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Radio Shack DX-394 "B" General Coverage Receiver (shortwave receiver): This radio is pretty good for the price but could be considerably better with improved control over the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) by adding a rotary control with "off" position. Would anyone have the instructions to perform the mod to slow down the attack on the AGC, including turning if off completely? Many people have performed this mod but I can't seem to find instructions anywhere. Any schematic reprint would be helpful too. Any added preamp info would be appreciated as well. Thanks for any help.

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  • ka9ppa Jul 28, 2010

    Thanks! This reply led me directly to the answer I was looking for, and more! Also acquainted with a group (which I joined) who continually works on improving the performance of this radio. They had a number of detailed mods available. Good documentation. Thanks again!!

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Before you call a doctor or an exorcist, verify that you're using your shortwave receiver under normal condition. There are several factors which affects reception of whortwave programs and signals.

1. Check for the time and frequencies. Depending on your country and location, all Shortwave time zones are based on World Time in UTC or GMT ("Universal Time Coordinates" or Greenwich Mean Time") In my country (Philippines, Asia) for example, we are 8 hours advanced from World Time. You can check your time zones and regions using a world map.

2. Check for propagation and band conditions/ openings. During daytime higher frequencies such as 9 -21 Mhz are active, while nightime frequencies are the lower bands such as 3 - 9 Mhz. Daytime and nigthime divider frequency is about 10 Mhz, that means you might receive signals under most conditions during daytime and night time. Check some technical books on amateur radio operations or magazines for radio reception. It might be worthwile to study books or materials on receiving international broadcasts stations before you can receive good or adequate shortwave signals. This might become your hobby too, "DXing" or receiving distant stations from across the world. Try it, but it might be an addicting hobby once you're drawn to it!

3. Check if any shortwave station broadcast in any specific time of day at any frequency. Shortwave broadcasts are scheduled based on band openings mentioned above. If for example I'm a Shortwave broadcaster from Asia, and would like to broadcast my signal through the Americas, I would use band openings with respect with time zones. If it is night time in the Philippines, and daytime in the Canada, I would use the higher frequencies to propagate my signal. So I would specify the time for example "8:00 pm Philippine local time, 12 hours UTC, and 7 am in Canada"--- Asia: 8 hours advanced to UTC, Canada--- 5 hours behind to UTC). So shortwave broadcast schedules varies. Broadcast schedules are available on the net, just search for the Shortwave station you want to hear such as Radio, Japan, Radio Australia, BBC, DW (Deutche Welle) Radio in Germany, China Radio International... There's too many shortwave stations waiting to be discovered out there! Check some books and magazines too such as Popular Communications, Monitoring Times, Passport to World Band Radios, World Radio and TV Handbook, etc. You may want to check if any station would be broadcasting in your dialects as most of these mainstream and regular broadcasters are multilingual.

2. Check your location. If you are using your radio indoors, shortwave signals might not entering your homes or offices due concrete walls and metal railings or fence. There are many factors which blocks radio waves especially in the HF or lowetr bands. Try receiving AM (Mediumwave) first. If it cannot receive any AM station, then you would not receive any Shortwave signal at all, even if you extend fully the telescopic whip. If you cannot receive AM or Shortwave signal indoors, try using your receiver outdoors.

2. Check for local interference. Your receiver might be receiving interference from noise generating gadgets such as PC monitors, TV sets, faulty wall adapters or switching power supplies, motor operated appliances such as washing machines or vacuum cleaners, flourescent lamps, etc. Try turning off or unplugging each of these mentioned gadgets to see if they are the cause. Faulty house wiring or powerline noise might also cause some interference noise which could drown shortwave signals, verify this with your local electrical technicians.

3. Check your radio's settings. Depending on the radio that you use, there might be settings such as attenuator or RF gain, be sure that attenuator are set to zero or turned to off, and RF gain to high. Attenuator must be turned to minimum or OFF position, unless you are receiving too much signas from nearby radio stations. Setting attenuator to mid or high position will attenuate most weak signal, and only those strong local stations will pass through. Setting too much attenuation will prevent you from receiving any station at all. Same with RF Gain, always set it to highest gain setting unless you are receiving too much signals which might overloads your shortwave radio.

4. If these troubleshooting efforts above doesn't works and you still cannot receive any station, then your radio's front end parts might had burn out due to signal overloads. Burn parts might include one or several transistors or diodes. Let your local service technicians check your radio and solve the problem for you. If your radio is still under warranty, send it back to the store or dealer, and let a qualified technician do the repair.


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