BST-1 Car Shortwave Receiver

Commuting is a pain. Luckily, nearly every car has some sort of radio or other audio player to while away the hours stuck in traffic. However, most of those radios sport AM and FM bands, along with a weather band and–maybe–a long wave band. What if you prefer shortwave?

[Thomas] posted a review of the BST-1, a car-friendly shortwave receiver. The device is made to mount out of sight–presumably near an external antenna. It beams the shortwave signal to the car’s FM radio. The control is a small key fob and even if you aren’t interested in the radio itself, the user interface design is somewhat interesting.

A single press on one of the two fob buttons produces a common action. If you press and hold the button, however, you’ll hear a beep. Keep holding it and you’ll hear two beeps. This continues until you get four beeps. When you let go after a sequence of beeps, you perform a different function. For example, letting go of the bottom button after two beeps toggles between preset and tune mode, while releasing after three beeps toggles the receiver bandwidth between 3 kHz and 5 kHz.

You can see a video about the BST-1, below. The review draws the conclusion that the BST-1 is not a serious receiver for weak signal work, but it is a lot of fun for its intended purpose.

The receiver doesn’t handle sideband; it is AM-only. If you think shortwave is boring, maybe you’ll find some espionage activity lurking around.

20 thoughts on “BST-1 Car Shortwave Receiver

  1. I have a 1969 Mercedes 280SE that came with a Blaupunkt AM/FM/SW radio, and it works. I’m probably selling the car soon but the radio will stay with me because I love SW.

  2. I presume that radios in most regions outside the UK don’t have Medium & Shortwave anymore, as my car’s factory radio has AM, FM Medium & Short wave tuning on it. or am I just lucky that ford decided to keep this functionality in their unit?

    1. After reading this comment I re-watched the video, paying close attention to the tiny bit of road that can be seen…

      Get a passenger to record the video and play with buttons [Thomas]!
      I’m not very impressed with a certain right turn you made while juggling.

  3. I had a Icom 706mkII in my vehicle when I used to have to commute over the cascades in the 90s. I should have bought a used Cessna 150 or 172. But the SW and Art Bell helped keep me sane-ish when the FM petered out and I was sick of my CDs, sure made me paranoid of black helicopters and aliens though.

  4. “The control is a small key fob and even if you aren’t interested in the radio itself, the user interface design is somewhat interesting.”

    It’s exactly the same system that’s been used on a lot of brushless ESCs for quite some time now. Anyone working with multicopters should already be used to it. It can be quite annoying if you got a menu with 10+ settings and miss the one you’re after.

  5. Adding SW to a car stereo is easy, I have developed two so far that are in the market place and both could have had SW but neither have it. The first one simply needs the SW supporting version of the tuner chip but it would have added another 50c to the BOM cost. This is on a stereo that retails for $200. The other head unit has has a tuner with SW support but no software support for it. In both cases the marketing teams saw no demand for SW. I may add SW support to it in my spare time and see if I can get it slipped into future software releases.

  6. I see the station that libeled Art Bell and his son and caused his retreat form radio is still spouting rubbish.
    The concept is great, RDS the “dial” to an up-to-date radio!
    Unfortunately the glory days of SW are long gone. There isn’t a thing there that can’t be found in the Bible except the exact time and an A440 at the third minute. Any Cuban dance music on Radio Marti? Time is running out on it and those jammers. Soon Radio Havana will be like WSM 650 AM is to Nashville.

    1. There are English-Chinese lessons on CRI, but at least in the Med area I had a week without internet and the SW listening was pretty bland beyond basic news, some Chinese culture, Arabic chanting, the terribly bland yet somehow psy-op’y Voice of America, and the official social position of the UK on BBC. Nothing like I remember as a kid with my Riga brand Soviet shortwave set in the early 80s, damn good radio that, until I tried to open up AM air band and ruined it.

  7. $189.95 with what looks like a little stick-on antenna. Outrageous. I’ll bet this thing is based on a tiny $3 Silicon Labs Si473x (or Si4824/4827/4836) chip, a $1 8-bit micro-controller, a $1 Chinese key fob tx/rx set, and a $1 Chinese single chip FM stereo modulator/transmitter chip. In production lots roughly $10 in parts with PCB. Heck the enclosure probably adds half that again to the parts cost which must run less than $20 total. So let’s assume $25 cost contract assembled from Asia – $189.95 is a 760% mark-up. Even if they’re assembling by hand in 100’s lots in the U.S., the mark-up is most likely still outrageous.

  8. It’s a shame it only does AM – most activity on Shortwave is single sideband.

    However I can understand why they have only AM. Because AM uses a carrier the receiver can lock on to the signal and make sure it’s on the correct frequency. With SSB there is no carrier, you have to manually finetune otherwise you’ll be hearing donald duck voices or darth vader :) It probably would be too fiddly to do this in the car, at the very least it would require a much bigger control fob with a manual finetuning dial.

    There are many ham radio sets for cars but they are also much bigger and I wouldn’t really want to operate one while driving.

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