Thank you so much for sharing this, Robert. I have a special affinity for my GE 7-2990A as it used to belong to my dear friend, Michael Pool (The Professor). It’s quite a workhorse of a radio with excellent mediumwave chops and it packs some amazing audio fidelity. Of course, with the right batteries, it’ll keep you on the air for weeks or months at a time! 🙂
I recently took delivery of a better-than-new classic solid-state portable broadcast receiver: the venerable GE Superadio II.
This Superadio II was generously given to me by SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who has–in his spare time–been re-capping and restoring all three of the GE Superadio series models and bringing them back to life. Chuck wanted to send me one of the units he’d recently finished, knowing that it might help me when doing AM reception evaluations. He insisted “no strings attached.”
Besides thank you, all I can say is…
Note angels singing in the background.
When I received the Superadio II a week or so ago, I removed it from the box and it looked brand new; even sporting the original “Headset Capable” grill sticker.
This is a case, however, of a refurbished radio likely out-performing the original. Here’s a list of the main modifications:
All of the original dry capacitors replaced with Nichicon Audio Grade components
FM AFC and AM and FM IF and RF sections have been aligned
Rebuilt the volume control
I’m sure there are other modifications Chuck didn’t mention.
Chuck told me each radio takes a full day to restore. Some of the alignment, rebuilding, and re-capping is surprisingly tricky and varies with each of the three models. Why is he doing this?
Chuck told me, “My enjoyment comes from giving these radios a new lease on life.”
A new lease on life, indeed!
Last weekend, we had a break in the weather–and I had a short break in my schedule–so I took the GE Superadio II, GE 7-2990A, C.Crane CCRadio3, and Panasonic RF-2200 outdoors for some fresh air.
It was late afternoon and, frankly, I didn’t have the time to do a full comparative session, but having spent the better part of an hour tuning around and comparing the characteristics of each radio, I decided to make a short video to share.
The video features the GE Superadio II, but I speak to some of the pros and cons of each model. Keep in mind, this is very much a casual/informal comparison:
The SR-II not only has the best audio fidelity in this bunch, but it’s also extremely stable and has no noise floor to speak of. No doubt, this is the result of those Nichicon Audio Grade components and a skilled technician.
Side note: Chuck is well-known in the radio world because he used to restore the Collins R390A which must be one of the most mechanically-complicated receivers ever made.
I haven’t even properly tested the SR-II on FM yet because I couldn’t pull myself away from the mediumwave dial that afternoon!
I asked Chuck if he would consider refurbishing GE Superadios for other people and I think he would. If interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Else, Chuck might leave details in the comments section of this post.
Chuck, thank you once again for sending me this SR-II. It’ll become a permanent addition here at SWLing Post HQ. Again, I’m simply amazed at the audio fidelity of this 1980s era receiver. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything made today that can even compare.
And thanks for doing your bit to refurbish these classic portables!
The Midwinter Broadcast has never been an easy catch here in North America–after all, the BBC aim their signals to Antarctica–but I always manage to receive the program with only a portable and I’m almost always travelling on the day of the broadcast.
This year, I was actually at home and could have used one of my SDRs at home to snag the broadcast, but it’s become a bit of a tradition to listen in the field, so that’s what I did.
Knowing how difficult it would be to receive the broadcast–especially given the poor propagation–I reached for one of my “Holy Grail” portables: the Panasonic RF-B65.
The Panny RF-B65 is a portable DX hound!
I never take only one radio to the field, though, so I decided it was time to give the hefty GE 7-2990A a little outdoor time on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I was quite surprised with the 7-2990A’s ability to pluck this weak signal from the ether. Although the video doesn’t do it justice, the GE’s excellent audio fidelity made listening more enjoyable compared with the much smaller RF-B65.
And, yes, that’s my faithful brown and white listening companion, Hazel, in the background. In truth, she was less interested in the broadcast and more interested in finding squirrels!
Your Midwinter recordings–stay tuned!
Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
I’ve already received about twenty emails from SWLing Post readers with audio and video recordings of the Midwinter Broadcast. Thank you!
If you would like to submit your recording, and you haven’t yet, please do so by email (thomas *at* swling.com) so I don’t overlook it. Remember to link to your video so that I can easily embed it on the upcoming post. Please don’t send me duplicate emails as it makes the sorting process more difficult.
I’ll try to find recordings linked via Twitter and Facebook, but it’s much more difficult to sort those in comments and know for sure that I’ve discovered them all.
Please note that, due to my schedule, it will likely be two weeks before the final post is published. I appreciate your patience and understanding!