there are two technical characteristics (as opposed to features) to be aware of: sensitivity and selectivity. Sensitivity is a measure of ability to receive weak signals. Selectivity is a measure of ability to avoid interference
from adjacent, unwanted strong signals. There are lots of other characteristics of course but those two are fundamental. I suggest reading the reviews
at eham.net for the radios you are considering.
As far as features, to listen to shortwave voice weather forecasts you need AM in the shortwave (SW) / high frequency (HF) bands (different terms, same meaning). Make sure the particular frequencies you care about are covered by the radio
- there are gaps in coverage on some models. See USCG HF Voice
Single-sideband (SSB) for the medium frequency (MF) and high frequency (HF or SW) adds tremendous capability. With SSB
you will be able to listen to radio nets on the marine
HF and ham HF bands. This nets include such worthies as Chris Parker and Herb Hilgenberg. See the list of nets at Pactor-II/III Radio Modem sales, FCC License filing, Marine SSB & HAM Radio Net schedules & frequencies.
. Add a simple cable between the radio and a laptop
with free software
like JVCOMM (JVComm32 - FAX SSTV RTTY SYNOP NAVTEX Programm -+-
) and you can receive a wide range of weather products including synoptic charts
. See the NOAA link above and use Google
to search for rfax.pdf - the listing of all weather fax (WEFAX or Radiofax) transmitters worldwide. The DE1123 does NOT have SSB
as near as I can see.
The MP3 player with a recording feature is quite handy. Understanding voice forecasts is easier if you can replay them a few times, particularly as you begin gaining experience. It can be hard to keep up with the mix of latitude and longitude and geographic descriptions for one forecast
or another and descriptions of where cold fronts are and will be.
Regardless of what radio you select you will get drastically improved performance with an external antenna
. It doesn't have to be fancy - a long run of bell wire hauled up by the topping lift
is a dandy start. Make sure your radio accommodates an external antenna
Depending on your cruising plans you may have regular Internet
access which does make a lot of weather products readily available.
Normal AM and FM broadcast radio generally have weather forecasts although they tend to be narrowly focused and only extend for a day or so; I find them to be inadequate.