2018 February 26     Electronics,     Radio


Introduction


The Grundig G5 is a multi-band portable radio with SSB.  It was introduced in 2006.

Where does the G5 fit in today's radio landscape?  Can you still get a G5, and is it worth it? 

Let's see.



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In This Article

Some Specs

Miniaturization

SMD's

Antenna

Clock

Lighted Buttons

Performance

Scan Feature

Schematic?

Sensitivity and Selectivity

Tuning

Versus Eton E5

Versus Grundig G3

Versus Kaito KA1103

Versus Sony ICF-SW7600GR

What's Bad

What's Good

Conclusion



Some Specs


AM Broadcast Band:  Yes
Aircraft Band:  No
Batteries:  4 x AA alkaline or NiMH
Clock: Yes
Continuous Coverage:  Yes, AM band.
Conversion:  Dual
Date:  Shows Day of Week only
External Antenna Jack:  Yes
FM Broadcast Band:  Yes
Frequency Range:  150-29999 kHz (MW, SW bands) and 87.5-108 MHz (FM band)
Headphone Jack:  Yes; 3.5mm stereo
Lighted Buttons  Yes
Line-Out Jack:  Yes; 3.5mm stereo
PLL:  Yes
Price:  $25 to $100 here
Shortwave (HF):  Yes
Signal Strength Indicator:  Yes
Size (H x W x D):  About 4" x 6.5" x 1.1" SSB:  Yes
Replaced ByGrundig G3
Storage of Favorites  Yes, 100 pages @ 7 channels each
Synchronous Detection:  No
Tone, Bass, Treble Controls:  No
Tuner Type:  Digital
Tuning Controls:  Knob and Buttons, with Fine Tuning knob
Volume Control:  Buttons only
Weight:  about 1 pound with batteries
Year Introduced:  2006




Miniaturization


At one time, all the better radios were tabletops or field receivers.  That's still largely true, but the offerings have forked into two, distinct branches:  full-featured communications receivers, and portables.  Because the portables are consumer-priced, they achieved great popularity.

Dual-conversion, PLL circuitry, digital tuning, LCD display.  Thanks to these features, the better portable radios are as good as some tabletops, but definitely not all of them. 

What enabled this miniaturization was surface-mount technology (SMT) and digital circuits. 

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SMD's


Usually it takes a power surge or a shorted cap to stop an old transistor radio.  I've seen modern stereos fail for no apparent reason (well, there's always a reason, but "can you find it?").  And many of you, by now, have had a smartphone or mp3 player that bricked itself. 

Radios like the G5 use big enough SMD's that some of them can be replaced without advanced equipment. That's not to say they're easily repairable, but at least there's hope.

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Antenna


The telescoping antenna is useful for FM and SW.

No effect on MW, as you'd expect;  that uses the ferrite core inside the radio.

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Clock


Mine never shows the correct time, since I don't bother to set it.  But if I did, I'd probably set it by WWV tuned from another radio.

Another radio, because this one has to be "OFF" to set the clock.

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Lighted Buttons


The lighting is fairly dim, but it makes a big difference in a darkened room.  They are brightest near the LCD.

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Line-Out


3.5mm stereo.  That lets you connect the radio output to anything that accepts Line-In:  tape deck, stereo amp, etc.  So, you could probably run the G5 to a modern tube amplifier and into your big stereo speakers.


Try this link to get your G5

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Non-Slip Coating


After a few years, the outside of the radio will become tacky.  I used isopropyl alcohol and some elbow grease to scrub the coating from the back and sides of the radio:



Laborious but not overly so;  about ten or twenty minutes of work.


Try this link to get your G5

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Performance


With any radio, it's all about finding pockets of good reception.  Once you find a low-noise spot, this radio performs. 

I tuned into an 80-meter ham station that sounded local.  It was very clear with no drift, static, or fading.

It wasn't local... it was about 800 miles away!  Loud and clear at my workbench.

Sure, it's possible to tune stations much farther away;  my crazy hacked GE clock radio can get stations from the other side of the world, but it's nowhere near as reliable as the G5.  (The clock radio might be the subject of another article...)

I don't even like digitally-tuned radios, but the G5 is pretty great.  With knowledgeable use of an amplified antenna, this radio pulls in many more stations.


Try this link to get your G5

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Scan Feature


Using the AUTO keys in Time mode (not Page mode), you can activate channel scan.  Unless the stations are very loud, Scan doesn't pick much up in MW or HF. 

Sometimes it does, though.  Nothing for a while, then it stopped on a Spanish-language station out of Miami, Florida.  This is why short-wave is so much fun. 


Try this link to get your G5

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Schematic


Not available, far as I know.  Now that it's not a current model, they should release the schematics;  all their competitors already know how to make these radios anyway, I'm sure. 

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Sensitivity and Selectivity


Adjacent-channel interference is very low, even on crowded sections of the band.  That's high selectivity.

Even without an external antenna, it's possible to tune faraway stations that will not come in on a cheap radio.  That's high sensitivity.

Beginners often don't realize that a more sensitive radio is also more sensitive to static.  The G5 has good filtering, but you need to find areas of low interference.  Beware radios that over-filter a signal;  pretty soon they're skipping perfectly good stations.  The G5 doesn't seem to do that. 


Try this link for a G5

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SSB


Much of the ham-radio traffic is on Single Sideband.  Set the radio to SSB, and the Fine Tune dial is the BFO adjustment.

The G5's SSB works well enough to tune CW frequencies (morse code) in the ham bands.  You can also tune voice traffic quite easily.


Try this link for a G5

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Synchronous Detection


Not present.  To receive faint signals without fading, make a good external antenna.  Or get an active SW antenna.


Try this link to get your G5

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Tuning


The analog radio signal is digitally-processed;  this lets you tune specific frequencies and filter out unwanted signals.  Any radio where you can directly type in a frequency is going to work this way.  Many "analog display" radios now, such as the Sangean WR-11, are made this way also.  Look at the circuit boards and you'll find digital tuner IC's.

The only thing I don't know is whether the IF stage is fully analog, or whether it's got a digital stage.  I'm guessing the IF stages (or stage) would be analog in this radio, followed by analog-to-digital conversion.

The G5 has an LCD screen that displays the frequency.  AM mode displays kHz.  FM mode displays MHz.

There are several ways to tune.  Turn the knob, type in the frequency directly, use the arrow buttons, jump to a stored frequency, or scan.

There's a "narrow / wide" selector for the tuner.  Narrow sounds OK if you use it for a while, but if you just switched from wide, it sounds muffled. (No surprise there.)

Tuning is continuous throughout the AM bands.  That means you can tune anywhere from 150 kHz through 29999 kHz.  There are no gaps you can't tune in this spectrum.

FM tuning on this radio is from 87 to 108 MHz.


Try this link to get your G5.

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Versus Eton E5


Basically the same radio.


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Versus Grundig G3


The Grundig G3 is newer (2009) with a higher list price.  G3 has Aircraft band, while G5 does not.  G3 has Upper / Lower Sideband selector button;  G5 does not.

Both radios have the same coating that deteriorates after a few years.  Both have 700-channel memory.  Both have the same front panel layout, but the G3 has some of the button functions different.

I have not tested both radios side by side, but the G3 is supposed to have better selectivity.  Meanwhile the G5 is said to be better for AM DX listening.  I would go with the G5, but either one is going to be a solid choice.

Buttons light up on the G5 but not the G3.


Try this link to get your G5.

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Versus Kaito KA1103


Basically the same as a G5 internally. The back panel is also identical, but for the color;  I haven't done a teardown of both to find out, but I think the circuitry is the same also.  However, the Kaito KA1103 and the identical Degen DE1103 have an LCD screen that simulates the old-style tuning display.  DSP might also be different from the G5;  there's a lot they can change with different firmware.

Both these are very good radios for under $100.

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Versus Sony ICF-SW7600GR


The 7600GR has synchronous detection, so in theory it can handle more signal-fade without losing the signal lock.  The Sony also has memory scannning, which means you can run a scan on just your saved channels. 

I don't think I've ever used a radio with synchronous detection, so I can do without it.  It would be nice to scan only saved channels, but not essential.

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What's Not To Like


The backlight turns off too quickly in battery-powered mode. 

When you take the batteries out for a while, the radio sets itself back to an FM station and MAXIMUM VOLUME.  As soon as you turn the radio on, WOW.  It's possible to decrease the volume before powering-on the radio (due to standby power), but who remembers to do this every time?

The only other thing I don't like about this radio:  it's not a tabletop or field radio.  (I really want a Grundig Satellit 750.)


Try this link for a G5

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What's To Like


It will tune some of "long-wave" (LW) frequencies, down to about 150 kHz.  That's not all of the LW band, but it's more than you get from the typical AM/FM radio.  You can tune in to the ragged RF noise that's bombarding you from your CFL's and LED light bulbs.  Try 200 kHz or so.

Compact size is great for travel.

Sensitivity and selectivity are very good.  Depending on your antenna and location, this radio should be able to tune stations that many others can't.

This is just a great overall radio.  It's a nice size with great ergonomics.  I really like this radio, even though I don't even really care for digitally-tuned radios that much.  This radio has enough analog qualities that it's still a "real radio", even if it's not the tabletop boat-anchor that I really prefer. (I wish someone would make a tube receiver like the Hallicrafters S-120, but with actual good tuning....)


Try this link to get your G5

Top



Conclusion


The G5 is not a current-production radio, but it's still worth seeking out.  Even the bad points are tolerable. 

Though I like radios and don't need much prompting to try a new one, this radio is good enough for almost anything.  I'd say get one.


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Another Article You Might Like:  Review: Tecsun PL-880 Portable World Band Radio




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