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Thread: Radio for my workshop

  1. #1
    Enlightened
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    Default Radio for my workshop

    I'm looking for a radio to listen to AM talk shows in my basement workshop. Besides being in the basement and having steel siding on the house, I also have fluorescent lighting in my shop. I want something with a good voice quality and the ability to pull in distant stations as I live about 25 miles from the nearest radio station. Size really doesn't matter here - I have room. Any suggestions ?

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Databyter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Any reasonable Gundig or Sangean as far as brand, or the big names like Sony etc. but I'm concerned about the lights interfering with the AM especially since you have that interference in combination with being in the basement.

    You might benefit from an am radio that has an antenna connection that you can shield until it gets to ground level. Many multi-band radio's from the brands I mentioned probably have antenna in connections (when I say multiband I dont mean AM/FM, but shortwave).

    Also if you can put a computer down there consider internet based radio. Most am talk stations simo-cast on the net with perfect quality. You don't even need a computer if you get an internet radio receiver. If size is no object I can think of a million reasons to put a cheapy computer down there. You can even record the shows with alot of those models, and of course with the computer you can also record or download past shows.
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  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    The Grundig/Eton S350DL, at $80-100, is probably your best bet. Runs off of D or AA cells, features a large speaker to cover a broad area, and has a very large internal AM antenna which is perfect for picking up not-so-local stations. See it here: http://universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/0043.html

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    How much time and money are you willing to invest in a solution? I don't think it'll be as simple as buying a new radio.

    What kind of reception do you get with your current radios? Is there noise from the fluorescent lighting? I would assume that's why you mentioned it. I think you need to use an antenna that isn't in your basement where the noise is, and where the signal isn't. Unfortunately with AM BCB it's not simple but it can be relatively inexpensive.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    I'm currently using a GE Superadio in my basement shop and it works ok - but not great. The stations come in and then go sometimes. I was wondering if another radio might have a better voice quality for AM talk radio. The fluorescent lights don't seem to bother the GE Superadio, but I have heard they can cause interference. I want to move the Superadio out to my garage so that's why I'm looking for something else. I'll take a look at that Eton/Grundig radio.

  6. #6
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Sounds like you have a pretty good radio already. I'm not sure a different one will make any difference, and might be worse. Best bet is probably an antenna of some sort. For daytime reception maybe one of those passive loop jobs that sit next to the radio would help.

    Geoff

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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    You'll find the S350DL to be very close/on par with your Superradio as far as audio quality and reception goes, it's probably the closest modern analogue of the old GE.

    Any interference your fluorescent lights or area in general produces would be picked up by the radio you have now, so if you're not hearing any local noise, then it's not an issue. The fading you're hearing is due to your distance from the radio station; the signal is too far to travel in a line-of-sight path, so you're getting part of it that's reflected off the atmosphere - as atmospheric conditions slowly change, your signal slowly fades in and out with it. An antenna may not entirely resolve the issue, but it can greatly increase the amount of time the signal is present/not faded. Since you already have a very good radio, you'd need a very good antenna to make a notable difference, I'd recommend the CCrane Twin Coil. The CCrane's modular system means the actual antenna element is on a long ~10' wire, so you can set it on a windowsill or even outdoors. It's worth it if you have the ~$90.

    Another more direct solution would be a web radio setup; if your house has wi-fi, you can just use a laptop connected to a good pair of speakers to playback any radio station's internet stream. This eliminates reception issues entirely, but unless you already have the needed elements, is too pricey to start from scratch.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kaj View Post
    I'll take a look at that Eton/Grundig radio.
    Don't bother. As StarHalo said, it really wouldn't improve things from the GE Superradio.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Is there a way to use a piece of copper (electrical) insulated wire as an am radio antenna ? I can run this wire from the basement to the attic rather easily. Would this help reception ? Or am I better off with the above mentioned CC $90 antenna ? My radio has a screw on the back for an am antenna.

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kaj View Post
    Is there a way to use a piece of copper (electrical) insulated wire as an am radio antenna ?
    No, the screw on the back is for an FM antenna. The CCrane would be the only way to go; it uses an induction coil, which is a small cylinder-looking piece that only needs to be near the ferrite bar on your receiver - you just set it on top of your radio and presto, the antenna is connected.

    I should also mention that CCrane sells extension cables for the actual antenna element, so if you'd like to do a full-on outdoor/out-the-window setup, it's made pretty easy.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* divine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    I think your biggest issue is the Steel siding on your house. Do you get cell phone reception at all inside?

    If the steel siding is blocking the radio signal, your only option would be to go with an external antenna, and put it up on the roof or something.
    "For every good deed, there is an equal an opposite bad deed."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Cell phone reception is lousy - I get one bar in the house. If I go stand by a window or go outdoors I will get three bars.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Even if your house presents only a slight obstacle to AM reception, having an antenna near/in a window can make a big difference. Being in a basement, if you could set an antenna on the ground right outside a window, that could completely resolve your issues.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    If you're itching to try something other your GE Superadio, get your hands on a vintage Pansonic RF-1600 receiver built in the early '70s. The RF-1600 boasts an internal tri-coil 8-1/4" ferrite-rod antenna and delivers superb AM reception.

    The Panasonic RF-1600 also has rear-panel jacks to accommodate ground and external-antenna connections. Audio quality is excellent, and the RF-1600 is built like a tank -- weighing-in at almost 10 pounds.

    I got my RF-1600 on eBay for much less than I'd pay for a modern CCrane or Sangean. There's a nice one there now with an opening bid of $24.99. Great workshop radio!
    "Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints."

  15. #15

    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Use your computer's Internet connection to get your favorite radio station.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kaj View Post
    Is there a way to use a piece of copper (electrical) insulated wire as an am radio antenna ? I can run this wire from the basement to the attic rather easily. Would this help reception ? Or am I better off with the above mentioned CC $90 antenna ? My radio has a screw on the back for an am antenna.
    Yes - and longer is better. Try looping wire around your attic, but don't cross the wire over itself because the signal could be effected. Try to keep it away from anything that causes electrical inteference as it will pick that up as well. If you search the internet a little you'll see all kinds of improvised AM BCB antennas to try. I understand slinkys work well - lots of metal to grab a signal. Something as simple as a long wire laying on the ground outside your basement could produce great signal improvement. You'll have to experiment with it's orientation for best signal especially if you're trying to pick up a particular station.

    If you are trying to pick up a particular station a loop antenna in your attic would be a great solution. Coax from the antenna down to your radio would give you an excellent signal with little interference from home electronics.

    All of my Superadios and Superadio series boomboxes have an AM antenna screw to allow connection of a long wire to the radio so I'm sure yours does at well. It will work best if you also connect a wire from the ground screw to a good ground. The better the ground the better the wire antenna will work. The directional qualitities of the internal loopstick antenna will also lessen in proportion to the quality of the wire antenna. The better the wire antenna the less the loopstick's influence.

    I can't offer an opinion about the Justice antenna as I've never used one. I have read that it is effective in some circumstances, and worthless in others. I have used a Select-A-Tenna and can tell you that it has it's benefits and downsides tool. Generally with radios as good as a Superadio it does little to gain signal, but can be used to block an adjacent signal or possibly to lessen the fading effects when propogation causes signals to fade in and out.

  17. #17
    Modulated Moderator Radio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    These work great! Very cheap too.
    Carrying a firearm for self-defense gives you great power. Society expects great responsibility from those with great power.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by NotRegulated View Post
    Use your computer's Internet connection to get your favorite radio station.
    That's cheating!

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Radio View Post
    These work great! Very cheap too.
    Radio Shack used to sell similar ones to these. Also cheap. Mine seemed to work best for daytime reception.

    Geoff

  20. #20
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Update : I attached a 5 ft long piece of #22 awg copper insulated wire to the AM antenna screw and I can now get stations 300 to 500 miles away ! I'm in Wisconsin and I can pick up a New York station, a Detroit station, a station in Ohio and a few Chicago stations. That little piece of wire really made a difference in reception. The radio still fades in and out and I can only listen to these distant stations for a few minutes. Thanks for all the replies !

  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    I'll bet you can improve things a little more by ch anging the ballasts in the fluorescent lamps to electronic high frequency ballasts. That will reduce the 60-120hz interference that tends to desensitize the front end of the radio.

  22. #22
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kaj View Post
    Update : I attached a 5 ft long piece of #22 awg copper insulated wire to the AM antenna screw and I can now get stations 300 to 500 miles away !
    Stations 500 miles away should be no challenge for the SRIII; either of my Sonys, which don't have the antenna/sensitivity of the GE, can listen in on stations roughly 1,000 miles away in the evening. And I don't see how 5' of wire would make a difference, unless there's something wrong with the ferrite antenna on your particular unit. A longwire antenna for non-shortwave AM listening usually needs to be several hundred feet long, not an option indoors and not possible without grounding..

    You might check your SRIII against another quality radio to ensure it's operating properly.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Radio for my workshop

    I agree. 5' of wire is almost nothing for AM BCB frequencies. At 1MHz a 1/4 wave antenna would be about 234' long. That's why loopstick antennas are used to reduce the size of the antenna by using a ferrite rod to increase the Q of the antenna.

    Additionally, signals from distances of 100 miles or greater are usually skywave propogation and not groundwave propogation. Skywave signals are usually as strong as local groundwave signals because of the nature of the propogation. So hearing signals from distances greater than 100 miles away isn't an indication of a well performing radio. Local interference could still be an issue and strong signals from propogation are the only signals that can overcome the interference.

    Attach a wire antenna of 50' or more to the radio and ground the radio too. See if the local reception improves as well as distant stations.

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