I’ve always wanted a nice shortwave radio receiver, but they don’t show up in thrift stores very often, so when I saw this one at Deseret for $7 a couple of months ago, I snapped it up without hesitation. However, when I got it home and rigged up a regulated power supply for it, I found it wouldn’t power up. *sigh* – into the “to look at later and maybe fix” pile it went.
“Later” ended up being yesterday, when I dug it out, took a closer look, and went to the Intertubes to find out what might be wrong with it. The answer turned out to be pretty simple: The Sony ICF-2010 has a weird quirk where it will not power up unless the internal tuning computer has battery power, and simply plugging it into a wall socket won’t provide that power. It requires 3 AA batteries to be installed in a small sub-compartment buried deep inside the main battery compartment to work at all. When supplied with these batteries, the internal computer booted up and allowed the rest of the radio to work properly with mains power again. Confusing, but YAY! This quirk might have been the reason someone tossed it in the first place.
My research also indicated that I picked a really good starter radio for getting into DXing too. The ICF-2010 is nearly a legendary portable shortwave receiver in enthusiasts’ circles, with an incredibly wide tuning capability (AIR/FM and AM LW/MW/SW from 150kHz to 136MHz), PLL digital tuning and loads of tuning filters for syncing and locking in distant stations. First introduced by Sony in 1985, it had been in continuous production until 2003, when it was superceded (much to the dismay of afficionados) by models that did not have the same wide tuning range. Used models on eBay today seem to be selling for upwards of $300-$500 in good condition, a pretty telling testimonial of the desirability of this unit among serious listeners.
As a beginner DX’er, I don’t have the slightest idea where to start with tuning, other than to spin the tuning knob slowly across the unit’s gigantic tuning range, and randomly poking the filter buttons when I find something interesting, but last night I was able to get a lock on the Navajo Nation radio station (broadcasting traditional chants with a DJ speaking Navajo, but playing commercials in English), innumerable religious broadcasts and hyper-conservative John Bircher types, gobs of strange feedbacky tone generating stations (which are fun to scroll through by flipping the tuning knob back and forth to make goofy R2-D2 sounds), and even one very faint “numbers station” that broadcast a stream of numbers in Spanish for about 2 minutes, ending with 3 chimes, then vanished into the ether.
Finding a list of station frequencies seems to be a challenge. Every list I found on the Internet is either outdated or broken, as it seems shortwave broadcasters routinely switch what frequency they broadcast on (and only broadcast at certain times/days) depending on atmospheric conditions. I’m hoping to find a decent list somewhere to follow, but for now I’m just familiarizing myself with the complex interface of the Sony and plugging frequency ranges into the “Scan” function and enjoying the surprises that come up when the radio locks onto a broadcast. :D