Grundig Satellit 500
Manufactured by Grundig, Fürth.
As a successor to the Satellit 400, Grundig launched the Satellit 500 in 1989, the set was produced until 1991.
Due to band restrictions of the shortwave band in Germany, the Satellit 500 is available in several variants: The Satellit 500 Professional with limited shortwave coverage (CB radio around 27 MHz and the 10 m amateur radio band are omitted), the Satellit 500 International with unlimited coverage up to 30 MHz, but without access to the ROM table with the most common frequencies of the European shortwave international services, and another even more restricted variant: the Satellit 500 Italia covers only 148-302 MHz in the longwave range and 3.9 - 26.1 MHz on shortwaves.
- Satellit 500 professional: Shortwave coverage 1.6 - 26.1 MHz; ROM table for frequent frequencies.
- Satellit 500 international: Shortwave coverage 1.6 - 30 MHz; no ROM table.
- Satellit 500 Italia: Longwave coverage 148-302 MHz, shortwave coverage 3.9 - 26.1 MHz.
- Principle: Double conversion, IF kHz / FM 10.7 MHz
- Operation modes: A1 with BFO, AM (A3), FM (F3)
- Frequency range: SW, LW, MW, SW 1.6 - 26.1 MHz (Sat. 500 prof.) resp. - 30 MHz (Sat. 500 international)
- Frequency display: Digital display, 100 Hz
- Frequency memories: 42 memory channels + ROM table
- Features: Keypad frequency entry, quartz clock
- Sensitivity: AM (A3) / Selectivity: kHz (-6/-60 dB)
- Mains operation: 110, 220 V
- 304 x 178 x 66 mm, weight 1.8 kg
- Mains power supply NR-90
The Grundig Satellit 500 is technically based on the Satellit 400, which has, however, undergone a major revision. Technically, the Satellit 500 also is a double conversion receiver, which - thanks to microprocessor control - has extensive memory functions, scan & timer functions. It is equipped with a completely redesigned LCD display capable of alphanumeric display of station names. The German (i.e. the Professional version) comes with a ROM table in which 156 frequencies of 40 international shortwave broadcasters are permanently stored in a „read only“ memory. Unfortunately this feature has lost its usefulness, many shortwave broadcasters have left the bands since the 1980s or have changed the frequencies.
At 30.4 x 17.8 x 6.6 cm and 1.8 kg, the dimensions and weight are similar to those of the predecessors Satellit 300 and 400. The Satellit 500 is powered by four mono cells / UM-1, an internal automatically charged Li accumulator maintains the operation of the clock and station memory content. The set can also be operated from NiCd accumulators. If the set is powered from the mains and the switch in the battery compartment is set to ACCU, the accumulators are automatically charged. The set can also be powered from an external power supply 9 - 12 V DC (via a centre-positive socket); Grundig's original mains adapter had the designation NR-90.
On the top face of the radio, under the carrying handle, there is only the printed world time conversion table and the telescopic antenna.
On the left face of the set, the rotary controls for bass and treble, the volume control and the switch for the electronic lock function, which prevents the set from being switched on unintentionally when carried in luggage, are located. The rotary controls are less susceptible to dirt than the slider controls of the predecessor.
The left half of the front panel is taken up by the speaker grill, the sound quality is excellent for a portable set, with 1.5 W sine wave / 3 W music output power.
The digital display has been completely redesigned and provides a wealth of information. In addition to the time, the frequency with an accuracy of 100 Hz, the received shortwave meter band also an abbreviation of the station name can be displayed, but only a maximum of four letters. In the upper right corner, a symbol indicates whether the wide or narrow IF filter is in use and another signals USB, LSB or synchronous detector reception. An electronic bar graph in the lower left corner of the display indicates the signal strength (no calibration, 0 - 5 division) or battery voltage.
13 keys are required to turn the set on, activate AM or FM broadcast band, mono/stereo reception, the bandwidth, or USB/LSB and synchronous detection. The MEMORY SCAN buttons let you quickly scan through the stored frequencies, SEARCH activates a frequency scanning mode.
A row of buttons in the centre activate the timer functions; to set the clock, the time must be entered (with a dot between hours and minutes). Pressing the TIME1 button and releasing it at the moment of the last beep of the time signal sets the time, and the TIMEII button can be used to store a second time zone, such as world time UTC. SELECT activates the timer functions.
The numeric keys are used to call up a known frequency or a memory channel directly. 6 - 1 - 5 - 5 FREQUENCY jumps directly to the Austrian radio signal on 6155 kHz, 6 - dot - 1 - 5 - 5 FREQUENCY does exactly the same; 8 - 9 - DOT - 3 Frequency switches the set to VHF 89.3 MHz, 4 - 9 - FREQUENCY brings you directly to the 49 m shortwave band.
The same numeric keys are used to assign one of the 42 memory channely. To check whether a station you are listening to is already stored in memory, you can press the STORE key. STATxx indicates that the frequency is already stored in memory xx, otherwise HA (manual tuning) is displayed. To store a frequency, the number of the desired memory location must be entered and the frequency is stored by pressing STORE for a longer time. The memory can be recalled by entering the number and pressing MEMORY. Each memory channel can be assigned a four-digit alphanumeric designation: the A-Z/0-9 key activates the alphanumeric data entry, the desired letter can be selected with the tuning knob, pressing the A-Z/0-9 key again selects the next letter. A final press on the A-Z/0-9 key after entering the fourth character saves the designation in the memory channel.
The easiest way to tune in a station on a known frequency is to enter the frequency directly via the numeric keys, e.g. enter 6 - 1 - 5 - 5 - FREQUENCY to tune to Austrian Radio on 6155 kHz, as an alternative simply use the main tuning knob on the right face of the unit. In case of an adjacent channel interference, the IF bandwidth can be reduced by pressing the Wide/Narrow button. In many situations, the use of the synchronous detector is helpful, or you select lower or upper sideband in SSB mode and tune manually to „zero beat“ until the whistling tone disappears; the Satellit 500 has no automatic ECSS reception.
There is another feature poorly documented: When the MONO button is pressed, the main tuning knob can be used to detune the automatic preselection; if yo urelease the MONO button the tuning knob is turned, the set returns to automatic preselection. The RF gain can be controlled by careful operation of the RF gain control (MGC) on the right face of the set, and some difficult reception situations, especially in SSB reception, can be mastered in this way.
In some difficult situations, connecting an external antenna can also be very helpful. A switch under the DIN 45325 socket, which is not widely used outside Europe, selects the external antenna. In the event of overloading when using an excessively long antenna or in the vicinity of a local powerful transmitter, the SENS DX/LOC attenuator has to be set in the LOCAL position.
In the German version, the Satellit 500 Professional, the ROM table is activated: in an otherwise unused area of the memory chip, Grundig has programmed frequencies of 40 international shortwave services directly into the ROM. To call up these permanently stored frequencies, press the MEMORY RECALL key and then enter the memory channel number with a leading zero, for example 0 - 1 - MEMORY calls up the frequencies of Deutsche Welle, 0 - 2 - 7 - MEMORY calls up BBC London. You can switch between the forty stations with the MEMORY SCAN key, and from the various frequencies stored for one broadcaster, you can check for the best one with the SEARCH key. For example, 0 - 1 - 7 - MEMORY calls up the frequencies of Radio RSA, and by pressing the SEARCH key, you can check their frequencies 5980 / 11900 / 15240 kHz. This worked without problems twenty-five years ago, now that most international broadcasters ceased shortwave operation, this feature is no longer useful: trying to call up Radio RSA or Radio Berlin International on 6115 kHz only evokes nostalgic feelings - hard to believe, in 1989 the GDR still existed…
There is another undocumented option: in „test mode“, which is called up by pressing the keys 0 - 5 - 0 - 2 - 5 - 1 - STORE when the set is switched off, the Satellit 500 displays the version (PROF / ITAL / INT), pressing SELECT activates all segments of the LCD display, STORE informs which diodes are present, the set version is defined on the basis of the diodes present.
The satellite Professional shows - 1 1 1 (diode B3 missing, B2 present, B1 present, B0 present), the satellite International shows - 0 0 1 (only diode B0 present), the Italian version is identified by - 0 1 0 (only B1 present).
This gives the option of modifying the set to get access to the ROM table or, a frequent demand, to unlock the set to cover the entire shortwave range. In the lower right corner of the main board, diodes D506-508 need to be located, diode D506 is the rightmost diode out of the three. If diode D506 is removed, the access restriction above 26.1 MHz is lifted, if diode D508 (far left) is soldered in, the ROM table can also be activated in the International variant. Before tampering with the set, it makes sense to carefully identify the diode using the service manual, otherwise you may damage the set (I will not give any warranty) and lose all warranty claims. The latter should not be a major problem anymore, since Grundig has withdrawn from the world receiver business, the warranty has expired in the meantime anyway…
In summary, the Grundig Satellit 500 is a travel receiver that is slightly voluminous for air travel, but has everything you would expect from a decent shortwave receiver. It is a superior performer, and thanks to the double conversion superhet design, mirror frequencies and image signals are reliably suppressed.
The set is not frequently found on the used market, usually it is offered at a lower price than the more common Satellit 700, which also features automated ECSS reception and RDS capability for FM reception.
Double conversion superhet, PLL synthesis.
The set is equipped with semiconductors.