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Good receiver for AM on Ham Bands?




 
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N1KK
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« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2011, 08:38:03 PM »

What does the AM filter look like in a 75S-1?  At the moment I don't
know if this receiver has a AM filter.

Ken
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2011, 08:43:17 PM »

My rx experience is extremely limited.  I like the sound of an all analog vacuum tube signal path.  My s.s. DSP box I got during an earlier life sounds dull and antiseptic.  It is "hi-fi" with a perfectly flat response, but it also sounds lifeless.  

I'm told most NC-300/303 searchers go for the NC-303 passing on the NC-300, so it is actually a better buy, especially for AM.

I am very happy with my 75A-3.  It has the black wrinkle, the amber dial lamps, the great vintage aesthetic and audio plus the PTO stability and the 2 and 3 are much less cost than the 4 and for AM and CW ragchewing I do not believe the 4 is that important.  BUT, I have tapped the AF pot wiper out to a pair of external 2x6BQ5 amps, one on each speaker, put in two HB 6 and 9 kc ceramic filters, and solid stated the 5Y3.   With the stock 3.1 kc mechanical filter and single ended audio stage it was not a pleasurable AM rx.
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« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2011, 09:00:57 PM »

I hear hams on AM using all kinds of older and newer RX's, all having a good time doing so.   The best RX is any RX you enjoy using.

My favorite is my modified 75A-4, does everything real well.  The speaker audio plays across an 8 ohm R, thru an old "Super SCAF" filter, and into a Heath AA-23 25W Hi-Fi Mono amp (P-P 7591s).  The amp drives a Hallicrafters PM-23 with the big magnet Jensen 10 inch speaker, minus the Hi-Z transformer.   Sounds super, the 75A-4 audio gain never gets above 2.... at which point I can hear it well from outside.

I also use the same setup on a HQ-170A taking audio off of the audio gain pot wiper.  Sounds great, much better than audio from the speaker out.  HQ-170's are going for bargain prices these days and are a lot of bang for the buck in addition to being a really cool old RX.  These need a while to settle down and largely quit drifiting, as I'm sure you'll recall, but what the heck, most of these delightful old radios are bit drifty. 

The OP around here is a bit drifty too but one of the joys of AM is that bit of drift doesn't matter much. Grin Grin Grin

My Elecraft K3 also works very well on AM, great audio reports and a lot of flexibility on RX.  I use it on 10M AM since my HT-37 doesn't work there.

73 Jack KZ5A
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« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2011, 09:25:05 PM »

Finding a good AM receiver can be a life long endeavor.  I'm 40 years into the search and have tried quite a few out.  One affordable choice that I don't think has been mentioned is a National NC 303.  It does a lot of thinks well and can be made to sound good with a little tunin' on the audio output stage. Besides the National, some other favorites were 75A4, R390A and Sp600 and Kenwood R-1000, which all had strengths and weakness.   

Have fun finding "it", and certainly don't limit yourself to just one.

One just sold recently for over 600 bucks on Ebay. Great radio and very stable too.
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« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2011, 09:28:50 PM »

Don't forget Otis spelled backwards = Sito.

Your Icom could be a very nice AM receiver with less attention than some popular 50s receivers.


Always remember that Icom spelled backwards is Moci................. Grin  Grin  Grin


Slab Bacon spelled backwards is Nocab Bals
Collins spelled backwards is Snilloc
National spelled backwards is Lanoitan
Kenwood spelled backwards is Doownek

And, on and on...
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« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2011, 09:52:50 PM »

strap ---  parts
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N1KK
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« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2011, 10:07:22 PM »

This SDR looks interesting.  I would like to hear from anyone who has compared
it against the old tube receivers.   Sensitivity/selectivity/overload and quality
of AM audio

The price is certainly right.

Ken
N1KK

Most of the suggestions that have been made are excellent. Unfortunately most of them are expensive in the current market. I am assuming you would prefer something turn-key or plug and play. The R390(a) and Sp600, Collins 75A-4 options are great, however they are close to $1000 these days in turn key condition. $500-600 at best.

If your not willing to spend that money, I do recommend the Hammarlund HQ100 or the HQ110a. They can be had in excellent shape for about a tenth of the price of the aforementioned, and sound quite good for AM.

Another option, is an SDR of some sort. There are several by different manufacturers, other than the Flex (who do not build a receive only radio). There is one that shows up on eBay all the time sold by a fellow in Japan. It's called the Soft66LC which comes with the board and case and hooks up to your line audio whatever (stereo, powered monitors etc.) and to the antenna, and to your computer via USB. Works and sounds great and is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Sells for about $110USD +shipping. There are others as well. The one I mention I have tried and it works great, but there are many others.

John, W2WDX
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« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2011, 10:15:37 PM »

A NC-300, a few hours spent on replacing paper caps and some resistors (needed on most any old radio) and then doing some of the factory updates will get you into AM pretty cheap. The audio is far better than anything made by Hammarlund after the early SP's.

I have most of the ones mentioned and have 4-5 receivers available at each operating position. At least one is for the audio and others are for battle conditions. There are a few that do both quite well, NC-183D, HRO-50-1 and HRO-60.

Carl
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kb3rdt
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2011, 10:50:41 PM »

I have a NC-300 and audio is bassy but you do mod it and it sounds pretty good I like mine but mine been opened up by joel WA3JS was N3EYR but like to get something else but i look on E-pay some go way to much for what I think they are worth I am selling my SX-99 need some tlc but does work

                                                                                               Carl KB3RDT
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N1KK
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« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2011, 06:52:48 AM »

I did a bit more testing last night with my IC-735 and IC-746.
Using one of my old Hallicrafters speakers, I have one with a Communications/High Fidelity
switch on the front, the IC-746 sounded better than the IC-735.
The 746 stock filter is 9KHz for AM.  The IC-735 manual states 6KHz @ -6dB
18KHz @ -50dB

I came across this site for a replacement 6KHz filter for the IC-746
http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze3rys4/6kc_filter/746_Instruct.htm
Wondering if anyone has any experience with this filter resulting
in to narrow a bandwidth for AM.

Ken


Hello all,

I am getting back to my early days of Ham Radio (1966) and now
have a DX-60 with HG-10 VFO using them on CW and AM.
For my receiver I use a IC-735 or my IC-746. They work but
seem to lack the Fidelity I seem to remember listening to back in the
60's-early 70's.

I would like to buy a receiver and have been reading several
articles but thought this forum might be best to post my
question about what should I be looking at.   

When I got my General in 1967 I had a HQ-170A which I thought was
pretty good but after reading over the last few weeks most post
say not to good for AM reception.  I used it with a Johnson transmitter
on CW and AM.

Any tips would be appreciated.

thanks
Ken
N1KK
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vincent
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« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2011, 06:53:54 AM »

I feel like a white fly, considering that this receiver is quite rare and uncommon, but I think that the Squires-Sanders SS-IBS (or SS-1R) is (my) "the best AM receiver".
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Steve - K4HX
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« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2011, 09:30:34 AM »

$1000 for a SP-600? There were several at NEARfest priced under $300.
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W2XR
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« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2011, 09:36:45 AM »

If you want BOTH performance and fidelity, then the R390 or SP-600 using a line out to an outboard tube amplifier pushing a real speaker or recording monitor. After that experience, nothing else even comes close. Maybe a bit off topic, but half the battle of getting good receiving results is the choice of good monitoring. I see guys spending big bucks on equipment but skimping on monitoring equipment.

Yup, I agree with N6YW on this one, except I believe the diode load output is superior to the stock audio line output for recovering the audio from these receivers. The audio transformers in the R-390 and R-390A are essentially telephone-grade, and not of the best quality if you really want to gild the lily for maximum audio performance.

To my ears, the R-390 (non-A version) sounds better than the R-390A that I also have, for the reasons discussed by others in this post. And the AM performance and audio quality of the SP-600 JX-21 and JX-28 I have rivals that of the R-390. In my station, the audio from all of these receivers is recovered from the the diode load, and fed to an outboard push-pull triode amplifier, driving a 15-inch Altec-Lansing 604C coaxial duplex speaker in a bass-reflex enclosure. I too think it does'nt get much better than that. One remaining improvement that I would like to implement one of these days is to replace the diode load connection with a synchronous detector; I think that would result in the best possible AM performance obtainable from these receivers.

I had an NC-183D years ago (like around 1973), and the audio from that thing was indeed superb, using the stock push-pull 6V6 amplifier. I loaned it to the father of a girl I was going out with in the mid-1970s (he was an aspiring ham), and when we broke up after about a year or so, her father managed to "misplace" the receiver and could'nt find it, and I never was able to get it back. Nice guy.

73,

Bruce
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« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2011, 09:52:40 AM »

If you want the best functionality for the buck take W2WDX' advice and get a Softrock 66LC. Hook it to an early I.F. in your ricer. The very first I.F. would allow a nice full display of what's happening on the band but it would need to be 70 mhz or lower. I'm not familiar with the scheme in your I-calm.

People get lazy and hook to later I.F.s and lose one of the best features.

The downside is no glow in the dark and all the other cool old radio stuff. AND you need a computer.

The Softrock 66LC should also work on many an old tube receiver too.
The thing cost about what you might pay for a couple used I.F. filters.
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The Slab Bacon
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« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2011, 12:05:40 PM »

Have fun finding "it", and certainly don't limit yourself to just one.


That sez it all in a nutshell! ! ! !  Wink  Wink
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« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2011, 12:27:33 PM »

If I may add a comment,  I have a Heath Mohawk, a National NC-300, a Heath SB-300 and a Hallicrafters SX-111, all of which I use on AM. 

All are "factory stock, all satisfy my needs, but none are "perfect".

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« Reply #41 on: December 02, 2011, 03:09:00 PM »

I love this conversation. Smiley
There are some really great posts here. When I referred to using "line out" from my 390 and 600, I am referring to the diode output. My bad, I use the "line out" statement to describe my audio take off point by habit from my recording mentality. I use the diode Out.
Another point to consider here, not everyone likes to work on these old radios and finding the parts that are becoming more scare by the year.
Albeit, most of us here do enjoy tinkering and maintaining these old radios, and do it much of the time, but even a radio head like myself gets tired of it and with that I will give you my take on the current technology.

SDR platforms offer the user a monumental array of choices and features that boggle the mind.
The software being written for SDR's today allows you to virtually define what your radio does and conforms to your needs, even down to the look or "Skin" of the environment.
Many people can't get around the look and interface of this. The look, smell, feel of the knobs, the mass of steel. It's hard to accept a computer screen as a replacement for the "Real" thing. Then again, the "Virtual Radio" of today is real... very real. What I really like about SDR's is I will never have to use my soldering equipment to repair it. I may have a hard drive crash, or the operating system needs an update... the usual headaches of computing, but what you get in return is an IMMENSELY powerful set of radio tools that literally crush our beloved boat anchors in every regard (including weight) with the exception of the audio "character".
This is an area that will be debated forever, but I firmly believe that Tube audio reproduction has no peer.
It also depends on what your operating habits require. I like it all and I use all of the available things in the shack for enjoyment. Just last week, my 390 started making a noise. It bothered me, so I found the problem quickly. Bad tube. Replaced it and back to normal in a few minutes. Last month my hard drive crashed on my radio PC. It took four hours to repair including installing the operating system. Then, another 4 hours to install and configure all of the drivers and software. I cussed a lot. When I was done, all is back to normal. I can perform a full re-cap of a 75A-4 in about a day. I cussed a lot too. Wink And, for the life of me, some of the engineering mistakes that the Collins engineers made in building the 75A-4 leave me scratching my head.
Anyway, I think you get the ideas I am writing here.
Analogous to this discussion, I will leave you with the "Pro Tools" environment. A professional recording system comprised of hardware and software which includes virtual equipment and instrument "Plug in's" which are designed to capture the essence of the real, often insanely expensive hardware and instruments found in the best equipped studios of the world. Recording and mixing in the "Box" as it is referred to, has been met with a lot of pushback and much of it for good reason. To me, nothing is better than a real console with real outboard gear. It's immediate and real. I turn a knob or a fader and I get results. Well, guess what? In "The Box" I get the same results. A Neve EQ, or a Fairchild Compressor plug in can sound very convincing and work very well by comparison. At the end of the day I guess it comes down to whatever works and keeping the hobby fun and exciting, gratifying too. I love it all except lifting that @#$% SP-600!

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kb3rdt
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« Reply #42 on: December 02, 2011, 03:46:57 PM »

If you have time you can make a radio sound how you like it but you get an old receiver make sure change the caps plus look at old resistors some might need changed I know my mine was made my NC-300 low in receive but I got rough with mine but it's working with helps of friends also hams Joel WA3JS Chris KB3RDU
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W2WDX
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« Reply #43 on: December 02, 2011, 03:50:45 PM »

$1000 for a SP-600? There were several at NEARfest priced under $300.


And how much would it cost for someone in six land to go to Nearfest? And how many hours of work would the fester ones need? Unknown. I got one of those SP-600's from Nearfest and it needed about 20 hours of work, all new caps and about 20 resistors were out of value and the alignment was WAY out. And it was a four hundred dollar one, that looked new. Somebody went for me there and I was on the phone with the person making the purchase. Festers are a value yes, until you get them home, hihi!

Yup $1000 for one that is plug and play. For R390(a) even more. I've bought seven SP-600's over the past year at Festers and everyone of them needed some work, whether component replacements, and mostly alignments. I suspect this is not what the original poster wants. And I also suspect he wants something right now, not this spring or next fall.
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« Reply #44 on: December 02, 2011, 04:01:03 PM »

You can buy, off the shelf, a super great receiver like the IC-R75 for under $700 or the Alinco DX-R8T for under $500. Add an outboard audio amplifier and you have a great receiver and a great sound. No need to diddle with questionable fester stuff.
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« Reply #45 on: December 02, 2011, 04:10:26 PM »

Ken,

I restore old tube receivers for a living. I have a Collins 74A-2a on the bench right now along with a Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitter, and a Collins R390a in waiting. I know most of the radios mentioned here inside and out. I'm listening on an SP-600 and an HQ110a right now.

What I will tell you is the SDR is probably the best fidelity option out of the lot. Now Dave, W2VW has his SDR's mixed up. The one I referred to is the Soft66LC2, which is not a "Softrock", but instead a complete receiver with its own front end. You do not have to use another radio's I.F. stage.

Here's and image of the board for this SDR which comes full assembled and tested. It comes with a little case that you have to cut some holes in for the connectors and LED.


It has an SME antenna input, a USB port, and an audio line out. It is powered by the USB port (FYI: It doesn't seem to have the ground loop problems or RF hash problems reported on other SDR's using USB). All you need is a decent stereo audio card and you can have whatever bandwidth filters you want 22k, 6k, 9k, 25k 41k ... it just depends on the sampling rate of your sound card and its driver. I use the M-Audio Delta 44 which works amazingly well at $150. But you can use the built in soundcards as well.

Here's and image of the board in the case (less front cover). Behind it you can see the bottom part of the software, in this case its the WinRad software.


Here's a link to a YouTube video of it working. Mind you its a Japanese Ham, but you can see how it works here. The radio in the video is the version just before the 66LC2, called the 66ADD. The Soft66LC2 is the current model. Here's the link:



You can use WinRad software to control this and it is simple to use. You get a visual display of the band. and you can see the spectral display of the signal your listening to on that. I believe there is a way to use the Flexradio (PowerSDR) software but I haven't figured that out yet on this SDR. (BTW, Has anyone tried that yet with this SDR?)

You can purchase it directly from Kazunori Miura, JA7TDO at his website via PayPal. The fully assembled unit which requires only the holes in the case is $118 including shipping. The link to his site is http://zao.jp/radio/order/#soft66ad

As far as how it sounds relative to a old tube radio, its much clearer. And since you can see the signal, you can contour the filters to match the signal your trying to receive. And you can use Synchronous Detection to help reduce fades. It's really cool. It's just not Vintage!

John, W2WDX
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« Reply #46 on: December 02, 2011, 04:32:04 PM »

I have a Softrock ensemble II RX and have been thinking of plugging it into the 8.9 low if output. My issue is it has a 50ohm input and I don't understand how this input would work on w 50 ohm input. How do you interface one of these with the low 8.9mhz input which would be the front end of the input chain?
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Steve - K4HX
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« Reply #47 on: December 02, 2011, 04:37:01 PM »

I was selling one for $300, plug and play.

The point is that most anywhere in the country where there are a reasonable number of hamsfests, you can find a SP-600 (or similar receiver) in good working order for far less than you claim. Scaring people off with incorrect or unrealistic prices is of no value to the original poster or anyone else in the market.




$1000 for a SP-600? There were several at NEARfest priced under $300.


And how much would it cost for someone in six land to go to Nearfest? And how many hours of work would the fester ones need? Unknown. I got one of those SP-600's from Nearfest and it needed about 20 hours of work, all new caps and about 20 resistors were out of value and the alignment was WAY out. And it was a four hundred dollar one, that looked new. Somebody went for me there and I was on the phone with the person making the purchase. Festers are a value yes, until you get them home, hihi!

Yup $1000 for one that is plug and play. For R390(a) even more. I've bought seven SP-600's over the past year at Festers and everyone of them needed some work, whether component replacements, and mostly alignments. I suspect this is not what the original poster wants. And I also suspect he wants something right now, not this spring or next fall.
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W2WDX
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« Reply #48 on: December 02, 2011, 05:01:19 PM »

Sorry Steve, I understand what you are saying, but your are incorrect. The last three SP-600's that sold online sold for over $600 & some others at $900. This is not speculation or guesses on my part. It's my business. Sure he can wait for a few months and hunt around for a good deal, and maybe end up with something that works 100%. But more often than not, & I know since I purchase about 100 radios a year from Festers, most radios are NOT plug and play nor 100%.

Good for you though for offering something worthwhile at a Fester. That's the way it should be.

I was selling one for $300, plug and play.

The point is that most anywhere in the country where there are a reasonable number of hamsfests, you can find a SP-600 (or similar receiver) in good working order for far less than you claim. Scaring people off with incorrect or unrealistic prices is of no value to the original poster or anyone else in the market.




$1000 for a SP-600? There were several at NEARfest priced under $300.


And how much would it cost for someone in six land to go to Nearfest? And how many hours of work would the fester ones need? Unknown. I got one of those SP-600's from Nearfest and it needed about 20 hours of work, all new caps and about 20 resistors were out of value and the alignment was WAY out. And it was a four hundred dollar one, that looked new. Somebody went for me there and I was on the phone with the person making the purchase. Festers are a value yes, until you get them home, hihi!

Yup $1000 for one that is plug and play. For R390(a) even more. I've bought seven SP-600's over the past year at Festers and everyone of them needed some work, whether component replacements, and mostly alignments. I suspect this is not what the original poster wants. And I also suspect he wants something right now, not this spring or next fall.
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« Reply #49 on: December 02, 2011, 05:52:39 PM »

Watching or gauging online auction pricing is never accurate in determining actual equipment value. Auctions generally breed nonsensical bidding emotions from participants. From the seller's perspective, make it pretty, write a good convincing pitch that might tug at the heartstrings, have at least two bidders, and you're good as gold for the big payoff.

In 30 years of going to festers, I've never paid more then $150 or any receiver or transmitter, although at one local radio auction, I did bid $185 and win, a SB-102, SB-200, matching speaker, SB-610, and the SB-644 (I think) remote VFO.
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