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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2012 2:59 am 
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Considering Fair Radio is now in an old lumber yard with much equipment sitting out in the weather, I'm not surprised by this.
I'm very cautious buying from them anymore. They cop attitudes and think their junk is pure gold.

-Steve

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2012 3:45 am 
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Bryan,

One of the people most renowned for his R-390 (not R-390a) expertise was Dave Medley. Dave passed away a few years back but his web site has been preserved. I have not been through it recently so I don't recall if gear train reassembly is covered but you can look for yourself:

http://www.r-390.com/

Good Luck!

Tony

Edit: I just looked it over and there is nothing for the gear train. But I did find this:

http://sunday-special.net/r390geartrain.htm

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2012 12:53 pm 
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azenithnut wrote:
Considering Fair Radio is now in an old lumber yard with much equipment sitting out in the weather, I'm not surprised by this.


-Steve


The Gov't left the radios out in the junk yard. Fair Radio just purchased them and moved them on. They are long gone. I think they were selling for a couple of hundred a radio. All the original meters were removed as they had radium in them and were considered hazardous waste.


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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2012 2:31 am 
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For some reason Fair Radio hasn't bid on anything directly in well over 10 years, as far as I could tell when I was in the same business, by looking at the bid results. They bought some of the 390A's from the St. Julien's Creek sale high bidders.

The St. Julien's Creek load of receivers sat out in the weather for some considerable time, at DRMO, as they are so
fond of doing. They had probably been sitting out at the dozens of previous locations before they were combined and sent to VA. The name tags were missing and that's probably the only reason they made it to sale at all. The DRMO people couldn't figure out the NSN and marked them something like 5830-000RADIO which is what they do if they can't determine the stock number in about 3 minutes. The actual number was 5820- something and practically all 5820 prefix gear with military ID tags is on the demil (destroy) list. About 5% of the radios did still have the meters. I am not sure whether that's because the final disposal point doesn't check for radioactivity or because without the nametags, some depots didn't know to check.

A lot of people rebuilt these sets into now-beautiful examples and it's testimony to how rugged they are that they can withstand this sort of treatment.

The surplus system was transferred to private contractors in approx. 1998 but things are otherwise about the same, except that sales are centralized in only a few locations and the amount of radio type gear being offered is almost nonexistent. Almost all of it is being destroyed, too keep it away from the Castro brothers and the Taliban. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2012 3:23 am 
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Been doing lots more reading lately. There's an awful lot of info on these.
Anyone have opinions/facts backing up claims of some manufacturers making "suckier" radios than others? The EAC models not made to spec, and thats why some were released for public sale????
I've heard the cosmos pto is crap. Some people say it does ok for ssb with just the bfo, and ride the gain, and then some say that it's a dog even with a fancy pants ssb/product detector.

Your thoughts are appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2012 9:03 pm 
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Some people argue about the Mona Lisa too :). Actually, I've been critical of the R-390a myself, here on this site. Considered over all, the radios are excellent receivers. You can quibble about one manufacturer vs another but I would say that the history of the individual set is a much bigger factor. Some are high mileage and it shows, while others look like they just came of the assembly line. Most fall somewhere in between. A little diligence (or maybe a lot) will probably bring almost any sample up to snuff. Mine has the Cosmos and it's fine. The complaint is that they are tougher to align for tracking but that is just quibbling again. As for SSB, the radio is just like any other set that was designed for AM/CW reception. It's just happens to be done better than most. I put in the so called "two diode" mod and SSB tuning is duck soup. Two silicon diodes and a small cap in magic spots in the IF deck.

If you want to get the majority of the R-390 experience without all of the cost, consider the R-392. Like the original R-390 it doesn't have mechanical filters and there are only three bandwidths to choose from but it's a pretty nifty set. Same style of tuning with the gears and slug racks. Most of what you learn will apply to the R-390a if you decide to upgrade at some point. The tuning is stiffer and thats a minus. By working on the gear train you can make the R-390a tune much easier but I haven't seen that with the 392, perhaps because it was designed for mobile use.

Anyway, I wouldn't sweat the manufacturer. Make sure it's all there and hasn't been hacked up.

No matter which one you choose, the radios are not "armchair" sets. It takes a bit more effort to operate one with all of the dial twisting. But the tuning accuracy (once you get it set up right) is amazing. Like a piece of lab equipment, you dial it in and you are there. No doubt about it.

Tony

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Fri 13, 2012 4:55 am 
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The EAC and sets later than about 1965 will not have the bumblebee capacitors and that means a considerable savings in labor rebuilding them.

I still have a brand new EAC set which has the Cosmos PTO, and when it was taken out of the crate some decades ago for test the PTO was totally out of whack. This is not one of the civilian sale ones either. I have always hated the Cosmos PTO. I just put it back in storage as who wants to mess up an unused radio by changing to a different PTO or even using it, considering what one is worth today.

Some manufacturers cut corners while still meeting contract specs. Such as Teledyne, which saved money by not using roller cam followers on the slug racks. Shame on them.

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Fri 13, 2012 5:37 am 
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Geoff Fors wrote:
... I have always hated the Cosmos PTO. ...


Could you elaborate on what you hate about them? Just curious.

Tony

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Fri 13, 2012 6:03 pm 
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mescalero wrote:
I don't mean to hijack your thread, but, have you considered a Drake TR-7? They are, frankly, much smaller and if you put HP matched diodes in the detector ring (and tweak it just a hair to account for the lower diode drop) they make for a really choice setup. They were going pretty cheaply last that I looked.
I have one and it is my favorite rig by a long stretch.

BTW: Scott, thank you for sharing. Well done. 8)


For everyone who isn't familiar with the TR-7, it is a transceiver with a separate power supply. I've never used one, but the opinions of owners are highly positive. It's got a great rep as an excellent radio.

Unfortunately, if you're considering one as a potentially lower-cost alternative to an R-390A, you might be unpleasantly surprised.

A non-working "tech special--for repair" TR-7 recently sold for $715, NO power supply included. Power supplies can easily be $100. A working one sold for $800, and a very nice one with all original manuals and several optional filters for $1,200.

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Fri 13, 2012 8:18 pm 
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Wow, Clay. I had no idea that they bring that much now! I got mine about ten years ago with a full set of filters, digital readout and remote VFO control for $180.00 plus shipping. I run it from a lead/acid gel cell that has a lambda supply to keep it charged. It's incredibly quiet running from the battery and the sensitivity, especially with the HP diodes in the detector, is wonderful. Combine that with the filters, and it's my go-to receiver. It also has a good TX. What more can one ask for?
There I go hijacking a thread again.. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Sat 14, 2012 2:52 am 
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I found my 390A , Collins made , at an estate sale of a scrap guy . He had more junk in milk cartons and jars than i had ever seen . The 390 receiver was just behind his ''teardown bench'' he died befor he got to it and some other stuff . It was 20$ . After i got it home i took the covers off and found a pretty much mint condition chassis . The front cleaned up 95% . After ordering a used replacement power transformer module from fair radio ( the original was dead shorted ) I stuck it in the radio & flipped the switch and it has been working fine now for years .

Its a real interesting thing to listen to & play with . I really hate the tuning dial . It receives real good on what is left of short wave . It weighs some 85 pounds . I certainly would not spend alot of money on one of these expecting it to bring short wave back like in the 70's . Neet toy though .


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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Sat 14, 2012 3:26 am 
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Wow, thanks for the links Tony.

I don't know that I would ever attempt that deep of an overhaul, but maybe someday if I have lots of time and free space. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Sat 14, 2012 3:34 am 
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Quote:
I certainly would not spend a lot of money on one of these expecting it to bring short wave back like in the 70's
Boy does that hit the nail on the head. Now I have all sorts of radios I didn't own back then, but (a) there's nothing worth listening to, and (b) I don't have the time anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: WTB : Collins (designed) R-390(A) and associated gear
PostPosted: Jan Sat 14, 2012 4:29 am 
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Well, I'm not looking for a super hot deal, but I'm also not SO into the "gotta have it" category that I'm going to spend what ebay commands either. I'm curious about the diode load audio on 16kc, and I really want to hear for myself this ability to pull the signals out that no other receiver can. I'm into the milcomm/ham digital modes too. So it sounds like it could be an all around good choice. For a (complete) radio that sells under3- 400$ I would want to tear it down to the chassis anyways. And while I'm there experiment with the SSB mods since I doubt I'll find a Collins adapter meeting the price/performance ratio (I've read too many times that this set just doesn't rock n roll on SSB no matter what you do. Again, I'd like to hear it for myself). Maybe experiment with different and more available custom bandwidths/AGC timing. Anything over 5 or 600 should be pretty darn NICE, and verified to safely be left on in my opinion. Over 800-900, no out of spec components, working like it should, clean, sharp, ready for active duty.

If those price expectations are out of line, then I'll stick with my 180A with no regrets whatsoever. I am kinda kicking myself for not getting that R-1981 for $400 though.

Maybe try out a sp-600 with an HC-10 ( I have grown VERY fond of these features on the 180A)

Don't get me wrong, If I find a very nice receiver that is all original, then the originality of the radio is more important. That is worth money, to a collector. Nothing wrong with that at all. However, from what I've read, most of these have been to the depot in their service lives, and had modules traded out, and possibly hacked at for the past 40 years.
I'm more of a user. A dog of a (complete/restorable) radio is fine by me, in fact I prefer one because I'm just as curious about it's inner workings, and getting it to perform to spec, as I am using it. Just from looking at the pictures alone, it looks user friendly with its construction and layout if it needs to be serviced.

I'll hear them at that noise floor sooner or later. I'm in no rush.


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