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 Post subject: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 5:16 am 
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I've mostly been collecting ordinary consumer-grade transistor radios, but I would like to add one nice commercial or military transistorized receiver to my collection. I'm looking for something that's at least a good performer, is reasonably compact/light (under 40 pounds), is reasonably repairable (or if not, is already restored) and is not outrageously expensive. Does anyone here have any suggestions on what to search for?


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 8:25 am 
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Sony ICF-2010. Not military or commercial, but one helluva performer. the only radio I own that can pickup Canadian stations from SoCal.

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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 1:01 pm 
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I agree the Sony ICF-2010 is a great radio. It has more features than you'll probably ever use. My only complaint is the use of a slide-pot volume control.

Not a military or commercial grade set but I can highly recommend a Kenwood R-2000. These still seem to be widely available. 100 kHz to 30 MHz. There is also a Hi-band VHF module option but no FM broadcast band. It runs on AC but there is an external battery option. I have mine at bedside and it is my most often-used DX receiver.

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You might consider a Panasonic RF-4900. It is a rather large, military-style radio with very good RF and audio performance. It features a highly sensitive FM band. It works on AC or internal batteries.

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An all-time favorite portable is a Panasonic RF-2200. Great all-around performance especially for AM DX with its rotatable ferrite antenna. Very good FM and SW reception as well.

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Panasonic RF-2200.jpg
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Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 1:40 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 2:15 pm 
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Thanks for the suggestions so far, I actually already have a Sony ICF-2010, a Panasonic RF-2200 and a Zenith Royal 1000, all three of which are nice radios.
I guess I should have specified that I am looking for a boatanchor style radio from the 60's or 70's. I'm mainly interested in getting an analog radio, but a receiver with a nixie tube display would also be interesting. An example of the sort of thing I am looking for is the National HRO-500.


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 3:06 pm 
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Location: Rochester, NY.
I have a 1983 JRC NRD-515. It is a metal front panel and cabinet which is boatanchory. I'm impressed with the receiver's performance.
Accessories to look for: memory unit, filters, speaker and user/service manual.

https://www.universal-radio.com/catalog ... nrd515.jpg


Last edited by Wally58 on Nov Fri 10, 2017 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 3:07 pm 
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The 60s-70s really covers a lot of variety in the "better" solid state receiver market.

Two of my favorites are the Drake DSR-2 and its rack mounted cousin the MSR-2, both have Nixie tube readout and are partially synthesized with a stable VFO providing coverage within 100 Khz. segments. The MSR-2 also provides excellent VLF coverage with a separate front end for VLF. Less expensive and far simpler is the SPR-4 that requires crystals or an external synthesizer for full coverage. The Drake R-7 (and commercial marine equivalent RR-3) are very nice receivers that bridge the late 70s to early 80s era; these are fully synthesized receivers with very nice filters (like the MSR-2 and DSR-2) but also offer passband tuning. The only issue I have had with my RR-3 and R-7 is the band switch needs cleaning every couple of years. Note that the earlier version of the Drake DSR and MSR receivers (model 1 of each) didn't use gold plated switch contacts until late in production so they can have issues with their synthesizer switching and the model 2 version is much better in that regard.

The Galaxy R-530/HyGain R-1530 is somewhat like the HRO-500 in that it uses a discrete component synthesizer; I have both the HRO-500 and the R-530 and I would give the performance nod to the 530 and it is easier to repair but it isn't as pretty as the HRO-500.

I believe the McKay Dymek DR-22 and DR-33 were available by the very late 1970s so they might be something to look into. I have a DR-22 that is a cool little set and sounds great on AM.

The Telefunken E863 with Nixie readout shows up fairly often on ebay and although it looks more like a piece of test gear than a receiver it is a very good performer with excellent IF filters. The E863 looks like it wants to be a frequency counter while its simpler ELK 639 sibling looks somewhat like a HP signal generator. My ELK-639 has some sort of AGC issue I think so I can't say much about its performance yet.

Another favorite is the Eddystone EC-958, a very compact rack mounted receiver designed for commercial shipping but it is an attractive receiver from the late 1960s/early 1970s that performs well. On the shortwave ranges it features a high stability mode where the primary variable oscillator is crystal locked in 100 Khz. segments and all tuning is done via the 100 Khz. range incremental VFO. Features the marvelously smooth Eddystone tuning feel in a small package.

By the very late 1970s the excellent Watkins Johnson 8716 was available and is definitely worth a look. All mine has ever needed was a little repair to the tuning encoder.

Although not general coverage, the Davco DR-30 is an interesting ham receiver from the early SS era and truly compact.

A few of these receivers are pictured below.

Rodger WQ9E


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E863.jpg
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Davco DR-30.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 3:39 pm 
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
The best solid state receiver I've owned so for is an ICOM R-9000.
Its the receiver I've always dreamed about designing/building from
scratch. An amazing instrument but expensive.

Another which is a good performer and used by the CIA and other
gov't entities is the Ten Tec RX-330A. This one has no controls and is
100% computer controlled. There were many variants. Besides
computer control it has DSP filters built in which are very useful.

On the more affordable side consider the Yaesu FRG-7. This utilizes
the Wadley Loop systems and is very stable. I find this receiver to
be a bit on the noisy side but works quite well despite this.
Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 3:54 am 
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Those are some beautiful receivers Roger, I love the look of nixie tube displays, too bad it seems that none of the receivers that use them can be had for under a grand. That Davco is also very interesting, I will keep my eye out for one of those. Do any of you have a solid-state military receiver that you like?


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
If your interest is only in military receivers (SS) consider the
R-1051 series. Synthesized and solid state except for two
tubes in the front end. Presumably for EMP survival.
Have used one for years and its a very good receiver
but NOT a band cruiser as you select the freq with a series
of switches.

RACAL made a number of sets used by the Brit military.
I have an RA-6790/GM. Works well but complex and difficult to repair.
RACAL made a number of other SS and receiverr. They
make top notch equipment!

Watkins-Johnson made receivers that were used by the militray as
well but have yet to own one.
Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 3:28 pm 
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Retrofitted that SX-88 for solid-state, did you, Rodger? :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 4:30 pm 
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Avery wrote:
Retrofitted that SX-88 for solid-state, did you, Rodger? :wink:


Avery,
Don't even mention that! Some "audiophile" will rip out the front end and put in a solid state FM receiver in its place.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 5:23 pm 
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50sTransistorRadios wrote:
Those are some beautiful receivers Roger, I love the look of nixie tube displays, too bad it seems that none of the receivers that use them can be had for under a grand. That Davco is also very interesting, I will keep my eye out for one of those. Do any of you have a solid-state military receiver that you like?


The early production Collins 651S-1 had Nixie display tubes, mine is a later with LED instead. Many of these were sold on government contract so it sort of qualifies as a military radio but it isn't really a great receiver. The synthesizer is pretty noisy (true of a lot of the early solid state efforts) and it runs hot enough there is a cooling fan built in. It does have a nice array of IF filters and basic operation is OK.

I prefer the earlier synthesized sets like the HRO-500, R-530, and the slightly later Drake DSR/MSR series to the late 70s/early 80s efforts. These early receivers used synthesis to provide the coarse selection and a regular analog VFO for the fine selection so they weren't beset by the generally lousy compromise between reasonable lockup time and phase noise that plagued the early fully synthesized receivers. Later DDS (direct digital synthesis) setups can work very well but the early fully synthesized sets generally have tuning personified by high phase noise, coarse tuning steps (often 100 hz minimum), and various artifacts like audible "clunking" noises when switching loop oscillator segments. With PLL (phase locked loop) synthesis the average frequency is absolutely accurate but it is also constantly and rapidly changing as the VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) is manipulated to achieve lock with the master clock and it is these constant micro-shifts that create phase noise with faster lockup leading to worse noise sidebands. In general when using the synthesizer for continuous fine tuning you need it to lock very quickly to avoid the muting/"chuffing" sounds you get from consumer grade radios but this fast lockup tends to drive you towards higher phase noise. The best of the early synthesized efforts are pretty good because the designers ensured that the VCO components provide the greatest stability possible and this reduces the negatives of the phase locking process.

The Drake R-7 is a general coverage design aimed at the ham radio market and it is a very good solid state receiver providing general coverage with a digital readout. Like some of the other early Drake efforts band selection is via synthesis while tuning within range is via an analog VFO and this was the weakness of the R7 because its PTO (permability tuned rather than capacitor tuned) variable oscillator had far more drift than earlier Drake efforts. Some stabilization is possible and Drake later introduced the RV-75 synthesized VFO for the matching transceiver which also works well with the R-7 although it does have more phase noise than the analog PTO. I like this receiver and although it is the twin of its commercial marine RR3 counterpart I like the consumer styling better.

I have a military R-1490 that is supposed to be the last model that was made by National. It has decent performance and probably was an attempt by National at an updated R-1051 series replacement but I don't think many were sold. It has a similar complex build to the R-1051 series and is somewhat of a pain to repair. OK but definitely not a favorite.

The Racal 6790 is commonly found and is a pretty decent receiver with a reasonably quiet synthesizer with very fine tuning steps and a nice array of filters. The older Watkins Johnson 8716 was sold in great quantity, is highly reliable, and has a great AM detector built in. Later variants provided memory and a much updated user interface.

I recently restored a Racal 6217 which as its name implies is sort of a solid state version of the classic RA-17 Wadley loop receiver. It is very compact, cute and works quite well but I prefer the ergonomics of its tube type predecessor but it is a huge performance step above the consumer Wadley receivers (Realistic DX-300/302; Yaesu FRG-7, Standard/Drake C6500/SSR1, etc.).

My absolute favorite solid state shortwave receiver is the SRT CR-91 which was made by the Swedish subsidiary of ITT. It has a beautifully designed synthesizer that tunes in 1 hz steps, an array of Telefunken mechanical filters which are superior to those out of Collins (they are much larger but the shape factor is rated at the more stringent -3 and -60 db points where the SSB filters provide a 1.15:1 factor and the filter quality is obvious under tough conditions). In addition to the separate 3.25 Khz. USB/LSB filters it also provide filters of 300 hz, 600 hz, 1.5 Khz, and 6.8 Khz. The user interface is wonderful and the front end is highly protected against undesirable events.

And if you also need transmit capability it is hard to beat the Transworld TW-100 "Fly Away" which is a complete 100 watt AM/CW/SSB station in a compact metal suitcase. It isn't even that heavy and is very well built.

Rodger WQ9E


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Collins 651S-1.JPG
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R-1490.jpg
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Racal WJ.JPG
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Racal 6217.jpg
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SRT CR91.jpg
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TW-100F Flyaway.jpg
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TW-100F modules.jpg
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Ready to travel.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 5:54 pm 
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Location: Benton City, WA
rsingl wrote:
50sTransistorRadios wrote:

And if you also need transmit capability it is hard to beat the Transworld TW-100 "Fly Away" which is a complete 100 watt AM/CW/SSB station in a compact metal suitcase. It isn't even that heavy and is very well built.

I picked up a TW100F a while back. It blows fuses when turned on. I want/need to change fuse to resetable type as I am out of fuses! How common was it to have a blown tantalum in those? I did not find any evidence of any burnt or exploded parts the one time I opened it but need to get back to that project and see if I can find out what is going on. It looks like a great rig.


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 6:21 pm 
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Southerner wrote:
I picked up a TW100F a while back. It blows fuses when turned on. I want/need to change fuse to resetable type as I am out of fuses! How common was it to have a blown tantalum in those? I did not find any evidence of any burnt or exploded parts the one time I opened it but need to get back to that project and see if I can find out what is going on. It looks like a great rig.


Funny you mention this problem. The first time I turned mine on it blew the fuse and the same with a second I tried. I took it apart, checked parts, made measurements, found nothing wrong. I put it back together to do further testing and never had another problem. My best guess is something wedged somewhere in transport and it was cleared when I took it apart. I don't know of any common component failures with this set. Since it is in modular form probably the best thing to do is start unhooking circuits and test/make measurements to locate the defective part. Consistently blowing the main fuse is likely to be a power supply issue although it could be in the power amp or interconnecting cables. Try measurements and if necessary temporarily insert fuses in the feed to other modules to narrow down where the problem occurs.

The TW100 isn't great for scanning the bands but it is a very nice portable station if you don't do continuous frequency hopping.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 7:20 pm 
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No one mentioned a Drake SPR-4, preferably with the outboard synthesizer?

Pete

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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 7:40 pm 
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The Collins 651S-1 is ideally sized (since I don't really have a ton of space left here) and looks nice, too bad it's not a great radio. I am interested in military receivers because they are designed to be very reliable, and often come built into their own handy storage case. Having a knob for each frequency digit sounds tedious, so I would prefer something that can be more easily used for band-cruising. I don't have a ham license, so I wouldn't be able to use the transmit side of any transceiver, but that Transworld TW-100 looks really sharp.


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 7:46 pm 
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Location: Benton City, WA
Peter Bertini wrote:
No one mentioned a Drake SPR-4, preferably with the outboard synthesizer?

I bought a SPR4 about a year ago. I keep it in the bedroom but do not like it. Not because it isn't a good receiver because it is a good receiver but I am a Drake lover from my novice days and much prefer the look, feel, and operation of my R4C and R4B over the SPR4. I find the tuning to be backwards for me on the SPR4 compared to the earlier 4 line twins. Drake did make good receivers. I have the R4B, R4C, and this SPR4 and of the lot the R4B was a better receiver...but my TR7 is much quieter. I never acquired an R7 though. I do also have an R8A that the SPR4 is sitting on in the bedroom and use it rather than the SPR4.


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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 12, 2017 8:18 pm 
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Peter Bertini wrote:
No one mentioned a Drake SPR-4, preferably with the outboard synthesizer?

Pete


Pete,

I briefly mentioned it in my post and I only wish Drake had included the passband tuning setup from the other 4 line receivers in it.

This is a SPR-4, RR-1 (rack version of the SPR-4), and the FS-4. Drake also made a rack mount version with the FS-4 built in; not surprisingly the rack mount version doesn't have provision for the AL-4 plug in loop that provides a LF/BCB antenna.

The FS-4 primary crystal must be changed when going between the regular 4 line and the SPR-4 to account for the slightly different setup between the two.

And Southerner I agree the R8 receiver family is nice and a reminder that it is too bad that Drake didn't continue but the market just wasn't there anymore. The Eton E1 that was largely designed by Drake and intended to be the next Grundig Satellit is a great large portable and brings much of the R8 performance into a different format receiver.

Rodger WQ9E


Attachments:
SPR-4 RR-1 FS-4.JPG
SPR-4 RR-1 FS-4.JPG [ 233.1 KiB | Viewed 658 times ]


Last edited by rsingl on Nov Mon 13, 2017 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Transistorized receivers
PostPosted: Nov Mon 13, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Location: germany
actually I do a restoration of Heathkit SB-313
it is old, but also without tubes.
greetings
Martin


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