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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An RF-2200 Find

Remember what I told you? Summertime is the time to check yard sales, flea markets, church rummage sales. Check Goodwill and Salvation Army stores at any time of the year. For radios, of course!

A visit to the Asbury United Methodist Church's basement antique sale in Rochester, NY a couple of weekends ago resulted in the find of the year, a Panasonic RF-2200. Price? $50 - marked down on the last day from $200 because they couldn't sell it. The power cord was missing ($6 on EBay), but all the controls seemed to work freely and it was in clean shape, so I went for it. I could hardly contain my glee and keep from doing back flips as I passed the $50 to the cashier. Fingers crossed as I drove home, as there was no way to test it.

After a thorough cleaning with Q-tips, soft cloth and mild detergent, fixing a slightly bent switch lever, and removing a small amount of corrosion from the battery compartment, I installed batteries. Not only does the unit look new again, it operates wonderfully. The carrying strap is still in place, and the whip antenna is intact and undamaged. There are a two very tiny nicks in the cabinet at the top edge, but it's otherwise pristine. What remains is to pull the front and rear covers off and hit the controls and switches with electronic contact cleaner to remove some scratchiness. The radio is nearly flawless. What a find!

Mediumwave sensitivity is great, and mostly lives up to the review hype. The rotatable gyro ferrite antenna is in perfect shape and is totally functional. An RF gain control is included, something rarely found on a portable. Selectivity is good, and certainly much better than a non-DSP ultralight. Two bandwidths are available, wide and narrow. I do live in a high signal area, so there was a little overload at the high end of the mediumwave band near WXXI-1370, 5 KW at 1.2 miles distant. Also contributing to overload is WROC-950, 1 KW and WHTK-1280, 5 KW, each at 2 miles distant. The radio is big, however, and heavy. It takes four D-sized batteries. I found four D alkalines on sale at CVS for $5, another bargain. The earphone jack appears to be mono, so requires an adapter for stereo headphones. Check, I have that.

The next day I spent an hour or so at a card table outside in the bright daylight (can't see) and pulled the front and back covers off. I got the controls and switches clean using CRC QD Electronic Cleaner spray. The tuning scale reads about 25 KHz high. I may look into that this winter and do a bit of tweaking. Otherwise the complicated dial mechanism is in great shape and is tight. Dial slop is extremely small. The radio case was a bugger to get back together. Be wary and be careful! Old plastic is brittle.

The Panasonic RF-2200 receives the AM, FM and shortwave bands. Ranges: 525-1605 KHz, 3.9-8 MHz, 8-12 MHz, 12-16 MHz, 16-20 MHz, 20-24 Mhz and 24-28 MHz plus FM. This radio features a very accurate analog dial down to 10 KHz, and two tuning rates. It has an S-Meter (tuning strength 0-10), BFO, FM AFC, Bass, Treble, Record Jack, Dial Lamp, Dial Lamp Switch, RF Gain, Crystal Calibrator 125/500 KHz and External Antenna Terminals. The dual conversion circuit (1.985 MHz/455 KHz) features wide and narrow selectivity (reportedly 5/3.4 KHz at -6dB). The 8 inch rotatable ferrite rod antenna makes the RF-2200 a strong medium wave performer. Remarkable sensitivities are FM: 2 µV, MW: 14 µV/m, SW: 0.5 µV. Early production models where gray, later models where black.

On a side note, and just to further prove the point that bargains can also be had at thrift stores, last winter I found an old HP 32SII Programmable Calculator at a Salvation Army thrift shop in Arizona. It was pristine and had its manual and slip cover. I saw it sitting in the glass case at the counter. When I asked the woman attendant if I could see it and how much it was, she picked it up, looked at it with this questioning look on here face (I could almost see her mind spinning - just another dumb old calculator), and said "2 dollars". Check them out on eBay - they are worth anywhere from $70 to $200 or more depending on condition and whether they come with manual and case! Lesson - don't ignore thrift stores!

This new Panasonic RF-2200 radio will be a joy to DX with in remote Arizona this winter. I am headed cross-country again in about a week so we shall see!

The beautiful Panasonic RF-2200. Click to see a larger image.

12 comments:

Dr. Coyote said...

Congrats, RTT!

Stephen said...

Glad you got an excellent deal on the RF-2200, Bill! :) I can hardly wait for you to be in AZ so I can see your reports on how it does in the open desert without all the interference. :)

Based on glowing reports I've read online about that radio, I'd figure that in NY you should be able to hear, I'm thinking, stations like 650 WSM, 670 WSCR, 720 WGN, 750 WSB, 780 WBBM, 830 WCCO, 840 WHAS, 890 WLS, 930 WGRP, 1000 WMVP, 1030 WBZ, 1080 WTIC, 1090 WBAL, 1110 WBT, 1120 KMOX, 1130 WBBR, 1160 WYLL, 1170 WWVA, 1190 WOWO, 1200 CFGO, 1500 WFED, 1520 WKAC, 1530 WCKY, 1560 WFME, 1640 WJSP at noon barefoot without interference from other stations (selectivity should take care of adjacents, and I expect the broad nulls & sharp pickup pattern I'd expect it to have, based on its glowing reviews, would take care of any co-channel pests that are almost but not quite exactly the same direction.) :)

From Quartzsite, I'd hope to hear 540 CBK & XEWA, 650 WSM & CKOM, 670 WSCR, 700 WLW, 720 WGN, 730 XEX, 740 CFZM, 760 WJR, 780 WBBM, 820 WBAP, 830 WCCO, 840 WHAS, 850 KOA, 860 CJBC, 870 WWL, 890 WLS, 940 CJGX, 990 CBW, 1000 KOMO & WMVP, 1040 WHO, 1080 KRLD, 1100 WTAM, 1110 KFAB, 1120 KMOX, 1130 CKWX & KWKH, 1140 CHRB, 1170 KFAQ, 1190 KEX, 1200 WOAI, 1390 KLGN, 1500 KSTP, 1520 KOKC, 1530 KFBK, 1620 KSMH, 1670 KHPY, 1690 KDDZ, just to name a few, all barefoot.

On the graveyards, if you had an omni-directional antenna, like one of those little rubber ducky whip antennas or shark fins, I'd guess it'd sound at midday about like what your car radio sounds like at night. With the gyro ferrite antenna, not only would I expect it to be like 120-150 dB more sensitive, I'd expect its sharp pickup pattern would be capable of isolating individual GY stations at night. :)

I'd love to be able to obtain an RF-2200, too, for the same price. Maybe I should start looking at my local thrift stores? :) I almost never go there, though. The rare times I do, when I do see a radio offered for sale I usually have no idea if it has a good reputation or not, and I think I'd look silly standing there googling it on my phone. :p Or are my expectations a wee bit high for that radio? I've basically set them that high, because my personal definition for things like "a big improvement", "head and shoulders above", etc, would mean something like you hearing KDKA on the improved radio as clearly as you hear WYSL on the other one. :)

Do you know what route you're planning to take to Quartzsite next week? And how long do you think it'd take to get there, and any particular stations you might be looking for along the way, or anything? :)

Hey I was thinking about something on the signal maps. Remember you sent me a map based on stations within 1000 miles of SoCal, showing 1 mV/m filled contours of all stations? (I think it was to try to find weaker signal areas.) Would it be possible to send me several others, with somewhat different specs? I'd like to maybe try putting something together with a photo editor.

For what I'm wanting to try, I'll need each one's contour fill set to an opacity of 100%. (Would it be possible to somehow put state and country borders on top of the fill?)
I'll also need one without the contours, but I guess I could get it from Google maps?

I'm looking for 10 maps, in 10 dB increments, from 31.6 µV/m (30 dBµV/m), 100 µV/m (40 dBµV/m), up to 1 V/m (120 dBµV/m)

I then plan to somehow layer them on top of each other, and try to figure out some way of making a crude contour/fill gradient.

If we want to start simple, I suppose we could start with 5 maps, in 20 dB increments - 100 µV/m to 1 V/m, while I make the example pic. Ultimately though, on the finished product (which I hope your program would be able to generate once you have an idea of what my concept of what it'd look like is), I'd like to see something like 1 or 3 dB resolution. :)

73, Stephen

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Thanks, guys, for the comments!

Stephen - yes, it's going to be fun to try this RF-2200 out in Arizona this winter. I hit the road tomorrow morning, but won't be out there till mid to late September. Will be in touch. I'll have a look at the map ideas as well.

Take care!

Bill

Stephen said...

Hi Bill…

I look forward to your reception reports! :) What are your radio-related plans for on the trip out, & what route are you planning to take this time? Also do you by any chance have a video camera, or some audio recorder, and could maybe start recording and posting examples of your reception? :) (I would have loved to hear your reception that time you heard KKZN on the other side of the Mississippi River, but of course we can't time travel backwards.)

Also I was thinking about something regarding daylight hours - remember the 3 hour buffer you posted about a few years ago? I wonder if it could use some adjustment, especially for winter and/or for the high end of the AM band. On my portable radios, I notice fading in the daytime on some high-band AM stations, including 1530-KFBK (on days it comes in), 1540-KMPC, 1580-KBLA (also some days KMIK can overpower them), 1670-KHPY, just to name a few. (I think there may also be a little fading on 1700-XEPE, but I'm only 15 miles from them.) In winter, this can happen at noon, and I've occasionally heard KFBK and KMIK barefoot at noon on some radios the size of the SRF-59, SRF-M37W, DT-400W, etc. (This can happen between late November and early February or something like that, I think.) I'd think that more sensitive setups would make the daytime skywave even more likely to be received.

Any chance you might want to check it out for yourself, to see if there's daytime skywave happening? Maybe by setting a radio on a weaker station near the upper end of the band and leaving it on for an hour or two, or however long it takes. I've heard Bruce Carter (the one who's done 1000 mile daytime AM DX from Lubbock, TX) mention long fades lasting an hour or so in the dayime on reception like I just mentioned. While in Quartzsite, some stations I'd consider checking for this include 1580-KMIK, 1540-KASA, 1510-KFNN, 1480-KPHX, 1460-KENO, 1440-KAZG, just to name a few possibilities. Also, while I didn't hear them on my Pioneer car radio when I was in Quartzsite in July, I wonder if 1700-XEPE, 1670-KHPY and 1630-XEUT might be stations to check for daytime skywave as well. (Maybe they'd be heard with a good loop?) On the Superradio 3 I think I may have heard the slightest trace of something on 1670 and 1700, but they were too weak to ID.

73, Stephen

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Hi Stephen,

The basic route will be Rochester, NY, Columbus, OH, St.Louis, MO, Kansas City, MO, Denver, CO, Moab, UT, Flagstaff, AZ mostly via I-70 starting at Columbus-Denver-Moab area. I have no fixed radio related plans other than to compare the new Honda Civic radio to the truck radio. The Honda has one of those stubby antennas but seems sensitive enough, especially when away from high signal areas.

Your receive expectations for the RF-2200 are somewhat high. Many of the stations you listed are either too far in distance or the ground wave is not possible due to poor east coast ground conductivity. I'll do a bandscan when I get to Quartzsite and see what I can hear.

Yes, I believe the 3 hour buffer is probably not enough for winter time. In summer it's not so far off. However, that being said, I do believe throughout the day from sunrise to sunset the atmosphere is constantly changing. The brunt of the skywave drops off about 10 AM. That leaves the extremely weak low level skywave that continues till about noon or so. This is the stuff with the long fades. Afternoon you either hear it or you don't. By 4 o'clock or so the skywave can start to pick up again, depending on the direction.

Leaving today. Gotta run. Take care and 73s,

Bill

My Tempo Traveller said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen said...

Hi Bill,

I'll re-post here some of what I said in my abdx group message...

How was the trip? Anything of note in comparing the CR-X (or was it a -V?) radio vs the Toyota? About where did 630-KHOW, 650-KGAB, 760-KKZN and 850-KOA begin to make a daytime appearance as you were heading west?

I wanted to make a comment earlier about seeing if there are any situations where a Canadian and Mexican station can be simultaneously heard co-channel in the daytime, but I never actually posted it for some reason. :( Some frequencies I would have considered would be 800, 660 and 540.

Also I have another idea for the maps - you know the ones where you have a map for each frequency showing daytime 0.15 mV/m groundwave contours and nighttime 0.25 mV/m 50% skywave contours? How about maps for each frequency (day and night) that shows the area where each station is the dominant one on its frequency? I'm thinking for example if a particular station is at least 3 or 6 dB above the rest. Areas with more mutual co-channel interference would be somewhat grayed out. I imagine that the nighttime graveyard channels would be mostly a block of gray (maybe 33% opacity, I'm not sure, experimentation would be good) with a few little patches of clarity around transmitter sites. Also maybe what about some inner contours that depict where a station is considered a moderately strong / semi-clear signal, like maybe 30-36 dB above the ambient noise level or co-channel interference, whichever is higher?

Now that you're in AZ, have you had a chance to test the RF-2200 there yet? :)

Also I may consider making another trip out to the desert sometime with my radios, idk when yet. Hopefully I'll be able to have more time, as only having like an hour and a half or less when I was there a few months ago really put a serious damper on what I was able to do, coupled with not having a camera tripod so I had to keep a hand on the camera. (I do have a $400 tripod now though that's a pretty good one, so that should help for recording my radio adventures.)

73, Stephen

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Hi Stephen,

The trip was good. No problems. I've been working on a post which will document most of it and answer some of your questions.

I haven't had the RF-2200 out yet here in AZ other than a quick check. KFI-640 comes in like a local. That's good news. I have some ultralights that don't hear it at all. I'll get the RF-2200 out soon for a bandscan. I pulled it out many times on the trip and checked out distant signals. Sensitivity is outstanding. Still unpacking here and getting set up for the winter.

I don't have any immediate plans to add to the map function, though I am tweaking a couple of minor, unrelated things. Many map variations are already possible at this point by filtering what you input to the mapper. It's best to do it that way rather than to write unique code for each map.

73s,

Bill

Stephen said...

Glad to hear it, Bill. :)

Looking forward to the new post, whenever it gets done. :) (Any idea when it may be, like a few days, couple weeks, next year, your 100th birthday? :) )

Does the RF-2200 get KNX there at midday? (My Pioneer car radio heard it weakly, but I couldn't quite make it out on the Superradio III.)

When do you think you might be posting any updated maps (of any type)? Also any chance that Field Strength Calculator could be able to calculate multiple-conductivity-path field strengths, for example if you input your coordinates and either the received station, or custom coordinates and field at 1 km?

73, Stephen

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Hi Stephen,

I've got a post just about ready to go. I'm down to making a map of the trip. I'll probably have it posted tomorrow.

KNX is receivable here, weak, but 100% readable. I have to null a little noise out. I can't get it on any other radio. Haven't tried the Eton E1. That may get it; I'll check it, that is, if I can get the radio to work..

I'm going to try to get an updated map set out before the fall is over. That's a complete map set, 540 - 1700 KHz. I'd like to post one a year, anyway. That, to incorporate any FCC changes.

Field Strength Calculator is done as far as it's going to be. I can calculate actual field strengths using real M3 ground conductivity data in my Radio Data MW program. No need to reinvent the wheel. It would be a huge amount of work to add all the code necessary to FSC.

73s,

Bill

RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER said...

Stephen,

Got the Eton E1 running and took it out. KNX-1070 is armchair copy on it. I dare say I think the signal level is even a little better than the RF-2200.

I tried the Eton Traveler 3, the best of the ultralights that I have. I hear barely detectable audio on KNX. A small loop would bring it in.

73s,

Bill

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