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Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

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Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:40 am

I made an impulse purchase yesterday.

I saw a $17 (made in China, of course) portable radio with the following characteristics at Menards:
- analog AM/FM tuner
- analog Shortwave tuner (split into 7 different SW bands)
- ability to run on 3 D-cell batteries, AC power, or rechargeable batteries
- USB input (including ability to play music files from USB flash drive)
- SD card slot

I figured for $17, I couldn't go wrong.

I must say - the tuning results were quite interesting!

AM band was about as one would expect for a cheap tabletop radio. The more powerful AM stations in the area came in OK; the flimsier ones were too faint for comfortable listening or didn't come in at all. The tuning needle was "off" a bit relative to the printed frequency scale on the unit.

Shortwave - I picked up audible stations in six of the seven bands. 13 meters was the only band where I heard nothing. I probably picked up 10 or 11 stations total. Five them were airing fundamentalist Christian programming (some were redundant), one was airing Catholic programming, one was airing Spanish language Christian programming, one was airing Spanish language political programming (perhaps from Cuba?), one was airing a Christian question & answer type show hosted by a man with what seemed to be an Australian accent, and the other was the atomic clock channel near 15 MHz.

FM - this is where this cheap Chinese made unit truly shined!!! First, the audio fidelity was quite good. Not much bass, but the treble response and frequency separation were both superb. However, that's not even the best part. The TUNER SENSITIVITY and ability to pick out weak stations was sensational!!!

Some examples:
- Smile FM translator at 103.9 MHz from near Utica: This station is usually very fuzzy or non-receivable on other radios/FM receivers in the house. I have to drive a few miles to the northeast to get a listenable signal in the car. On this tiny little $17 radio, the station came in CRYSTAL CLEAR with minimal effort. Even WOMC's IBOC side channel hash didn't faze it.
- 102.3 CINA Radio from Windsor: This station is hit-or-miss indoors, almost never can be received in stereo quality, and is prone to picket fencing type drop-outs in the car. This station came in splendidly. Almost like a local.
- 89.5 WAHS: High school station from Avondale High School in Auburn Hills. I live in a deep null and usually get OK reception in the car in my neighborhood and terrible reception indoors. On this unit, the station came in CRYSTAL CLEAR with zero effort.
- 96.7 WCHB translator: In the car and on other radios, I usually get a mish-mash of this station & CHYR from Essex County, ON. Instead, the WCHB translator came in crystal clear.
- Other area HD2 & AM translators on the FM band: 106.3, 101.5, 99.9, 94.3 and 92.7 all came in problem free. All had strong signals. 98.3 was a little challenging to tune in, but once I locked onto 98.3, I maintained a pretty stable signal.
- 97.5 CBEW-FM from Windsor: Came in almost as well as a local, despite having 97.1 WXYT-FM's tower just three miles down the street from me.
- 95.9 CJWF from Windsor: Came in every bit as well as a local, despite usually having crappy reception in the car from WKQI's IBOC interference. Those unfamiliar with the local dial would never know this is a medium powered station from 25 miles away that normally is unlistenable due to adjacent channel issues. CJWF just BOOMED in on this tiny radio.
- 91.7 WUOM from Ann Arbor: Came in well, although I could hear just a little bit of hiss in the background. Nonetheless, reception quality was favorable compared to other receivers in the house.

Next time I crack this baby out, I'll see if I can do some fine tuning to pick up 99.1 CJAM, 102.9 WWWW and 90.5 WKAR-FM.


Alexis Wiley and Mike Duggan - together following in Hillary's footsteps!

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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by Turkeytop » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:46 am

Can you post a pic of it?



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by CK-722 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:09 pm

The Tecsuns at around $45 are pretty good. Maybe they are dumping ones using the same chipset?


Is THAT where they got the idea for the 486-SX?

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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by CK-722 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:38 pm

Could W280EL (103.9) possibly be running on the CP on the WWJ-TV tower?


Is THAT where they got the idea for the 486-SX?

Same (x, y, z), different (t)

Your bullet missed my trial balloon.

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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:06 pm

Nope. Signal still stinks in the car and all other receivers in the house.

The radio brand is SuperSonic. SC-1082 is the model. It is a cheap, low quality knock off of a Sangean. But man oh man, that FM tuner is impressive. The tiny instruction manual is filled with spelling and grammatical errors. I would not suggest using the AC power cord unmonitored.


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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by Turkeytop » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:16 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:06 pm
Nope. Signal still stinks in the car and all other receivers in the house.

The radio brand is SuperSonic. SC-1082 is the model. It is a cheap, low quality knock off of a Sangean. But man oh man, that FM tuner is impressive. The tiny instruction manual is filled with spelling and grammatical errors. I would not suggest using the AC power cord unmonitored.

Image



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:22 pm

Bingo! That's the one. :)


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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by bmw » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:59 pm

I have quite a collection of portable radios, and the gem of my collection is this Japanese import:

Image

A Panasonic RF-1188. I bought that 7 or 8 years ago from Yahoo Auctions Japan for something like $250 shipped, and in nearly pristine condition. It has AM, FM (76 to 108 MHZ), and SW from 1.6 to 30 khz. It sounds amazing and has stellar reception on all bands. Also a bandwidth selector switch (wide/narrow) for AM/SW and a fine tuning knob on the right also for AM/SW. This has probably the most sensitive FM receiver of any radio I own. Build quality is second-to-none - they sure don't make 'em like this any more.



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by Arthur Mometer » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:32 pm

For a while, Sony and Panasonic were putting the same chips in several levels and price ranges of radios, like the Sony Shower Radio, which outperformed much more expensive radios on AM. Not sure what the FM problem was, but it could have been antenna related.


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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by Turkeytop » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:46 pm

bmw wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:59 pm
I have quite a collection of portable radios, and the gem of my collection is this Japanese import:

Image

A Panasonic RF-1188. I bought that 7 or 8 years ago from Yahoo Auctions Japan for something like $250 shipped, and in nearly pristine condition. It has AM, FM (76 to 108 MHZ), and SW from 1.6 to 30 khz. It sounds amazing and has stellar reception on all bands. Also a bandwidth selector switch (wide/narrow) for AM/SW and a fine tuning knob on the right also for AM/SW. This has probably the most sensitive FM receiver of any radio I own. Build quality is second-to-none - they sure don't make 'em like this any more.

Wow. That's a nice radio. One of my favourites is my Sony ICF 5900W. I bought it new in 1978. I wasn't making much money back then. I had to put it on layaway and make payments for about 6 months, before I could take it home. It was a great radio to have. That was back in the golden age of short wave broadcasting and we were right at the peak of strong solar cycle. It was my main radio for a lot of years.

Now, like you, I have a sizable collection. I have about 35 here at home and about a dozen more that I keep in Florida. It's difficult to suppress the urge to expand the collection, but I'm trying to keep it under control.

Image



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by CK-722 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:46 pm

Somebody posted an AM bandscan near Tawas City here a few years ago. It was similar radio, but as I recall, it was a Sony. A big portable. What radio was that? There was a picture, and all the AMs showed an signal meter reading. The scale on the meter was linear.


Is THAT where they got the idea for the 486-SX?

Same (x, y, z), different (t)

Your bullet missed my trial balloon.

RTN Price. Not guaranteed. As of 12:30, 157.71 Down 0.22.

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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by bmw » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:20 am

TT - that's a nice radio as well. My collection isn't as large as yours and I don't have any Sony's. But I know I did almost buy a 5900 a few times, just never did.

CK - that was me who posted that - been quite a while back now. Was Grundig Satellit 2400-SL. http://www.radiocorner.de/candies/satel ... g_6759.jpg (that isn't mine but same model). Quite a bit larger than my Panasonic and in FM stereo. Very similar reception between the 2 radios, though the Grundig has the advantage of the digital display so that made it much easier to do a bandscan.



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by Turkeytop » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:18 am

bmw wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:20 am
TT - that's a nice radio as well. My collection isn't as large as yours and I don't have any Sony's. But I know I did almost buy a 5900 a few times, just never did.

CK - that was me who posted that - been quite a while back now. Was Grundig Satellit 2400-SL. http://www.radiocorner.de/candies/satel ... g_6759.jpg (that isn't mine but same model). Quite a bit larger than my Panasonic and in FM stereo. Very similar reception between the 2 radios, though the Grundig has the advantage of the digital display so that made it much easier to do a bandscan.
I expect you are a true collector. I would characterize myself more as an acquirer or maybe even a hoarder. I never buy used, always new. I think this maybe stems from the fact that, for much of my life, I lived in poverty. I was always having to settle and make do.

Now that I am at a point in my life where I can afford to buy nice things I sometimes can't resist the urge.

This is the Grundig Satellite 750 which is my main radio in Florida

Image



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by bmw » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:55 pm

I got big into collecting them between like 2011 and 2015 but haven't added to my collection since then. I like the Grundigs - cosmetically they're some of the coolest-looking radios out there and they perform very well.

If I were ever going to buy another Grundig, I'd like either an Ocean Boy 820:

Image

...or a Satellit 2100:

Image



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Re: Review: Cheap $17 portable radio with 7-band SW from Menards; how well does it work?

Post by CK-722 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:02 pm

CK - that was me who posted that - been quite a while back now. Was Grundig Satellit 2400-SL. http://www.radiocorner.de/candies/satel ... g_6759.jpg (that isn't mine but same model). Quite a bit larger than my Panasonic and in FM stereo. Very similar reception between the 2 radios, though the Grundig has the advantage of the digital display so that made it much easier to do a bandscan.


Is THAT where they got the idea for the 486-SX?

Same (x, y, z), different (t)

Your bullet missed my trial balloon.

RTN Price. Not guaranteed. As of 12:30, 157.71 Down 0.22.

Artificial Intelligence is a Child that needs a Parent to guide it through.

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