Category Archives: Boat Anchors

A Good Friend Who’s Always There

cas-pro-relaxThis summer has been a tough one for me in many ways, not the least of which is the minimal amount of time I have been able to spend playing radio. I have several commitments involving radio each week/month, but I do not consider that “playing” radio. To me, playing radio is where we get to sit down in front of a radio of any kind and do something with it just for the pure joy of it. The good thing about this hobby is it is always there whenever you are ready. It is like a good friend who is always there. Radio is, in fact, a bit like my dog.

For those who enjoy dogs like I do, one of the most rewarding things is to come home and find your dog waiting for you, tail wagging, and excited to see you. It does not matter how long you have been gone — a short trip elicits the same excitement upon your return as you would get being gone all day. Good dogs require very little maintenance to be happy, and they are ready for love and attention whenever you are available to give these to them.

My radios do not wag their antennas when I walk into the room, but they are there ready to go when I am, and they provide a world of enjoyment when called upon. As I sit here looking at the radios in front of me (only a small portion of the radios I have around the house overall), each one means something special and calls to mind enjoyable times. My 220 rig gets very little use overall, but it always reminds me of an amateur radio friend who was an Elmer to me in the hobby.

As I am typing this my 2-meter APRS channel has come alive with signals from the digipeater in the International Space Station (ARISS) and I am hoping for a contact or two. This past week I made a contact with AF4B in Texas, which was his first ISS contact! What an honor that is for me — whenever I have the privilege of being someone’s first contact in any manner of radio I am thrilled!! It always brings to mind my “firsts” and how exciting were those moments!

As I look at my Uniden Bearcat BC898T I remember going to my first Dayton Hamvention and buying this beautiful analog scanner. One of the fellows there tried to talk me out of it because it was only analog, and some of the local departments had moved to digital. Fortunately there are still many analog signals to catch in my area, and I am interested in more than just Public Service transmissions. I like Marine, Aviation, Railroads, Coast Guard, and a dozen other things which can be picked up by analog scanners. The 898T was my entrance back into the scanning hobby after many, many years away from it. There was a great deal to learn, but this was my re-introduction to scanning.

I have previously talked about my Yaesu-Musen FRG-7, in some ways the ultimate in shortwave radios for nostalgia, quality workmanship, and manual control of a radio. 40+ years old and still a gem!! Oh yes, and then there is my Swan 350, another marvel of a radio from the past. Never known as a top-of-the-line rig by any means, I treasure its heft, its vacuum tube warmth, and its mechanical tuning which turns like tire compared to the optical tuning wheels on modern rigs. In fact, its a lot like me — slow to get going and needs some time to warm up, but gets the job done eventually. (Why does it seem getting up out of bed and getting started each day gets harder and harder . . . I can’t be that old, can I??)

Fall and winter are coming, definitely great times of the year to play radio, and I hope to do just that. A little work on my antennas should get me back up to  speed in terms of capabilities, and my hope is life will slow down enough to let me have some fun. I know whenever I have the time my old friends will be there ready and waiting! I hope the coming months are filled with radio fun for each of you! 73, Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

Vintage Unboxing: New-in-the-Box Magnavox D2935 Receiver from 1987

D2935 1000pxSometimes good fortune drops in our lap at the least expected moment, but we have to act quickly to take advantage of it! This was the case with the receiver above; I spotted it on Ebay just moments after the seller posted a Buy-It-Now auction. Had I been planning to buy a D2935? No, but I immediately knew I was looking at something special.

This particular D2935 receiver from Magnavox had remained new and unused from 1987 until July 2016, when I had the good fortune of spotting the newly-listed Ebay auction and purchasing the radio for $175.    Continue reading

Colin’s Hammarlund HQ-120X restoration


Many thanks to Colin Snow for sharing the following photos and commenting on his Hammarlund HQ-120X restoration. I originally noticed his photos in the Extreme Shortwave Listening group on Facebook and he kindly wrote up descriptions for each image to be published here on the SWLing Post:

Hammarlund HQ-120X restoration

by Colin Snow

Hammarlund HQ-120X

Purchased on eBay March, 2016. Hammarlund HQ-120X (1939 restored) and PSC/10 speaker (1939 original). The radio was frist restored by KE7RD, the collector who owned this unit for years. This was a late production version. It has 6K7’s instead of 6S7’s (good). The O/P TRANS has been replaced and an SO-239 added. It was recapped and aligned both IF + RF and works well on all bands.”


I had the cabinet repainted locally at NRI Sandblasting and Coating with a black semi-gloss crinkle powder coat paint. I cleaned the chrome part of the handles with Quick Glo and stripped and painted the two shoulders with black gloss enamel.


I had the speaker enclosure stripped and painted at the same time as the cabinet with the same black semi-gloss crinkle powder coat.


The original 1939 speaker was a 10″ Jensen. It worked, but I wanted the best possible sound. This current production model Jensen fit exactly.

HAmmarlund-HQ120X 6

White lines for the knobs were done using white out. The lines are grooved so I just gobbed it on and wiped off the excess.


I had the faceplate rescreened by Adam’s Precision Screen Printing, Inc. San Leandro, CA. They created a film positive first, then a negative screen.


It was a perfect job. The color and sheen matched original. This should last longer because it is an epoxy ink that has been baked to harden.


The lettering came out clean. Even though they made a 1.5X negative they still had to create artwork for the fonts. The original letters were just etched into to aluminum. It looked like it was done by hand.


Funny how words change. We now say “megahertz”, not “megacycles.”


I refurbished the dial windows myself. They were easy to strip and I used a flat black enamel spray. The S-meter glass was dirty so I disassembled it and cleaned with Quick Glo.


Still works after all that!


Its final resting place is my office and looks pretty good next to an original Tiffany’s lamp. I have a second listening post.

Colin, I can see that you spared no expense to restore this Hammarlund HQ-120X and it has paid off–an absolutely gorgeous job! I love how its “final resting place” is in a part of your office that gives it an appropriate amount of space–a place to be admired and, more importantly, enjoyed.  I bet the 120 sounds simply amazing!

Thanks again for sharing these photos and your commentary, Colin!

Guest Post: Communications Service Monitors – A Radio Hobbyist’s Perspective


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:

Communications Service Monitors – A Radio Hobbyist’s Perspective

Mario Filippi, N2HUN

(All photos courtesy of author)

Over the past few decades I lusted after a communications service monitor for my radio hobby but prices were always prohibitive; several thousands of dollars for a new model and tens of thousands for high-end ones. Not being a working professional in the communications field made it difficult to justify purchasing a piece of equipment whose price tag rivaled a down payment on a house. So, fast forward a few decades later and now life and times have fortunately changed for the better; the house is paid for, the job is secure, the income is finally steady, life is good financially, and to boot many of these older service monitors manufactured by Ramsey, Motorola, Wavetek, IFR/Aerotek, Cushman etc., are currently being sold on the pre-owned market at a fraction of their original decades-ago hefty prices. These service monitors are finally in financial reach of electronics hobbyists who will find many uses for these former electronic workhorses that toiled many years in the industry and now, in their golden years are being retired and becoming available for a second life via reuse/reincarnation/repurposing/reinvention.

Work of Art: Author’s Ramsey COM3 Service Monitor

Work of Art: Author’s Ramsey COM3 Service Monitor

So what exactly is a communications service monitor, or “service monitor” as the folks in the trade refer to? Well it is an instrument for servicing AM and FM radio equipment, although some units also have the ability to service SSB equipment. The service monitor is basically a highly accurate and precise receiver and low-power signal generator all in one allowing a technician (or electronics hobbyist) to perform service, repair, or alignment of radio equipment. Most of us have had the experience of owning a malfunctioning radio whether it is an AM or FM broadcast radio, two-way radio such as a CB (Citizen’s Band) radio, pager, or a ham radio transceiver, and that is where a service monitor proves its value and utility because now you, the hobbyist, can perform the work yourself.

My Friend’s Ramsey COM3010 Service Monitor, Big Brother of the COM3

My Friend’s Ramsey COM3010 Service Monitor, Big Brother of the COM3

As a radio enthusiast (shortwave, ham radio, satellite communications) for over half a century, I’ve definitely owned more radios than shoes; everything from AM, FM, shortwave receivers to CB radios to ham transceivers, all in different stages of health and vintage. For years I relied on standalone RF signal generators, audio generators, frequency counters, and CTCSS decoders to aid in rehabbing, troubleshooting, and aligning each of the many units that paraded past my radio shack. Then one day a friend showed me his service monitor, the Ramsey COM3010, another venerable workhorse still in production, and it was a defining moment; the time had come to invest in one.

Aligning a Uniden President Washington CB Radio Prior to Owning a Service Monitor

Aligning a Uniden President Washington CB Radio Prior to Owning a Service Monitor

My Ramsey COM3, purchased second-hand from an Internet auction site for $400.00 is a no frills, basic unit without the features found in more sophisticated service monitors having built-in oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, frequency sweeping ability, and frequency scanning ability. The COM3 was in production from the late 1980’s to around 2003 at a price of around $2500 (ca. 1989) and was considered a workhorse in its time, weighed 13 pounds with the internal battery, and was easily luggable from site to site. It covers from 100 KHz to 999.999 MHz and has become an invaluable tool in my radio shack for measuring a transmitter’s operating frequency and deviation, measuring receiver sensitivity, S meter calibration, and checking CTCSS tones on my two way VHF/UHF radios. My unit evidently had an easy former life as the only needs were to replace the internal battery, perform an external cleaning, check transmitter and receiver accuracy and check accuracy of the internal audio generator. Interestingly, Ramsey Electronics ( still services and calibrates COM3s.

Vintage Tempo One Transceiver Restoration Was Made Easier with the COM3 on the Bench

Vintage Tempo One Transceiver Restoration Was Made Easier with the COM3 on the Bench

So, if you’ve been dreaming of owning your own communications service monitor either as a hobbyist or small repair radio shop proprietor then start looking as there are plenty of used units out there; you’ll pay top dollar when buying from a commercial vendor but at least you’ll get some form of warranty. If instead you travel the same road I did, via an Internet auction site, there’s lots more risk involved, but the plus is you’ll save big if you do your homework by checking past auctions, seller feedback scores, and determining what price the market is bearing by looking at the winning bids. In closing, the COM3 owner’s manual is available on line by doing a simple search, and a review of the Ramsey COM3 by Larry Antonuk which appeared in the August 1989 issue of 73 Amateur Radio Magazine is also available as a free download.

Mario, thank you for another brilliant guest post! I always learn something new from your articles. By the way: I have that same Nye Viking straight key–it obviously pairs beautifully with the Tempo One!

The Nems-Clarke 1510A: another rare receiver

Nems-Clarke 1510-A

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who notes:

The amazing streak of rare radios, never before seen on Ebay or rarely seen there, continues, with the appearance of this Nems-Clarke 1510A receiver.

I attempted to find this radio in the Osterman guide to no avail — it’s not in there, unless I missed it. There are a few informational pages about Nems Clarke on the Internet (see below):

Click here to view on eBay.