Hamvention find: the Arvin 68R58 AM transistor radio

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1390Though I believe I spent more money at the Dayton Hamvention this year than I have in all previous years, I only purchased one radio: the Arvin 68R58 eight-transistor.

I spent a whopping $5 on the little Arvin in the Hamvention fleamarket. To be fair, the seller sold it for this modest price because he was not sure if the radio worked.  But when I unsnapped the back leather cover, peered inside, and found the works remarkably clean, I suspected it might…

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1373No original power supply was included, of course, and I was a bit concerned when I saw the somewhat out-of-character plastic battery holder. In the filtered fleamarket light, it appeared to me as if it required proprietary batteries–the holder appeared too small for C cells, and too large for AAs. There was no indication of the type of batteries it used, but since the spec read “6 volts,” I knew I could build a small AA battery holder, if need be.

So, at $5 (I bargained him down from $10, based on the doubt of operation) it was a very low risk purchase, and a potentially a fun project.


Back at home, I popped open the battery holder and looked inside…And I discovered the Arvin did, indeed, take four C cells. Simple enough! After inserting fresh batteries, I turned on the radio via the tone pot, and instantly heard beautiful, rich audio.

What I thought would be a project radio ended up being fully functional, and was, moreover, in tip-top shape.


So far, I’ve been very impressed with the Arvin’s AM sensitivity and audio fidelity. No doubt the generous ferrite rod antenna is doing the trick on medium wave.


Last night, as I tuned through the AM broadcast band, I was able to null out unwanted stations and noise amazingly well. There is something to be said of transistor radios from this era–let’s just say, they’re classics.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1376The Arvin has a simple set of controls: tone, tuning, and volume. There are no filter selections, of course, but I can tell that it’s quite wide; perhaps 8 or 9 kHz.

ARVIN-68r58All in all, I’m very pleased with my little purchase, and the Arvin has become my new (vintage) bedside radio. Last night, I tuned in one of my favorite AM stations on 740 kHz, CFZM in Toronto, Canada.  CFZM (a.k.a. “Zoomer Radio”) is not only a benchmark, but a right of passage for any worthy AM radio in my household. The Arvin passed the Zoomer test with colors flying.

And, yes, it even soothed me to sleep.


Now I only need to properly clean and restore the Arvin’s leather chassis and perhaps build a 6V-regulated linear power supply.


Next time you pass by a 1960s/70s vintage transistor, grab it! I’m certainly happy I did.

Now, I think I’ll turn on the Arvin, sip some dark beans, and put up my feet in the Pawley’s Island hammock…Cheers! Summer’s on the way.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1381Want one of your own? A quick search reveals that the Arvin 68R58 can be found on eBay for quite reasonable prices. Click here to search eBay for an Arvin.

Posted in AM, Articles, Mediumwave, News, Nostalgia, Portable Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shortwave Radio Recordings: The Mighty KBC


The TitanSDR’s narrowband scope tuned to the KBC

For your listening pleasure: three hours of The Mighty KBC.

This broadcast was recorded on May 24, 2015 starting around 00:00 UTC on 9,925 kHz.

I used the TitanSDR Pro hooked up to my skyloop antenna to capture this recording–in truth, though, the signal was so strong it could’ve been easily received on a portable here in eastern North America.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3 or simply use the embedded player below:

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Listening to an AM broadcast station on the BC-348Q


I listen to my BC-348Q most days; in fact, it’s my preferred way of receiving my morning dose of Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz. And although you won’t find any medium-wave DXers endorsing this beefy antique rig, the BC-348, with its warm tone, has turned out to be a great shortwave receiver for casual listening.

When the armed forces commissioned the Signal Corps BC348 during WWII, the last thing they wanted was to have on-duty personnel listening to AM broadcast bands during, say, bombing sorties––so they purposefully omitted the medium-wave band. The band selections in the BC-348 are as follows:

  • BC-348-Q-Dial200-500 KC.
  • 1.5-3.5 MC.
  • 3.5-6.0 MC.
  • 6.0-9.5 MC.
  • 9.5-13.5 MC.
  • 13.5-18.0 MC.

But here in the comfort of my radio digs three-quarters of a century after WWII, I recently discovered that this classic “hot war” receiver does, indeed, pick up one of my local AM broadcast stations: WTZQ, and on 1,600 kHz. WTZQ has become one of my favorite stations; it’s one of the few in this region that’s still actually independently owned.  The station’s playlist spans the decades, including, as they say, “everything from Glenn Miller to Steve Miller.” And, since they’re on “1.6 MC” they make the cut on the ‘348’s second-band selection.  How cool is that?

WTZQWTZQ’s station is a good thirty miles from here as the crow flies, so reception usually includes a little static on the wire antenna I’ve connected to the BC-348. Still, you might enjoy this short audio clip of WTZQ via the BC-348Q:

You can stream WTZQ, by the way, via their website. Enjoy!

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Community stations provide lifeline of info in post-quake Nepal

Nepal-Earthquake-Map(Source: BBC Monitoring)

Community radio stations in earthquake-hit Nepal have become a crucial provider of information – in fact, the only source in places where newspapers do not reach and internet service does not exist.

Many of the stations are operating from tents after their permanent buildings were destroyed in the 25 April earthquake.

Staff members from these stations have shown tremendous resilience in ensuring that the flow of information does not stop.

[Continue reading…]

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Raspberry Pi 2 API for the SDRplay RSP


Many thanks to Jon Hudson at SDRplay who notified me that they have released a Raspberry Pi 2 API for the SDRplay RSP receiver. Note that the API is a “pre-release” version and you’ll need to reference the included Linux installation notes.

If you have the RSP and a Rasberry Pi 2, you might consider trying the new software. The SDRplay development team are eager to hear feedback.

Click here to download.

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Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio Romania International


For your listening pleasure: 1.5 hours of Radio Romania International, starting with RRI’s English language service.

This recording was made on May 25, 2015 starting around 00:00 UTC on 9730 kHz. I used the TitanSDR Pro software defined receiver and skyloop external antenna to make this off-air recording.  In truth, this is one of the few remaining broadcasters that targets eastern North America; even a simple portable radio would have sufficed.

Click here to download the full recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Posted in Broadcasters, News, Recordings, Shortwave Radio, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Honoring Memorial Day: The White Cliffs of Dover

Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn

Today is Memorial Day, and I’m feeling humbly grateful to all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Since I’ve been reading a lot of WWII history lately, I’ve also been playing a lot of WWII-era music here in my sanctuary to all things radio.

Few songs sum up the yearning sentiment of World War II better than Vera Lynn’s 1942 rendition of “The White Cliffs of Dover.” It’s an iconic song, one that helped British soldiers see beyond the war while mourning its painful toll. It was written in 1941 when England was taking heavy casualties, just before American allies joined the effort.


This morning, seeking something with a little authenticity, I played “The White Cliffs of Dover” though my SStran AM transmitter, and listened to it through “Scottie,” my WWII-era Scott Marine radio (above). I made this recording by placing my Zoom H2N recorder directly in front of the Scott’s built-in monitor speaker.

So here you go: a little radio tribute to all of those who fell–on both sides–of that infamous second world war.

And thanks to all who serve and have served in the name of “peace ever after.”

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen below:

Posted in AM, Articles, Mediumwave, News, Radio History, Radios, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments