The Grundig GS450DL (Eton) is one of the hottest portable AM/FM/Shortwave radios I have ever encountered. It is a competitor of the famed C Crane radios like the 2E, except it has a better price. This radio is available at Radio Shack for about $100 and on sale sometimes for only $80. It has bass and treble tone controls and a decent size speaker and its FM music reception sounds great. Even if you only buy it for the fantastic AM and FM radio it is, you have a good deal.

Better yet, it includes all short wave bands to 30 MHz. IMPORTANT NOTE: This radio is designed for broadcast reception of AM or FM signals; it cannot effectively receive SSB or CW Morse code transmissions without a Beat Frequency Oscillator external accessory. (See the end of this article for links to something you can build to receive SSB and CW). I will provide information on SWLing (Shortwave Listening) in the hope you will consider it as a hobby or a means of learning more about the world outside the USA. Listening to ham radio AM operators, you might even acquire a taste for that.

This radio can be operated from AC as well as DC. I have not tested the battery life time. There is no weather alert function, but you can get this from AM broadcast, along with other local information in emergencies.

Why do you need this supplemental manual? The official Grundig manual that comes with the radio assumes you are an expert user, possibly because it is targeted to European users who are familiar with shortwave reception.

The Grundig GS450DL AM/FM/Shortwave receiver is pretty straight forward in most controls. Anyone who knows what a radio is knows what volume, bass, treble and tuning knobs are. Americans have not probably had a shortwave or even a decent radio in their possession since World War 2. After the war, no one was listening to Winston Churchill or Tokyo Rose. All the radios produced in the USA were crappy cheap 5 tube transformer-less junkers with a 4 inch speaker. You had to get into something like the Hallicrafters SX99 if you wanted a real shortwave radio in the post WW2 US. In Europe, however, radio and television receivers are subject to a TAX to support programming like the BBC or Deutche Welle or Radio France. That meant that no one wanted a bunch of lousy 5 buck Chinese radios. They owned one or two radios, and those radios had to do a LOT to justify the TAX. The Europeans are therefore more savvy than Americans and do not need a lot of explanation about some controls. Put differently, you can get into most any car and drive away without much thought, although the Ford Focus and its touch screen technology will be a challenge for anyone while driving down the road - no knobs to twist by feel and location. Sort of like a plane has different shape controls for flaps, landing gear, etc. This is Ford's contribution to distracted driving collisions. This Grundig shortwave radio does not engage in complexity for the sake of gee-whiz technology, but it delivers a lot of performance, if you know how to tweak it.

The RF gain or sensitivity control allows you to adjust the gain of the front end of the radio. This may be necessary if using an outside antenna. If receiving shortwave from an outside antenna, local AM stations may be overloading the radio and coming in on frequencies where they do not belong. Either shorten the antenna or crank down the RF gain.

There are two switches on the back for selecting between the whip antenna on the case of the radio or an outside antenna. One antenna input is for both AM and shortwave. You will be amazed what you can hear on a winter night in good conditions. The other switch and antenna input is for FM so you can hook the FM part of it to a TV antenna for long range reception or use the built in whip antenna for portable operation. Once again, with an outdoor antenna, you may find that you have to crank down the RF gain control. NOTE: In either AM/shortwave or FM modes, if you select the outside antenna and nothing is connected, you will get NO RECEPTION. Be sure to disconnect outdoor antennas during lightning storms and provide grounding and protection.

There is a switch to light up the push buttons. If you are running on batteries, maybe turn this off to save them.

There is a snooze button that shuts the radio down after a period of time. Nice if you like to hear music to fall asleep by. But if you bump it with your hand, the radio turns itself off. It ain't broke. It just went to sleep. DO NOT PRESS AND HOLD THE POWER BUTTON. This puts it in that mode also. Just tap the power button to turn it off and on. This is a bit confusing, but you get used to it eventually.

There is a KEY button. This locks the tuning. If the radio doesn't tune, it ain't broke. It is set to key lock so that carrying it around, it doesn't get knocked off the station.

There are two more controls that can mess you up. The upper left rotary switch selects AM or FM. The FM is pretty self explanatory, but you cannot hear stereo unless you use headphones or get a Y cable that has a stereo 1/8 inch jack and two RCA male jacks to plug into a stereo amplifier to use the radio for a FM tuner. This turns the Grundig GS450DL into an excellent stereo tuner. There are not many component system tuners out there, certainly none for this price. The built in tuner included in most low cost stereos is definitely below par on FM and AM. The GS450DL could perk up your reception if you live in areas with lower population, where selection of programming is sparse. Connect it to your stereo or a good set of computer speakers, and you have some nice music to listen to.

The concept of AM is more complicated. It has a NARROW and WIDE position. Wide is for best music reception when there is no interference. The NARROW is good for two stations close to each other to separate them better. This can be very effective when listening to a weak station right next to a strong one. It is also a useful thing for shortwave. Some shortwave broadcasters do not limit their modulation to 100% maximum or their bandwidth to industry standards. This results in "splatter" or harsh high pitched percussive sounds on either side of their signal. It is sometimes done to prevent others from snuggling up to "their" frequency, sort of like sitting at the diner counter and people crowd in next to you. Spilling your coffee once in a while gives you a little elbow room.

On this radio, AM also means shortwave, since it also is Amplitude Modulated. There are five positions on the band switch; one for FM, four for AM function:

  • The most counter clockwise first AM position covers the standard US AM broadcast band, about 530 KHz to 1715 KHz.
  • The next position covers 1715 KHz (= the same thing as 1.715 MHz) to 10 MHz.
  • The next position covers 10 MHz to 20 MHz.
  • The full clockwise position covers 20 to 30 MHz. At the upper limit of that frequency you will find CB around 27 MHz give or take.

The are FIFTY memories. TEN FOR FM. TEN FOR STANDARD AM. TEN for 1.715 MHz to 10 MHz. TEN for 10 to 20 MHz. TEN for 20 to 30 MHz. This is a total of five "bands" if you grasp the concept of a band switch. This is totally foreign to US folk, who except for AM/FM, haven't had a band switch or a decent radio receiver in decades. The manual explains how to enter a frequency and store it. Once stored it you can recall it for use later. You cannot erase it; you can only overwrite it. It appears to be non volatile, meaning if the batteries are out, the memory does not forget what you put in. It may be a kind of memory that will only allow writing a finite number of times, so do not change it a lot once you settle on what you like.

Shortwave reception is a whole study in itself. I reference a Wikipedia article as well as some of the best lists on the web. Use these web pages as well as UTC or Zulu time or GMT Greenwich Mean Time to snag what you are interested in or check out what you are hearing by frequency. GMT=EST+5 hours. GMT=EDT+4 hours.

Links to short wave broadcasters

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