Do you have a Shortwave SSB Radio?

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  • This topic has 23 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks, 2 days ago by SeanT. This post has been viewed 541 times
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    • #97372
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

        In the past I have talked about Radio/Communications Monitoring on a Budget, but what if you are looking for something extremely portable?

        If you have any contingencies that could put you in a foot mobile position. You still need this shortwave SSB capability, but lets face it size and weight are a premium.

        Remember you need SSB to monitor HAM traffic.

        My suggestion to fill this role is the CountyComm GP-5 SSB General Purpose Radio.

        CountyComm is pleased to announce the GP-5/SSB radio with excellent HF communications monitoring in a unique hand held form factor and at a great price. The radio covers medium wave 520-1710 kHz shortwave 2300-30000 kHz and the FM band. Unlike most radios in this price category, the GP-5/SSB provides LSB and USB single sideband reception. It has a very unique Easy Tuning Mode (ETM). ETM does more the usual ATS. It scans all frequencies without taking up the memory spaces. So you get quick access to all local stations. Great for the traveller. There are also 450 regular memories (100 AM, 100 FM and 250 shortwave) available for tuning into your favorite stations. Another unique feature of the radio is its removable high sensitivity external AM ferrite antenna. This directional antenna clearly enhances AM band reception. The CountyComm GP-5/SSB even employs DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology, improving clarity and tone quality. There is even an adjustable sleep timer.

        Specs:

        Radio: 225 hrs at 40% Volume ( 50% Increased Runtime )
        FM – Stereo via stereo earphones / MW / LW / SW
        FM – Stereo via stereo earphones / MW / LW / SW
        FM Frequency range adjustable (76 / 87 / 87.5 ~ 108 MHz)
        Antenna Length 18 Inches
        450 Station Memories
        Multi Tuning Methods: ATS, ETM, Auto scan tuning with 5 seconds pre-listening for both frequency & memory (VF / VM), Manual tuning 9K/10K AM tuning step selectable
        Silicon Labs Si4734 DSP chipset
        LCD Backlight
        Key lock function
        External AM antenna Jack
        Built-in rechargeable function (USB jack, 5V) ( can use rechargeable batteries )
        Size: 53 (W) x 159 (H) x 26 (D) mm

        Modes : AM, FM, SW, USB, LSB

        FM: 87 – 108 or 76 – 108 MHz
        MW/ AM: 522 – 1620 (9K tuning step) or 520 – 1710 kHz (10K tuning step )
        SW: Extended Frequency Range to 1711-29999 ( higher and lower coverage )
        LW frequency: 150 – 522 kHz (available for 9K tuning step only)

        Accessories include:

        Power Requirements:

        Stereo earphones
        External AM antenna
        Soft antenna
        Carrying pouch
        User manual

        Power Requirements:

        4.5 Volts DC via side jack (no adapter included)
        3 each “AA” batteries ( Batteries not included )
        Dimensions: 6.20″ X 2.05″ X .80″
        Weight: 85 Grams not including batteries
        Speaker: 40 mm in diameter, 4 Ohms, .5 watt ( 2 times the ouput of the GP-4L )
        Earphone Jack: 3.5 MM, Earphones Included

        CountyComm is a retail distributor of products created primarily for US government use. In a sense, CountyComm is the consumer spill-over from the thousands of products intended, for example, for state and federal agencies.

        According to CountyComm, the GP5/SSB is a case in point. The company received a large order from a US government department for an “inexpensive, small portable, AM/FM/SW radio with SSB” for emergency supply caches and diplomatic posts.

        Note: You can install rechargeable batteries and recharge with the mini USB port. There are many small usb solar chargers available that would be sufficient to keep radio for the significant time.

      • #97373
        D Close
        Moderator

          I purchased the cheaper Tecsun version that did not have SSB. I regret not spending the extra $40 or so for the GP. If you have the cash, I would do it.

        • #97374
          Robert
          Participant

            Is it still called a “beat frequency oscillator?” Back in the day, we always told people to look in the product description for a BFO is they weren’t sure their receiver got SSB transmissions.

            For the layman (myself included), Single sideband transmissions require less power than full AM. This is why you see amateurs using sideband so much.

            Most standard $100. or less shortwave receivers are designed to hear the “big” stations with mega power outputs- think BBC, radio Amerika, WWCR, etc.

            Joe Bob Ham operator isn’t going to have 50,000 watts to push. Also from a clandestine point of view, less power is typically better.

            Man it’s been a while- BFO’s, MUF charts, CQ CQ CQ… LOL

          • #97375
            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
            Moderator

              Is it still called a “beat frequency oscillator?

              :good: Yes, although in this case the GP-5/SSB does not use a BFO for SSB. This is accomplished by utilizing the DSP built into the SiLabs chip. DSP is Digital Signal Processor, basically it’s a software defined radio to keep it simple.

              At $74.95 it’s a great deal.

              I would think about getting one of these for it’s mobility and keep your eye out at yard sales etc… for a good used older Shortwave SSB Radio for base use although with a installed long wire antenna the GP-5/SSB would work fine in that role.

              As I mentioned in the “Radio/Communications Monitoring on a Budget” most of my large Shortwave Radios I acquired for free and just needed a little cleaning of boards and contacts.

              Depending on what type of “Event” happens this maybe your only window into whats happening outside your AO and could be the only advance warning you get about dangers heading your way.

            • #97376
              Joe (G.W.N.S.)
              Moderator

                Another consideration is the “Black Echo Project” as mentioned in the Thread “AmRRON: Communications for Preppers, Patriots, Redoubters and Partisans.”

                The Black Echo Rebroadcasting Station Project

                Operate your own Radio Free Redoubt rebroadcasting station and keep others informed!

                Black Echo re-broadcasters operate their own commercially-available or home built low power FM and AM transmitters. In an information black-out, when commercial broadcasting may be spurious or non-existent, they will act as sources of information and reassurance to their communities on the FM and AM dials.
                Expect to hear:

                Live Streaming Radio Free Redoubt broadcasts (During grid-up situations)
                Previously-downloaded RFR and other podcasts, music, old time radio, books on tape, radio drama stories, etc.
                Live AmRRON Nets radio traffic, where they will act as their own
                Live Commentary & Public Service Announcements from RFR Rebroadcast Station Operators, and who may also step into the role of DJ, talk radio host, news anchor, or public information spokesperson

                This could be an excellent Auxiliary role and do not underestimate the propaganda value this could have post event.

                MVT Radio has a nice ring to it! :yes:

              • #97377
                Max
                Keymaster

                  Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

                  The CountyComm radio works well. I have listened to the Sunday TAPRN net while walking my dog at night with a headset. It is a bargain.

                  Short range FM transmitters will be a HUGE asset to a local, rural setting in a grid-down situation. People will still be able to hear FM, at least for a time. The ability to offer ‘real’ info (vs the propaganda that would be spewed) is invaluable.

                • #97378
                  D Close
                  Moderator

                    AMRRON has a solid program to get folks up to speed on radio. Yes, CQ, CQ! Many of us need to CQ! (Call for contacts) There are several MVT students who are working very hard on this piece right now.
                    I chose CB for my AO (a part of a larger solution) and recently put up a rather large antenna on the house for this purpose. CB also has SSB! (New Uniden 980). For handheld, I use a rugged little Kenwood THF6 that covers HF receive with SSB, transmits on 2M/1.25M/70cm bands and has aviation freqs as well. GWNS, thanks for reposting that Black Radio piece. For the semi-urban neighborhood I’m in, it could be a big help for the locals.
                    Related to this topic, the current crisis in Ecuador is proving to be a challenge for radio operators.
                    The “Cadena HC” emergency freq in Ecuador is 7.060Mhz (Normally LSB) 24h/d if you want to listen in.
                    So another piece of having comms is having the batteries to sustain them.

                  • #97379
                    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                    Moderator

                      CB also has SSB!

                      I highly recommend that everyone has a CB, preferably SSB.

                      The shear number of CB’s out there to include sitting in garages collecting dust that could easily be brought into service suggest that CB will be used Post-Event by many.

                      The extended range that SSB CB has is hard to beat for the price, especially with used equipment.

                      Even a standard 40 channel CB Radio for as little as $25 has a lot of uses.

                      A quick side note: There are Handheld SSB CB Radios available, currently mainly available used, although still available OCONUS.

                      So another piece of having comms is having the batteries to sustain them.

                      Solar chargers with rechargeable batteries, buy in bulk to save money.

                    • #97380
                      Max
                      Keymaster

                        Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

                        Communications should be built in layers, so much gets missed with this 1 topic because most don’t know what they don’t know.

                        Its as important as food/water, and more so than weapons IMO

                        If you know trouble is coming avoidance is warning is always better than surprise

                      • #97381
                        ffhounddog
                        Participant

                          So the country comm radio, can it be upgraded later with transmission?

                          Also looking at other comm systems to build on. I need a CB.

                        • #97382
                          Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                          Moderator

                            Communications should be built in layers, so much gets missed with this 1 topic because most don’t know what they don’t know.

                            It’s difficult to know everything we need, hence the importance of spreading the wealth within a group.

                            If you know trouble is coming avoidance is warning is always better than surprise

                            For most this will be the primary Intelligence source available.

                            So the country comm radio, can it be upgraded later with transmission?

                            No, it’s a receiver only. The compact size with quality operation in a affordable price that makes it so useful.

                          • #97383
                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                            Moderator

                              Yearly bump for new members.

                            • #149961
                              Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                              Moderator

                                Overdue bump!

                                Overlooked by many this is a must have part of real preparedness.

                              • #150020
                                SeanT
                                Keymaster
                                • #151126
                                  Short Stroke
                                  Participant

                                    Joe – do you know of any source for these? I’m seeing it as out of stock in several places so far.

                                    I’m finally getting into ham radio. I’ve been studying for the exam and learning some of the basics, but the exams are on pause due to the virus fears.

                                    I am looking for some tips on a base station kit and accessories. A vehicle setup is my second priority. Handheld is third priority, and I already have a couple of crappy Baofengs since they cost so little, although I’d like to get quality equipment now.

                                    My goal is to be able to listen in on things in the worst case scenarios, and to be able to communicate with friends and family within 200 miles during those bad times, including over some mountains. I’m browsing posts on the forum For info, but let me know if anyone has thoughts.

                                  • #151128
                                    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                    Moderator

                                      Joe – do you know of any source for these? I’m seeing it as out of stock in several places so far.

                                      It depends on exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

                                      I like to start with smaller more portable gear. The reason being that if you have to move you are more likely take this capability with you.

                                      The CountyComm SSB’s should be back in stock eventually.

                                      There are other Shortwave SSB’s that are still relatively small that could be considered.

                                      The bigger radios will have better audio and larger controls and may be a good option now until smaller units available.

                                      Amatuer radio gear has many options and capabilities.

                                      Let’s see what others suggest, but I like Elecraft radios.

                                    • #151147
                                      Short Stroke
                                      Participant

                                        Thanks, Joe. I’ll take a look. I am curious if anyone has specific recommendations for HF, VHF, and UHF. Including accessories!

                                      • #151154
                                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                        Moderator

                                          Short Stroke take a look at older threads in Radio & Communication.

                                          You have to decide on your priorities and budget. Everyone has their favorites and opinions. My Elecraft KX2 is based on my desire to have portable capability.

                                          Elecraft

                                          Our KX2 “stealth” transceiver can go wherever your imagination takes you. Thanks to state-of-the-art construction techniques, it’s only 5.8 x 2.8 x 1.5” and weighs just 13 ounces (0.37 kg) — making it the smallest full-featured HF radio on the planet.

                                          It puts out up to 12 watts, covers nine bands, and shares many features with the KX3. It also works with the KXPA100 amplifier. To maximize your freedom to roam, you can outfit your KX2 with an internal 2.6 amp-hour Li-ion battery*. Current drain is as little as 135 mA, yielding up to 8 hours of typical operation on a single battery charge.

                                          There’s also an internal automatic antenna tuner module option (KXAT2), which can tune a random wire, dipole, or whip on multiple bands. A rear tilt-foot angles the KX2 for use on any surface, from desktop to park bench to rock. The KX2 also makes a great mobile rig, and it can even be used hand-held. It includes a built-in mic for HT-style operation, but also works with our MH3 hand mic, which includes UP/DOWN switches for hands-free VFO tuning.

                                          The KX2’s powerful 32-bit DSP offers features dual watch, stereo audio, user-programmable filter bandwidths, noise blanking, noise reduction, and auto-notch. RTTY and PSK data modes are built in — no PC needed — as well as a memory keyer and digital voice recorder for transmit. You can even log CW and DATA contacts internally using the KX2’s logging feature, then send the log data to any computer later on. With its optional internal ATU – KXAT2, the KX2 works great with ad-hoc field antennas.

                                          If you’re considering operating on the move (pedestrian mobile), check out our new AX1 multi-band whip, which covers 20 and 17 meters, as well as 15 meters (with ATU). The AX1 breaks into two 6″ pieces for transport–it’s small enough to fit in a pocket.

                                          With so many different choices the more you can list your priorities the better others can suggest options.

                                          Just my thoughts.

                                        • #151155
                                          SeanT
                                          Keymaster

                                            200 miles with radio means HF or repeaters. There isn’t a single radio that will do all the things really well. Please dig a little in the thread Joe mentioned. FWIW , I have and use both Icom and Yaesu HF radios. Also remember the HF radio may be small but the antenna won’t be. The commonly used 80M band has antennas that ‘should be’ about 240 feet wide. Mine is off center fed dipole and one leg is 90 feet and the other is 135 feet then add about 30-50 feet of rope to hang it. It ain’t small. There are electrical ‘tricks to physically shorten that but antennas are a big deal, and required for effective communications.

                                          • #151163
                                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                            Moderator

                                              Also remember the HF radio may be small but the antenna won’t be.

                                              Excellent point by SeanT here, again it always comes down to what you are trying to do. ;-)

                                              If one follows my lead for small and portable this also extends to antennas, but smaller (a relative thing) definitely means compromises. This can be from more improvised ones to specialty small scale manufacturers.

                                              …but antennas are a big deal, and required for effective communications.

                                              This can not be underestimated!

                                              IMHO; shared by many, the antenna is far more important than the radio. A great radio is junk with a poor antenna and a adequate radio is can provide awesome performance with a great antenna.

                                              I have above average experience, but there are more knowledgeable than me here. Radios are not a hobby for me, they fill a specific role in my preparations.

                                              The issue is you must have much experience using them and in our case beyond just using them at home. Field use is relatable to base station use, but enough differences that you’ll have problems if you don’t learn both, or in my case far more field use than a base.

                                            • #151217
                                              Short Stroke
                                              Participant

                                                Thanks, gentlemen. I’m also getting connected with my local ham club to get some personalized mentoring and training.

                                              • #151226
                                                SeanT
                                                Keymaster

                                                  Thanks, gentlemen. I’m also getting connected with my local ham club to get some personalized mentoring and training.

                                                  That is usually a great idea. Most clubs will have a club station you can operate.

                                                  you can try some of these to get the ‘feel’ for tuning the receiver.
                                                  Online Radios

                                                • #151329
                                                  Former Sapper
                                                  Participant

                                                    I’ve been using my Tecsun PL-600 for a number of years, absolutely solid performance for the cost of it. Easily stowable in a pouch for mobile operations and runs on AA batteries, will also recharge AA rechargables when connected to external power. The whip it comes from is very flimsy but that’s easy to work around.

                                                  • #151646
                                                    SeanT
                                                    Keymaster

                                                      I’ve been using my Tecsun PL-600 for a number of years, absolutely solid performance for the cost of it. Easily stowable in a pouch for mobile operations and runs on AA batteries, will also recharge AA rechargables when connected to external power. The whip it comes from is very flimsy but that’s easy to work around.

                                                      Finding a quality portable SSB radio that is high quality has become increasingly harder over the years. A good condition Grundig Yacht Boy 400 is a good one to keep an eye out for. If you can find one of these:
                                                      Sony ICF-SW7600GR at a good price, grab it. They are pricey now though.

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