Category Archives: Vintage Radio

Help Ed identify this mystery radio in “The Last Man on Earth”

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

Recently I’ve been watching some pandemic-themed movies and found “The Last Man on Earth”, a pretty good 1964 post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film (which was remade in 1971 and 2007 with different titles.) In this film, the main character (well played by Vincent
Price) uses an HF transceiver in a fruitless effort to find other survivors of a global plague. It was shot in Italy, and the transceiver doesn’t look like any American radio I’ve ever seen. Perhaps some of your SWLing Post readers can identify it?

BTW: SWLing Post readers might also be interested in knowing this film can be downloaded for free from The Internet Archive.  https://archive.org/details/lastmanonearth-1964

What do you say, SWLing Post Community? Is this radio a fabricated stage prop, or a real model?  Please comment!

In the meantime, I’ll add this post to our ever growing archive of radios in film!

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Listener Post: Mike Stutzer’s love of radio began with a Hallicrafters S-120

Photo: Universal Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Stutzer, who recently shared the following listener post:

I started SWLing as a teenager. My favorite uncle gave me a Hallicrafters S-120.

My dad hung a longwire under an eave and through a casement window frame into my bedroom. I marveled at all the AM international stations broadcasting in English, listening to everything from BBC cricket coverage on Saturday morning to hysterically unbelievable Albanian political news coverage.

After college I could afford something better, so I upgraded to a “boat anchor” Hallicrafters SX 110. It had a useful crystal filter to improve selectivity, but it was still nigh on impossible to decipher a Ham on SSB.

Photo: Universal Radio

Many decades later I bought a house on a steep foothill. Realizing that it was a perfect QTH for a Ham station, I got licensed and now am President of the local ARC. Here is a loving look at the original SWL receiver that got me hooked.

Prof. Mike

Boulder, CO

Thank you for sharing this, Mike!

Mike’s radio story is the latest in our multi-year series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. Feel free to submit your own by contacting me.

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Radio history videos are a serious benefit of Social Distancing!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Benefits to Social Distancing

I have discovered that there is a positive side effect of social distancing.  With so many organizations using Zoom and other video methods for their meeting, the volume of great videos to watch has drastically increased, with most of it residing on YouTube.  Also everyone is sharing video links that they have found with other.

For example, the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) has, for some time, posted their monthly meetings on their YouTube channel.  They have very enjoyable presentations.  Last night was their virtual monthly meeting for June and they had a great talk by Prof. Joe Jesson on “What You Did Not Know About the RCA AR88.”

I am a fairly new member to NJARC and must recommend them to others.  They are a very active group and are currently having Zoom conferences weekly between the members.  They also host the RADIO TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM at the InfoAge Technology Center.

Link to NJARC:

http://www.njarc.org/

Link to NJARC YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/njarc/

Link to the Radio Technology Museum:

http://www.rtm.ar88.net/

Last week, I received an email from Mark  Erdle (AE2EA) referring to some videos by the Antique Wireless Museum which is hosted by the Antique Wireless Association (AWA).  From his email:

The Radios (and Filming) of “Across the Pacific”  presented by AWA member Brian Harrison.  Brian served as the radio consultant for the 3-hour PBS documentary “Across the Pacific”, which tells the story of the early days of Pan American Airways and of Hugo C. Leuteritz, a RCA radio engineer who helped make Pan Am’s expansion across the oceans possible with radio communication and navigation systems. Brian explains how he worked to insure that this documentary portrayed the pioneering work of Hugo Leuteritz as accurately as possible. Much of the early radio equipment that Pan American used was custom made for Pan Am, and is quite rare today, but Brian hunted it down.

 

In addition to Brian’s video, you can also see Tom Perera’s updated presentation of “Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes” which was originally presented at the 2007 AWA conference:

Link to AWA:  https://antiquewireless.org/homepage/

Link to AWA You-Tube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX55peBhzeX1qps_VYXdLBA

Here are some other videos that people have passed along to me that I have found enjoyable.  Most of these are radio-oriented and I have omitted the many cat videos:


Thank you for sharing these links and videos, Bill! I’ve been watching Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes this morning–what a fascinating bit of history!

Post readers: Have you discovered videos and sites while social distancing (a.k.a. Social DXing)? Please comment and share your links!

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Radio Waves: Radio Stations in the Movies, Opposition to ABC Budget Cuts, Numbers Stations, and Student Repairs Vintage Radios

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, and David Shannon for the following tips:


How accurately have radio stations been portrayed in TV and movies? Alan Cross rates them (Global News)

Over the last century, radio stations have been the subject and the setting for a number of TV shows and movies. This, for better or worse, is how the general public perceives how real-life radio works. I’ve rated this selection of radio-centric shows and scenes through the years.

1. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982)

Authenticity Rating: 3/5

Every time people of a certain age hear that I work in radio, they inevitably ask “Is it anything like WKRP?” The answer is both yes and no.

The show’s creator, Hugh Wilson, did come from a radio background, serving time as a sales rep at WQXI, a top 40 station in Atlanta, so he was certainly well qualified. His characters were slight caricatures of the real thing: the general manager who was often clueless about what was happening with his station; the harried program director; the burnout morning man; the trippy nighttime DJ; the sleazy salesperson; the squirrely newsman; the naive copywriter; and the receptionist who secretly runs the place. I’ve worked with each of those people multiple times.

The show was groundbreaking in its use of music. Up until WKRP came along, no one used real music in the soundtrack. It was all stock stuff, soundalike material made up by studio players. But viewers of WKRP heard actual songs from bands they recognized — something that eventually created endless licensing headaches when it came to syndication and issuing the show on DVD. That remains the reason why the show isn’t streamed anywhere. (Hugh Wilson explains the music issues here.)[]

Australians overwhelmingly oppose ABC budget cuts (ABC Friends National)

According to a new survey, 76% of Australians oppose any further cuts to the ABC’s budget and 49% believe it should get more Federal Government funding

The findings of a Roy Morgan national opinion poll serve as a warning to the Government that voters have had enough of budget cuts to the national broadcaster. Successive Governments have reduced ABC funding by a total of $783 million since 2014.

Read the survey here [PDF].

The survey shows Australians overwhelmingly turn to the ABC in times of crisis, underlining the national broadcaster’s critical role in the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC Friends commissioned the opinion poll, which was carried out by the independent research group, Roy Morgan.[]

What is number station and story behind it? (US Updates)

Fictional novels about number stations have been created in the minds of most people. Many people think of the number station as a ghostly, creepy, mysterious or supernatural symbolic message. But are the messages fictional novel about numbers stations  at the number station really mysterious? In today’s discussion we will know what number station is and why somebody finds it fictional novel about number station?

We all listen to the radio more or less. There are basically two types of radio listeners, such as FM radio stations and radio stations broadcast from the Internet. There are also radio stations of other frequencies and their different names. Such as high frequency or shortwave, extra high frequency, ultra high frequency limit through which there is also satellite signal and police scanner report.

Amateur radio, pelagic and air stir are also included in these frequencies. Today we will learn about high frequency i.e. shortwave radio station which is also known as fictional about number station. This number is used to send symbolic messages to various intelligence agencies and the military. This number station has been in found since the First World War and has been the center of attraction for many years. For many years some of journalists have tried to decipher the mystery of this number station.[]

Coronavirus: Student repairs vintage radios during lockdown (BBC)

A teenager who restores and repairs old radios says he loves the “unexplained charm” and history of the wireless.

Diogo Martins, from Oadby, Leicestershire, has been able to spend more time on his hobby during the coronavirus lockdown and has added to his collection of vintage radios.

“Without a doubt many of these radios have a family history where families have gathered around to listen to music and information, and it’s that history which I find so endearing,” he said.

The 19-year-old electrical engineering student said in restoring them he is “continuing their legacy”.

Video journalist: Harris Millar


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The Yaesu FT-70G: Where the FT line met Milcom

Earlier today, I stumbled upon a very unique transceiver in Universal Radio archives: the Yaesu FT-70G.

Here’s the description from Universal:

The Yaesu FT-70G is a portable HF transceiver covering 2 to 30 MHz transmit. Receive is from 500 kHz to 30 MHz. Frequency selection is via BCD switches to 100 Hz. There is a clarifier for fine tuning. Optional FNB-70 NiCad Battery. Please note that the optional 10F-2.4DL filter is required for LSB opeation.

The Yaesu FT-70F is similar, but is a channelized fixed version offering up to 11 frequencies.

Two hours ago, I was not aware that the FT-70G existed.  Now? I want one!

I’m a real sucker for vintage rugged field radio gear, so I never discovered the FT-70G until today. Turns out, they’re relatively rare. A little light research reveals that it’s a highly-desired transceiver in the world of HF Packers–those radio enthusiast who like “manpack” commercial and military gear.

The FT-70G has a distinct military look and feel with the BCD switches to change frequency, rugged toggle switches, chassis extensions to protect the front panel, and attached screw-on connector caps.

What’s really surprising is that the FT-70G has a general coverage receiver (500 kHz to 30 MHz). Admittedly, it would not be fun band-scanning with those BCD switches…but still!

This website has a number of photos. They also have a product description likely from the original Yaesu/Vertex Standard FT-70G description:

“The FT-70 series HF field portable manpack transceivers are designed to provide reliable communications under rugged conditions in the military and commercial environment. The frequency synthesized, all solid-state circuitry and die-cast anodized aluminum enclosure and battery pack make a highly portable, weatherproof station. Flexible operation for optimum communications under a wide range of propagation conditions are assured by SSB (USB, LSB), semi break-in CW, AM, or audio interfaced Data modes. All controls, antenna, and interface ports are available and selectable via the front panel for maximum effectiveness and ergonomics in field, base, and manpack applications. The companion antenna tuner FC-70 is compatible with walking manpack, field portable, or base configurations. The highly effective vertical tripod mount antenna system YA-70 is deployed and stowed easily and quickly, pulling double duty by converting to manpack whip while on manuevers. High quality handset YH-70 provides communications privacy and clarity.”

Again, check out the excellent photos of the full manpack kit.

As I researched pricing, I discovered this FT-70R with accompanying FC-70M antenna tuner on eBay right now with only 6 hours left of bidding:

At time of posting, the bids are at $520. I fear this will soar well above my comfort level before bidding ends. (Like I need another field radio anyway, right?)

Post readers: Please comment if you’re familiar with the FT-70G and especially if you’ve ever owned one.  I’d love to hear about your experience with this unique rig.

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Soviet era Kerosene Lamp Generator gives new meaning to “Let’s fire up the radio!”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Day, who recently shares the newspaper clipping above.

I was not aware of this Cold War era kerosene lamp generator, but it’s an ingenious use of the thermoelectric effect for power generation. I found yet another another clipping online:

Devices that work off of thermoelectric effect have been around many decades.

The original BioLite stove burns twigs/sticks to recharge USB devices with 3 watts of power.

I’ve often thought about purchasing a BioLite camp stove–the same one Anil Raj mentioned in our Radio Challenge II–as a companion to charge devices while camping off-grid.

BioLite now makes a more efficient (albeit pricier) stove that produces more power with less fuel.

At the end of the day, I find it so easy to use solar power to recharge larger LiFePo batteries, I’ve never invested in the BioLite.

With one large LiFePo battery, I’m able to power multiple devices including an inverter if necessary.

I’m very curious how many models of kerosene lamp generators were made back in the day and how useful they were for powering other low-drain devices.

Please comment if you’ve ever used a kerosene generator. We have readers from across the globe, so I imagine someone may have at least seen one of these in person and potentially used it to power a radio!

Oh, and obviously I need to think up another SWLing Post Radio Challenge–it’s been ages since our last! 

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Let’s take a deep dive into a list of our favorite radios!

Over the past week, I asked the SWLing Post community if they’ve ever regretting parting with a radio, and then what radios they’ve owned that had the most “fun” factor.

The response from these two posts was pretty overwhelming.

I don’t actually check the SWLing Post viewer stats that often, but I was too curious: together, those two posts amounted to well over 20,000 unique pageviews in two days!

Obviously, I’m not the only radio nostalgic person around here!

These posts resonated so well, I didn’t want readers’ favorite models to be lost in the comments section. I decided to comb through the comments, make a list of all of the models, and link to sites and pages with more information and photos.

This is an interesting collection of radios since some are benchmark performers, while others much less so. Many were listeners’ first radios–the ones we cut our teeth on.

I would encourage you to read through the comments on our first and our second posts. Many great memories in there!

Below, you’ll find the full list of radios in alphabetical order, starting with receivers then moving to transceivers:


Receivers

AOR 7030

AOR AR8000

Drake 2-C (Photo: Eric McFadden)

Drake 2-C

Drake R8B

Eddystone 750

EH Scott SLR12B

Eton S350DL

Globetrotter V01

Grundig YB400

Hallicrafters SX-100 (Photo: Rick Post)

Hallicrafters SX-100

Hammarlund HQ-140

Heathkit GR-64

Heathkit GR-78

Heathkit SB-310

Icom IC-R2

Icom IC-R75

JRC NRD-515

JRC NRD-515

JRC NRD-345

Kaito KA1103/Degen DE1103

Kenwood R-1000

Knight Star Roamer

Palladium 949/469

Panasonic RF-2200

Panasonic RF-2200

Panasonic RF-2800

RCA AR-88

Realistic Astonaut 8

Rheinland 4953W

Realistic DX-160

Realistic DX-200

Realistic DX-300

Realistic DX-394 (Photo: RigPix)

Realistic DX-394

Realistic Patrolman 6

Realistic Patrolman 9

Sangean 803A/Realistic DX-440

Siemens Radio E309

Sony Earth Orbiter (CRF-5090)

Sony ICF-2001D

Sony ICF-SW1000T (Photo: Universal Radio)

Sony ICF-2010

Sony ICF-SW1

Sony ICF-SW1000T

Sony ICF-7600D

Sony ICF-SW7600

Sony ICF-SW7600GR

Sony ICF-SW7600GR

Sony ICR-4800

Unelco 1914

Wireless Set No.19 Mk III

Yaesu FR-50B

Yaesu FR-101D

Yaesu FRG-7

Yaesu FRG-7700

Transceivers/Transmitters

Heathkit HW-8 (Photo: Eric McFadden)

The Icom IC-735

Drake 2-NT

Heathkit HW-8

Index Labs QRP+

Icom IC-735

Marconi C100

National NCX-3 (Photo: Universal Radio)

National NCX 3

Yaesu FT-77

Yaesu FT-101B

Yaesu FT-817ND

Yaesu FT-857D


Many thanks to everyone who shared their favorite radios! I truly enjoyed checking out each of these models as I listed and linked to them. There were a number of unique models I had never seen before and many I had completely forgotten (like the Sony ICF-SW1000T)!

If you have more favorite models to share, feel free to comment here or on the original posts!


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