Category Archives: Vintage Radio

Panasonic RF-2200 on ShopGoodwill

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) who shares a link to this National Panasonic RF-2200 on ShopGoodwill.

The bid is currently $78 and ends this evening. You must be registered with ShopGoodwill and have a PayPal account to place a bid.

Note that I’ve had some very good luck in the past with ShopGoodwill, but buying from them is more akin to buying from a flea market than, say, eBay.

Almost always items are sold as-is, no returns, have mediocre low resolution product photos, and are not properly tested. In the case of this RF-2200, it appears the Goodwill employee turned on the radio and tuned the FM band which worked fine.

If you’re willing to take the risk, though, you can often snag great deals on ShopGoodwill.

Guest Post: National HRO-500 Unboxing and Initial Tests

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


HRO-500 Unboxing and Initial Tests

by Dan Robinson

It is amazing that in these days of waning shortwave broadcast activity, there are still those occasional time capsules — radios that appear on the used market via Ebay or private sales that are new in the box or close to it. Think of it — after 50 or 60 years, these fine examples of radio history can still be found, complete with their original boxes, shipping crates, manuals and accessories.

We have seen a number of these in recent years. Several years ago, a Panasonic RF-9000, one of the Holy Grails of radio collecting, appeared on Ebay, in new opened box condition. As rare as that was, it’s even rarer to find tube or solid state communications receivers from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Such is the case with National HRO-500s, which were considered high level receivers when they came on to the market in the mid-1960’s.

In 2016, a seller in California advertised a great rarity — a HRO-500 that he said he purchased in 1967, complete with its original shipping crate.

It was said to be in new/unopened condition, which of course raises concerns about the unit itself since it has never been used since leaving the factory. While that radio apparently sold (the asking price was $2500), I was astounded to recently see another HRO-500. It was not in New/Unopened condition, but the closest one comes to it. Among a collection purchased by the seller, the radio was in its original crate, inside of which was the original box with the original National Radio Co fabric cover, with original strips of fiberglass insulation. The manual is still in its plastic wrap.

I decided to do a video for SWLing Post readers, and provide some still shots, as this time capsule of radio history was opened (this was likely only the 2nd or 3rd time it was opened since leaving the factory, the last time by the seller for photography for the Ebay ad.

The good news — many HRO-500s on the used market exhibit failure of the PLL lock circuit. While the PLL lock light on this particular radio does not light up, its PLL does operate on every band. This radio arrived with one metal cap for the MODE knob missing, so I’ll be searching for a spare. And the dial calibration clutch knob appears to be frozen, another minor issue that does not impact operation of the radio.

All in all, this was a fantastic find and I hope SWLing Post readers enjoy the video and stills:

Video

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Photos


Thanks for sharing your notes, photos and video, Dan!

The National HRO-500 is a gorgeous radio and it looks like you’ve got a prime specimen. I’m so impressed it came with the original wooden crate, exterior box and radio box! Amazing.

We’re looking forward to your assessment of the HRO-500 once you’ve have it on the air a while.

SWLing Post readers: In March, I had the good fortune of visiting Dan Robinson’s home and taking a tour of his impressive radio collection. I took a number of photos with Dan’s permission. I’ve been incredibly busy as of late, but as soon as catch my breath after travels, I’ll post the photo tour. I’ll also post photos from our tour of the NSA museum in Fort Meade, MD. Stay tuned!

Dan sheds light on various Hammarlund SP-600 models

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Daniel Hawkins, who leaves the following comment in reply to our previous post about the Northern Radio SP-600 and discussion about diversity operation. Dan writes:

Diversity operation: two or more receivers and antennas used to copy CW or RTTY from one or more transmitters.

Most of the Hammarlund SP-600s were models built for diversity use including the well-known JX-17, the most common SP-600. Diversity models can be used as single receivers. In this eBay example Northern Radio has modified a SP-600 J-11 for diversity use.

SP-600 nomenclature: J means joint army/navy (JAN) mil-spec components. L means low frequency. X means crystal frequency control in addition to VFO. My SP-600 is a JX-21, which is not a diversity model. Higher model numbers do not necessarily mean later production dates. All SP-600s use the same serial number sequence regardless of model. Somewhere between serial numbers 15,000 and 17,000 (mid 1950’s) Hammarlund stopped using molded black beauty capacitors and switched to installing ceramic capacitors.

The two-digit model numbers indicate model types. JX-1, 7, 10 and 21 were similar non-diversity receivers. SP-600s built for military contracts will have an additional tag showing the military model number(s).

Here is a great page showing Northern Radio modified SP-600s in action with accompanying Northern Radio RTTY gear.

http://www.navy-radio.com/rcvrs/frr28.htm

Thanks for the primer, Dan! I believe I have one of the X models with crystal control, but I’ll need to verify once back home. Any other SP-600 owners out there in the Post readership?

Exceedingly rare Northern Radio modified SP-600

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

Those of us who still use SP-600s, and those of us who once did but can’t deal with them in retirement, lust after some of the rarer versions of the radio. This is one of them, the Northern Radio modified SP-600.

Click here to view on eBay.

Wow! Many thanks for the tip, Dan!

I must say that when Dan finds these rare treasures on eBay, they usually carry a very hefty price.  In my opinion, this is a good deal for a rare SP-600. Best of all, it has a BuyItNow price, so first-come, first serve and no bidding up the amount.  The shipping price is a bargain considering this radio probably weights upwards of 80 lbs.

This SP-600 may need some electrical restoration and possible re-capping. It’s listed as: “For parts or not working.” If you’ve been looking for an SP-600 to restore, this might be worth consideration. Thanks again, Dan.

An EDC Bag for the Classic Sony ICF-SW100 Receiver

In a 2014 article, this site’s administrator Thomas Witherspoon introduced readers to the CIA’s Survival Kit which is housed in a superbly sturdy waistpack, the Maxpedition M-2. Thomas observed that the M-2 pouch is perfectly suited to holding the diminutive Sony ICF-SW100 receiver.

I was intrigued by that possibility, but only recently tried to combine the two after I resurrected another ICF-SW100 that fell silent to the chronic broken ribbon cable problem. Indeed, the radio is a perfect fit and the M-2 is impressively solid and well designed. I was not aware of the Maxpedition firm prior to learning of the M-2 bag, but I see in various forums they are a major player in well-made gear for the survivalist and outdoor enthusiast crowds. The M-2 is a very popular item, and one or more of the four available colors are sometimes out of stock at the manufacturer. Fortunately there are many sellers on Amazon and Ebay who have these waistpacks available.

What is EDC you may ask? It refers to “Every Day Carry”, the essentials that an individual deems necessary for their lifestyle or a particular activity. For me, an EDC bag is taken along on hikes or other outings to the countryside and typically contains a compact shortwave radio and related accessories. It’s always fun to stop for lunch or a break in a remote location and be able to search for interesting stations whenever the mood strikes.

This photo shows what I’m able to carry in the Maxpedition M-2 bag; a coffee mug is shown for size comparison. Contents of the “kit” include:

  • The Sony ICF-SW100 receiver
  • Zero Audio Carbo Tenore In-Ear Monitors & soft pouch
  • Sony AN-71 reel-up antenna
  • Panasonic RR-XS400 Digital Voice Recorder
  • Short 3.5mm male-to-male stereo audio patch cable
  • Two extra AA batteries for the Sony receiver
  • An extra AAA battery for the Panasonic Digital Voice Recorder

A few comments on the contents. The Zero Audio Carbo Tenore In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) provide excellent audio quality for their price. They are among a handful of IEMs regularly recommended by budget-minded audiophiles on the popular Head-fi.org site. I like these IEMs not only for the audio quality, but also their small size (in the cloth bag) which barely fits into the M-2’s main compartment along with the ICF-SW100. Larger earbuds or IEMs might not fit the M-2 without being mangled by the hefty YKK zippers. One caution: the similar Carbo Basso model by Zero Audio is deemed by many to be overly heavy on the bass frequencies. I find the Carbo Tenore to be more than sufficient for bass heavy genres like Electronica.

The Panasonic RR-XS400 digital voice recorder has been out of production a few years, but is a highly capable and compact recorder. It contains a hidden USB plug for charging and data transfer, has a fully featured and backlit LCD display, built-in stereo microphones, switchable LINE/MIC inputs, and other useful features. In excellent used condition the RR-XS400 is worth about $50 USD in 2017, despite some Amazon sellers trying to move them at the original $280 price.

The extra AAA battery for the recorder slips into the front pouch of the M-2 bag along with the Sony AN-71 antenna. The additional AA batteries for the radio, however, are held in the two “pen loops” on the left and right of the M-2. Despite these loops being open-bottomed tubes, the fit is tight enough to hold the batteries securely.

Like every portion of the Maxpedition M-2 bag, the belt loop is proportioned perfectly and sewn with precision. With the Sony ICF-SW100 EDC “kit” secured to my belt on a hike, I’m assured of quick access to a DXing opportunity, such as when hiking the Naches Loop Trail near beautiful Mt. Rainier:

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.