Inexpensive shortwave receivers

In my opinion, one can never own too many cheap shortwave receivers. On this page, I'll post links to some of the cheap shortwave radios that are available. None of these will be stellar performers, but most will do an adequate job of receiving the major short wave international broadcasters, and usually contain quite good AM and FM receivers as well.

The prices will vary, sometimes on a day-to-day basis. But you can get a fairly good shortwave receiver for between $10 and $20, often with free shipping. Here are some current offerings on Amazon:

This AM-FM-SW crank radio is currently one of the least expensive options, with free shipping available:

Many of these are eligible for free shipping, if part of an order over $25. To round out the shipping, I would recommend buying some other items that you're going to buy anyway (such as batteries, perhaps). I have a number of such items listed at this page.

If you're looking for an inexpensive shortwave receiver that you can pick up locally, you can order either of the following from WalMart and pick it up with no shipping charge at your local store:

CW and SSB Capability

If you are looking for a very inexpensive shortwave radio with the ability to tune single sideband (SSB) or CW (Morse code), then the cheapest contenders appear to be the following, which are available from Amazon:

Judging from the reviews I've read, these appear to be good receivers for the price.

With a simple audio cable running from the headphone jack to a computer sound card, and readily available free software, it would be quite easy to use one of these receivers for tuning digital signals, such as RTTY or PSK-31.

In Canada, this Eton portable is available from

Eton Mini 400 super compact AM/FM/shortwave radio with digital display

Eton Mini 400 super compact AM/FM/shortwave radio with digital display

Ideal for hunting; camping or any outdoor activity; the Eton Mini 400 is a great way to stay in-the-know without the added bulk of a regular-size radio. The Mini 400 receives the AM/FM and shortwave band. The digital display shows the frequency; time and alarm activation and it has a 3.5mm headphone output for private listening. The Eton Mini 400 also features a telescopic antenna for FM and SW reception when you're far away from civilization. Requires 2x AAA batteries; not included. Check out our full selection of GMRS radios for all your outdoor adventures. UPC: 750254805257 Manufacturer's Model Number: NGM400R

Eton Mini 400 super compact AM/FM/shortwave radio with digital display

Building a Kit

Shortwave receivers, as with most electronics, are so cheap these days that it generally doesn't save you any money to build your own. But if you do want to build a relatively simple receiver that performs very well, then building a regenerative receiver is a fun project, and is relatively inexpensive.

QRP Kits offers its Scout Regenerative receiver for about $50. I've built one of these, and it performs quite well for such a simple receiver. Ramsey also offers a similar kit, shown below.

MFJ's shortwave radio kit is also within the capabilities of beginners, and covers most of the international broadcast bands and amateur bands. While getting the regeneration control set properly takes a little bit of practice, this receiver will receive SSB signals.

At $85, you won't save money over some of the inexpensive receivers shown here. But if you want a fun project that you can put together in a couple of evenings, you really can't go wrong with this receiver. (The link below is no longer functional, but this kit is available from a variety of sources.)

World Band Shortwave Radio Kit

World Band Shortwave Radio Kit

Sensitive front end receives international shortwave broadcasts and HAMs with only a 10' wire antenna. Receives all or part of the 75/80m, 49m, 40m, 31m, 20m, 25m, 22m, 19m, 17m, 16m, 15m and 13m bands. Receives AM, SSB, RTTY, CW and Packet. Five bands cover the following ranges: A: 3.51~4.31MHz, B: 5.95~7.40MHz, C: 9.56~12.05MHz, D: 13.21~16.4MHz and E: 17.6~22MHz. Smooth vernier reduction drive offers precision tuning on all bands. Listen privately through two earphone jacks, or plug in optional external speaker, not included. Requires 9V battery (#291-060), not included.

If you would like to build a nice little tube receiver, AES offers the following regenerative receiver kit, which is available for purchase from Amazon. The nice thing about building a tube receiver (other than being able to see it work as the tubes warm up) is that working with tubes generally means that you have more room to work. So if your eyes aren't as sharp as they used to be, or your hands not as steady, something like this will still be easy to build.

If you are looking for a very easy to assemble radio that will probably receive a few strong shortwave stations, the one shown below will probably suffice. You can click on the picture for more information. The same radio is also available at Amazon.

Electronic Shortwave Radio Kit: SP

Finally, the following radios don't get shortwave. But one can never own too many radios, especially if they look like animals. The following animals tune AM and FM:

"Animal Series" AM FM Radio

Nitro-Pak Emergency Preparedness Center

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