The Sangean ATS-803A was a very popular dual conversion superhetrodyne LW/MW/SW/FM portable manufactured between 1989 and 1995. It was marketed under brand names including the DX-440 (Radio Shack/Realistic). This beefy portable measures 6.5"H x 11.5"W x 2.5"D and weighs approximately 5.75 lbs (with installed batteries). A shoulder strap functions as a carrying handle.
Is continuous from 150 khz to 29999 khz and from 87.5 MHz - 108 MHz.
The 803A "labels" 150-281 khz as LW, 520-1620 khz as MW, twelve (12) shortwave band segments as SW, 87.5-108 MHz as FM and everything else as AM.
cells provide power for the clocks and memories. Six D cells power
Panel - Left
Panel - Upper Center
The display area will also show if the sleep timer is engaged and/or the alarm. To the left of the display is a 5 position red LED signal strength indicator. A red power on LED is located to the right of the display as is a green FM Stereo LED. The 12 shortwave band segments are printed on the radio underneath the display.
Panel - Lower Center
Panel - Right
Manual tuning is possible with the tuning knob. The amount of frequency movement varies according to how fast the tuning knob is twirled. According to the manual, slow turning results in 1 khz changes, slightly faster causes a 10 khz change while fast tuning makes the frequency move by 100 khz. This is one of the quirks of the 803A. It is hard to predict just how much the frequency will increase/decrease when you turn the dial. To use the dial for reliable tuning of anything other than 1 khz increments (slow) will likely result in frustration. Note: in FM, using the tuning knob results in the frequency changing by .05 MHz.
Another option is to use the Up/Down buttons. In FM, a repeated push of an up/down button will change the frequency by .05 MHz. In LW/SW/MW/AM, repeated pushes of the up/down buttons move the frequency by 1 khz. Holding down the up/down button results in an increase/decrease by 10 kHz. Unfortunately, when you do this, the 803A first registers a 1 kHz step (like it is the first in a series of repeated pushes to come) and then it moves 10 kHz. So, if you are on 600 kHz and hold down the up button, it will quickly go to 601 and then begin adding 10 kHz increments as you hold the button down (611, 621, 631 .).
The 803A also has a scan/search feature within its defined band segments. When the START/STOP button is pushed, the 803A begins to scan as it goes up in frequencies. The radio stops when it receives a station. If the 803A reaches the upper limit of the defined band segment, it will start over again at the bottom of the segment.
MW - performs very well with both the internal loopstick antenna and with an external antenna.
SW - overall fine reception. Like most Sangean radios, the 803A is a little on the deaf side with just the whip antenna (I wonder if that is why they provided such a long whip?). An external antenna really brings it to life. Sideband/cw reception is average with the BFO tuning arrangement. One very nice feature of the 803A is that the wide/narrow filter works in sideband - this is not always true in shortwave portables. Stations are easily received all across the SW spectrum with a modest length external wire antenna.
FM - excellent audio. Receives in stereo when headphones are connected. Ability to separate weak stations from adjacent strongboys is average.
Battery life is above average.
I like best
gain control is effective and is a nice feature
not all modern
day portables provide this. Note that the RF gain works on all bands,
a rarity indeed.
Quality. This is a very well build solid radio. The wire flip stand arrangement is a nice touch. Simply put, they don't build them like this anymore.
I like the simple straightforward direct frequency entry push in the numbers, hit execute and you are there. No hunting around for decimal point keys, frequency enter keys.
Good battery life.
Despite my frustrations with the tuning knob speed mechanism, I still like radios that have them. It is an advantage.
The 803A ain't no sissy boy. You can push all the buttons, etc without having to worry about the radio wandering away from you or tipping over.
That you can use the wide/narrow filter in sideband.
Frequency display is legible. You can actually see the numbers (what a concept!)
The erratic tuning knob. Just how far will it take me this time? I've learned to just use the keyboard to get me close and then I tune slow from there. An occasional cleaning of the encoder (spray De-Oxit behind the knob from inside the radio) makes a significant improvement.
The up/down buttons that really don't take you to the next 10 kHz increment in MW (see text)
Those eensie weensie teenie weenie knobs for BFO and RF Gain.
I just don't care for slider controls and the 803A uses four of them. I think these were "the in thing" back in the mid/late 80's.
The backlight is only momentary.
Lack of memories (actually this doesn't bug me, but it probably will be an issue for others)
I wish it had a mechanical on/off switch vs. the momentary power on/off switch. This would make it possible to use the 803A for unattended recording (very few people will care about this).
of the 803A vs. DX-440 version
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