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W4JBM's Realistic DX-160 Page

In 1967, Radio Shack introduced the DX-150 general coverage (535 kHz to 30 MHz) receiver. Over the next few years, this line underwent several improvements (the DX-150A and DX-150B). In 1975 the DX-160 was introduced with the most noticeable change being the addition of a LW band (150-400 kHz). This family of radios was made for Radio Shack by General Research of Electronics, Inc. (GRE) out of Japan. For a little nostalgia, check out GRE's DX-150/DX-160 history pages. Shortwave receivers continued to evolve with digital readouts, dual conversion, and other features and the DX-160 was discontinued in 1980.

During the 1970s, these radios made their way into a fair number of CBer's shacks. I can remember looking in the Radio Shack catalog and wishing I could afford the DX-160. By the time I had some money saved I already had my eyes on the latest and greatest--the DX-300. Twenty plus years later (April 2000) I finally picked up a used DX-160 'just for grins'. Since then I've grown to appreciate the rig even more...


My impressions? This is as solid a radio as I could ask for given its age and simplicity of design. It has reasonably good selectivity and you have to be careful to tune it slowly or you'll miss the station you're looking for. The external speaker gives good quality audio. And--well, what else can I say--it just looks like a radio is supposed to look.

It's big (14.5" wide, 6" tall, and 9" deep--and add another 3" for the external speaker), solid (weighing in at about 15 pounds), seven knobs, four switches, and a pleasant glowing face. I can't imagine the shack without one of these types of radio in it. Until I got the DX-160 I had my Heathkit SW-717 on the bench. There is no comparison in their performance (even thought the Heathkit is well constructed :-)).

The DX-160 is legitimately selective. In fact, I thought it was a dog as a receiver until I realized I needed to make more use of the bandspread tuning. Before I figured that out, I was just tuning over the stations. With most older single conversion receivers you can hear a strong station even when you move the main tuning dial a fair amount. Not so with the DX-160. You turn the main turning knob a fraction to one side or the other and the station is gone.

The sensitivity is good. I've owned a number of receivers with LW bands, but this is the only one I've ever been able to pick up anything below the broadcast band with. Stability is also fair--if you listen to SSB you'll be tweaking from time to time but with AM broadcasts this isn't a problem.

Also image rejection is much better than your typical single-conversion receiver.


Okay, so the most noticeable thing to many new comers to the hobby (no offense intended:-)) is that there is no digital readout. The dial (and a table in the user's manual) is impressive when compared to a lot of similar receivers. And while you can probably figure out the frequency to within +/- 50 kHz there are times you want to get closer.

So how do I get accurate frequency readings when I really need them? I've got an MFJ antenna analyzer that I'll connect to the rubber ducky antenna that came with one of my scanners. I tune the antenna analyzer until I zero beat it on the carrier (or the BFO) for the signal I'm listening to. Kinda' like the old BC-221 military surplus frequency standards some lucky SWLs had years ago only better :-).


Howard provided some information on improving the audio response of the DX-160. Here are his recommendations:

Howard says that while he doesn't get the bass response he does from a DX-302, he was able to get rid of the nasal sound and adds a lot of punch that it didn't have before. Thanks Howard!


If you need an owner's manual (which includes a schematic but not a parts list), I have copies available for $7 (includes US shipping). In addition, manuals are available from several other sources and usually run around $15 a copy. One place I've used and been happy with is W7FG's Vintage Manuals. They have manuals for tons of gear. There are also several other manual suppliers out on the web that I haven't used.

You can find some other information on this receiver at's Modern Receiver Survey.


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