Tag Archives: Vintage Radio

International Crystal Manufacturing Closing Shop

(Source: ARRL via Ed Ganshirt)

International Crystal Manufacturing (ICM) of Oklahoma City has announced that it will be going out of business, probably at the end of May. Royden Freeland Jr., W5EMH, son of the company’s founder, posted a letter this week on the ICM website.

“We will be honoring all orders that we have already taken and will be able to fill a limited amount of new orders dependent upon raw materials available,” Freeland said. “We would like to thank you for your past business. The success of ICM over the previous 66 years has been largely due to its amazing customer base.”

International Crystal produces RF control devices — quartz crystals, oscillators, QCM crystals, filters, TCXOs/VCTCXOs, and precision crystals.[…]

Continue reading at the ARRL…

ICM has also posted the following message on their website:

The diminutive but brilliant Sony ICF-SW100: a few autumn/winter DX catches

Hi there, I posted an article on this brilliant little radio a few months ago because it had demonstrated a level of performance way beyond my expectations. Notwithstanding it’s incredibly small size the DX results I obtained with it were beyond my ICF-SW55 and up there with the iconic ICF-2001D. Armed with synchronous detection, selectable side bands, SSB, CW and sensitivity seemingly boyond it’s tiny form factor I can’t recommend this radio highly enough.

 

Originally introduced into the market in 1993 and discontinued in 2005, the ICF-SW100 won’t ever be repeated – a point I made in my original post, but of course they are available on eBay and prices remain robust for what is now essentially a vintage receiver. Unfortunately, I don’t get to use my ICF-SW100 very much as I have various other receivers and have been involved in antenna building/testing and MW DX for the past few months. However, on the couple of occasions when I have taken the Sony on a mini DXpedition, it’s resulted in some fine DX. As demonstrated in the examples below, Mali, Guinea, Alaska and Japan are amongst the more difficult signals to copy in Europe and yet the ICF-SW100 delivered them! Text links to reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow below and futher down you will find embedded videos. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Guest Post: The Story And Restoration Of My Hallicrafters SX-42

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Arthur Smith, who shares the following guest post:


The Story And Restoration Of My Hallicrafters SX-42

by Arthur Smith

As a junior high student way back in 1978, I had a natural interest in radios. My dad was a ham radio operator, electronics engineer, and designer. We always had cool, exotic radios and electronic gadgetry around the house. He was also in the Korean War, in the US Army Corps of Engineers, with access to a wide variety of equipment. He often told me the story of how he became interested in radio at an early age, and how he saved up for expensive radio gear, with a little help from my grandparents. Back in 1946, Hallicrafters was THE brand to own, and their postwar designs from Raymond Loewy, were catching the eye of many enthusiasts. The SX-42 was being hyped up in Hallicrafters ads as the ultimate radio to own, one that could tune the shortwave and ham bands, and beyond. I don’t know the complete story, but prior to acquiring his SX-42, my dad also purchased an S-38 and S-40. Never satisfied with “good and better”, my father wanted “the best”. All 15 tubes and 50-plus pounds of boatanchor.

Always ambitious and industrious, he mowed lawns, repaired motorcycles, and did odd jobs for neighbors in his suburban Boston neighborhood. He worked smart, and worked hard. And that fall, bought his SX-42.

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The radio, we think, was about $279, which would make it the equivalent of almost $3500 in today’s dollars. He heard the start of the Cold War, and the Soviet Union’s Sputnik. And the birth of Rock and Roll on FM! He graduated high school, went away to the Korean War, serving two Tours of Duty. He came back home, and became an electronics engineer. And a licensed ham radio operator.

Moving ahead to 1978, and yours truly had the radio bug, in the worst way. Not as ambitious or as savvy as my father, a classmate, who was also a ham radio operator, told me about a National HRO he had, with some coils, and maybe needing some work. My Dad came home from work, and I just had to tell him about this great opportunity, which of course, would require his financial backing. At this point, the SX-42 and his other two Hallicrafters were seeing “backup” duty, having long since gone solid state in his post. “Hey, I’ve got an idea!” When a Dad says that, a son usually wants to run. Not in this case. “How about we give you my SX-42?!” Gee, twist my arm. I had loved watching those mesmerizing green back lit dials, S meter, and geared tuning knobs. Unfortunately for my classmate, he had to keep his National. Fortunate for me, I had my father’s SX-42!

That radio logged my first 100 countries, including QSL cards from countries and stations no longer in existence. It heard the fall of the Berlin Wall. And, it was at the heart of my school Science Project, which made Science Fair, featuring an experiment on longwire shortwave radio reception.

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halllicrafters-sx-42-tubes Years later, the focus became family, a child, and a house. The SX-42 and siblings came with me, but this time, in boxes. After having seen a WW2 vintage Hallicrafters S-20R at a consignment shop a couple of summers ago, I thought how cool it might be to have Dad’s radios electronically and cosmetically restored.

The S-38 and S40 were in a box in my damp basement. While intact, they had a considerable amount of rust. Luckily, I was able to find a gentleman with great electronic and mechanical skills. He brought the S38 back to life, working and looking beautiful. And is working still on the S-40. As for the SX-42, that was upstairs in a box in my son’s closet. Dry and somewhat preserved, but with some corrosion on the control panel. And sadly, that iconic lock knob that switches between main tuning and brandspread tuning, had been lost in the move. I had to find someone who could take this project on.

After an extensive search, I found my man. An engineer with his own business, who was moving into retirement, and shutting his business down. He had restored an SX-42 a few years back, with amazing results. I had to lure him out of retirement! Which I did after a few emails back and forth. And, he was within driving distance! First warning was “do not power the radio back up under any circumstance- you’ll fry the wafers on the bandswitch!” I resisted temptation, as I had read online that these were notorious for failure, usually to some original capacitors that leak over the decades.

After 13 months replacing every capacitor, virtually every resistor, and vacuum tube, the iconic radio was coming back to life, in a great way. The transmission and gears in the tuning was re-lubricated. During the restoration process, a date was found stamped on the chassis of October 25th, 1946. Could it be?

img_7367-02-12-16-06-57-1Hallicrafters had advertised in the Oct, 1946 issue of Radio News that “The first hundred are always the hardest to build.” This, coupled with the fact that none of the chassis circuit had been modified, lead my restorer to believe that my radio was one of the first 100 SX-42’s that Hallicrafters had built!

The front panel was stripped and treated, professionally painted and silkscreened. The cabinet and apron bead blasted, repainted, and clear coated. It came back home with me last month. A month after it turned 70.

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As you can see here, the radio looks stunning. And, with all the Hallicrafters Service Bulletin mods implemented, sounds and performs better than I remember. Maybe more importantly, we were able to locate a replacement brake lock knob for the tuning shaft, even with the “Lock” decal and arrow showing to rotate it counterclockwise. It just would not have felt complete without that little knob- and, it works!

halllicrafters-sx-42-frontEngaging a set of what essentially are brake pads, you rotate it once to disengage the main tuning and engage the bandspread tuning. Again, and you’re back to main tuning.

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This radio will always remain a truly cherished family heirloom, and will be my son’s someday. Complete with the original owner’s manual, and Darth Vader-like R42 Reproducer (speaker).

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Hopefully to live on for another 70-plus years, and hear more history along the way.

-Arthur Smith Worcester, MA


Wow–!  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Arthur. No doubt, your SX-42 will certainly outlive all of us and will hopefully continue to be passed down through your family. What a wonderful story.

What radio would you grab in a fire?

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Lately, fires have been on my mind. No doubt, this is because there are so many wildfires in the greater southern Appalachian region right now, which is in the midst of a record drought. Brush fires start up almost daily, and no rain is in sight.  In the mountains, the air is hazy with smoke, and it’s become a struggle for fire departments to contain these blazes, even with help from outside the region.

Living, as we do, in a forest, we’ve always had to think through contingency plans if a forest fire should threaten our home:  with only a two hour (or so) warning, what items would we grab and load into our truck?

Of course, we’d likely focus on those things that are irreplaceable and thus essentially invaluable: our few family heirlooms, boxes of photos, documents––you know, stuff you can’t buy.

But what about radios?  I hope I’ll never be forced to choose the one thing I should save from my shack, because there are several to which I’m rather sentimentally attached…There’s my Zenith Transoceanic, for example–the first proper shortwave radio I ever owned. There are also a number of vintage radios as well as some SDRs which have become my staple receivers.

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In the end, though, there’s no question which radio I’d grab. It would have to be my Scott Marine Radio Model SLR-M, affectionately nicknamed “Scottie.”. True, she’s not even close to portable at a solid 90 pounds, but I’d strap her to the roof of my vehicle, if I had to.

Why?  Well, it’s the most pristine vintage radio I own, and I use it daily. If it’s not tuned to Radio Australia in the morning, it’s tuned to my AMT3000 AM transmitter on 1570 kHz drawing in any of a number of stations I relay from my WiFi radio.

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Scottie simply isn’t replaceable. Even though my Elecraft KX3 probably costs more in terms of monetary value, I could eventually scrape together the money to buy another KX3. But I couldn’t buy Scottie again. Not this one.

So, there you go: after we’ve saved those things important to our family, I’d grab a 1945 receiver and haul it to safety.

Post readers: Now I’m curious–if your home was threatened by fire or other disaster, what radio would you save? Please comment!

A photo tour of the 2016 Shelby Hamfest

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My Labor Day weekend was free of travel again this year, so I was able to make another pilgrimage to the Shelby (North Carolina) hamfest with my good buddies, Vlado (N3CZ), Dave (K4SV) and Phil (W9IXX). This year, all four of us brought things to sell in the flea market.

The Shelby Hamfest–referred to, locally, as “The Grand-Daddy of them All”–has long been regarded as one of the largest hamfests in the southeast US. Last year, I posted photos from the hamfest and many of you sent notes of thanks for that.

We arrived very early yesterday, prior to the gates opening for general admission. We set up our tables and almost immediately had customers in front of us. This year, I was in selling mode, not buying mode, as I desperately need to downsize some of my collection and use the money to offset costs of review radios, and some of the conferences I’m attending this year.

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The seller of this Grundig Satellit 500 only wanted $75–an exceptional bargain. I turned it on, though, and quickly discovered the LCD screen worked intermittently after having only been on for a few seconds. It was a little scuffed up too. Still–it produced great audio.IMG_20160903_104935512 IMG_20160903_104924284 IMG_20160903_104909396 IMG_20160903_104840559 IMG_20160903_104753772_HDR IMG_20160903_104732133 IMG_20160903_104706457_TOP IMG_20160903_104638547_HDR IMG_20160903_104633192 IMG_20160903_104355149 IMG_20160903_104343941_HDR IMG_20160903_104335454_HDR IMG_20160903_094424451 IMG_20160903_094413210 IMG_20160903_094350615_TOP IMG_20160903_094345045_HDR IMG_20160903_094337535 IMG_20160903_094247499_TOP IMG_20160903_094222390 IMG_20160903_094157726 IMG_20160903_094153301 IMG_20160903_094129115_TOP IMG_20160903_094125382 IMG_20160903_094121510 IMG_20160903_094112237 IMG_20160903_094108929_TOP IMG_20160903_094102125 IMG_20160903_094057690 IMG_20160903_094051265 IMG_20160903_094047198_HDR IMG_20160903_094043251

Someone had done a spectacular job restoring this Super-Pro. It would make a fine addition to any shack.
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The same seller who had the Grundig Satellit 500 was also selling this Sony ICF-6500W for $75. Other than scratchy pots, it seemed to work well.  It was very tempting to purchase, but I passed in the end.IMG_20160903_093525866_TOP

He was selling this Panasonic for $150. I passed because I had a hunch it needed a little work.IMG_20160903_093512146 IMG_20160903_093503774 IMG_20160903_093301777 IMG_20160903_093259270 IMG_20160903_092333597_TOP IMG_20160903_091445596 IMG_20160903_090320282_HDR IMG_20160903_090221887 IMG_20160903_090216356 IMG_20160903_090213331_HDR

One of the finest R-274-As I’ve ever seen. Again: someone spent a great deal of time restoring this beauty. By the time I found it in the flea market, it had already been sold. Thank goodness!IMG_20160903_090137715 IMG_20160903_090122681 IMG_20160903_090115476_HDR IMG_20160903_090103868_HDR IMG_20160903_090059269 IMG_20160903_090048304_TOP IMG_20160903_090028432_TOP IMG_20160903_085937840_HDR IMG_20160903_085717679 IMG_20160903_085703210_TOP IMG_20160903_085642966 IMG_20160903_085627053 IMG_20160903_085624079 IMG_20160903_085617071

I must have spotted at least six or seven Hallicrafters SX-100s this year at Shelby.
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I managed to come home with only $40 worth of parts: connectors, cables, plugs and a 17 meter band MFJ whip antenna (to try on my recently-acquired Elecraft KX2). I was pretty proud of myself as there were an exceptional number of vintage radios I would have loved to have taken home (like the console radio below–!).

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Any Post readers attend the Shelby hamfest? Have you attended any other local hamfests recently?  If so, please comment on what you found!