There's a new "community" of DX'ers that have started using small AM/FM radios called "ultralight portables." These radios are usually between $15 and $100 ($100 being the FIRM upper cost limit). The primary determining factor for an ultralight is that it must be able to be carried in one's shirt pocket. The excitement of DX'ing with these radios has been so "addictive" that there is even a website dedicated to the hobby: www.dxer.ca
I was bitten by the bug myself a few months ago when I first started reading about the unbelievable DX being heard by users of the Sony SRF-59. So, I bought one myself!
I was amazed! I had forgotten how much fun DX'ing with an analog radio could be! The SRF-59 has AM and FM bands (FM stereo with earphones!), is powered by a single AA battery, comes with Sony "Air" headphones, and is about as simple to operate as a radio can get! The DX this little radio grabs is truly unbelievable. All for under $20!
Then I started reading about the Sony SRF-M37V. It had DIGITAL tuning! I thought, "Cool!" So, I bought one!
Like the SRF-59, the SRF-M37V tunes AM and FM (FM stereo with earphones), but has digital tuning! It has 2 FM bands so you can add all your favorite FM stations as memory presets, TV Channels 2-13, and US National Weather Service Channels 1-7!! It uses one AAA battery and comes with headphones, just like the SRF-59.
I had to have more! I read about a "signal-grabber" made by the Sangean Corporation called the DT-200V. This radio also had AM,FM/FM-Stereo, and the TV Channels 2-13, but was a little larger than the two Sony models.
Unlike the Sony models, this radio has a 90-minute sleep timer, so I use it next to my side of the bed at night. Similar to the Sony models, the headphone cord serves as the FM antenna, but I've found that, at least with some of the local FM stations, they do just fine without the headphones. The DT-200V takes 2 AA batteries. The battery life seems to be very good.
My most recent ultralight is the new Sangean DT-400W. It's the "brightest" of the bunch:
The case is a bright yellow-orange color! Unlike the DT-200V, the DT-400W has a clock. The TV channels have been replaced with the weather service channels, which is a smart move on Sangean's part, since here in the USA, all analog TV channels will go dark in February 2009. It has a 90-minute sleep timer, stereo FM to the headphones, but adds a stereo-mono switch so that you can cut the "hiss" if you're on the fringe of a DX station on the FM band. It also has a "Deep Bass Boost" switch for enhanced audio, but I never use it. One drawback is that you must have either some headphones or the supplied antenna wire plugged into the radio to hear anything on the FM or Weather bands. The AM band is more selective than the DT-200V. The Mexican station on 730 KHz is completely in the clear on the DT-400W, but on the DT-200V, all I hear is splah from my local on 740 kHz.
Well, that's all I have for now. Coincidentally, that's all the radio budget, too!
73 and Great DX'ing!