In the meantime, many thanks to Ken for sharing his personal radio history:
My interest started somewhat like yours in that I “discovered” the family’s old WW2 Viking console radio in the basement. Besides the AM band it had 3 SW bands. The Viking brand name was made for a large coast to coast Canadian department store.
It still had the required license glued inside from the WW2 days.
Hallicrafters SX-25 Super Defiant Advertisement (Image: Rich Post)
I attached a 20 or 30 foot piece of wire to the antenna terminal and draped the wire over the back stair railing. Within 2 or 3 minutes I was listening to an English language broadcast from Japan. So, I got my dad to help me drag the old gal up to my attic bedroom. For the next 10 months or so every spare moment I had I spent spinning that dial.
Then about the Christmas of 1960 or 1961 my parents gave me a used Hallicrafters SX-25 Super Defiant. My dad had a customer who was a Ham. He asked him if he new of a shortwave radio he could buy for his son. Turns out VE7FC was selling the SX-25. He had won a contest with it. The winner was the 1st Ham to work a particular Antarctic station on CW. Someone had added voltage regulation to the SX-25 so it was a bit more stable than stock. For the next 15 years I was glued to that Hallicrafters!
Then one day there was a short in one of the capacitors and the whole chassis went hot with 380 volts. I unplugged the old girl and put her away as at that time I just didn’t have the money to fix it. I knew replacing one cap wasn’t the answer. I knew most had to be replaced. That was a BIG job and over my head at that point. Then with a new job my fortunes changed and in 1989 just as that wonderful sun spot cycle was on the way up I bought myself a Kenwood R-5000. Well you can imagine how that changed the game!
I was up at all hours chasing Utilities DX at that point. I added a Universal M-7000 RTTY decoder, 2 wire antennas, audio processing, tape recorders, etc. Then about 1996 I bought a JRC NRD-535D with the matching active speaker from a retired man in Saskatchewan Canada. He had received it as a retirement gift. Less than a year later he moved from the suburbs into the city a couple of hundred feet away from a power substation. His listening days were over. I got this radio for $800 and when he said it was mint he meant it!!! Absolutely spotless. Between the R-5000 and the 535D I was in heaven. 🙂
Now I have a little FiFi SDR to play with and am looking long and hard at a QS1R or an Excalibur or Excalibur Pro….still gathering data.
These days the M-7000 isn’t even plugged in but one of my PCs decodes HFDL and ACARS. A little RTL looks for Mode-S radar. So I am still at it. I still enjoy twirling the dials on the two “real radios” but have to admit the SDRs of this day and age have
SO many advantages when chasing DX.