Category Archives: Vintage Radio

The Minerva Tropic Master: a portable WWII era morale radio

If you’re a regular here on the SWLing Post, you’ve no doubt discovered that I’m a fan of vintage radios.

Lately, I’ve been attempting to let go of some of my vintage gear to give my favorite rigs proper shelf space and dedicated antenna time. To keep temptation at bay when I visit flea markets or hamfests (like Hamvention and the one in Shelby, NC) I now focus on WWII era radios; specifically “morale” radios that were used for troop entertainment. I’ve two morale sets: the Scott Marine Radio Model SLRM (technically, a commercial version of a Navy set) and the Minerva Tropic Master.

I purchased this Minerva set off of eBay a couple years ago. I got it for $50 or $60, if memory serves (the seller originally wanted $180 + shipping!). He claimed it worked, but after I asked him a few questions prior to making an offer and learned that “working” meant the speaker prodeced a noise and the backlight worked. I made a low offer and he accepted.

Last year, I took Minerva over to my buddy, mentor and boat anchor doctor, Charlie (W4MEC). Charlie discovered the radio had many issues and several poorly implemented repairs. Still, in a few short weeks, when parts arrived he brought the girl back to life.

With front cover closed.

The Tropic Master is a portable eight tube receiver that covers both the AM broadcast band and shortwave bands from 5.5-18 MHz. It can be powered by AC or DC. It was “tropicalized” to withstand extreme heat and humidity. The internal speaker produces mellow, full-fidelity audio and the volume can be increased to room-filling.

To give you a taste, this morning I tuned the Tropic Master to my in-house AM transmitter on 1570 kHz which was being fed audio from The UK 1940s Radio Station (my favorite Internet radio station). This particular clip features Jay Lawrence’s excellent show, From Stateside:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The Tropic Master is portable and even has a fold down handle on top of the chassis. Though substantial, it must be the lightest of all of my vintage metal chassis radios.

Tuning isn’t exactly precise, but it does the job and is a pleasure to use. It’s quite sensitive on both shortwave and mediumwave. Last night, she was tuned to the Voice of Greece on 9420 kHz–I probably listened to two hours of Greek music while her eight tubes warmed the shack.

Who could turn down a radio with this speaker grill?

If you ever find a Minerva Tropic Master at a flea market or hamfest, I say adopt one! It’s a beautiful receiver and like all good vintage radios has a story and history of its own.

Post readers: Any other Tropic Master owners out there or do you have a morale radio? Have you ever spotted a Tropic Master in the wild? Please comment!

a.bsolument: Converting radios from vintage valve into boutique Bluetooth

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who shares this link to a French company called a.bsolument who specializes in converting vintage valve radios into hi-fidelity Bluetooth-connected audio devices.

According to a.solument’s introduction video, they take vintage radios in disrepair, gut the insides and replace the components with modern hardware which includes Bluetooth 4.0 and aux-in capabilities:

While I LOVE vintage radios, I have conflicting feelings about this process.

I take pride in keeping my vintage gear in proper working order (through the help of a mentor). Something that simply cannot be replicated with digital hardware is the sound and warm fidelity of AM audio emanating from a valve classic. At home, I have the option of feeding all of my vintage gear Bluetooth and wireless connectivity via an AM transmitter. This allows me to play any digital content while preserving the original audio fidelity (and warming my radio room with those glowing tubes!).

With that said, I’m very much aware that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the average consumer to find a technician who can repair tube gear affordably. Indeed, some feel it’s impossible thus toss their family radio in the trash.

If a.bsolument is giving vintage beauties–that would otherwise be in a landfill–a new lease on life, then I’m all for it!

What do you think?  Please comment!

The Wacky and Rare Toshiba RP-2000F Now on Ebay

Is this a receiver designed by MacGyverThe Toshiba RP-2000F was a portable radio designed for the 1970s Japanese BCL (Broadcast Listener) and is not often seen on the used market.

A fine example of this model is on the USA Ebay site right now: https://www.ebay.com/itm/TOSHIBA-RP-2000F-Shortwave-Radio-Full-88-108-FM-Dial-Great-Cosmetic-Condition/253300518829

 

The $495.00 starting price is steep, but probably inline with the radio’s rarity and condition. Do any SWLing Post readers have first-hand experience with this model? How does it perform? Let us know in the comments below!

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

British Vintage Wireless Society: Royal Wootton Bassett auction 3rd December 2017

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who writes:

I think you might like the [link] below, I’m thinking that the British Vintage Wireless Society’s auction would be of much interest to your readership:

https://www.bvws.org.uk/auctions/photos.php/2017-12-03-royal-wootton-bassett

Wow–thanks, Kris! What a fantastic array of vintage radios.  I’m so happy I don’t live anywhere near Royal Wootton Bassett–the last thing I need right now is that sort of temptation! I’m afraid I’d walk away with a few vintage goodies if I attended.

Kris also points out one radio in particular: the Televisor-type chassis and Schaub Lorenz Music-Center (48 hour recording Radio):

He included a link to this video of the Schaub Lorenz Music-Center in action.  An amazing bit of mechanical engineering:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Sony ICF-6800W: Dan notes a possible record sales price on eBay

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

A couple of years ago I did a talk a the annual SWL Fest on the best radios of all time (in my opinion anyway). The SONY ICF-6800W was among them, for reasons I think are valid — high sensitivity and beautiful audio, the major ones. Now, one has sold for what could be a record price on eBay — more than $1300. This shows how much folks are willing to pay for 6800Ws that still have the original box….

Wow–to many the ICF-6800W is a “Holy Grail” receiver. Amazing that it has held its value so well. If memory serves, it’s not the easiest radio to work on, but is certainly serviceable.

Thanks for the info, Dan!