Hallicrafters booth at the 1970 Consumer Electronics Show

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob, who writes:

A great photo for your blog, for no particular reason…

[The image above is a] part of a long blog post by Lenovo about CES history, but I did not see any attribution to Hallicrafters.

Here is the post:

http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/ces-history-technology-consumer-electronics-show/

Very, very cool! What I wouldn’t give to travel back to the CES shows of the 1970s and 80s.

According to the Levono blog, the 1970 CES was when the VCR made its debut. Amazing.

Thanks again, Bob.

I’m curious if any SWLing Post readers have attended the CES in past decades.  I really wanted to attend CES in the 1990s, but since I was a university student half of that decade, I never had the funds (or justification) to do so!

Mike IDs a Hallicrafters Skyrider in Avengers scene

Avengers-Ultron-Hallicrafters-Radios

In response to my post about finding a glowing Hallicrafters radio in a scene from the Avengers: Age of Ultron, SWLing Post reader, Mike (AC4NS) writes:

“I put the pic in Lightroom and pulled it out of the shadows.

It is definitely a Skyrider and not an SX-28.”

Avengers-Ultron-Hallicrafters-Radios-1024x429

Wow–I’m amazed there was enough information in that photo to pull it out of the shadows! You can see the silk screening and the SEND-REC. switch in the lower right corner.

Again, here’s my Hallicrafters SX-24 Skyrider Defiant for comparison:

My Hallicrafters SX-24

I know why they used a Skyrider in the film; the warm glow of the dials and signal meter were simply irresistible! (At least, they are for me!)

Thanks for helping ID this, Mike!

Avengers ‘Age of Ultron’ scene: is that a Hallicrafters receiver?

Avengers-Ultron-Hallicrafters-Radios-1 With the recent posts about shortwave radio in films (Star Wars and Star Trek), I remembered a scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron where I thought I spotted a vintage Hallicrafters receiver.

In the scene, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is using an “old school spy method” to find the whereabouts of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). I remembered Haweye sitting in front of a 1940s era radio.

This weekend, I found the clip from the movie (first time I had seen it since the theatre) and sure enough, I’m positive this is a Hallicrafters. Click on the images above or below to enlarge.

Avengers-Ultron-Hallicrafters-RadiosI can’t quite determine the Halli model, though–can anyone ID it?

The images aren’t the best: the scene is dark and the radio at quite an angle. Still, there’s no mistaking that Hallicrafters glow.

My Hallicrafters SX-24

My Hallicrafters SX-24

I think there’s a good chance it’s the same model I have in my radio shack: the Hallicrafters SX-24 ‘Sky Defiant‘–but I can’t quite confirm. Perhaps it’s an SX-28?

Can anyone provide a positive ID? Please comment!

A Photo Tour of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum

On Tuesday afternoon, I made a pilgrimage the to the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland, USA.  The museum is located in a modest and beautiful historic house on the corner of Mt. Oak and Mitchellville Roads in Bowie.

RadioMeseumExterior

RadioMuseum-Exterior-FrontDoor

Museum Curator and volunteer, Brian Belanger, kindly gave me a private tour of the museum collections (the museum is closed on Tuesdays). Brian

Many thanks to Brian for taking time out of his day for the tour, and for allowing me to take some photos for the SWLing Post!

The museum has a number of display rooms with radios broadly grouped by style and decade. The first room offers examples of some of the earliest radios produced–including the venerable crystal radio (below).

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Miracle

Radio4

Like Brian, numerous volunteers work to keep the collections in working order. This isn’t a place where vintage radios come to die; they actually come to life here.

Volton-Battery

1920sRadioEven examples of some of their earliest radios are on the air and can be tuned to local and international stations.  Radio5

RCA-Radiola-60 RCA-Radiola-60Dial

This RCA “portable” (below), housed two batteries on either side of the center faceplate. Note the ad on the wall above–a couple enjoy the RCA as they recline on a beach.

RCA-Portable RCA-Portable-Dial Radiola-X-RCA Radio10 Atwater-Kent-Black Atwater-Kent-Black-Interior

Speakers of the day were pretty amazing, too–check out this hand-painted 1927 Air Chrome Double Cone Speaker, below.

Air-Chrome-Double-Cone-Speaker

The museum also has an extensive collection of studio and off-air recordings that can be played over an AM carrier throughout the building.

Atwater-Kent-Dial

By the late 1920s and early 1930s, radio manufactures built gorgeous console radios, features in the living rooms and parlors of many lucky homes.

Atwater-Kent

Crosley-Dial

Scott-ConsoleRadio

This E.H. Scott All-Wave 23 console (above and below) sported not only twenty-threee vacuum tubes, but a large, robust internal speaker. Radio collectors consider the All-Wave 23 to be one of the finest performing radios of the vacuum-tube era. Scott-Console-Radio-Dial

Zenith-Shuttle

The museum also features the Zenith 12-S-232 tabletop radio with working shuttle dial–a futuristic band-switching mechanical wonder with a stunning dial.

Zenith-Shuttle-Dial ClintonModel-445X

A number of tabletop and portable radios that span the decades have found their homes in this museum.  No doubt many SWLing Post readers cut their teeth on these classics!

Zenith-Trans-Oceanic-6500 Zenith-Portable American-Radio-AssociatesRealistic-Model-12-173 Garod-Model-582

I love the design of the Garod Model 5A2–wow! And I’m sure many kids of the fifties wished they had an official Hopalong Cassidy AM radio (below).HopAlongCassidy-Radio

The museum, of course, also houses a large number of classic televisions.

Pilot-Model-TVHallicrafters-TV Philco-TV Philco-TV-ControlsRadio stations and benefactors have also donated many items used in the industry, both in broadcast and retail.

NBC-Chimes PhilcoSign Midwest-Magazine SylvaniaSigns 980KC-MicBrian was also kind enough to take me to the building, next door, where they repair radios and store others for eventual rotation into the collection.

Workshop Repair4 Repair2

Museum volunteers also teach radio repair and restoration classes.Repair1 Repair3

GE-RadioThe number of classic ham radios, home brew receivers and transmitters was simply amazing. Indeed, I felt like a kid in a candy shop!

Radio1 National-NC-46 HalliDial Hallicrafters-SX100 Hallicrafters-SX62A Hallicrafters-SuperSkyrider Hallicrafters-Super-Skyrider CollinsTransmitterBy the end of the tour, I had decided to become a member of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum. Even though I live a few states away, I like knowing that my membership funds not only help preserve vintage radios and televisions, but also provide me members-only access to many of their scanned archives. Click to view a full list of benefits for a modest $25 membership.

Again, many thanks to Brian Belanger for the amazing tour of this wonderful museum!  Brian, I’ll be back next year…

The Hallicrafters SX-88: a rare find and a gem of engineering

Hallicrafters-SX-88

Yesterday while glancing through the QTH.com classifieds ads, I noticed a rare boat anchor for sale: the Hallicrafters SX-88.

The seller, Jeremy, describes this SX-88 as follows:

Hi [t]here, I have one SX88 in minty shape and is one of a handful that came in military green on [the] front panel for evaluation by the military. This is an exceptional radio in amazing condition. I can provide pics for someone who is seriously interested. I am open to a fair offer on radio. Please, no low-ballers. We all know what [it’s] worth…

Halli-SX-88-QTH-Ad“We all know what it’s worth–?

Well, it just so happened that my good friend (and Elmer, or ham radio guru) Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) had recently provided me with a little history lesson on the subject of the SX-88, so I did know what this rig is worth: a great deal of money.

But curiosity got the best of me, so I contacted Jeremy (a nice fellow, by the way) and asked what he was expecting to receive in exchange for his Hallicrafters SX-88? Jeremy’s reply:

“…$5,500 USD will take it. It is a very rare unit; it was… only one of about 6 [painted green]…for presentation to the military for evaluation.

That price is firm. [I] will not negotiate downward, and shipping [from Ontario, Canada] is extra.”

After receiving this response from Jeremy, I happened to think that I have the reference guide to rare/used shortwave receivers: Fred Osterman’s Shortwave Receivers Past and Present 4th edition. (Click here for more info.)

Osterman’s wonderfully comprehensive guide mentions that the SX-88 is a “highly regarded, rare and collectible model.” As for the rarity of the SX-88, he describes it thus: “Extremely Scarce.” The used price range he gives is from $3,500-7,000 US.

I also have Chuck Dachis’ book, Radios By Hallicraftersin it, he states that the SX-88 is, “the most sought-after Hallicrafters model.” Wow.

After thanking Jeremy for his response, he replied:

“It’s a lot of money for a receiver for certain, but it is a fantastic shortwave receiver as the audio that comes out of it is amazing.

It has 10 watts of audio and into a big speaker–it is second to none. The fidelity is amazing and it is the king of its kind. [For those who like] tube rigs, it is the best of its kind.

For ham purposes on AM it is amazing, and on CW I find it incredible to use.

[W]hen they built this thing they intended to pull all [the] stops out and build the best radio they could for the day with the military in mind. It was an engineering marvel for the day.

Anyway, I have played with it for years now and need to thin out the herd.”

Impressive. And while I just don’t have that kind of money to fork out for a receiver, I did ask myself the question: “If I had $5,500 to blow, would I get that Hallicrafters SX-88?”

And my answer? Yes.  In fact, I would personally drive to Jeremy’s home in Ontario and bring it back; no way I’d trust it to a parcel carrier or the post office…

Click to enlarge (Source: AntiqueRadio.org)

Click to enlarge (Source: AntiqueRadio.org)

Come on, you may say. For a guy who rarely pays over $50 for a vintage receiver, how could you possibly justify that kind of financial and time commitment–?

Well, let’s think of it this way.  I remember when when I paid well over two thousand for my first laptop in college. How much is it worth now? Maybe twenty dollars–?

Many people have retirement funds in investments, some of which are in a variety of innovative companies that they actually patronize–for example, Apple or Microsoft.  But how often can you find an investment that you can actually play with? One which you can turn on, tune in, work the controls, and enjoy?

Yes, I’m sure this is just the sort of justification voiced by many a vintage car collector…So, why not for a museum-worthy radio? After all, they’re not making these anymore.

I expect this Halli will not only hold its value, but will probably increase in value over time.

Ah, well; fun to ponder.  My question to you: Would you buy a $5,500 vintage receiver if you had it to spare?

If your answer is yes, and you do have the money, then you might want to contact Jeremy.

I’m very curious if there are any SX-88 owners among our readership? If so, please comment with your thoughts about the ’88!

And for the rest of us, just so we can revel in the vicarious pleasure of ownership, I’ve included some additional information about the Hallicrafters SX-88 below, including two videos.

Resources (courtesy of Jeremy):


Dayton Hamvention flea market: a few photos

I had a little over one hour to check out the Dayton Hamvention flea market yesterday morning before manning our inside exhibitor’s table for Ears To Our World.

Here are a few radios that caught my attention:
CollinsRadios

Hallicrafters-SX-24I actually purchased the Hallicrafters SX-24 in this photo (above) for $60. I would have purchased the speaker as well but he wanted $200 (!!!) for it.

Hallicrafters-SX-42 Hallicrafters-SX28 Hammarlund-HQ145ABy the time I made it back to this Hammarlund HQ 145 A, someone else had already snagged it. It was a beauty!

Panasonic-RF-4800 Philips Racal-RA6790GMI probably saw eight of these RA6790/GM’s scattered throughout the flea market.

Signal-Corps-BC-1308 Zenith

Video: Ken operates his Hallicrafter S-120 for the first time

The Hallicrafters S-120

In response to our last post regarding Hallicrafters’ promotional 45 RPM record, Ken Carr comments:

“I got the entire promotional kit for the [Hallicrafters] S120 when I was a kid. My parents even bought the radio for me. I still have everything, including the record. How could you not want to get into SWL after listening to it?

My dad took an 8mm film of me using the new radio. I have since digitized it.”

Ken then kindly shared his video (which can also be viewed on YouTube):

Thanks for sharing, Ken! This stuff is priceless.