My initial impressions of
the Grundig Satellit 800 after a little over 3 days of
I have been SWLing since 1992. My first shortwave was a 60s vintage "Masterwork" brand AM/FM/SW/MB radio that I bought for $7 from a local swap meet. It came with batteries! At the time I was in school so I had a swing shift job and the first night, I had it I tuned in Radio Australia and I was hooked.
My second radio, purchased within 6 months, was a DX-375. I hooked up all kinds of weird and insane types of "antennas" to this poor sucker and began logging my first stations and understanding how the SW hobby gets addicting. From there, I moved "up" to a DX-390 (logged my first pirates) and finally to a DX-398.
I am in love with the radio and most of what you read are going to be praises, although you will note a few negatives.
My new baby and first "real" radio: Satellit 800.
Serial Number S8109014737.
Price $450, new in box, from Circuit City (local Grundig Dealer). (I know Lextronics so lay off).
Hours of sleep in the 60 hours I've owned the radio: 6.
Upon getting home from the store (with the HUGE box seat belted in the passenger seat) I anxiously but carefully unpacked the radio. I had flashbacks to Christmas when I was a kid with the smell of new electronics out of the box (Commodore 64!).
I knew the radio was coming so I had everything ready to plug into the radio: power cleaner, 100' random wire fed into the house with coax, my 1st attempted ground (which I think I'm going to redo) and RCA jacks to run into my Denon cassette recorder for the all important archiving. I also have a splitter that runs the RCAs directly to my Macintosh for straight digital recording. (Macs rule!)
I fired the rig up and switched to the SW band. The reception off the whip was incredible. For the "non-DX" part of my hobby, the radio does not need the external antenna to pull in stations at S9 + in local-type broadcaster reception sound. VOR, RHC, BBC, HCJB, and any other medium to "big gun" broadcaster you name come in like the 50,000-watt AM BCB station that is 20 miles away from me.
I switched over to my external antenna and found (on average, according to the meter) a 20 dB increase in signal. To the ears it is nearly impossible to tell the difference on the bigger stations but as I started "dialing around" it became immediately apparent that the next few days were going to be near sleepless.
I printed up huge lists (10-15 pages) off ILG for stations to shoot for in EE (regardless of target) and all stations on at the current hour. I was very pleased to find that there were many stations that I could hear that weren't even being beamed to NA/CAMs/SAMs.
Moreover, this was before I even started playing with the Sync, Bandwidth filters and SSB!
The only reason I have that I'm typing this right now is that my left wrist is tired from tuning and pressing buttons and my right hand is tired of writing in my logbook! (Doesn't take much to make my hand tired of writing, though).
With a brief respite of tuning into the programs I usually try to catch (Arnie Coro, Moscow Mailbag, Sincerely Yours which is R. Nederland's mailbag) I did some MW tuning.
My wife and I listen to a local station 770kHz KNWX in Seattle that broadcasts old time radio on the weekends. We usually listen on Sunday nights as we fade into sleep. I am not a MW DXer but I found it to be fine on local stations (as well it should be).
** A NEGATIVE: When the antenna in use is my random wire on the AM band, I get one station coming through in the background on many places across the band. 950AM (50,000 watts and very close to the xmitter) comes through on our damn phone lines. It is the only signal I get that I can hear that doesn't belong there. If I switch to the internal antenna for AM, this goes away. I'm not sure if this is the radio or the antenna but it is a small problem. The 800 does not get 950AM anywhere on the SW bands so something inside the rig is doing its job. **
Luckily, my wife dozed off and I was free to go back to the SW bands. I went and did some SSB listening (logging Radio Psyco on 6955 which I have never heard strong enough to ID), and HAM guys between 3800 - 4000kHz. SSB tuning is a pleasure. It isn't much different from the DX-398, which I had to sell to make the step up. A switch to toggle Upper or Lower and the knob to tune in .1 kHz steps. No Muting! I made the mod on the 398 to get rid of muting but the resolution of the 800 makes SSB listening much easier and more pleasurable to the ears as it is much more fine.
Around midnight PST (0800UTC) I plugged in an earplug (rather than the headphones as I was dozing off) and played with the Air band. We are 15 miles south of Seattle/Tacoma International (SeaTac) Airport, 25 miles south west of Renton Airport (small), 30 miles south of Boeing Field and just recently found out that we are only about 20 miles north of a small airport south of Tacoma (Narrows?). Planes on the ground as well as the tower boomed in at a minimum of S9 from SeaTac and for the first time in many years I got "stuck" enjoying the tower "racking and stacking" 'em! I fell asleep. I faded in an out for two hours before gaining enough energy to turn the dial some more.
BTW, I picked up San Francisco air control (sorry if this isn't the right name) on 5547USB (IIRC) S9 and the aircraft it was talking to. I am not much of a UTE guy but this radio might get me into that, too.
I went back to the SW bands where I left off (at 4000kHz listening to the HAM guys) and began tuning up. This part of the band 3925 (Radio Tampa in Japan) - 5500kHz has been in the past the most frustrating for me. I should not have been, though as my radios just weren't built to dig out what is here. I was astounded at all the stations that came in from 1000UTC on. None of them were in English but it seemed as if every 5kHz from 4000kHz on there was a signal! Most of them seemed to be in Asian languages but I didn't stop to get Ids for two reasons: #1. Too impatient to try to wait for an ID. #2. Too tired and lazy to pull out my logbook and write anything in.
Radio Tampa (3925kHz) was readable on my '398 if I waited until the right hour but just barely. I checked back from 0300 - 0530UTC and Radio Tampa was coming in BCB strength (S5 - S7) and near- BCB fidelity all night. They are 50,000 watts in Japan.
Throughout this band, I came to understand how well the Sync works and how flexible it is. It almost boggles my mind the tools that I have now to play with in my hobby.
On the final note of a very happy radio listener, one of my favorite local stations, 880AM KIXI (50,000 watts day/10,000 watts night) is a bugger to pickup when they switch down their power. The Sat 800 using Sync in the evenings makes the station sound like it is closer to 30,000 or 40,000 watts at night rather than 10,000.
Finally, I could find none of the complaints that seemed to have plagued this radio early in its life. All the knobs and dials are solid with no wobble. Whoever is in charge did a good job of ironing these things out. I am glad that I waited a few months (well, over a year) to purchase as painstaking as it was. For me this is the perfect radio for what I listen to. Probably more radio than I need, but it is about to keep me awake for many more hours a night than is probably good for me for the next few weeks.
Anyway, I am going to the doctor now to check for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Between pushing buttons, turning knobs and now typing this, it is time to find a nice strong signal and just enjoy the killer audio and an ice cold Coca-Cola!
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