Category Archives: Vintage Radio

Radio Cameos in Japanese Cinema

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jon, who writes:

Good day,

I regularly visit the SWLing Post and very much appreciate the breadth of content you provide on the shortwave hobby. In between the receiver reviews and stories on broadcaster activities, I much enjoy the pieces showing the radio gear that folks notice in television/films. Over the course of the COVID19 pandemic, I have been watching a lot of films from Japan, and in the process have spotted quite a few interesting receivers here and there. Below are some photos and details on some of these unsung stars of Japanese cinema. I think that JRC enthusiast Dan Robinson will agree with me that it’s the ensemble cast of JRCs in Virus that steal the show! 🙂

1. Masahiro Shinoda’s 1961 Epitaph to My Love opened with a very nice shot of a Sony TR-812 multi-band portable in a scene where a news broadcast is being heard in a bar setting.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_tr_812_tr812.html

2. A Sony AFM-152J is shown in a contemporary home setting in Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1966 film The Face of Another.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_fmam_automatic_tuning_radio_esaki_diode_afm_152j.html

3. Kihachi Okamoto’s 1978 sci-fi film Blue Christmas featured a brief shot of a Sony ICF-7600 – the first of a legendary line of Sony portables that would carry “7600” in their designation.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_icf_7600.html

4. There were several radio appearances in Kinji Fukasaku’s 1980 Virus – a film that took disaster movies to a new level by depicting both a global pandemic and a nuclear holocaust.

A range of JRC gear was captured in a scene that was set in a Japanese Antarctic base. Identifiable rigs include the NRD-10 and the NRD-71.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/jrc_nrd_10nrd1.html
https://www.rigpix.com/jrc/jrc_nrd71.htm

In another scene from the Antarctic base, a Trio (Kenwood) TS-820S is shown powered up.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/trio_kenwo_ts_820s_ts820s.html

5. Lastly, we have an unidentified tube receiver from Masahiro Shinoda’s Childhood Days – an interesting 1990 film about a school aged boy in World War II era Japan who, because of the bombing threat, is sent from his Tokyo home to live in a rural village.


Thank you for sharing this, Jon! It’s wonderful to include radio sightings from Japanese cinema in our ever-growing collection of radios in movies!

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Dan Notes: Vintage JRC Receivers Set Price Records in Japan

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


Vintage JRC Receivers in Japan Set Price Records

by Dan Robinson

While used market prices for older vintage communications receivers have been dropping significantly in recent years, prices for some classic “premium” receivers — particularly rare marine radios made by Japan Radio Company — have remained in the stratosphere.

The past year has seen a number of examples of this observable on the Japan Yahoo auction site Buyee, and in May and June of 2021 two JRC sets sold for more than $5,000 dollars each after intense bidding.

Both of these involved what appeared from photos to be mostly pristine NRD-240 receivers which came complete with original manuals and cables.

Photos

With Serial Numbers of 66149 and 50337, manufactured in 1996 and 1997, these receivers are examples of what I call “time capsules.” Their condition indicates that they were both in the hands of collectors in Japan, and probably were not in regular extended service as shipboard receivers.

The first sold for $5,776.06 after 164 bids on the Buyee site, while the second went for $5,166.72 after 77 bids.

As described here in an old Universal Radio ad, the JRC NRD-240 was built for marine operations and complied with GMDSS requirements. With coverage from 90.000 to 29999.999 kHz it has 1 Hz display in LSB, USB, AM, CW, and FSK (RTTY) modes. Like many JRC marine receivers it had a front panel selectable 2182 kHz emergency channel. Bandwidths include: 6, 3, 1 and 0.3 kHz with 100 channels, scan/sweep, along with a switchable AF Filter, NB, Lock, Keypad entry, built in speaker, Squelch, BITE, Dimmer and AGC selection.

In the lineup of the most sought after JRC marine receivers, the NRD-240 is listed in the famous guide book by Fred Osterman “Shortwave Receivers Past & Present” on Page 222, as well as on the cover of the book. The price tag is $8000. The receiver was also the subject of a review by in the former Passport to World Band Radio in 1991.

Historically, the NRD-240 was replaced by the JRC NRD-301A, which itself was later replaced by the super-rare NRD-302A, and still later the NRD-630. In terms of rarity, at this point based on my following of the premium receiver used market, the most rare of the JRC marine sets are the NRD-95, followed by the NRD-630 and 301 series.

When bidding gets furious for radios like this, it can take one’s breath away and that was certainly the case with these two NRD-240s. How many more like these, in this condition, may remain in the hands of collectors is, of course, not known.

The rarity of certain receivers can be measured also by the number of user videos showing up on You Tube. There are many of the NRD-92/93 receivers, even some of the NRD-630, and a few showing much older JRC sets such as the NRD-73. I have yet to find a video showing a NRD-240 in operation.

The Japan Buyee site (which sometimes also has receivers that are not physically located in Japan) has a seemingly constant flow of these amazing vintage JRC sets, along with other premium rigs. Photos of the two NRD-240s that sold in May and June are posted with this article (above).

Click here to check out listings on Buyee.

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Check out the British Vintage Wireless Society auction!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares a link to the following radio auction via the British Vintage Wireless Society:

https://www.bvws.org.uk/auctions/photos.php/2021-06-04-online-auction

Kris notes:

The online auction link, above, has 1499 photos of 310 lots. Not a small viewing..!

There is only one small proviso, you have to be a member of the British Vintage Wireless Society to bid.

Here is the BVWS home page: https://www.bvws.org.uk/

Wow! Thanks for sharing, Kris. I’ve been browsing the listings and I must say that I wouldn’t mind at all joining the BVWS to bid on some of these beauties!

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Marwan discovers this Philco console at a family home

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marwan Baayoun, who writes:

Hello Thomas,

I hope this email finds you and yours well and in good health.

Before our trip to Turkey next Sunday, my wife and I went to see our three month and only grand kid we have. In her play room I noticed that our son in law has an antique radio that his father gave it to him. Upon close look up, I noticed it has shortwave and police bands on line-up. I thought I’d take a few photos and share them with you all. The radio was working but recently some of the tubes inside went out and they need to be replaced.

Below are the pictures I took. Oh, and I decided to take with me my Tecsun PL-880. I so want to take either my Sony SW-2010 or the ICF-SW77, but I don’t want to risk not seeing them in case they get confiscated. The next top model that I have and that I can alway replace is the 880 and I figured it is the one that’s going to accompany me on out trip.

Cheers and I hope the photos are of interest.

Marwan

Thank you for sharing this, Marwan! Those Philco console radios are simply stunning–I love the craftsmanship of the body. I’m not familiar enough with Philcos of this era to identify it, but perhaps someone here in the SWLing Post community can! I certainly hope your son-in-law can have it repaired–this radio would have amazing audio.

And, yes! I think the PL-880 would make for a great travel companion on your upcoming trip!

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Zack’s Sony ICF-S5W

In reply to our Caveat Emptor post, many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Zack (N8FNR), who writes:

Attached is a copy of the Sony brochure for the ICF-S5W, a photo of the front and also the inside. This is a fairly old rare radio and some of your readers might enjoy the following.

I just wrote to Dr. Vlado asking if he can restore my fairly rare Sony ICF-S5W. Luckily I have three of them, two of which are dead so I could send all three and he could possibly cannibalize them to make one good working rig. I also have an original copy of the manual.

Few people have heard of the ICF-S5W as it was only made from 1980-81. One of the interesting features of the radio is that the Sony engineers put the 16cm ferrite antenna at an angle as they claimed it improved incoming signals.

Many reviewers at the time claimed that it was better than the GE Superradio of that vintage.

If you would like to know more about this radio below are a few reviews.

Thank you for sharing this, Zack. I was not familiar with the Sony ICF-S5W. I love the simplicity of this radio–and that nearly diagonal ferrite bar? I can’t think of any other radio I’ve seen with that!

And having spare “parts” radios is a solid plan if you have a particular radio you love and want to keep it in working order over the long term.

Any other ICF-S5W owners out there? Please comment!

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Videos: Nick explores synchronous detection and the Racal 6217

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Boras, who shares the following:

I was motivated by one of Tom Styles videos (hamrad88) about Sync detection to make one of my own. It is no secret that Tecsun offers Sync on several of their radios but only the 660 and 680 really work. My take on Sync is that the results are not consistent even on some of the highest rated Sync radios. While my video is not scientific or nearly complete, I think it gives a good representation of what we can expect from Sync for SWL.

[In addition] today was Radio Day, so I made another video on a very interesting radio:

Thought your readers might be interested.

We are indeed! Thank you for sharing these videos, Nick! That Racal, by the way, is a beautiful beast of a rig!

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Caveat Emptor: A quick note about buying vintage solid state radios

Even rare NIB (New In Box) finds can have age issues internally

After posting links to a few used radios online yesterday, SWLing Post contributor, Jim Teddford, commented:

The thing to remember when buying solid state mulitiband radios online is that you’re buying “a pig in a poke.” Meaning you are buying a radio at your own risk. Radios from the 70s/80s/90s-(Panasonic Command Series and the Sony classics: ICF-6800, ICF-2021, etc.) are now to the point where components like capacitors, displays, knob/switches etc.are failing due to age. Unless you can repair or restore the radio, don’t buy it. Just admire the photo online.

Jim has a valid point here and it’s one I echo a lot when readers contact me asking if they should, for example, be looking for a used Sony ICF-2010 instead of a new radio like the Tecsun H-501x.

Although I bet 1970s-1990s era solid-state radios have much better longevity than our newer DSP receivers, at this point you must assume components will need to be replaced.

I’ve purchased two Panasonic RF-2200s in the past decade and both needed to have capacitors replaced, an internal cleaning, and DeOxit applied to the switches and pots. I assumed this much when I made the purchases. Mechanically, the radio worked well, but…what…four decades(!?!) of age will take a toll on the internals.

I’m not an expert on re-capping and restoring vintage radios, for that I rely on folks like Vlado and Chuck. Mentally, I set aside a budget to have work done on the radio and I add that to the purchase price.

Most of the time, components like capacitors, resistors, inductors, etc. can be replaced with no issues.

Keep in mind, though, that some items particular to any one model–like digital displays and integrated circuits–may already be obsolete. I’ll be the first to admit that if a digital display doesn’t work on a used solid state radio, I skip it for this very reason.

So when a newcomer to the radio world asks me they should purchase a used Sony ICF-2010 or a modern portable that’s still in production, my tendency is to dissuade them from the vintage set unless they have the skill or funds to give it a little TLC if needed.

With those disclaimers out of the way, I must say that I’ve yet to meet a modern DSP radio that has the audio fidelity of a 1970/80s era solid state radio like the GE Superadio or Panasonic RF-2200. And the Sony ICF-2010 or the Panasonic RF-B65? Both are still benchmark receivers and can wipe the floor with many of our late model radios.

In a nutshell: if you’re willing to put a little time and money into re-capping, repairing and restoring a reputable solid state radio, go for it! Otherwise, stick with a late model receiver that may even be backed by a manufacturer’s warranty.

Me? I’m willing to take the risk and invest to give these vintage portables a new lease on life!

SWLing Post readers: What do you think? Have you ever purchased a solid state radio that failed shortly after purchase? Have you ever restored a solid state radio? Did I miss any important points? Please comment!

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