There Is No Cat

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Sunday, September 22, 2002

Mary Lu wants to know about my radios

Mary Lu Wehmeier, radio geek, has a nice post about the GE SuperRadio and the Henry Kloss Model One radios, both of which I own. (It appears that there's a new Kloss coming out that does stereo, which she mentions. Looks interesting.) I was teasing her in her comments section that she didn't want to know what I used for AM radio, but she does. I tried posting this to her comments section, but it will only accept 2500 characters. So, Mary Lu, this is for you.

Well, if you really want to know....

In addition to the two SuperRadios, I've got an old Panasonic RF-2200, long noted as one of the hottest mediumwave receivers available. It's one of the last of the pre-digital readout radios, but has an excellent tuning system with crystal calibrators that allow me to be accurate within a kiloHertz.

My two main rigs, though, are a Drake R8, which I've had for about eight years, and an AOR AR-7030 Plus, which I've had for two years. I tend to describe the R8 as the Toyota Camry of high-end tabletop shortwave radios. It's solid, dependable, comes with everything you need, and never breaks down. The current model, the R8B, is better than my old R8, but not by enough that I've felt a need to replace mine. The audio on the R8 is excellent.

If the R8 is a Camry, then the British-designed AR-7030 Plus is a Triumph Spitfire: idiosyncratic as hell, a lot of fun to drive, and spends half its time in the shop. (Mine actually needs to go in to fix a blown preamp.) The interface of the radio is all menus. People who are used to computers tend to be comfortable with the radio; people who aren't find it drives them nuts. The audio on this radio is first class; the radio's designer, John Thorpe, also designs high-end stereo equipment, and the audio chain throughout the radio reflects that. When I send the radio in, I'm thinking of getting it retro-fitted so it can serve as the front end of a digital shortwave receiver as well.

I have two antennas that I use for AM. The first is just a really long piece of wire strung out in the woods behind our house. The second is a Kiwa loop, which is just a gorgeous piece of kit. It almost looks like a piece of sculpture or something. And it's an amazing antenna. With the regenerative tuning circuit that controls the antenna, I can tune the loop so it has a bandwidth of about 2 kiloHertz if I need to. If I'm getting crud on one side of the signal, I can detune that side of the signal so that only the clean sideband is peaked. It's unbelievable.

Unfortunately, our current house sits within two miles of two AM transmitters, which causes all kinds of problems. Before I got the antenna system worked out, I was getting mixing products between the two local stations and strong international shortwave broadcasters showing up all over the radios. Turns out something on the house is rectifying them, maybe the gutters. And I don't think the Kiwa likes the siding on this house, because it's not as directional here as it was when I was living with my parents some years ago. Back then, I used to be able to hear European mediumwave stations regularly, and some, like Spain, even qualified as pests. :-)

I told you you didn't want to know....

Incidentally, that monstrous Grundig Satellit 800 you mention is not half bad as a radio. The innards were designed by Drake, and were originally sold by them as the SW-8. It's a direct descendent of the R8 I mentioned above. The company that markets Grundig in North America, Lextronix, worked out a deal with Drake to build the circuitry in China and house it in a different (much larger) box so they could sell them more cheaply and sell a ton of them. It seems to have worked. I don't want one, because my house is too small for a radio that big. :-) But it's a very good deal at the price, particularly if you get one of the reconditioned units. Drake does all the servicing on the 800s, and their service department is legendary. There were quality control problems with the initial runs of the 800, so my take is that the reconditioned units from Drake were even better than new.

Posted at 11:30 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Noted your MW (AM) DX-ing comments, so a couple of thoughts... 1) I used to do that...for many years used a Philco 37-9 bought for $5 at a local auction (had an RF stage)...ande then graduated to an E. H. Scott 800-B I picked up for #35 (24 tubes, chrome-plated chassis, 15" coaxial speaker, GREAT radio!). However, these days, with the BC band growing more crowded, I suspect it ain't simple any more! 2) To beef up your long-wire, build a simple pi-section antenna tuner. Two old 365 mmfd variable capacitors (salvaged from old AM radios, and about 150 turns of fine wire wrapped around a paper towel roll...somethin' like:

---------OOOOOOOOOOOO--------- | coil-| | = = | | v v (grounded)

You can even tap the coil every 50 turns if you wish! Bring in a station, then tune the two variables to maximize the signal. Kinda hard to draw schematics with ASCII characters, but you can probably tell what I mean... Steven C. Barr

Posted by currently down (Interlinks' fault) at 4:10 PM, April 4, 2005 [Link]

Hi..I was hooking up an external speaker to my Grundig Satellit 800 when I heard a POP and now I have NO audio whatsoever.

Can someone please advise me what to do.



Posted by richard at 10:58 AM, October 21, 2005 [Link]


I'm not an engineer, so I wouldn't know how to fix your radio. But that doesn't sound good.

I would contact the R. L. Drake company, who designed the radio and service it for Lextronix, and see what their repair service charges. You could also try contacting Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Their service department probably has the expertise to fix the radio. But they'll probably tell you to send it to Drake.

Posted by ralph at 10:31 PM, October 21, 2005 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

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[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

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[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

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