Tag Archives: Drake

Inbound: A Drake SW8 HF/VHF receiver

I’m often accused of being a radio “enabler.” Truth be told, I wear that badge quite proudly. I’m passionate about communications equipment and I suppose it shows especially here on the Post.

But radio “enabling” is a two-way street. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve made impulse purchases based on feedback and tips from SWLing Post readers. Yesterday was one of those days.

The tip

Last week, SWLing Post contributor, Rand (KS4L), sent me a link to an ad for a Drake SW8 on QTH.com’s classifieds site.  Here’s the description and original photo:

Nice Drake SW8 Communications Receiver

Nice physical and working condition Drake SW8 portable communication receiver covering 100 to 30,000 kHz in AM, USB and LSB modes with backlit LCD panels. The VHF aeronautical band is also featured (118 – 137 MHz). For portable or field use, can be powered from 6 D cells and use the internal pivot point 41 inch telescopic whip. Comes with original manual, CD and 120VAC power pack with cable. Has an eHam review rating of 4.7 out of 5. From a non smoking environment.

Asking 250 shipped.

Randy sent this tip mid-week and I tried to ignore it. I knew it might not be a stellar deal, but it certainly wasn’t over-priced either.

The SW8

I don’t think Randy knew this, but I’ve always wanted an SW8. My buddy, David Goren, recommended this receiver ages ago, Each time I’ve stayed at his home he magically made an SW8 available as my bedside radio in the guest room. (That’s some serious radio hospitality!)

Once, many years ago, I actually agreed to purchase an SW8 from a seller in British Columbia, but the deal fell through for some reason. If memory serves, he damaged the radio in the process of packing it. I believe I agreed to pay $450 for it, but that was probably 10 years ago.

I kept Randy’s tip and link in my action items list and decided that, if still available, I’d post it as a radio deal here on the SWLing Post.

Yesterday morning, the SW8 was still showing as available so I started a post. Being the radio enabler I am, I started writing about how much I’ve always wanted to own an SW8…how I love the simple front face plate, the display, the fact it can be powered by batteries, and how I think it’s quite a capable little receiver.

Then I stopped writing, mid-sentence and asked myself… “Will I regret not grabbing this SW8?”

My “radio bux” fund is incredibly low at the moment, mainly due to recent travels and budgeting for no less than three radio conventions next year. Also, this is the time of year when several annual fees/subscriptions are auto-deducted from my account–including hefty hosting fees for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Still, I had *just* enough money to at least make an offer and knew if I “thinned the radio herd” here at SWLing Post HQ, I could probably replenish the amount in a month or so.

Since this was a classifieds ad, my next step was to go through an extensive checklist to make sure the seller was who they claimed to be and that there were no signs of this being a scam. Everything checked out. (I’ll make a note to publish a post about my process in the near future).

I contacted the seller and we agreed on a price of $220 shipped. I put his check in the mail, and he even shipped the radio same day and provided a verified FedEx tracking number.

I’ll admit it: I’m stoked!

I look forward to putting this Drake SW8 through the paces and especially loading it with batteries and taking it to the field. I know–in terms of performance–it won’t be my best receiver, but I know it’ll provide hours upon hours of radio fun, and that’s what it’s all about!

Post readers: What do you think?  Have I made a mistake, or did I get a good deal? I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve been owners of the venerable Drake SW8!

Please comment!


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

eBay find: R.L. Drake SW4A Shortwave Receiver (new old stock!)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) and Randy Moore (KS4L) who share a link to this rare find on eBay: a New Old Stock (NOS) Drake SW4A.

Click here to view on eBay.

The seller provides this short description:

New in original box and packing, R.L. Drake Short Wave Receiver – model SW.4A. With manual. Old stock, never used. Stored in a safe/dry place.

Being sold AS-IS!

The seller doesn’t have a deep history on eBay, but 100% positive feedback.

I fully expect this price to rise way beyond a figure I could appropriate, but I would certainly love to purchase it. I know this: I wouldn’t leave it in the box for long. After carefully checking it and bringing the voltage up slowly, I would put it on the air. What a beautiful receiver.

At time of posting, the price was $322 US (free shipping) with one day, 10 hours to go. Click here to view.

Spread the radio love

Eric spots a Drake SPR-4 shortwave receiver on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who is quite a Drake fan and recently spotted this SPR-4 on eBay.

The seller has it listed as an auction currently at $400, but with a BuyItNow price of $600 US. That’s a fairly steep price considering Universal Radio has sold them in the past for +/- $400. Of course, the last one in Universal’s sold index was posted in 2011.

I’ve never owned a Drake receiver, but I’ve certainly used them and have been impressed with their performance and audio fidelity. SPF-4 reviews on eHam are certainly positive.

Image source: Universal Radio

I know this: I love the blue backlit dials on this particular Drake line! Gorgeous!

Click here to view on eBay.

Spread the radio love

Weekend Hamfesting: Waynesville, NC

ZenithSaturday morning, I drove to Waynesville, North Carolina, for the Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society‘s annual hamfest. I’d attended this small-town hamfest before; it has always been enjoyable, as I met friends and even found a few radio bargains.

The Zenith TransOceanic, above, attracted a lot of attention, including mine.  But this year, I had more modest goals: $100 and a specific shopping list, which consisted mostly of components (adapters, connectors, jumpers) and a decent dual-band mobile antenna. I ended up spending $85, including $7 entry fee, and checked off literally everything on my list.  Among my purchases were:

  • Dual band 5/8 whip antenna with large mag mount: $45
  • SMA to SO239 jumper: $5
  • PL259 to BNC adapter: $3

I also found a couple of extras, including this Realistic Tape Control Center (below) for $1. It will make an ideal speaker switch box for my boat anchors that currently share one quality audio transformer (600 to 8/4 ohms).  I discovered that this box had been used by its previous owner for a similar purpose.

RealisticTapeControl

My best bargain at this hamfest, however, was this brand new ground buss system (below) for just $20!

StationGround

The family who manufactures and sells these ground busses also sells antennas and a few other radio accessories. Unfortunately, they do not sell online (else you’d see a link here) only at local hamfests such as this one. The $20 price is an absolutely amazing one for this ground buss system.  All one has to do is connect the braid to the ground terminal on each piece of radio equipment, and connect the ground wire to a ground rod.  It’s packaged and ready to deploy–everything else is already assembled. Wow!

I viewed many other goodies at this hamfest that, alas, I had to pass on. Here are a few photos:

AMRadio

This restored wood-paneled tube radio (above) was very tempting, but in order to avoid making the purchase, I intentionally didn’t ask the price.

Hallicrafters-Sky-Buddy

This Sky Buddy (above) really caught my attention, and if I had $250 extra, I would have purchased it. The Sky Buddy is not an extremely rare Hallicrafters, nor is it a particularly strong performer, but it is very rare to find one in such beautiful condition that’s not been modified or restored–a completely mint original.

Perhaps I’ll regret not making this purchase…sigh! I just hope it will find a good home.

Grundig-Top-Boy-500

I was also tempted to buy this Grundig Top Boy 500 (above), circa 1972. Twenty dollars was certainly a fair price, but the seller had bought it at an antique sale and had not yet tested it. Additionally, it had a German plug, and runs on 220 VAC or C cells. Upon handling the radio, I also found myself a little concerned by the fragility of its plastic body. The antenna design, however, is pure engineering genius: it’s recessed in the top of the radio’s handle.

Drake-PRN-100

This Drake PRN-1000 (above) was produced by Drake as a promotional item for the People’s Radio Network (more info).  It’s the progenitor to the Drake SW1. The PRN 1000 is very basic; it has no memory functions, no SSB, and no synchronous detection. It’s a mediocre performer, frankly–not on par with other Drake offerings–but certainly an interesting piece of Drake history. I’ve seen PRN 100s for sale before. The $50 asking price from this seller was quite reasonable.

Yaesu-FRG-7The “Frog 7” (above) is a classic shortwave receiver and has great audio if you use an external speaker. My good friend, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), loves his recently acquired FRG-7 so much, he named it “Freda.” Mike snagged Freda for $125, by the way, a much better price than the $240 this seller wanted for his FRG-7.

Just out of curiosity, how many SWLing Post readers cut their teeth on the Yaesu FRG-7?

All in all, it was a great little hamfest (thanks, WCARS!) thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to making the pilgrimage to Waynesville again next year.   See you there!

Spread the radio love