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Thread: What radio are you using?

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    Member etdvm's Avatar
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    Default What radio are you using?

    What radio are you using in your remotes cabins or hunt camps?
    Are the satellite radios (like eton's) worth the cost?

    What I am looking for: not a radio for communications, but for weather, NFL games, etc. in a remote location that does not get good air signal from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Well, it gets one, but I can't listen to Bach all day long.

    I know Sirius has portable satellite radio, but that is a subscription service which is likely unnecessary.

    Thoughts? Comments?
    Fly fishing makes me herl

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    CC Crane radios are the only ones that I find will work at my remote cabins. In the middle of the Alaska Range, I need to use their radio plus their external antenna. It is my understanding that Satellite radios won't work.

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    Find an old car radio and antenna, the work the best. You can build a plywood box and make it look cool.

    George

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    Member etdvm's Avatar
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    Which Crane do you have?
    Ham or short wave more important?
    Fly fishing makes me herl

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    I like the Kenwood Short wave radios with memory.

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    I'm a HAM radio operator, and although I use it for coms, you can buy JUST a general coverage HAM radio receiver and be able to listen to everything under the sun. You do NOT need a licence to own a HAM radio receiver. That, or you could just buy a short wave radio....there are some good ones out there now that aren't too spendy. Some cover the HAM bands and some don't. As for an antenna, all you need is a long piece of wire strung out in the trees....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member etdvm's Avatar
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    Appreciate the input thus far.

    Car radio + antenna = Bach in my camp. Sometimes Straus or Handel if I am really lucky. Hence the need for a decent receiver.

    Hadn't considered a HAM receiver yet.

    Sounds like I'm shimmying up a tree with a wire regardless of which one I get - is that also true with a Crane or Kenwood?
    Fly fishing makes me herl

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    When I lived on Kodiak in Uganik Bay, I had a portable radio with an antenna, I wrapped some #20 copper wire around the existing antenna and ran the wire out the window, across the hill about 200 feet, I could then get Hawaii radio stations. Worked great.

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    Default What radio are you using?

    A vote for the CC. It has an 8" ferrous antenna, the largest AM antenna I'm aware of. I spent over $200 on other "high end" long distance am radios including sangean and grundig, and the CC radio 2 is the only one that works. I'm 120 air miles from anchorage.

    Keep in mind that fm and am use two different antennas. The AM is a ferrous rod internal to the radio. The visible antenna is for FM.
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    Quote Originally Posted by etdvm View Post
    <br>
    Hadn't considered a HAM receiver yet.<br>
    <br>
    Sounds like I'm shimmying up a tree with a wire regardless of which one I get -
    You don't have to climb the tree......you can use a fishing rod and sling some mono up over a branch and then pull up a wire with that. I did just that to run a wire around the perimeter of my 3 acres....just shy of 1,500'. I was talking halfway around the world with that antenna. Most HAM radio receivers are very spendy, because you are talking about some pretty high quality gear. I'm not going to say don't get one, especially if you want something that is really going to work, but for what you're needs are, you'd probably be better off getting a short wave. Did you check out the ebay link that was in the other post I made? Tons to choose from.

    Btw.....for those that say they "don't work", the trick to any radio is in it's antenna system. An antenna has to be cut to the right length per given frequency to receive and transmit properly. Cut too long, or short, even though they may "work" they won't perform as well as a tuned antenna cut to length.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    4merguide is right on the mark. What radio you buy/use is far less important than your antenna setup. I've picked up radio Havanah at Carlquist Cub Scout camp in Eagle River using a handheld radio hooked to a 6 meter wire strung between the trees about 8' off the ground. With the same set up, I regularly pick up Soldotna and Kenai AM Broadcast stations in Trapper Creek (as well as shortwave stations in the southeastern US). I have a beater HF ham radio that picks up AM Broadcast bands and, using a home made wire antenna in my attic, I've picked up AM stations from as far away as Oregon and British Columbia plus shortwave stations from New Zealand and Murmansk.

    I suggest you check out http://www.universal-radio.com and look at their wide selection of receive only radios. (I thought about just suggesting a couple of models, but I have only used one of them, and I don't know what you're trying to do in terms of particular frequency you want to pull in and where you are geographically, what you topography is like, etc.) At any rate, universal radio has been in business a LOOOONG time and they have a very good website in terms of specs and information.

    Bottom line, you can go high dollar with a table top unit or go with a smaller, portable unit that will cost less. Key feature to look for if you're wanting good reception in a remote cabin is receiver sensitivity. You want a receiver that is very sensitive and will pick up faint signals. Selectivity is the next key feature. A highly selective receiver will tune in a weak station and block out KFQD, which typically blasts over everything nearby on the dial.

    If all you're wanting is AM for sports and news, you can probably build an antenna for a cheapo radio and come out okay. Heck, I built an antenna for my iHome clock radio that now picks up Legends Country from Wasilla, and I live in South Anchorage.

    Whatever you decide to go with, you're going to need an external, outdoor mounted antenna. Don't buy one, make one. They're easy, cheap, and fun to build yourself. You've got a lot options. If you're local, I can help you build one, or I can find you some internet links.

    Edit: PS: One last thing to think about it: if you're considering doing the Short Wave Listening Thing (doesn't sound like you are, but this applies to AM/FM Broadcast bands as well) look at the spacing between frequencies on the dial (if you're buying an analog dial-like with a needle) or look at the "step" spacing (number of kilohertz between "steps" on the digital dial if you're buying a digital dial radio). The closer those numbers are (shorter the dial from end to end) or the larger that "step" number is in kilohertz, the harder it is to tune in stations, especially when the weak station you want is close in frequency to the nearby strong station you don't want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    the trick to any radio is in it's antenna system. An antenna has to be cut to the right length per given frequency to receive and transmit properly. Cut too long, or short, even though they may "work" they won't perform as well as a tuned antenna cut to length.
    Exactly. Although I think that that is less important for receive only radios and antennas. Like I said, I've done a lot of AM and Short Wave listening using my 6 meter VHF dipole or 10 meter HF dipole, both much shorter than the proper length for AM or Short Wave. As you said, though, it is absolutely critical when transmitting.

    By thew way, if the O.P. is interested in making a wire antenna, the formula to calculate the HALF wave length is L=468/f where L is the length of the wire in feet and f is the frequency, Megahertz (MHz) you wish to use. So, using KFQD 750 am as an example L=468/0.750 (converting Kilohertz to Megahertz) thus L=624 ft. (Pretty long huh?) You can also make it a 1/4 wave antenna by cutting it half, and, like I said, you can get good results with a much smaller wire if you have to.

    Check out http://www.hamuniverse.com/dipivcal.html which explains the whole thing and has a design calculator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by etdvm View Post
    Sounds like I'm shimmying up a tree with a wire regardless of which one I get - is that also true with a Crane or Kenwood?
    They make a tool for arborists to get lines up into trees; it is essentially a wrist rocket on a 6' pole. We use that all the time, works great. Get a wrist rocket and some super heavy lead sinkers. Use lightwieght line on the first launch through the trees. Tie your wire to a load bearing line tied to the lightweight line and pull it all through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerberman View Post
    When I lived on Kodiak in Uganik Bay, I had a portable radio with an antenna, I wrapped some #20 copper wire around the existing antenna and ran the wire out the window, across the hill about 200 feet, I could then get Hawaii radio stations. Worked great.
    Hawaii is an easy shot for us here; it's straight south. 20 gauge is a good diameter. I use 14 gauge copper clad steel because it is more durable, but the copper wire probably works better.

    I know a guy with deed restrictions who uses 24 gauge speaker wire; from 10 feet on out it is invisible but still works pretty well. I've seen automotive wire, speaker wire, all kinds of stuff. I saw one antenna a guy built that looked like an old wagon wheel where the "spokes" were aluminum foil.

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    Lots of Excellent information to digest and consider, thanks.

    My location: Yentna River at Fish Lakes Creek, south of Skwentna/West of Willow. Do get MTA cell signal there, if that helps give an idea of terrain.

    Main goal is being able to get weather reports and warnings, listen to a variety of news and NFL.
    Fly fishing makes me herl

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    Oh okay. You're really not that far from where my cabin is. You're actually quite a bit closer to ANchorage than I am.

    The National Weather Service operates NOAA Weather Radio transmitters from both Anchorage and Wasilla, and, with a good antenna, you can get those easily from your area; I get them on both the wire and on a directional yagi (looks similar to a tv antenna). If you were to buy a radio that had Weather Band receive AND the National Weather Service's S.A.M.E. function, you could program it to silently monitor weather radio and then sound an alarm when an alert or warning for your area is issued. (Convenient because you don't have to listen to the broadcast continually and it saves battery power.)

    As for sports and news, sounds you like you just need a decent AM radio. You might look for any AM/FM radio that has one of those wire AM antennas tht wraps around a small loop of plastic. Pull the wire of of that and solder/splice more wire onto it. From there you can build a bigger a loop antenna for better reception.

    Remember that those antennas are directional. You aim them by rotating them so that you could look through the loop toward the transmitting station. If you line up both both edges of the loop so that you look across the opening toward the station, you "null" that station out and won't receive it. Wire antennas are similar-you receive stations that are perpendicular to the wire; any stations on the ends of the wire are "nulled" out. Using that technique, and knowing where your favorite stations transmit from, can make it a lot easier to pull in those signals. Also, AM signals are easier to pull in at night. (It has to do with temperature of the Earth, the atmosphere, other stuff.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    They make a tool for arborists to get lines up into trees; it is essentially a wrist rocket on a 6' pole. We use that all the time, works great. Get a wrist rocket and some super heavy lead sinkers. Use lightwieght line on the first launch through the trees. Tie your wire to a load bearing line tied to the lightweight line and pull it all through.
    Also, if the guy is a bow hunter he can weight down an arrow a little and attach some mono to it, then shoot it up and over a branch or tree top that way. I've used this technique a few times with just a youth bow and it works well......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I won't have a bow handy, but I was really good at toilet papering houses at one point in my life. Fortunately for my enemies, I have come to appreciate toilet paper for its innate worth, and will never abuse TP for frivolity again. I do have a good wrist rocket, and have been meaning to practice on something other than feral cats.

    Sounds like a good quality AM/FM/SB with copper wire strung out may do the trick at my location.
    Fly fishing makes me herl

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    Quote Originally Posted by etdvm View Post
    I won't have a bow handy, but I was really good at toilet papering houses at one point in my life. Fortunately for my enemies, I have come to appreciate toilet paper for its innate worth, and will never abuse TP for frivolity again. I do have a good wrist rocket, and have been meaning to practice on something other than feral cats.

    Sounds like a good quality AM/FM/SB with copper wire strung out may do the trick at my location.
    Yep.......a guy really doesn't ever want to waste TP......unless he really wants to think about all that he wasted when the "emergency" occurs and he can't find any.........lol.

    Yeah, a sling shot will work, or like I said, if you're good at casting, a rod and reel works great as well. If you use the sling shot, you'll have to mess with what size weight / mono size will work best for shooting it up and over a tree or branch. Depending on what you have that the mono can get snagged on when you go to pull up the wire, you'll want to use some decent poundage to handle it if you indeed end up getting it hooked on something. But you can use some light mono, then attach it to some heavier mono, before you try to actually pull up the wire.

    When it comes to radio gear, you pretty much get what you pay for. A real good radio will cost quite a bit. Many HAM radio receivers end up in the $thousands. My Kenwood sold for over $6k when new back in the early 90's. You should be able to get a good portable SW radio for a decent price. Just weigh out the cost for how much you value what you want to listen to. Of course there are lots of new, high tech radios to choose from, but don't overlook some of those old vintage radios you see on ebay. Those radios can work better than the new stuff, and are upwards of 50+ years old.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Those radios can work better than the new stuff, and are upwards of 50+ years old.
    I didn't tell you, 4merguide, I picked up a vintage Halicrafters Super Skyrider Ham Receiver for free. Production date August, 1940. One of only 16k ever made prior to the War Dept. taking over all radio production in early 1941. Receives 500Khz-50Mhz. All vacuum tubes still intact. Cleaned it up, plugged it in, attached a piece of automotive wire to it and bang, starting picking up broadcast stations on it. Seventy-two years old.

    I just realized that we should have had this entire discussion thread over on the Ham Radio thread.

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