In the previous articles, Shortwave Radio: Things You Need To Know we highlighted the key features found in and shortwave radios. This post will cover another option for gathering emergency information: Wideband Receivers.
These radios have the capability of receiving everything that a shortwave radio AND a scanner can receive. They normally cover .1 MHz to 1300MHz, some go up to 3000 MHz (with the usual FCC required gaps in coverage). This includes the Shortwave bands, both AM and FM broadcast radio bands, CB, GMRS, MURS, Ham, Aviation, Analog Police, Fire, EMS and analog business radio. There are wideband receivers that can pick up Amateur Sideband and Morse Code as well.
Known frequencies can be programmed into these receivers and then continuously scanned for activity or they can scan entire bands (frequency segments) to locate, and save, specific frequencies that are in use.
There are a several good companies that offer handheld versions. Among them are Icom, Alinco, AOR and Yaesu. These manufacturers offer both desktop and handheld receivers. All handheld models are powered by a battery pack, some use rechargeable battery packs but have optional battery cases available so they can operate from AA batteries. They can also be charged and/or run from a 12V lighter socket.
Wideband receivers could be the “one-radio” option you’ve been looking for. But, as always, there are some things to consider:
Non-Digital: Currently, most of the wideband receiver offerings are only analog, meaning that they will not receive the new digital systems being used by many municipalities. (UPDATE: There is a new receiver coming that is being advertised as capable of receiving the newer digital systems. I’m keeping an eye out for it and will hopefully get one in for review.)
Price: These radios are fairly expensive. They cost more than the combined price of a decent handheld scanner and portable shortwave. The prices range from $200 for a model w/o sideband to $600 for a model with all the popular features.
Operation: Most of these radios can be time consuming to program and use. They have many functions and menus that are hard to memorize. If you’re like me, you’ll need to make a small, laminated “cheat sheet” listing the instructions to perform the common functions and keep it with the radio.
Sideband: Not all wideband receivers have the capability. This is a critical feature for survival shortwave listening. Sideband is the commonly used mode for world-wide Amateur Radio disaster communications.
Here are some of the handheld wideband receivers available this year.
- Alinco DJ-X11T (SSB capable)
- Alinco DJ-G7T (Triband transceiver)
- Yaesu VX6R (Triband transceiver)
- Icom R6 Sport
This post is sponsored by:
US Dipole – Base and Portable Antennas for Scanning and Transmitting USDipole.com