Like many other hams. I have always enjoyed listening to the shortwave broadcast bands. The BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio Moscow (in very small doses!), and countless others provide commercial-free programming of a very high quality. A lot of hams woutd like to spend more time listening, but they Just can't seem to find the time. When it comes down to a choice between operating the ham station and listening to shortwave broadcasts, the ham station always wins!
A few years ago, I briefly considered getting a radio with shortwave capabilities for my car What could be better than to catch up on a some shortwave listening while driving to work? I quickly dismissed the idea when I found out how much such a car radio costs. Only a few very expensive European models offer shortwave coverage, and I wasn't about to buy a radio that was worth more than the rest of the car!
Recently* MFJ began advertising two shortwave converters for the car. The MFJ 304 covers 19, 25, 31, and 49 meters in four bands, and the MFJ*308 covers all the above and adds 13,16.41T and 60 meters. This seemed too good to be true. 1i imagined that the sensitivity would be low and the sefectivity would be poor, but at $79.95 for the eight-band model, the little box was sorefy tempting, and I banged off an order to MFJ Enterprises.
When the package came a couple of weeks later, I dropped everything, grabbed my toolbox and ran out to the car Groping around under the dashboard in the middle of a New Hampshire winter isn't exactly a laugh a minute but, fortunately, installation only took about 15 minutes.
t unplugged the car's antenna lead from the radio, plugged it into the converter, and plugged the output of the converter into the antenna jack on the radio. The converter operates on 12 V dc, which is easy to get in my car; I just tap Into the filtered line I have for two-meter equipment. That's ail there is to it!
I am a compulsive manual reader, so I checked the manual before I went any further, f needn't have bothered; operation couldn't be simpler The converter is normally in the off state. When you push in one of the band switches on the front panel, t h e con verier i s act i vat ed. Tuning is then accomplished normally with the tuning knob on your car's am radio. When you want to listen to stations on the local broadcast band, you merely push the off switch and the converter is switched out of the circuit completely.
With no further ceremony, I punched the bandswitch for a band known for its daytime activity, and started tuning around, t was absolutely astounded. The thing was amazing! Any fears 1 had about sensitivity were banished. As I tuned up and down the band I heard exceptionally strong signals everywhere, and the selectivity was excellent. I was so excited that I didn't know what to do with myself, and several other 73 staffers who came out to see what the commotion was all about were equally impressed. In the next twenty-four hours 1 found alt sorts of excuses to go for a drive, and each time I was rewarded with the reception of several interesting programs from every corner of the globe MFJ has a winner
Problems? Yes, I had a couple of minor problems. The mounting brackets included with the converter are a bit on the small side and I'd rather see MFJ furnish the more typical U-shaped bracket. Admittedly, such a bracket would add to the cost of
MFJ's shortwave convener.
the unit, and since you aren't likely lo be moving the converter around very often, the slight inconvenience of the present system is acceptable*
The only other problem doesn't have anything to do with the converter itself, but can involve your car instead. If your car s ignition system isn t up to snuff, it can produce a tremendous amount of amplitude-modulated hash. If your present radio can hold its own against this ruckus, the converter will do fine, too, as long as you don't try to listen to extremely weak stations. which tend to get lost in ignition noise. If your car's ignition noise is well under control and your am radio has good sensitivity, you'll be able to DX to your heart's content.
Serious problems are conspicuous in their total absence. This unit performs so well that I am surprised that there aren't more such converters on the market. The entertainment and educational value of this little box from MFJ is fantastic, If you have any interest in shortwave listening, MFJ has an incredible vaiue for you!
The MFJ World Explorer il is available from MFJ Enterprises. Inc.r PO Box 494, Mississippi State MS 39762. Reader Service number 484.
Paul Grupp KA1LR 73 Stall
Was this article helpful?