Saturday, March 28, 2009

HD Radio Update

Not too much to say...

--->HD FM is as great as ever here,
with some good 2nd channels,
and a really nice NPR station
that has classical / NPR / BBC audio
usually, on 3 chaanels for one.

No peculiar interference noticed at all.
Of course the non-HD radios have decent
IC front ends, from the $10 Sony Pocket AM/FM
to the $15 Radio Shack AM/FM and the
amazing Sony ICF-38 AM/FM ($25).

---> HD AM: I still get 1010 WNDS NYNY
with 1030 WBZ Boston booming its HD, maybe
a few minutes later into sundown before
it becomes clear. As for getting the WBZ HD
lock, that comes and goes, and when the extra
fidelity kicks in, it's kind of un-nerving...
..the people all sound different.
HD AM is a definite non-event. They should have
used the extra information for extra range.. THAT would be fantastic, and actually
revive AM. As it is, the noise around home and
office is so bad it limits AM's use. I love getting
information, though. Bloomberg 1130 is fantastic
to tune at night to make sense of this recession.

How to tune a cheap pocket radio

If you are not familiar with fine-tuning
a cheaper radio, here is the
"finger-tweezers" technique:

---press your thumb and forefinger together
as though you were pinching or making

--put the thumb on the radio case and the
finger on the tuning wheel

--as you roll your thumb and finger
together and apart, you can tune
tiny increments of the dial

---that's it, a fine-tuning mechanism for
little analog radios

The Radio Shack AM/FM Pocket radio

I bought the Radio Shack Model 12-467 radio
on sale for 9.99 (usually 14.99, I hope this
wasn't a clearance), and it is a great deal.

--sensitivity is very good
--selectivity very good
--the sound is clear and loud on speaker
--and headphone sound is excellent, with
good bass

Compared to Sony's pocket radio (hailed below),

--the tuning isn't quite as smooth (but still good)

--not quite as sensitive

--a bit more noise-immune

--the headphone drive is proper!!
(drives mono signal across both left and right)

--the headphone level is workable
(has to have a headphone attenuator in the Sony)

--the power supply is slightly odd
(3xAA, instead of 2 AAs)

The build quality and solidness is up there
with the Sony. The size is almost the same
(a bit clunky for a shirt-pocket).

This is a great little radio, if you happen by
a Radio Shack.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vextra VX2093

Another in my cheap-o radio review series.

Got it at Rite-Aid pharmacy for $9.95.

-sensitivity: fair at low end, ~OK across the rest of the band
-selectivity: poor but predictable..captured by strong stations,
and it goes catch a good number
--tuning: tweaky. You have to understand you will get 3 hits
on a station (the discriminator curve) and park it in the middle.'s workable, though

--a lot like FM..OK sensitivity, wide selectivity..
some stations lost to locals. Tunes very nicely though
--the reception washes out above 1300 khz, though..

---not much low freq. at all
---very clear high end
---the cheap headphones are surprisingly good for AM
---the speaker is loud but really tinny
---the headphone jack pushes mono in both L and R of
headphones: excellent compromise

Overall, the tuning is nowhere near like the pocket radio
Sony ICF-S10MK2. The Sony is way ahead, for $10.
And if you use a mono adaptor and attenuator headphones,
the Sony has way better fidelity.

But...the headphone jack on this hooks up properly,
and the volume does not blast headphones like
with the Sony. For local AM and FM, and walking
around, this is OK. Just don't expect much for
rural service or late night AM-DX.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the Craig shower radio

Since there aren't many easily bought radios out
there in the stores these days, and since CVS had
the Craig "AM/FM splashproof shower radio"
on sale for $6.50 (down from $13), I figured I
would do a review of this cheapie
(Craig model csr1301). Quick take:

--OK sensitivity (not super) across the whole band
--tuning is a bit tricky, but the damping of the water
seal gives it good stability when you take your hand off
--selectivity was good..I could seperate NYNY 1010 WNDS
from 1030 WBZ (much closer, same direction) no problem
--sensitivity: fair to good. Gets all the locals fine, but barely
gets the local-tiny stations. The $10 Sony pocket unit
is much better (though, it's better than scads of radios
under $50 on AM)
---house noise: strangely, not trounced by dimmers and
CFL lights as badly as others....not bad at all!

--almost pointless below 92 FM. Got 1 out of 6 usuals.
--92-108 FM: sensitivity fair-good, selectivity bad
--drift: a bit squirrely

--midrange only
--honky tone when cranked

If you want AM news in Suburbia, in the shower this is a good radio.
Otherwise, it's OK for the price (shower-proofing is
worth something), but you get what you pay for.
If you have strong local FM and aren't picky about station,
you can get some toons.

Summary: Good AM...otherwise, issues, especially if you live
in weaker signal zones.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

little ideas

reducing sound through windows:

---double-glazed helps

---triple glazong adds very little extra suppression

---another layer 4 inches away helps a lot though

---layers that are different weight densities help a lot
(glass 1/8" and acrylic 1/8" <---1/2 the weight dens)
(glass 1/8" and glass 1/4" <----twice density)

---for low frequencies (truck rumbling, etc)
seal window well

little ideas

approx. energy in different batteries:

(radio shack alkaline, 2002)

aaa 1100 mAH

aa 2500 mAH

C 7100 mAH

D 14,300 mAH

9v (aaaa cells) 600 mAH