing reception of a local AM broadcast station. The F6A was far more sensitive on the AM broadcast band than the TH-D74.

You can see the video here:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I didn’t take the internal orientation of the bars into account, but the D74 is less sensitive in pretty much any orientation compared to the older F6A.

I contacted Kenwood about the difference, and they stated something to the effect of while the TH-D74 does receive MW, it wasn’t necessarily designed for it, and thus the reception there suffers compared to the F6A.

However, the tradeoff here seems to be better shortwave reception in the TH-D74 compared to the F6A. Hook the D74 up to a large wire antenna and you can easily pull in stuff on the shortwave broadcast and ham bands, and the IF filters help quite a bit as well.

Thanks for sharing, TC! I own a few wideband handheld transceivers so I keep a short SMA “pigtail” in my EDC pack that I can use to enhance HF performance. I simply clip a 15′ wire onto the pigtail’s  exposed conductor to enhance HF performance. Also, as Ivan points out, inductively pairing any of these tiny radios with a mag loop antenna will also augment performance on mediumwave.

Thanks again for sharing!

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Ivan checks out the Kenwood TH-D74’s mediumwave performance

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ivan (NO2CW), who writes:

One category of receivers not much talked about are the wideband handhelds. I first owned one of those in 1992 when I paid a ton of money for an AOR-1000. Not only did it cost me a lot but I also ordered it from the UK so it was not subject to the “cellular blocked” rule. Don’t ask me why, it never made any difference in the end.

As a busy shortwave listener at the time I was eager to check out reception as the radio also featured Shorwave coverage and even a BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator) knob! To sum it up it was a great receiver above 30 mHz but Shortwave and Mediumwave was barely there, with a 15 kHz wide filter and low sensitivity.

Well today I have in my hands a Kenwood TH-D74A – a top of the line handheld triband amateur radio transceiver with Medium Wave and Short Wave coverage. The radio is expensive due to the presence of GPS, D Star and APRS, but those are a features for the radio amateur. What about performance on the low frequencies?

Here is my video of the test which revealed surprising results:

Click here to view on YouTube.

So next time you consider purchasing a new receiver,as you dive into the choice of portables, SDRs, tabletops and classics from eBay you may consider adding this category as well – handhelds with wide band coverage.

Thank you, Ivan!  You’ve inspired me to check out mediumwave performance on a few wideband handy talkies I own: the Yaesu VX-3R, Yaesu FT2DR and the Kenwood TH-F6A. To my knowledge, all three have internal ferrite bars (tiny ones) but I’ve never actually compared their performance with each other. That could be a lot of fun. I also own an AN200 MW loop antenna so this could be an excellent test to see how it pairs with each radio.  I’m especially curious about the wee VX-3R!

Thanks again, Ivan. We always enjoy your videos and posts.

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Dave reviews the Icom IC-R30 Handheld Wide Band Receiver

The new Icom IC-R30 handheld wideband receiver at the 2018 Hamvention.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that he has published his comprehensive review of the Icom IC-R30 handheld wideband receiver.

Click here to check out Dave’s review.

Based on Dave’s evaluation, it sounds like this is one of the better wideband radios, although like similar models, its utility in the HF and mediumwave bands is somewhat limited. He gives the R30 good marks for AGC and notes a lack of spurious emissions on MW. Unlike other wideband handhelds, he noted no mediumwave stations overloading the HF bands. With the unit connected to an external HF antenna however, intense overloading occurred on these bands.

As I tell anyone considering a wideband handheld, don’t buy it with the intention of logging weak signal DX on the HF bands–it’s just not a great receiver for this. It shines on those higher frequencies starting in the VHF band and moving up.

Thanks for sharing your review, Dave!

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Dave reviews the Icom IC-R8600

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO) who writes:

Just FYI. My Icom IC-R8600 “Wide Band” Receiver Review is now available. Mind you this is subject to more updates than usual at least for awhile. For any questions, yes please send them along.

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/icr8600.html

“The excellent ICOM IC-R8600 “Wide Band” SDR communications receiver. Direct Sampling SDR below 30 Mhz. Hybrid Superhet / SDR above 30 Mhz. It is NOT just a IC-7300 “receiver” section with VHF / UHF Coverage added on (however overall HF receiver performance is similar). In our view the best receiver Icom has produced to date (“Wide Band” or not). One MUST remember this is NOT a “scanner” type receiver, so no Trunking etc. Audio quality while very good, we detected some minor harshness and or spurious gremlins that we could not put a handle on in the AM / FM and WFM modes (with all 3 test speakers, Firmware 1.10, see text) ?? This was not an issue at all with the IC-7300 Transceiver cousin, but it has much less dynamic (flat) audio in comparison.”

Many thanks, Dave! Post readers, please bookmark Dave’s IC-R8600 page for all updates.

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Icom IC-R8600 pricing and availability

The new Icom IC-8600 at the 2017 Hamvention

At the 2017 Hamvention, I spent a little time checking out Icom’s latest wideband communications receiver: the IC-R8600. Check out the photos above and below.

The IC-8600 Back Panel

I spoke with Icom North America at Hamvention–the representative told me the MSRP of the IC-R8600 would be about $2,999 US, but that retail pricing would be lower.

Universal Radio now has the IC-R8600 in stock with a retail price of $2599 US. HRO has the IC-R8600 in stock as well and selling for the same price.

No doubt, at this price point, the ‘8600 is not ideally placed to compete with other receivers and SDRs. I do, however, believe this product will do well with government sales. No doubt, it should deliver benchmark performance (at least one would expect benchmark). Icom has offered to send me an IC-R8600 on loan for a review–it is tempting to see how it might stack up against some of my SDR arsenal.

I’m very curious Post readers: assuming benchmark performance, how many of you would purchase the IC-R8600 at $2,599 US? Please comment!

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