Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Radios that may not be benchmark, but are pure fun–!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John R Palmer, who replied to our previous post about radio regrets with a question.

John asks:

Name a piece of radio gear that for some reason, technical, emotional, design etc. that you’ve gotten more fun using than you would ever have expected based on its price, maybe more so than other much more expensive radios you’ve owned. Just a piece of gear that really hit the spot and you’ve had a blast using.

That’s a tough question indeed, John. I hope readers will chime in with their replies–I’m very curious!

So I gave this quite a bit of thought and came up with two radios–one shortwave portable and one general coverage ham radio transceiver:

The Radio Shack DX-351

In 1996, I worked for a Radio Shack corporate store in Athens, Ohio. I believe we were getting ready for the Black Friday/Christmas season and the store manager decided to go through a pile of broken items customers has returned using their extended warranty. He had accumulated quite a number of returns in a box next to his desk in the back of the store. I stayed after hours to help him organize the shelves and prepare for incoming shipments.

Most of the items in his box were physically broken, but still covered by the extended warranty (to their credit, many RS store managers were quite flexible with extended warranty returns). He pulled out a Radio Shack DX-351 from the box.

The customer returned this portable because the AM/FM/SW slider switch was broken. My manager knew I was an SWL, so asked if I wanted it. He said, “If you don’t, it goes into the trash can because we can’t re-sell it.

How could I resist?

This DX-351 was “well-loved.” I can’t remember all of the details, but the AM/FM/SW band switch could not be fixed, but I didn’t mind because the receiver was stuck on the shortwave band and the other shortwave band switch worked perfectly.

The DX-351 was a joy to use and amazingly sensitive! It wasn’t particularly selective, but it served me well for many years living, primarily, in the glove compartment of my car. If I took a road trip, a lunch break at the park, or if I was simply waiting in a parking lot to pick up my wife, I’d pull out the DX-351 and tune in the world.

The thing was pure fun to tune.

The Icom IC-735

In the world of general coverage ham radio transceivers, the Icom IC-735 would be my choice.

The IC-735 was my first ham radio transceiver. I used my hard-earned savings (from working at Radio Shack!) to buy a used unit via the now closed Burghardt Amateur Radio Center in South Dakota. My friends, Eric (WD8RIF) and Mike (K8RAT), believed a used IC-735 would serve me well. They were right!

What I really loved about the IC-735 was that it had all of the features and modes I needed. It was easy to operate and, while I couldn’t call its receiver “benchmark” by any means, it was amazingly sensitive and selective.

I logged hundreds of hours on this radio in both SSB and CW, working DX across the globe.

But I spent even more time SWLing. Turns out, the IC-735’s general coverage receiver did justice to shortwave broadcasts. The AM filter was wide enough to produce wonderful audio (especially via an external speaker or headphones). For years, the IC-735 was my go-to shortwave radio because it performed so much better than any other radios–mostly portables–I had at the time.

The IC-735 was so much fun to use.

I did eventually sell it, if memory serves, to purchase my first Elecraft K2 transceiver.

What are your choices?

So what are the radios you’ve owned that may not sport the best performance, and may not have been terribly expensive, but were pure fun to put on the air–? Perhaps you still own one? Please comment!

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Have you ever regretted saying goodbye to a radio?

A lot of radios come through SWLing Post HQ each year.

Over the years, I’d like to think that I’ve become immune to the effects of giving away, trading, or selling radios that have been in the shack for a while. But let’s face it: I’m just fooling myself!

I sold both my Hammarlund SP-600 and Hallicrafters SX-99 at the Shelby Hamfest.

As I’ve said before, I find it much easier to part with modern portables, transceivers, and SDRs than I do with vintage gear.  With modern gear, I feel like there’s always something new around the corner, thus it’s easy to justify. Plus, I take in so many units on loan for evaluation and review, I see them come in the door and go back out. Occasionally, I like one so much I buy it, but there’s not a lot of attachment. I’m not a “fan boy” of any modern company either, so I don’t intentionally collect rigs.

Ah, but the vints…

I’m a nostalgic guy, so vintage gear comes with more emotional attachment.

Over the years, I’ve had to part with a number of boat anchors because, frankly, I always need a clear space in the shack for evaluating gear and my shack is rather compact. (For example, at one point last year, I had three transceivers here for evaluation all at the same time.)

My Hammarlund SP-600was a very tough one to let go of. I justified it by selling the big girl to my good friend Charlie (W4MEC) who had actually helped me replace some of her capacitors at one point. The SP-600 was simply too deep and too large to fit even on my over-sized radio shelves–especially if mounted in a chassis. Charlie has a much better setup for rack-mounted “heavy metal.” She’s got a good home now.

The Scott Marine Radio Model SLRM

There are two vintage sets I’ll never sell: my Signal Corps BC-348-Q and my Scott Marine SLRM (photo above). How much do I love these radios? My wife has strict instructions to “put’em in the casket with me!”

There are only two portable radios I regret selling: my original RadioShack DX-440 and my Grundig YB400.

I did snag this DX-440 last year at the Huntsville Hamfest

No doubt, I miss these radios because they both served me for so many years. We traveled many countries together both on the ground and through the airwaves.

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

A number of readers have confessed that they regretted selling their RF-2200.

Have you ever regretted parting with a radio? Please comment with the model and why it was special to you. I’d also love to hear about the models you currently own and would never consider selling or giving away.

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DUST “Voskhod”: A Sci-Fi short that features ham radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Scott Gamble, who shares the following science fiction short film called “Voskhod” by DUST.

The synopsis:

After repairing his HAM radio using parts found in the forest, a recluse radio operator receives a distress call from a stranded Soviet cosmonaut in orbit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short film. We radio enthusiasts will certainly notice some inaccuracies on the radio side of things–feel free to comment on those–but I suggest you exercise a willing suspension of disbelief and truly enjoy this piece!

Click here to view on YouTube.

Can you identify the National radio model? Please comment!

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Adam’s Andes DXers International certificate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adam Smith, who shares the following certificate and writes:

I was going to share a piece of history I just came across going through some of my shortwave radio boxes. Lots of QSLs but this its a membership in ANDES DX Club!

Good times!

Thank you for sharing this bit of shortwave radio nostalgia, Adam! Any others in the SWLing Post community belong to the Andes DXers International? Do you still have your certificate? Please comment!

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Smithsonian Open Access: Take a deep radio nostalgia dive!

“Radio owned by Herman and Minnie Roundtree” (Source: Smithsonian Open Access)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who shares the following announcement:

[Check out the] Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

As Balázs points out, there are hundreds of radio photos in the archive.

What a treasure trove! Since many of us are sheltering at home, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into the SOA archive!  Thank you for sharing!

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Radio Waves: B&W to Color, Antenna Wins, Hearing Voices in the Walls, and Beached Whales

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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ron, Paul Walker, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Colorizing black and white photos (Antique Radio Forum)

Ron shares this link to a discussion about vintage black and white photos that have been auto-colorized.[]

State law protects ham radio operator, frustrates neighbors in Windsor Twp. (York Dispatch)

A Windsor Township resident whose neighbors are upset over her amateur radio tower is within her rights to have the antenna on her property, township officials confirmed Monday.

An engineer went out to the site in the 400 block of White Rose Lane to inspect the 40-foot tower and ensure it didn’t pose a safety threat to neighbors, township engineer Chris Kraft told the board of supervisors at a meeting Monday.

“Based on that review, we feel the tower is structurally safe,” he said.

Lindsey Fowler is the homeowner who built the tower on her property last September. Fowler is a licensed amateur radio operator, according to Federal Communications Commission records, and her license is valid through December 2021.

[…]Marc McClure, one of the neighbors who lives near Fowler, told the board in October that he and several other neighbors were opposed to the tower and said it should be removed, according to minutes from the Oct. 21 board meeting.

McClure said the tower was an eyesore in the neighborhood and that he and others were concerned about the structural safety of the tower were it to fall, as well as the potential unknown health hazards from exposure to radio frequencies.

The neighbors were also worried about a decrease in their property values, McClure said.

[…]In Pennsylvania, amateur radio operators’ rights are protected by state statute, and municipalities are not allowed to unreasonably restrict the installation of towers fewer than 65-feet high.

And now that the township has confirmed there’s no safety risk to Fowler’s neighbors, township officials said the dispute is outside of their purview.[]

Lockport family says mysterious voices, music come from house’s walls; local radio station may be source (ABC 7)

LOCKPORT, Ill. (WLS) — A family in Lockport said strange sounds, including music and talk radio, has been coming out of their walls and keeping them up at night off and on for about six years.

“There are voices in the wall and I don’t know what it is,” said 9-year-old Brianna Smith.

It may sound like an episode of the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things,” but the mysterious sounds Brianna is hearing are real.

“It has been waking me up at night,” she said.

The sounds are coming from the bedroom walls of her home in the middle of the night.

“It kind of keeps us up at night,” explained Brianna’s father Richard.

Richard said the family doesn’t have any speakers in their walls. He captured some of the late night noise on his phone and sent it to the ABC7 I-Team. The music was faint, but the I-Team could hear it.

“It’s one of our favorite songs, but not at 10 o’clock at night,” Richard said.

Richard Smith called Lockport police, who took two detailed reports about the bizarre problem. In one, the officer noted that he could hear “voices and music” and “talking about Christ.” Then the officer said he heard a commercial for the Christian radio station AM 1160.[]

The Surprising Way Solar Storms Can Beach Whales (Spaceweater.com)

Space weather isn’t just for humans. Whales are experiencing it, too. A new study published this week in the research journal Current Biology shows that solar storms can confuse whales and cause them to strand on beaches–and the mechanism is surprising. Get the full story on Spaceweather.com.[]


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Radio West catalog at American Radio History

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Zack Schindler, who writes:

Oh this brings back memories. I bought a lot of stuff from Radio West. Here is their catalog from 1983. Had them install a Collins mechanical filter in my Kenwood R-1000.

Click here to download Radio West Catalog 5 (PDF).

Thanks for sharing this bit of retail nostalgia, Zack!  This download is one of thousands available at the excellent American Radio History website.

Any other patrons of Radio West?  Please comment!

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