Dean’s love of the JRC NRD-515 spans 35 years…

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dean Bianco, who kindly allowed me to share his note which accompanies the photo above:

Me and my then brand-new JRC-NRD-515 in 1985.

Thirty-five years later in 2020, it is still with me. It works today as it did when it was first taken out of its box! This fact is a testament to the 515’s precision engineering, high-quality components, and tank tough build! The only trouble in these 35 years was the gummy 2.4 kHz mechanical filter issue that all 515’s eventually suffer. However, that was an easy fix and other than de-oxit every five years in the controls, and dusting the interconnect circuit wire RCA plugs, it performs flawlessly. It was used two hours ago.

I have an advanced SDR stand-alone, the astounding Icom R-8600 that has better sound, better specs, and more facilities to peak and tweak a flea-powered signal out of a huge pile of powerhouse flamethrowers than does the old 515. But, when I want to experience the old-school large knobs, the large tuning wheel and the sheer enjoyment that only an old heavy metal radio can provide, I turn to the classic NRD-515!

I don’t blame you, Dean.  I have never owned an NRD-515, but I have always admired its design and layout. It has such an all-business, military/rugged look.  One thing I really love about the NRD-515 is how the RF and AF gain pots flank either side of the main encoder. The controls spacing is also ideal, in my book. Check out the following photo I took of Dan Robinson’s NRD-515:

Thanks so much, Dean!

Any other NRD-515 owners or lovers out there?  Please comment!

Spread the radio love

16 thoughts on “Dean’s love of the JRC NRD-515 spans 35 years…

  1. Ken

    Hello everyone, I’m a long time JRC fan, using NRD515,NRD72.
    Both dial encoders are the same, CPA93 or CPA94
    The encoder has failed. I want to make the same encoder externally, but I want to use COPAL RES20D50-201-1 for the external encoder, also LOGIC IC 40…74HC… There are a lot of lee… Can someone please give me a schematic, PE1ABR web is very helpful.

  2. Michael

    I bought a 515 a couple of days ago…it was less than 500 with the matching speaker. The MHZ switch was
    acting poorly so I hit it with caig deoxit pro gold and now it is perfect. It has a 2.4, 6, and 8kc filter.
    It works perfectly and is a quiet and very sensitive receiver. It really is more like a commercial radio than a consumer one. It is similar in feel to my Mackay Marine 3031A receivers which are ex canadian merchant marine rigs. Naturally I love it. I heard Auckland VOLMET on 13252kc with it today…a first for me,
    Really fun on MW with the 8kc filter it sounds really nice. It is fantastic for SSB utility use. While it has no notch, tone control, DSP, etc it presents as a very capable radio and control feel is epic grade.

    I certainly understand now the cult following. Highest recommendation if you like ute listening.

  3. Matthew

    Hi Dean I enjoyed your enthusiasm for the JRC. I have a New in original Boxes a JRC 515 receiver, controller, Memory, and speaker. Also, Collins mechanic filter. All paper work and original receipt.
    My father loved Radio and was my inspiration to become a ham. He passed before Christmas found the boxed equipment in his radio room .
    73 KB3drf

  4. Ron

    I too have a 515 but the main tuning dial doesn’t operate anymore, I’m interested in the Bourne vernier tuning mod since I can’t find a new one.

    1. PE1ABR - Walter

      The tuning encoder can be opened and repaired. But it is very tricky. The output IC 4011 sometimes malfunctions. Or the setting of the photo cells need adjustment. Tuning is done by means of a very thin metal shim disk with tiny sleeves. The whole Rx must be dismantled. I did it at least 5 times in different Rx devices.

  5. Fabien SERVE

    The previous owner of my second JRC NRD-515 added FM mode.
    I think he wanted to listen to the Cibists who often used this mode locally.

  6. Harald Kuhl

    Well known DXer Henrik Klemetz (sk) from Sweden told me about his NRD-515 during an AGM of DSWCI near Copenhagen. Later I bought a used NRD-515, which I still own. Using that excellent radio and an indoor antenna I heard (and QSL-ed) quite a few PNG stations on the tropical bands here in Germany. Its clear audio in SSB/ECSS really helped getting IDs and program details out of weak signals needed for a decent reception report.

  7. Fabien SERVE

    I like the JRC NRD 515 too.
    It is simple and enjoyable to use.
    I bought a used NRD 515 whose audio was improved by Kiwa. I regret that there is not in my country (France) a company as brilliant as KIWA USA

  8. Bob

    Couldn’t agree more.I bought my 225 around 1990 from Universal.I had the tech install 2 Collins filters in the two extra available slots and have never had to take the covers off.It still plays flawlessly.I use it daily.My 2 complaints are…..(1)the noise blanker is useless (2)the internal speaker is not very good so I use an external speaker.

  9. Tom

    I had a 515 that I bought from Gilfer Shortwave, NJ in the mid-1980’s. After stepping away from shortwave for an extended period, I sold it 10 yrs ago & now really regret doing so. It was a great radio and was indeed built like a tank. It gave me many pleasurable hours of hunting for DX.

  10. David Malick

    I am also the owner of a JRC NRD-515 for close to 30 years. Still works like when it was new. Check out PE1ABR’s website – it is full of detailed information about the 515.

  11. Dan Robinson

    As I think I said to someone the other day — could have been Dean on FB — I love the 515 so much I now have 3 of them, including one with the famous modified Bourne vernier tuning and one modified by Sherwood for SE-3 use. Will always remember the day I first saw the 515 (at a Numero Uno event in Kentucky) — a thing of beauty, and many of them are now on the used market, especially in Japan.


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