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Thread: Small Portable Radio's?

  1. #61

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    As one of the above posters suggested I've begun to actually listen and note what AM stations are in my area. It's a real eye opener considering I've never really used AM/FM before. I live on my iPhone. Radio lost the battle for a slot in my day a long time ago.

    Water/Weatherproofness? How sensitive are these pieces of equipment? How much of a beating can they take? Should water and wind be a concern when looking at a potential purchase? I'd really like to hear from the guys in NO on this one.

    Second question, with a disclaimer, that I'm a complete novice who admits upfront that he knows nothing about this topic. If I make an ass out of myself here? I'm cool with it.

    You guys know the large walkie talkie's the Police/Fire/EMT's use? They have a thousand buttons on them? Where do they fall in terms of emergency radio's? Do they have AM/FM/SW on them as well? Obviously they can communicate out. They certainly have portability and, I'd assume, they can take a fair amount to punishment as well.

    What about something like that along with a super long running AM/FM/SW radio to fall back on?

  2. #62
    Flashaholic* Daniel_sk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I used to carry a Yaesu VX-7R transceiver. It could listen from 0.5 to 1000 MHz, so radio or television voice was not a problem + you could practically hear anything else that wasn't encrypted. And it was one of the few radios that could transmit on 4 bands (50/140/222/440 + more after a mod). And fully wateproof (could be submerged).
    But I sold it - it was too expensive for me, I didn't use it potential.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaesu_VX-7R
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  3. #63

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel_sk View Post
    I used to carry a Yaesu VX-7R transceiver. It could listen from 0.5 to 1000 MHz, so radio or television voice was not a problem + you could practically hear anything else that wasn't encrypted. And it was one of the few radios that could transmit on 4 bands (50/140/222/440 + more after a mod). And fully wateproof (could be submerged).
    But I sold it - it was too expensive for me, I didn't use it potential.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaesu_VX-7R
    What does something like that cost?

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    $320-$400 for a new one?
    There is a lot of information about this radio on the internet, it's quite popular - one of the best handhelds IMHO.

    The only disadvantage that comes to my mind right now is the Li-ion battery pack - there is a Yaesu 2 AA battery pack, but it allows only a very small transmitting output. But you could always make your own pack from AA batteries, I think it will accept anything from 6-14V? Well, just in case AA compatibility is important to you. You could even connect it to a 12V SLA battery...

    Here is one discussion group on Yahoo with 3200 members:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VX-7R/
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Do keep in mind that if you get a amateur (HAM) radio, in most instances, you must be authorized (licensed) to transmit on it. (USA) The Vx7 is one such radio.

    Those radios are designed to be used primarily on the ham bands. In my experience, reception outside of those bands is generally not that good. The only band outside of the ham bands that would come in reasonably well is the FM broadcast band. For instance, most hand held receivers designed to receive on the AM broadcast band have an internal ferrite bar antenna. There are a few hand held Ham radios that have those that receive better than others but reception is still just ok.

    I've had a VX5, VX7 and a VX6 as well as some Icom and Kenwood hand helds. They are great in the bands they are designed for. Otherwise reception is marginal.

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    As one of the above posters suggested I've begun to actually listen and note what AM stations are in my area. It's a real eye opener considering I've never really used AM/FM before. I live on my iPhone. Radio lost the battle for a slot in my day a long time ago.
    I don't blame you - I grew up in Kansas, where the AM radio selection consisted of country music and sports talk, that's about it. It seems that's the story for most areas around the nation. Out here on the west coast, there's something for every taste, some real quality programming worth turning off the TV for. But the one AM news station that's in your area could be a real lifesaver.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    Water/Weatherproofness?
    The aforementioned Sony emergency radio is "weather resistant", which means it'll take a light rain. The others are pretty much indoor use only. When in doubt/serious weather, use the fisherman's method - put the radio in a Ziploc bag and listen to it that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    You guys know the large walkie talkie's the Police/Fire/EMT's use? They have a thousand buttons on them? Where do they fall in terms of emergency radio's?
    These are fantastic for the radio hobbyist, but would be overkill in most emergency situations, especially if you have your iPhone. The ~$300 that would purchase an amateur handheld transceiver could be better spent on a variety of emergency/survival items (including flashlights) and a solid AM/FM/WX radio with a lengthy runtime. But if you have the extra money..

    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    What about something like that along with a super long running AM/FM/SW radio to fall back on?
    I still advise against a SW receiver for emergency use; in an actual emergency, you're probably not going to want to go outside and setup a longwire antenna so you can listen to rugby scores from Australia..

  7. #67

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    These are fantastic for the radio hobbyist, but would be overkill in most emergency situations, especially if you have your iPhone. The ~$300 that would purchase an amateur handheld transceiver could be better spent on a variety of emergency/survival items (including flashlights) and a solid AM/FM/WX radio with a lengthy runtime. But if you have the extra money..

    I do. What might you and the others recommend in this area? I have a stash fund set aside specifically for this purchase. It's been on my mind for some time now...

    solid AM/FM/WX radio

    Yep. THE PLAN is to purchase one of each. A portable walkie that can be carried with me and the other to leave at home with super long battery life.

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Hey bmstrong,

    First off I'd like to chime in that as much as I've loved SW since the 50s and own a bunch of them, yer not going to find them that useful in an emergency in the Western World...unless something goes down that kills over 2 billion people -- in which case SW would be great...
    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    ...You guys know the large walkie talkie's the Police/Fire/EMT's use? They have a thousand buttons on them?....
    Yes, scanners may be handy -- but with a multi decade long trend of police departments spending more and more money on trunking and crypto to hide their actions from the taxpayers it's become too complicated for the uninitiated.

    As you can see from this thread I've been struggling with this very issue for some time after my own hairy experiences.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 06-11-2008 at 08:46 PM.

  9. #69

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I had the night off and did some digging. Here's the spec sheet on the VX-8R:

    http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/0008.html

    It's been suggested that the Kenwood TH-F6A can compete with both the VX-7R and the forthcoming VX-8R:

    http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Communicat...rtables/TH-F6A

    Thoughts? I'd like my purchase to be as futureproof as possible.

  10. #70
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    VX-8R? First time I hear of it. Looks awesome!!


    There is one thing that frustrates me about small radios - the SMA connector, which is IMHO a very bad design for portable radios . It's not rugged enough for real use. The whole radio can be bombproof, but the SMA connection is definitely a weak point. Plus, it's not designed for frequent antenna changes, the pin/threads will degrade after 200+ changes. The VX-7R SMA connector couldn't be exchanged without exchanging the whole back part.
    I have an old army radio - you could swing the whole radio while holding it on the antenna. You don't need to look after the antenna while crossing thick bushes...
    Sorry for little off-topic but I really wish they would start using rugged connectors.
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  11. #71

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    The Thales Liberty has been mentioned:

    http://www.thalesliberty.com/

  12. #72
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I've started taking the bus to work instead of commuting ($3.60/day instead of $9.00/day in gas for a 100 mile commute).

    What I miss though is listening to talk radio on my drive in from an AM station.
    FM is available on some MP3 players but is there a decent, portable, small AM radio with good ability to pull in distant stations?

    I've got the county comm GP4L but the sound quality isn't very good.

    TIA,
    Dave

  13. #73
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    is there a decent, portable, small AM radio with good ability to pull in distant stations?
    The Sangean DT series has long been the big name in portable AM DXing (DX meaning distance listening), and having owned one for a couple years, I can confirm it easily outpulls all portables and most modern radios in general. All the DT units use the same reception innards and thus have the same performance, so it comes down to what features you want - the 180V is super-small/headphone only, the 200VX has a backlit display, the 210V has a bass boost, the 400W has weather band, etc. They average ~$50.

    If you have the extra money, there's the Japan-only Sony SRF-T615, which has better-yet reception than the DTs and a far superior interface, but it's ~$150.00. This is my favorite pocket portable, and is IMO perhaps the best pocket radio design ever, but the price means it's not for everyone..
    Last edited by StarHalo; 06-13-2008 at 01:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    The Sangean DT series has long been the big name in portable AM DXing (DX meaning distance listening), and having owned one for a couple years, I can confirm it easily outpulls all portables and most modern radios in general. All the DT units use the same reception innards and thus have the same performance, so it comes down to what features you want - the 180V is super-small/headphone only, the 200VX has a backlit display, the 210V has a bass boost, the 400W has weather band, etc. They average ~$50.
    Thanks so much! I've got an account at a distributor and am looking at what Sangeans they carry. They've got the DT-120, DT-180V DT-200VX, DT-210V, DT-400W. Tempted to get the DT-400W due to having weather since we do spend time in MN.

    Looking on the internet I came across the Sony SRF-49 and it's replacement the SRF-59. Supposed to be quite remarkable in DX and great selectivity.
    http://karlzuk.blogspot.com/2008/01/small-wonder.html

    Analog dial but cheap enough to buy one to try out also.
    "Even as a stock unit, right out of its plastic bubble packaging, SRF-59 owners have heard AM radio stations all the way across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from places like Japan and Saudi Arabia. The SRF-59 truly has enormous ears."
    Last edited by Probedude; 06-13-2008 at 05:54 PM.

  15. #75
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    Looking on the internet I came across the Sony SRF-49 and it's replacement the SRF-59.
    I assumed you wanted a digital tuner when I made the Sangean suggestion, but if you're comfortable with analog, the SRF-59 is unbeatable for its price, easily on par with $50+ radios (far and away better than the ICF-S10MK2 and SRF-M37V that are usually recommended).

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    I assumed you wanted a digital tuner when I made the Sangean suggestion, but if you're comfortable with analog, the SRF-59 is unbeatable for its price, easily on par with $50+ radios (far and away better than the ICF-S10MK2 and SRF-M37V that are usually recommended).
    I usually buy several models/variations of something until I find the one I like or cover all the bases (just finished buying a bunch of analog watches, flashlights before that, RC planes before that. ... ..)

    The DT-200VX has me very interested especially with reports that it's very good at pulling in stations but I wasn't too keen on not being able to use the TV function after digital tv transmissions take over. From what I've read (speculation), the DT-400W is the DT-200VX but with weather instead of TV reception.

    Sooooo, I'm placing an online order for the DT-400W, a Terk AM advantage passive antenna and will keep an eye out for the Sony SRF-59's at K-mart, walmart, Fry's, etc.

    Just saw this on Sangean's website
    In addition to incorporating the features and performance of the popular Sangean DT-200VX, the new Sangean DT-400W offers many new and additional features including NOAA Weather and Emergency Alerts which will audibly sound a alert on your DT-400W when a weather or emergency broadcast is being sent.
    Last edited by Probedude; 06-13-2008 at 10:35 PM.

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    I'm placing an online order for the DT-400W, a Terk AM advantage passive antenna
    You have good timing, from what I'm seeing, the 400W becomes available this very week.

    As for the antenna, the Terk is a good deal for its price point; you'll find you'll get the best reception by having the radio suspended in the very center of the loop - best accomplished by some sort of small table that fits through the loop (a modified shoebox works nicely). To directionally tune a station, you rotate the whole assembly, so a lazy susan or something similar is ideal for setting everything on and then rotating freely.

    If you have the extra money, my AM antenna of choice is the CCrane Twin Coil. For only $100, its performance is nearly identical to $300 professional indoor loops, and it doesn't require the setup trickery of the Terk; the actual antenna element is separate from the radio and antenna tuner, so you can position it anywhere (including outdoors) without moving your listening position. I've gotten great results with mine and frequently use it to listen comfortably to programming that would otherwise sound awful or not be audible at all.

  18. #78

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post

    Sooooo, I'm placing an online order for the DT-400W

    Probedude, could you let me know if the weather alerts are passive? (Meaning you can shut it off) I'm sure Sangean thought of this or it would become a serious battery hog, but just wanting to make sure.

    Thanks.

  19. #79

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    StarHalo, what's your impression or have you ever used a "Grundig" S350DL?

    I say Grundig in quotation marks as I know it's now just a licensed name of the German company that went bankrupt and they aren't producing the radios themselves anymore. The radio is also branded as a couple other names.
    I know the original S350 had issues with drift but the deluxe version is supposed to have a somewhat functional station lock now.

    I'm not in it so much for the shortwave aspect although if it is really decent that would be ok too.
    Just more as a already hearing some AM stations through a good bit of fuzz on smaller radios I have with smaller, internal ferrite antennas and hoping this unit for $100 coupled with an external antenna can help clear them up to be more audible. Along with a couple semi-close FM stations I'd like to pull in just a bit better.
    Plus I really like the ability to use 4 D cells or 4 AA cells to power the unit.

    I've heard some say they are satisfied with it for what it is and I've heard others pretty down on it. In particular one person from a couple years back who seems to have made it a life's work copy/pasting his review on it being junk basically everywhere on the net from Amazon to Epinions to several newsgroups and readily arguing with anyone who says different.

    Here's a youtube clip of the radio:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=LGMRgmHCEzM

    (I don't think I'll be going the slinky antenna route, however. lol)

    Would like to hear your thoughts (good or bad) on it if you have any.

  20. #80
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    The Grundig/Eton S350DL is probably one of the best looking radios out there, no doubt, I wish they'd do a lot more variations on the theme, the looks alone would sell it. Performance-wise, the 350 is a very good AM performer, with an amazingly large ferrite antenna that rivals the one found in the GE Superradios, but there are some drawbacks - first off, although the display and everything about the radio suggests that it's a digital tuner, it's not, it's actually an analog tuner that just has a digital frequency counter. That means that it has analog drift; you tune your station just right and then sometime later it's not as strong or has faded completely, and you have to retune it. Analog also means no memories or alternate tuning methods, there's just the one big knob to find a station and that's it. And the case plastic is very low/toy-grade, it's a radio you hope others see but don't actually touch (you can confirm this at your local Radio Shack, many of which sell these)..

    The antenna idea is a good one so long as the difficulty you're having with receiving a station is because of signal weakness and not noise - if you're around a lot of RF noise, an antenna just makes it louder along with the signal. The two key concepts to keep in mind are *sensitivity* and *selectivity*; sensitivity is how well you can pull a weak signal, selectivity is how well you can pick out a station crowded in amongst others, or how well you can get a weak station next to a strong one. Here's the kicker - *the antenna becomes the measure of your radio's sensitivity*, meaning any radio you use, from a $5 toy to a $500 professional unit, will have the same sensitivity using the same antenna. Once you have that covered, all that's left is selectivity, which comes down to the quality of your receiver (where the $5 and $500 receivers differ).

    And this is where your receiver choice comes in. You want something that has good selectivity and the features you want. Believe it or not, the aforementioned $20 Sony SRF-59 paired with a good AM antenna will easily outperform a Grundig 350 without one (it might even outperform the 350 with the same antenna, but the 350 is obviously a lot easier to use..). And as I mentioned before, there's the *synchronous detection* feature found in some radios which is like a selectivity supercharger, and gives a receiver the ability to get stations non-sync-equipped radios would never get.

    But the 350 has a huge following of loyal users who love its retro look and solid performance, and there's no doubt that if you paired one with an external antenna (and could live with the compromises), it'd be a very good DX machine.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    Probedude, could you let me know if the weather alerts are passive? (Meaning you can shut it off) I'm sure Sangean thought of this or it would become a serious battery hog, but just wanting to make sure.

    Thanks.
    Will do. In this picture I can make out an Alert on/off switch (it's on the right side of the unit)
    http://www.sangean.com/products/dt-400wa.html



    StarHalo - thanks for the info on using the Terk antenna. Didn't know the DT-400W was only coming out this week. That explains why there are no reviews for it yet. Hope there are no version 1.0 issues

    Regarding sensitivity - wouldn't the front end of the radio be part of the specs also? Whether they use a tuneable RF amp vs a wideband one, or even how sensitive the detector section is? Seems that would give a difference between 2 radios even if the antenna is the same. (thinking of my experience with car radios here where the antenna is the same but the head unit is different)

  22. #82
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    Regarding sensitivity - wouldn't the front end of the radio be part of the specs also?
    To some degree, yes - I'm just simplifying the equation for illustration purposes to make it a bit easier to understand. There's a bunch of variables such as single/dual conversion, noise floor, etc, but generally speaking, two different radios using the same antenna will be very close in sensitivity. But you're probably not going to use an antenna with a discount drugstore radio, so no worries

  23. #83

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Thanks for the info.

    Yeah, I was looking for something on par similar to the GE SuperRadio and I didn't want to go too overboard seeing that while HD-Radio is basically in a state of total confusion at the moment, I'm seeing ground being made.
    The U.K. for instance would like to get off the analog FM spectrum as soon as feasibly possible.

    I just see all this snowballing in the next couple years and if I can get at least that long out of the analog Grundig unit, it'll justify its purchase for my needs before it becomes a paperweight.

  24. #84

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Very cool thread. Thanks to StarHalo for making it educational as well.

  25. #85
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    I was looking for something on par similar to the GE SuperRadio
    The GE SuperRadio got its reputation in the 70's as a stand-alone bang-for-the-buck unit, meaning if you didn't have pro-level money and you wanted a radio that'd pull well by itself/no antenna, the GE was a clear winner. In that sense, the 350 is the GE's rightful successor. But again, there are more recent radios that have more modern abilities and amenities, if you have the money or interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    I didn't want to go too overboard seeing that while HD-Radio is basically in a state of total confusion at the moment, I'm seeing ground being made.
    HD-Radio is panning out to be sort of an add-on FM-but-XM station; it's local-only and has the same all-or-nothing reception as satellite radio. I think the idea works much better in Europe, where listening distances aren't as great.

    I think the true future of radio probably lies in Wifi/internet radio. As the internet and access to it becomes more ubiquitous, more people will simply forego the challenges of over-the-air reception and limitations of various radio content providers, and just use the internet to tune in to any station anywhere in the world with as much audio quality as the station can provide. The explosion of Wifi radios that have become available in recent months reinforces this - the CCrane radio catalog, for example, carries only 1 HD tuner and 1 satellite tuner, yet features 5 Wifi radios.

    After all I've learned and experienced about radio reception, I kind of consider Wifi radio "cheating", but I'd still like one to listen in on that one station I couldn't get otherwise, to get the program that's not offered here, to hear what's out there..
    Last edited by StarHalo; 06-14-2008 at 04:12 PM.

  26. #86

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post


    After all I've learned and experienced about radio reception, I kind of consider Wifi radio "cheating", but I'd still like one to listen in on that one station I couldn't get otherwise, to get the program that's not offered here, to hear what's out there..
    That's what kind of confuses me, how is a tuner going to be able to differentiate between the gazillion stations that would be out there in a wi-fi environment? Would there be a reassignment to different countries - something like FM-1 Band for US, FM-2 band for Canada, FM-3 Band for U.K, etc. or something along those lines or will each station just receive a number in a list like they do on satellite/TV music channels or would the tuner just connect to and display an IP number for station identification?

    There would have to be tons of stations out there.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I just picked up an SRF-59 at the local drug store (Longs) for $16.99. Couldn't find it cheaper online including shipping and WalMart is too far away - I'll spend $$ on gas just to go see if they have any.

    Did anyone see this?
    http://www.durhamradio.com/e100-eton...l?MMCF_DX-E100
    Saturday special on an Eton E100 for $45.

    Edit: nevermind, I see this is the street price since this is discontinued. Heartland has it for $49.99 with free shipping.
    http://www.heartlandamerica.com/brow...6&SC=WIF10001&
    Last edited by Probedude; 06-14-2008 at 07:52 PM.

  28. #88

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Once in a while you'll find the Sony SFR-M37V at Wal-Mart (Around 28-30ish), but for the most part it's usually bookshelf stereos and alarm clocks. Never seen the '59' model there.

  29. #89
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    That's what kind of confuses me, how is a tuner going to be able to differentiate between the gazillion stations that would be out there in a wi-fi environment? Would there be a reassignment to different countries - something like FM-1 Band for US, FM-2 band for Canada, FM-3 Band for U.K, etc. or something along those lines or will each station just receive a number in a list like they do on satellite/TV music channels or would the tuner just connect to and display an IP number for station identification?
    I should have been more specific - I just wondered about a Wifi table unit because it's a similar form function to a standard radio, better for casual listening. You don't actually need a Wifi radio to listen to internet radio; in fact if you're reading this now, you probably already have everything you need..

    Internet radio is simply any audio programming that's being streamed live over the internet. You can go to almost any radio station's website and find the "Listen Live" link on their page; click it, and presto - you're listening to internet radio. The only difference between this method of listening and a Wifi table unit is the interface, it's the same audio.

    Example: When my wife and I honeymooned in Hawaii, we listened to radio station KAPA on the rental car's radio, they played a great mix of traditional and modern Hawaiian music and really made the experience more enjoyable. And when we got home, we found out we could continue listening to it on their live internet stream (and now so can you: http://www.kaparadio.com/page7.php). Another example; when Katrina hit New Orleans, I remember listening to 870 WWL New Orleans' stream and hearing them give out phone numbers and information, doing live reports, everyone coming to the conclusion that it might be worse than the media was portraying at the time..

    The Wifi radio is basically just an internet browser/media player that goes to whatever link it's directed to and streams what's there. As an audio stream plays in your regular computer browser, you'll notice the media player displays various info about the station, which almost always includes the callsign and frequency number - a Wifi radio just reads this data and displays it, so regardless of what you're listening to anywhere in the world, it can be clearly identified as-is in whatever place of origin it's broadcasting from. No need for a new or unique identification system.

    Since this means you can listen to any stream-capable radio station anywhere in the world, it does indeed become an remarkably large list. One particular website, Reciva (https://www.reciva.com/), has amassed and organized nearly all the known commercial station streams worldwide, and their count currently stands at just over 11,700 (let's see a satellite provider beat that!) This doesn't include all the internet-only radio stations - servers and PCs around the world that do professional broadcasting just like the big stations, covering a much wider range of genres and tastes; Reciva lists another 21,200+ of those.. And again, no Wifi table radio necessary, just click the link above and navigate around to what you want to hear on your computer right now..

  30. #90

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Thanks for the wi-fi info.

    In the meantime, really enjoying good ol' analog signals on the Grundig S350DL.
    I picked up a few FM stations I had no idea was even there that the Sony ICF-36 and the Grundig Mini 300 I have just treated as dead static. All this just off the whip. Also found a few hidden jewels amongst the AM, and the shortwave signals I picked up on the Mini 300 come in much clearer. And once again, the D cell or AA cell ability is a real plus as it matches my choice of battery for flashlights. lol

    For a Benjamin, really happy with it. I'll mess with an external antenna of some sort later on and see what gets found.

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