Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin, who writes:
Stumbled on this rig at an estate sale and laid out a cool $5.00 for her. She was mostly in pieces in a big plastic bag covered in a LOT of dust, and the battery compartment had seen better days. But I thought I could get it going.
Once I got to the chassis I noticed someone with a Golden Screwdriver had been rooting around in there (the PS module was missing screws to the frame and there was some solder bits dancing around inside).
Threw in 4 C cells: pots were noisy, but there was sound, and after liberal application of De-Oxit and some scrubbing the thing snapped to life! Quite good MW reception: I snagged KMOX 1130 St. Louis at 06:30 GMT this morning, a good hop of 960 miles.
Hammarlund only made this Weather/Marine band receiver in 1969-70, so it’s a rare bird, though probably not collectable, per se. Still, it was fun to get the thing operational.
Oh wow! Thanks so much for sharing your flea market find with us, David! I’m so glad you were able to not only give this HR-10 a proper clean-up, but also bring her back to life–and even snag some DX!
We’re all used to turning a couple of knobs and pressing a few buttons to operate a radio, but have you ever played with glasses of water to change a radio channel? Probably not. Designers Tore Knudsen, Simone Okholm Hansen, and Victor Permild recently launched their art project ‘Pour Reception’. And it’s beyond anything you can imagine. Pour Reception consists of two internal speakers, an AUX input, a handy guide and two glasses that must be placed on the body of the radio. And no the glasses aren’t just to sip water from, though you could do that. The radio uses the two glasses filled with water as it’s interface!
[…]Pour water into the glasses, and the stereo starts! Transfer some water from one glass to another and you can change channels. Touch the glasses, and you can fine-tune the radio’s signal, eliminating distortion. Finally, pop a finger into the water to control the volume or to bring the radio to a halt!
This might seem like a scenario from an alternate universe, but the tech behind it is pretty common. Objects emit micro amounts of electricity, and touch tends to disrupt this and convert it into a signal. By using Tact library by NANDstudio (an open-source Arduino shield that turns any object into a touch and proximity sensor), the designers converted the radio platform, glasses, and water into different layers of a capacitive interface, allowing them to conduct minute amounts of electricity and transforming them into sensors. Utilizing a Wekinator (an interactive machine learning tool), various gestures such as touching the glass or dipping a finger into the water were mapped into commands for controlling the radio. The end result; a radio with glasses of water functioning as a “digital material interface”.[…]
Oh now that’s a fun way to combine radio and art! Obviously, this isn’t an RF radio–it either grabs streaming content or (more likely) uses pre-recorded content on an internal storage device. Still, I think it’s a creative little project and an ideal way to play with Arduino Tact library.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin (K2WNW), for sharing the following article from The New York Times:
London’s Radio Pirates Changed Music. Then Came the Internet.
LONDON — In 1993, the illegal radio broadcasters at Kool FM came up with a plan to keep the regulators from raiding their studios.
In those days, the rooftops of South and East London still bristled with unauthorized antennas. Installed by pirate radio stations on top of public housing blocks — the city’s tallest and least secure buildings — they transmitted sounds rarely heard on the BBC or commercial stations. Kool FM was at the heart of the scene, broadcasting jungle, rave, and drum and bass music from the Hackney district of East London.
All the pirates needed was a key to the building — easy to buy off a building worker or tenant — and a cheap transmitter. But they had a problem. Illegal broadcasting is, well, illegal, and, in Britain, pirates can face up to two years in prison, unlimited fines, bans from appearing on legal stations and equipment seizures.
So the pirates at Kool FM covered their studio door with concrete. To get in, they had to scale the outside of the building, jumping from balcony to balcony, said one of the station’s founders, who declined to give his real name but who broadcasts as Eastman. On a recent afternoon, he was standing outside Kool’s current studio in a warehouse on London’s outskirts. Drum and bass sounds from a D.J. called Papa G. emanated from behind the wall.
The regulators rarely bother them now, he said, and capers like the one he described are scarce. In the early 1990s, Kool “was the in thing,” said Eastman. But he estimated that Kool has lost 90 percent of its advertising revenue since its heyday. “We’re struggling because it’s hard to raise money to keep the station going.” Kool has recently rebranded as Kool London, and started focusing more on broadcasting online, though its shows still go out on the old pirate FM frequency.
Kool’s problems are part of a broader trend: Ofcom, the British communications regulator, estimated there are now just 50 pirate stations in London, down from about 100 a decade ago, and hundreds in the 1990s, when stations were constantly starting up and shutting down. Ofcom considers this good news, because illegal broadcasters could interfere with radio frequencies used by emergency services and air traffic control, a spokesman said.[…]
[T]wo things happened that changed the landscape of underground radio: first, the internet, and second, new licenses that encouraged pirates to reinvent themselves along more official lines.[…]
Many thanks, DK, for allowing me to post this video. It goes to show you that you should never pass up an opportunity to adopt a Super Radio. Even if the telescopic antenna is all but missing, the internal ferrite bar is where the money is!
With two days left on the auction and already 73 bids, I believe David is correct in assuming this radio might fetch upward of 900 Euro. Braun models certainly tend to fetch premium prices. The T-1000 is possibly my favorite Braun portable and I certainly wish I had one. I love Dieter Rams’ designs.
Note that shipping seems very modest at 6 Euro worldwide via DHL. I would check on that pricing prior to bidding if outside of Europe. This seller has a 100% rating with over 400 transactions on eBay. Again, thanks for the tip, David!
Frankly, I’m quite amazed at the clarity and fidelity of the Voice of Turkey interval signal on this handheld. Goes to show that with a proper antenna, and decent conditions, wide-band handhelds can certainly be used for shortwave radio listening! It also helps that David is outdoors, away from RFI, and was located on the coast of Long Island, NY.
Post readers: Have you had good fortune SWLing with wide-band handled transceivers? Please comment!
Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a sucker for classic solid-state portables and vintage tube radios.
What many of you may not know, however, is that I’m not a fan of auction-style bidding for radios. Those who are familiar with it will recognize the story: it begins on an optimistic note, when I find something I’m enthusiastic about. Then the bidding war begins, and invariably, the price quickly ratchets upwards to far beyond my comfort zone. It’s only then I find I’ve wasted my time on the entire process, and my hopes are dashed. So it’s not a purchasing method I relish.
Therefore, despite all of the radio gear I’ve purchased over the years, I’ve only bid for a radio in an online auction perhaps three or four times.
But a couple of weeks ago, my buddy David Korchin (K2WNW)––who has a knack for finding deals on radios, and often alerts me to them––mentioned that he was bidding on a Sony ICF-SW55.
Photo of the ICF-SW55 from auction listing.
David wasn’t bidding on the popular online auction eBay––rather, he’d found this deal on ShopGoodwill.com.
A note about ShopGoodwill.com
In case you haven’t heard, ShopGoodwill.com is Goodwill Industries International’s online auction site. Goodwill employees select exceptional donations, items they feel are worth more than typical Goodwill retail prices, and post them there for online auction.
The cool thing about ShopGoodwill is that it’s not as popular as, for example, eBay. Thus a bidder has a better chance of finding a good deal, with the added benefit that less enthusiasts will be hiking up the price with rapid bidding.
There are issues with ShopGoodwill.com, though, some of which are very off-putting:
Items are often poorly described, thus:
searching through the collection can be rather difficult
you often can’t trust these condition descriptions, as they’re written by someone who is clearly not an expert
Photos are sometimes of low quality, low resolution, and rarely offer enough detail for an informed decision
Buyer beware: nearly all items are sold “as-is,” and are untested
No returns on most items
No real seller feedback: if you’re frustrated with a Goodwill shop, you have no real recourse other than complaint
So, in summary: unless otherwise specified in the listing, you must assume that any item offered for auction on this site doesn’t function and may be in poor cosmetic condition as well. After all, these are donated items.
With that said, even though the risk is higher than on eBay–where sellers are rewarded with positive feedback and endeavor to fully describe merchandise––some good deals are occasionally to be found on ShopGoodwill!
Now back to my story…
The Sony ICF-SW55 listing that David found on ShopGoodwill.com kept a steady bid of $28 until the day before the auction’s end, when it increased to $48 US.
It’s likely that this listing would have seen more active bidding if the description were better––it didn’t even provide the model number, and was listed as “Sony Worldband Portable Receiver.” Moreover, the feature photo for the listing was of the radio’s case, not the radio itself (see below), yet another reason the listing got so little attention. But David, being the deal hound he is, found it!
The feature photo.
I encouraged David to really go for it, saying that this could be an excellent opportunity to snag one of these classic portables for a good price. And if it didn’t work, there would be a good chance Vlado could fix it for a fair price.
The morning the auction concluded, David messaged me that he’d decided to pull out of the bidding. He found something else he wanted to snag, so he encouraged me to take the baton and bid on the ICF-SW55, myself.
I read the vague description…then took a deep breath, and decided to go for it!
Again, I’m not adept at bidding, but at least I have a method that has worked for me in the past. My simple rules:
Only bid once.
Wait until the last few seconds, then offer my highest comfortable bid.
Final bidding, blow-by-blow
Here’s how the final moments of the auction played out:
I waited until one minute before auction end. I decided I would go as high as $120––a little rich for my modest budget, considering this could amount to a parts radio, but it was late in the day and I admit I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Then, at thirty seconds before auction’s end, the ShopGoodwill.com site simply stopped responding––!
No, it wasn’t my dubious Internet connection this time––their site was having problems loading.
I finally got the auction screen to pop back up ten seconds before auction’s end. I quickly attempted to place my bid: the web page churned…and churned…and churned.
Finally, up popped the review screen at literally the last breath of a second. I clicked “confirm/submit” (thank you, LastPass, for filling in my password immediately) and just managed to record the bid!
I’m certain that my bid was received within the last second. I had the countdown clock running on my Android phone so I’d know when the auction’s end was coming up. Unlike eBay, there is no dynamic counter on ShopGoodwill: you must refresh the page to see the time remaining. The Android countdown was set to end three seconds before the actual end of auction. When I confirmed the bid, it read “-3 seconds.”
The Goodwill site was having so many problems, that it took it two full minutes before I could get the auction screen to refresh after it accepted my bid––it was still stuck on the screen that confirmed my bid was recorded and that I was––for the moment, anyhow––the highest bidder.
When the page finally loaded, I saw that I had, by the skin of my teeth, snagged the SW55, and for a mere $53.
That is one of the lowest prices I’ve ever seen one of these units go for in an online auction, even when listed as a “parts-only” radio. Needless to say, I was exhilarated! My heart pounded.
I’m certain that the problem with the Goodwill site helped me win the auction. There were multiple bidders, and I think mine just happened to trigger a bid, leaving the competition no way to outbid me in the last 1/10 of a second. This wasn’t bidding skill. And it surely wasn’t a fat wallet. Frankly, I was just lucky.
I was thrilled to have won the radio at such a relatively low price, but the relief afterward reminded me why I don’t like auctions like this. I definitely prefer a more straightforward, less exciting (and less anxiety-producing), approach to making purchases.
Good news comes in small packages
Goodwill can be relatively slow to ship. It took about two weeks, but on Monday, I received the package from Goodwill in California. The rig, save a little dust, looked fine. But…how would it function?
I put in some freshly-charged Enloop AA batteries and turned it on.
Much to my surprise, the rig turned on…I rapidly tested all the functions. Again, I couldn’t believe my luck: it functions perfectly!
The only feature in need attention is the DX/Normal/Local switch, which makes the rig sound a bit scratchy when I change positions––an easy fix, however, with the aid of a little DeOxit.
This auction had a happy ending: I got a radio I’ve always wanted for a price I could swing, I didn’t need my friend Vlado to come to my rescue (though I’ve no doubt he would have), and best of all, I find I absolutely love the ICF-SW55.
Stay tuned…A review of the classic SW55 is in the works, and will be here on the SWLing Post in the coming weeks!
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