Well better late than never, here are my AM DX logs for February 2021, during February I was exposed via a Co-worker to COVID-19 and thus was quarantined for 14 days. So what to do on a Cold winter night? AM DX of course!!!!
A couple hours before I permanently left Facebook in February, I spotted a vintage Select-A-Tenna in Facebook marketplace. When it was originally listed on the site, the seller listed it at $70 (USD) and now about a month later it was lowered to $40 + $12 Shipping (USD). Seemed a little rich for something I was unsure if it really “worked ” or not. I remember seeing the ads in the classified ads of my fathers Popular Mechanics, and Popular Science Magazines from the 1970's through the 1990's, right next to the ads for “Miraculous Free Energy Machines” and plans to make your own “helicopter packs” in your garage.
I was about ready to pass it up, when I noticed the “Make a offer” box, on a whim I made a offer of $ 25 + shipping. Low and behold the seller accepted the offer!!!! A little research showed that S-A-T's were listed at $70 (USD) in the mid 90's or about $124 adjusted for inflation in today's money.
The Select-A-Tenna (S-A-T ) is a passive (no electrical power) tunable, inductively (no physical wires) coupled loop antenna that was sold from 1971 till about 2007 by Intensitronics Corporation of Hales Corners, Wisconsin. There were 3 basic models of S-A-T the 541 (which I bought), the 541-M, and the 541-S.
The 541 is totally passive in that it requires no power to work in conjunction with a AM receiver that has a internal AM loop stick antenna within 6in of the outer most edge of either face of the unit. Logistically and practically speaking you want the side with the tuning knob facing you. Through this inductive coupling it boosts the received signal up to 30+db.
The 541-M differ from the basic 541 in that it has a separate inductive coil (still integral into the same case), that allows for 3 “mode” operation. You can tell a 541-M from a basic 541 in that there is a 3.5mm phone jack on the face under the tuning knob. “First mode” like the Basic 541 it will inductively couple with the standard AM radios internal loop antenna. “Second mode” is if your receiver is say a consumer stereo unit or communications receiver lacking a internal AM loopstick antenna, you make a 3.5 jacket jumper from the S-A-T to the radio's input jack or lugs.
The third mode is if you live in a situation that makes conventional AM reception near impossible, say living in a modern construction house with metal lathe on it's face for a stucco look-a-like material called “Dryvit. The metal mesh holds the material to the face of the house, but blocks RF signals. Same with a mobile home or having a radio in a concrete basement. So by running a exterior antenna to the outside, the signal will come down the wire into to 3.5mm jack and re-radiate the signal via the S-A-T to the nearby radio receiver.
The 541-S does all the above, but the added wrinkle of having a on-board ACTIVE internal RF amplifier. It runs on a standard 9v battery. This on-board amplifier adds even more punch to the 30 db signal improvement of the passive 541/541M and adds yet another +10db to the signal. That's right 40+ db signal improvement!!!! The amplifier also allows for a ferrite “probe” to be used from the 3.5mm jack with a 6 foot (2 meter) long probe so a receiver lacking antenna input didn't have to be right next to the unit in order to benefit from the S-A-T. The probe could be remoted up to 26 feet to a receiver.
This model is the easiest to pick out for it has three knobs, a general frequency tuning knob, a “peak” knob for the active amplifier, and a fine tuning knob, a on switch, with LED indicator lamp, with a 3.5mm output on the front. On the back is a signal 3.5mm input and a 9v battery compartment door. It was the Ne Plus Ultra of the line of Intensitronics products. It used to retail for about $180 (USD) near the companies end in 2007.
So how well does the Select-A-Tenna work, or is it like the “X-Ray” specs you got from last page adds in the old childhood comic books?
Well I'm happy to say yes!!!!!!
From the very first station 1130 KHz WBBR I was convinced. I would tune the ICF-P26 away from the S-A-T for a real weak station, and then put it up against the SAT and fine tune the loop for maximum “peak” in signal. Now one “quirk” I've noticed with in process of tuning........ If say have my radio on 600 KHz, I can somehow end up with 590 KHz or 610 KHz come up full strength while tuning it. Which can lead to “false positives” if your tuning scale is off on your radio to start with.
But the Select-A-Tenna help put about 18 or so stations in the log, when I didn't employ the GE Super Radio II. One being only the 2nd Maryland station (WPTX) to put in my log book.
If one is like me and limited to “no antennas”, due to very strict HOA rules, a AM loop might just be the ticket!!!
By the way for those that can't find a used S-A-T at a reasonable price, Kaito / Tecsun called the AN-200 it's a loop antenna that is equivalent to the 541-M, and is also equal in performance when compared side by side. At this writing it's being sold on ebay for under $40. If you can pick a S-A-T near the same price for go for it.
Granted there are radios that the S-A-T can't help nor do they need it the GE Super Radio II is one of those radios. But lesser types, you'll be glad to you did.
There is one other tip, and that is purchase a flat 12” spice rack turntable from a housewares cooking store this $12 purchase will allow for the Select-A-Tenna and the radio to null out interfering stations and direct the lob towards the desired station.
Most stations logged with Sony ICF-P-26 Pocket AM/FM Radio / Select-A-Tenna combination (ULR Unlimited Class), except as noted.
23 total stations logged, 6 Foreign, 17 Domestic.
Nearest station in air miles: 25 (WCNW Fairfield, OH)
Furthest station in air miles: 1445 Baracoa-Van Van, Guantánamo, Cuba
Most stations logged on a single frequency: 3 on 1560 Khz as WFME a 50 Kw Queens, NY station left the air for good on February 11, the rush was on to hear what could be heard from ones QTH in my case it was WCNW, WGLB, and WKDO.
States, Foreign countries, and provinces logged
1 – Alabama WXJC (Brigingham)
3 – Cuba (1*) Radio Reljo (Jovellanos, Matanzas and Baracoa-Van Van, Guantánamo) TX's Radio Rebelde One of 5 Synchronized TX's on the island at 50 Kw each.
4 – Canada ( 3- Ontario) (1*, 1$) CHKT / CHHA (Toronto) and CKAT (North Bay)
(1- Quebec) CFNV, (Montreal)
2 – Kentucky WKDO (Liberty) and WCWC (Williamsburg)
1 – Georgia WQXI (Atlanta)
1 – Iowa * KWMT (Fort Dodge)
1 – Maryland WPTX (Lexington Park)
1 – Michigan WGVS (Muskegon)
1 – New York WBBR (New York City)
2 – Ohio WCNW (Fairfield) and WVSG (EX-WOSU Columbus-Worthington)
1 – Pennsylvania WSAN (Allentown)
1 – Tennessee * WKTP (Jonesborough)
1 – Virginia 1260 KHz WWVT (Christiansburg)
1 – Wisconsin * WTMJ (Milwaukee)
* = GE Super Radio II ULR: D/Q.
$ = Relistic DX-394 Modified by Radio Labs (Base radio is a Radio Shack store branded 1st generation Sangean ATS-909) ULR: D/Q.
To work the above link just highlight as to copy and paste, then right click on the mouse, and click open link to a interactive map of my February 2021 DX catches.