Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:12:05 -0700
From: ragnar danneskjold,
Subject: [NRC-FMTV] Portable Radio Test

This is going to be quick and dirty. I plan on writing a bit more on this but wanted to get this out.

I was playing with a number of portables yesterday and wanted to see how they would work on some fringe reception. I was listening to my Bose Wave Radio that is hooked up to an Antennacraft FM-6 outdoor antenna, listening to KAHM 102.1 in stereo. Yes, it is elevator music in the extreme but I am working an off shift this week and wanted to fall asleep. Believe me, KAHM will do it.

KAHM is a 45 kW station in Prescott, AZ about 100 miles NW from my house. They usually come to my house in stereo, but every once in a while, solid mono on the outdoor antenna. I got to thinking, what would it do on the portables I have.

I have a GE Superadio, a GE Model 3-5280C which is a Superadio II with cassette [ its GREAT on AM ] a GE Superadio III and an Optimus 12-604A. They are all pretty much variants of the GE Superadio. These are the units I was playing with. I have heard lots of stuff about this one is good, and that one is better and so on. I already know which one is best for AM I wanted to know how they stacked up for FM. KAHM is the perfect fringe station because it is BARELY there without an antenna and blasting with it. It also has to compete with a 100 kW blaster, which is #1 in the Phoenix market, KNIX on 102.5.

My Findings:

All tests were conducted with no help from an external antenna.

The GE Model 3-5280C has a 31" telescopic whip. It ought to really get some signals with a whip that long. Well, the idea was a good one. KAHM was barely there and had to compete with KNIX a bit. It took a lot of antenna wiggling to get it in. AFC immediately locked on KNIX.

The GE SR III Model 7-2887 [ rumored to be discontinued soon ] has a 38" telescopic whip. This one is longer than the 3-5280C and really should be able to reach out and grab a signal. It did a little better than the 3-5280C but not too much. It had problems with KNIX over KAHM but you could wiggle the antenna enough to keep most of KNIX out. The KAHM signal was not more than 1 S unit higher at the most on the SR III. AFC again immediately locked on KNIX. A change of filters would make this a pretty nice rig.

The Optimus 12-604A 5 band AM/FM/TV 2-69 sound radio was the worst of the lot. The bandwidth of the receiver is wider than an aircraft hangar used for B-52s. The bandwidth can not really be fixed either since there are no filters to change. The receiver has a 36" telescoping whip and it will hear KAHM faintly under a LOT of KNIX. The receiver though is very good when hooked to an outdoor antenna it's just that the bandwidth is so wide.

The GE Superadio was stellar on FM. It too has a 38" telescopic whip and it really does a GREAT job. I tuned the set to KAHM and it locked right on and with a lot of gain too. The filters on the Superadio must be narrower than those on the other rigs. It did not take a lot of antenna twisting to get the station in and AFC locked the station right in.

This radio is probably the worst looking of the lot too but it has excellent capabilities on FM. Too bad they haven't been sold for 20 years.

I am very interested in hearing some thoughts on other portables for use in FM DXing. I would very much like to hear from the rest of you about this topic.

Mesa, Arizona

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