Category Archives: Vintage Radio

Raspberry Pi Vintage Radio

This project was a winner in the Maker Share Mission May contest. While not strictly shortwave, of course, many of SWLing Blog readers enjoy, as I do, all things radio, and especially creative and new expressions of radio. Here is a brief excerpt from the MakerShare posting:

Vintage radios are fascinating. At one point the radio was the main method for mass communication of news and entertainment and was manufactured in a variety of styles to be prominently displayed in a home. Unfortunately, many vintage radios that have been physically preserved no longer function and it is impractical for them to be repaired. Described is the design and implementation of the Raspberry Pi Radio (RPiRadio), a device that bypasses the analog electronics of a vintage radio and digitally recreates the behavior of a vintage radio that is able to be tuned to vintage radio programming.

The whole posting may be found here, with extensive details on the building of the radio and how it was programmed for sound replicating the vintage radio era.

While I love tinkering with old radios and trying to bring them back to life, some radios are just beyond reasonable repair. This can bring old radios back to life in a way which seeks to honor their past – a very cool idea indeed!

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

Radio World features a tribute to the Zenith Transoceanic

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who’ve shared a link to this excellent article by Denny Sanders in Radio World Magazine about the history of the Zenith Transoceanic:

Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio in War and Peace

This iconic portable receiver was known for durability and quality

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing proves this more than the story of how the iconic Zenith Trans-Oceanic portable radio receiver came into existence.

Commander Eugene McDonald (1886–1958), the founder of Zenith Radio, was a stickler for quality and insisted that any Zenith product represented cutting edge technology and design integrity.

He was also an accomplished yachtsman. During his many ocean voyages, he constantly was frustrated with the inability of any portable commercial radio set to perform reliably at sea. In about 1939, he ordered the Zenith R&D department to come up with a rock-solid, portable AM receiver sensitive enough to pull in signals from great distances. He insisted that the radio be a multi-band unit including shortwave, marine and aircraft bands.

The Zenith crew came up with a gem: the Trans-Oceanic, a gorgeous piece of engineering housed in a robust and dramatic cabinet designed by the brilliant Zenith industrial designer Robert Davol Budlong.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Radio World Magazine online.

A bookish radio: The Listener by E.R. Fone

A radio disguised as book – ‘The Listener’ by E. R. Fone. c.1920s.

I discovered a photo of the The Listener by E.R. Fone via Dan Wilson’s Twitter feed. What a fascinating piece of vintage gear!

Post readers: Any other radios in disguise that you’ve discovered?  Please share links, photos and/or details in the comments section!

Dan spots the ultra rare Hammarlund SP-600 JX21A on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who discovered a very rareHammarlund SP-600 JX21A on eBay. Dan writes:

Collectors of classic boatanchor gear know what has been probably the rarest of tube sets year after year, decade after decade. That set is the Hammarlund SP-600 JX21A.

While there have been numerous JX21s on eBay, there has not been, to my memory, a single JX21A appearing. This particular model was a version of the SP-600 that was produced in small quantities in the 1960’s, and according to one writeup was the only one with a product detector and switchable sidebands. According to Radiomuseum it was the last model in the SP-600 series, and was recognizable for its knobs which were different because the silkscreen information was printed directly on the front panel rather than on the edge of the knob skirts.

According to Les Locklear’s excellent history of SP-600 models, the JX21A was produced between 1969 and 1972.

Now, an ultra-rare SP-600 JX21A has appeared on eBay. Like other models in the series, this would likely require replacement of numerous capacitors and a thorough refurbishment. The seller in this case has started bidding at a very low level, but if history is any guide, a rare model like this one may indeed go for thousands of dollars when all is said and done at the end of the auction.

Click here to view the Hammarlund SP-600 JX21A on eBay.

Amazing!  Thank you for sharing, Dan! What a gorgeous set. Though the seller states it’s in need of restoration, I’m pretty sure this one will get snagged up at end of auction. I’m very curious where the final price will land.

Are there any SWLing Post readers who own an SP-600 model–or the JX21A?  Please comment!

Dan spots a rare Eddystone 40A HF receiver on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares a rare Eddystone 40A find on eBay. Dan notes:

What is interesting also about this is the similarity to the Drake SW8 — notably the
carrying handle.

40A s are rarely seen on the used market, and in line with other older Eddystone
equipment, they are built like a tank.

I agree, Dan! This receiver is built like a tank! It would be a seriously fun (though relatively heavy) field radio–I love how even the chassis corners are rounded and the entire radio can be protected for transport. Obviously, these were designed with durability and stability in mind. Great find and thanks for sharing!

Click here to view on eBay.