Category Archives: Vintage Radio

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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Behold the epic Sony CRF-320!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Ewing, who highlights this tweet from @Ea4Hng:

“Testing the good old Sony CRF-320 after many years not in use. It works flawlessly in all bands”

EA4HGN’s photo, above, reminds me that the Sony CRF-320 sports one of the best designs I’ve ever seen in a portable radio. A proper Apollo era aesthetic!

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Guest Post: A visit to Museo Marconi in Villa Griffone, Pontecchio, Bologna


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ferruccio Manfieri (IZ1096SWL), who shares this report and excellent photo tour from a visit to the Museo Marconi in Bologna, Italy in 2018.

Today is International Marconi Day, so this is a very welcome, and timely post:


A visit to Museo Marconi in Villa Griffone, Pontecchio, Bologna

by Ferruccio Manfieri (IZ1096SWL)

Bologna, in Northern Italy, is renowned to be the seat of the oldest University in Europe and in the world (the Alma Mater Studiorum) and its historic, artistic and culinary heritage. From a scientific perspective, Bologna is the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi as well as the place of his first experiments in transmission.

The inventor, born in Bologna on April 25th, 1874, was the son of an Italian father (Giuseppe, a wealthy landowner) and an Irish mother (Annie Jameson, of Jameson’s Whiskey family). At the age of 20, Marconi began to conduct experiments in radio waves, building much of his own equipment in the attic of his home at the Villa Griffone in Pontecchio (in the Bolognese countryside).

Marconi received his final resting place in Villa Griffone Mausoleum, an enterred crypt hosting his porphyr sarcophagus. The building was donated to the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation in 1941 after the  death of the inventor (on the 20th of July 1937).

Sadly, Villa Griffone and the Mausoleum suffered heavy damages from WWII bombings and pillages and were patiently rebuilt in post-war years. Today, Villa Griffone is reborn as a hub of research and divulgation activities, hosting Guglielmo Marconi Foundation, the Marconi Museum, a library and two research groups on communication systems.

On the 26th of april 2019 I visited with my family the Museum hosted in the original building (a short trip from Bologna, 20 minutes by public transport)

Villa Griffone and the Marconi Mausoleum

The visit began with a nice stroll in the Villa gardens, home with the nearby hill of the Celestini of the first long-range and not in line of sight transmission experiment in 1895. Marconi managed to send signals over a distance of 2 km, beyond a hill situated between the transmission equipment (to which he had added a grounded vertical antenna) and the reception apparatus (characterised by an extremely sensitive coherer).

Villa Griffone gardens and “Hill of Celestini”

We were in the very spot Marconi was when he transmitted his three signals to the receiver operated by his brother and the gardener behind the hill. Nearby, the replica of eight meter wooden pole with the attached metal boxes used as antenna.

Marconi’s first “long range” antenna – replica

This experiment in universally aknowledged as the birth of radio transmission (and, by the way, the rifle shot used as a confirmation of the reception was the very first QSL…).

Our valent host and guide to the visit was the Director of the Museum, Barbara Valotti, who thoroughly described us (with knowledge, passion and communication skills) the historical framework of Marconi’s biography and works. A more engineering oriented and hands-on visit to the working replicas laboratory was subsequently hosted with passion and knowledge by Adriano Neri I4YCE.

In the Auditorium Dr. Valotti  showed us two videos on the first transmission experiment and on the Republic incident in 1909, on of the first application of Marconi radiotelegraphy in an incident at sea, whose success (no lives were lost in the aftermath of the collision thanks to the coordination of rescue efforts via radiotelegraphy) gave a boost of popularity to radiotelegraphy and to the engineer, eventually leading to the Nobel prize in physics later that year.

A frame of the “Republic” video

This part of the visit emphasized his interest in real technological applications of his inventions and their commercial potential. Marconi was a “modern” mix of engineer (with an unhortodox, non-academic formation) and entrepreneur, ready to see the new potential applications of technologies in the society.  Interestingly, Dr. Valotti underlined that the main focus of Marconi research was always the point-to-point trasmission and not the broadcast.

Hanging on the ceiling of the auditorium, a replica of the kite used by Marconi to lift an emergency antenna in the first transoceanic transmission from Poldhu to St Johns Newfoundland in 1901.

Yacht “Elettra” – memorabilias

The visit continued to the “silkworm room”, the original room (once used to breed silkworms) where Marconi held his laboratory and performed his experiments. The room was full of instruments replicas to show the laboratory as in the young Marconi years.

“Silkworm room” – Marconi’s first laboratory (original place,  instrument replicas)

“Silkworm room” – Marconi’s desk (replica)

It was also possible to replicate the main experiments with educational working replicas.

Marconi transmitter – educational replica

Headphone and coherer used in the first transoceanic transmission (replicas)

The second phase of the visit was a more engineering-oriented explanation of the principles of radio telegraphy conducted by Adriano Neri I4YCE in a didactic laboratory on working replicas of the main epoch instruments.

Experiment table with working replicas: coherers, a wire decoder, a Marconi receiver

Instruments in the educational laboratory

With passion and competence, Mr. Neri explained us in a simple way (there were some very interested young people in the group) the cable telegraphy principles and the sequence of experiments and discoveries that led Marconi to his inventions.

In a detailed and fascinating exposition we saw applications of a Morse writer, the induction coil, the coherer and the first Marconi spark transmitter, all assembled in the end to transmit in the room some morse signals in the air.

Live demonstration of signal transmission by Adriano Neri . Against the wall a Marconi spark transmitter (note the antenna and ground plates), on the table: a Marconi receiver (with a coherer) connected with a Morse writer.

The laboratory, as the whole museum, hosts a huge number of working replicas (a wonderful collection in itself, handmade by Maurizio Bigazzi with rigorous standards of adherence to the original designs and, if possible, reuse of original parts) and some original equipment.

Ship wireless telegraph room – working replica

A last section of the museum is devoted to radio communication during the war (showing a WWI airplane-ground communication system) and radio broadcasting, with original sets of great interest like a 1923 Marconiphone (still working, we had a live demonstration receiving RAI programs) and a Ducati radio (the same Ducati company of motorbikes, based in Bologna).

WWI plane radio and ground receiver

1923 Marconiphone, working original set

Ducati radio

We spent all the morning in the Museum with great fun and interest from all the family.

I highly recommend a visit to the Museum for the place,  its significance in the history of radio transmission and the competent and passionate exposition of the historical and technical themes related to Guglielmo Marconi.

A wealth of information (also in english) can be found of the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation website (www.fgm.it).

A detailed gallery of the Museum can also be found on the new Museum website (www.museomarconi.it)

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Would a Sony ICF-SW07 outperform a modern DSP radio?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William, who asks:

Hello,

Firstly thank you for the blog – I have been reading occasionally for several years – it’s really interesting.

I live in the UK. I own (was given as a gift many years ago) a Sony ICF-SW07 and have been playing with it for the first time in the while.

I’m wondering if you remember it or ever used it, and if you can give me a rough idea if a new radio, such as the latest Tecsun, have considerably better sensitivity – for SW and MW – or not?

Many thanks.
William

Thank you for your question, William!

To my knowledge, I’ve only used a Sony ICF-SW07 once and it was from a hotel room at a radio convention, so not ideal for really gauging anything other than economics and superficial qualities. I do know that my friend held it in high regard.  My inclination would be to say that the ICF-SW07 should hold its own and potentially even outperform many modern (late-model) portable receivers.

I do know this, William: in good condition, that ‘SW07 will fetch top dollar. I’m not sure I’d ever let go of it!

Sony ICF-SW07 owner comments and feedback?

SWLing Post readers: If you own the ‘SW07 and would like to share your thoughts with William, please comment!

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Radio Waves: Mahboob Radio Service, AméricaTeVé owner to buy Radio Caracol, Tele-medicine via HF, and Battleship USS IOWA Radio Tour

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 Kris (G8AUU), Tracy Wood, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Aging brothers in Hyderabad run last radio repair shop in southern Indian state (Arab News)

NEW DELHI: “Mahboob Radio Service,” reads the faded panel on a small repair shop near the 16th-century Charminar mosque in the heart of the old town of Hyderabad.

The shop, which has been open since 1948, is filled with thousands of radio sets stacked in the small space where two aging brothers have been repairing radios for as long as they can remember.

The brothers, Mohammed Mujeebudin, 82, and Mohammed Moinuddin, 71, learned the craft from their father, who started selling and repairing radios in the 1920s after a trip to Bombay, where he bought his first set.

“My father started Mahboob Radio Service from Dabeerpura in Hyderabad before moving to the present location in Chatta Bazar in 1948,” Moinuddin said.

He remembered his father’s most prominent customers, such as Viceroy Mir Osman Ali Khan, who ruled Hyderabad until the princely state’s merger with India.

“He was our client, and we would repair his radios. Once the work was done, we would deliver the radio to the palace and receive some 20 or 30 rupees,” Moinuddin recalled.[]

TV station owner AméricaTeVé owner exits Chapter 11, to buy radio station (Bizjournals.com)

The companies that own the AméricaTeVé and Teveo television stations have exited U.S. Bankruptcy Court and are preparing to make an acquisition.

America-CV Station Group, Caribevision Holdings, America-CV Network and Caribevision TV Network all filed Chapter 11 reorganization in 2019. The Hialeah-based companies own local stations WJAN (Channel 33 AméricaTeVé) and WFUN (Channel 48 Teveo), along with WJPX (AméricaTeVé Puerto Rico) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and WPXO in New York.

[…]”América Teve has exited its Chapter 11 reorganization ahead of schedule and has paid off all of its debtors,” said attorney Marcell Felipe, who represents the company. “The company was recapitalized with new equity funded by Carlos Vasallo and the refinancing with Abanca of its valuable real estate holdings.”

Felipe confirmed that the company signed an agreement to purchase Radio Caracol 1260 AM in Miami to create a synergy between the radio station and its TV stations. The Spanish news/talk radio station was being sold by Grupo Latino de Radio, a subsidiary of Spanish media conglomerate PRISA.[]

SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood, notes: “An interesting medium wave note for SWLing Post readers. AM 1260 WSUA in Miami (50kw day / 20kw night) has been used in the past to relay Radio Martí for a few hours at night.”

GBT Completed Prototype Design of its Long-Range Radio Mobile System (Intrado GlobeNewswire)

SAN DIEGO, April 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GBT Technologies Inc. ( OTC PINK: GTCH ) (“GBT” or the “Company”), completed its prototype design of its long range radio mobile system. The prototype mobile unit will be a high-performance radio transceiver system that is designed for data and voice applications. It is expected to enable data and voice communication for long range applications targeting telemedicine support for the Company’s qTerm vital device including audio.

The design of the prototype mobile unit includes a transceiver targeted for systems to operate under licensed/unlicensed radio frequency bands, enabling ultra-long-range applications. The unit is designed to communicate in the HF (High Frequencies) frequencies bands to establish connection with a base unit transceiver through repeater unit(s) to reach ultra-long range. High clarity, signal reliability and security is expected to be achieved through the implementation of advanced circuitry within the system’s components. The design includes embedded software to manage the data and audio communication including data transfer to a backend server to process data. The design also provided for the mobile unit’s design, size and interface, taking into consideration performance and mobility. The operation of the mobile unit is expected to be done via an LCD touch screen providing user’s friendly interface and ease of use. Upon getting team’s FCC certification, an extensive mobile unit’s testing will start. GBT plans to test the entire system within a large city limits and national ranges.

“We are glad to announce that we completed the design of our prototype long range radio mobile unit. The prototype mobile unit is a key component since it is targeted to be portable aiming to bring modern life services around the globe. The design contemplates an acceptable physical size to be carried coupled with a high-power energy source and long range capability. As the system is targeted to work with the qTerm vital device, the design contemplates users being able to send vital information to professional health authorities for quick review and recommendations. In addition, the design has incorporated a voice communication will be available to discuss further steps and actions. We believe that in our days and age everyone should have access to modern amenities and the key is global communication. For us, the most important contribution of such system is the capability to save lives by enabling health and emergency services anywhere on earth” stated Danny Rittman, the Company’s CTO.

There is no guarantee that the Company will be successful in researching, developing or implementing this system. In order to successfully implement this concept, the Company will need to raise adequate capital to support its research and, if successfully researched, developed and granted regulatory approval, the Company would need to enter into a strategic relationship with a third party that has experience in manufacturing, selling and distributing this product. There is no guarantee that the Company will be successful in any or all of these critical steps.

Mobile unit prototype: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/36d838e9-eb3a-423e-8b1a-058c420549a8[]

Battleship USS IOWA Museum: IOWA’s Radios – Part 1 (YouTube)

 


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