Tag Archives: RF-2200

Bill’s first DX contest using a Panasonic RF-2200 and a hombrew diode/loop radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


My First DX Contest

by Bill Hemphill, WD9EQD

Being a recent new member of NJARC, this is my first time competing in this contest.  I have always been a big fan of BCB DXing and have recently got back into it – especially with the amateur radio bands being in such poor conditions.  The acquisition of a couple of Loop antennas plus two Panasonic RF-2200 radios have just enhanced my enjoyment.

For the contest, I used two completely different radios.  First was the RF-2200 and second was a spur of the moment creation.

The RF-2200 was its usual good performer. While the RF-2200 has a beautiful built-in rotating bar antenna, I enhanced it with the 27” Torus-Tuner Loop Antenna as made by K3FDY, Edmund Wawzinski.  I think I had picked this antenna up at one of NJARC’s swap meets.  So I wish to thank whoever it was that was nice enough to bring it and sell it at the meet.  I have really enjoyed using it.  With this setup, I was hoping that I might be able to pull in Denver, Salt Lake City and maybe even a Mexican station, but it was a complete bust on them.  But I did have a nice surprise in receiving the Cuban station Radio Enciclopedia on 530 in addition to the usual Radio Reloj time signal station.  Following is photo of it in operation:

Originally, I had thought that my second contest entry would be done with a 1962 Sony TR-910T three-band transistor radio.  This radio has a fairly wide dial along with a second fine-tuning knob which would be a big help.  I would have again used the 27” hula-hoop antenna.

But I made the nice mistake of running across Dave Schmarder’s Makearadio website:

http://makearadio.com/

Dave’s site is a wonderful resource for creating your own Crystal, Tube, and Solid State radios as well as Audio Amplifiers and Loop Antennas.  While going down the rabbit hole of his site, I ran across his Loop Crystal Set, #19 Crystal Radio:

http://makearadio.com/crystal/19.php

What grabbed my attention was the wood frame loop antenna which is similar to one I had acquired a couple of years ago at a ham fest:


It was a really nicely constructed, nice swivel base.

I replaced the tuning capacitor with one that has a 6:1 ratio.

At this point I started thinking that I could create something similar with my loop.

I randomly grabbed a diode from my parts box.  Not sure what the exact model is.  (I later found out that it was an IN-34 which is what I was hoping it was.)  Then quickly soldered the diode, a resistor and capacitor to a RCA plug:

I then proceeded to use some jumper cables and just clip it to the tuning capacitor on the antenna base:

The RCA plug was then the audio out (I hope) from the radio.

I quickly realized that I did not have a crystal headset or any headset that would reproduce any audio.  So I used an old Marantz cassette recorder to act as an amplifier.  Fed it into the mic jack and then tried to listen to the monitor out.  Bingo – I could pick up or local station on 1340 really weak.

So I then fed the audio from the Marantz into a Edirol digital recorder.  Now I was getting enough audio for the headphones plus could make  a recording of the audio.

At last I was receiving some signals.  To boost the audio some more I removed the resistor from the circuit.

I found out the I could only tune from about 530 to 1350.  I probably needed to clip the lead on one of the loop turns, but I really wanted to see how it would do at night.  I spent several hours and was just totally amazed at how well it performed and how good the audio was.  The hardest part was when there were very strong signals on the adjacent frequency.  What I found really interesting was that it was not linear in its tuning.  At the low end of the band the stations were more spread out than at the higher end.  This made tuning fairy easy at the low end and very touchy at the high end.  I was able to hear a couple of Chicago stations along with Atlanta and St. Louis.

Here’s photo of it in action:

I have created an audio file of the station ID’s heard with the diode/loop radio.  The audio file is on the Internet Archive at:

https://archive.org/details/bcbstationidsondioderadio

I had a lot of fun in the contest and especially enjoyed trying something really different with the diode/loop radio.  Now I have a whole year to try to think up something really creative for next year’s contest.


Absolutely brilliant, Bill! I’m so happy to see that your ham fest homebrew loop has served you so very well in a contest. I love how you pulled audio from your homebrew, make-shift diode radio as well–using your audio gear in a chain for amplification obviously worked very well.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Bill!

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Panasonic RD-9820 Antenna Coupler Operating Instructions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares a PDF copy of the Panasonic RD-9820 Antenna Coupler we recently mentioned in a post. He notes that he can’t remember how he found this manual, but thought he’d share it.

Click here to download the RD-9820 manual as a PDF.

Thanks, Bill!

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Panasonic RF-2200 antenna coupler (model RD-9820) on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who recently discovered a model RD-9820 antenna coupler for the Panasonic RF-2200. Mario states, “[The] price is reasonable and they take offers.”

Please, someone purchase this before I do in a moment of weakness. I’ve two RF-2200s, but do not have the matching coupler. It is incredibly temping even though I know I’d rarely use it!

Click here to view on eBay (this partner link can support the SWLing Post)

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A trusted companion: The Panasonic RF-2200 never lets me down

One of the great things about sheltering at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, is I have time to complete some projects that would have otherwise waited until much later this year.

Lately, I’ve been making a serious effort to have our firewood cut, split and stacked so that it’ll have time to cure and dry before winter.

I’ve got a load of wood in my truck to process today so decided to take the Panasonic RF-2200 outside and do a little AM BC listening to make the splitting session pass a little faster.

The Panny ‘2200 is ideally suited for this task: it has robust sound and is one of the best AM DX portables ever made. I knew it would easily lock on to WTZQ 1600 kHz (some 25 miles away).

But as I sat the ‘2200 on the tailgate of my truck, I noticed that the power switch was already on!

My heart sank. The last time I had the RF-2200 out was well over a week ago and I was certain I had no D cells charged and ready to replace these.

But then I turned up the volume and there was static. I tuned to WTZQ and it sounded like it was one mile down the road. I turned up the volume a bit more when I heard Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel.

Turns out, there was a lot of battery life left. The Panny ‘2200 never let’s me down.

The Panasonic RF-2200 is a Holy Grail Radio. Plain and simple.

Do you have an RF-2200?  Please comment!


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A Look Back: Memories of the Panasonic RF-2200 and its sibling, the National Panasonic DR22

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), for the following guest post:


A Look Back: Memories of the Panasonic RF-2200 and its Sibling, the National Panasonic DR22

by Mario Filippi, N2HUN

All photos by author unless otherwise noted

One of the preeminent AM/FM/SW portables of all time is the venerable Panasonic model RF-2200 receiver that was sold in the USA starting in the mid-1970’s for around $165.00 US.

Weighing in at a hefty 7 pounds, 13 ounces and vital statistics of 12” x 7” x 4” it came equipped with a robust shoulder strap to schlep from the radio shack to alfresco listening sites and was basically a completely self-contained entertainment center for the radio enthusiast.  My first RF-2200 was purchased in the late ‘70’s from Grand Central Radio Shop in New York City, now just a memory and long gone, but back then they sold a bevy of shortwave and ham radio equipment.

Photo 1. Author’s favorite portable of all time, Panasonic RF-2200

It was love at first sight when I saw the RF-2200 in the store’s gleaming glass display case way back when. The ‘2200 possessed all the bells and whistles to guarantee a good time for the SWL such as a rotatable ferrite AM broadcast band antenna, BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator) for SSB reception, AM /FM/SW (3.9 – 28 MHz) bands, a D’Arsonval “S” meter that doubled as a battery status indicator, large four inch front mounted speaker, switchable coarse/fine tuning speed, base/treble/RF gain pots, 125/500 kHz crystal markers to calibrate the VFO, wide/narrow bandwidth switch, dial/S meter lights, earphone/recorder jacks and telescopic antenna for SW and FM. Plus it sported the renowned Panasonic trademark.

Photo 2. RF-2200’s rear: exposed battery compartment, screw connectors for external antenna, AC plug lower right. Rectangular earphone storage compartment is above batteries. Battery cover’s gray foam pad is dry rotted and needs replacement.

Part of the 2200’s ample avoirdupois can be attributed to the unit’s four “D” battery power plant, but Panasonic also supplied an AC cord to plug into the house mains and an earphone (located inside the battery case).  It runs forever on those four stout dry cells, one of the many positive features of this vintage gem.

Back in those days portable radios generally were not judged and valued based their diminutive size and weight but on the array of features geared to the end-user. Front panels were festooned with an array of controls rivaling an aircraft’s cockpit.  Knobs, analog dials, meters, large front-mounted speakers, switches and lots of black plastic were the order of the day. These all contributed to the beauty and practicality of portable shortwave radios back then.

One thing missing though was built-in memory channels; those existed in the operator’s brain and not yet delegated to memory chips.

Photo 3. Pack of four “D” cells, at 1 lb 4oz, weighs more than some of today’s portables!

One of the features long gone and missing in modern receivers these days is the “recorder out” jack that looks identical to an eight-inch earphone jack and yes the ‘2200 has one. It was used to plug in a tape recorder to memorialize an op’s favorite radio show. Of course back then there were many more shortwave stations broadcasting.  Gone also are those tiny incandescent bulbs, sometimes described as “grain of wheat” lamps that were used on S meters, dials, etc. The RF-2200 sports ample illumination for the S-meter and tuning dial which makes it a perfect bedside table radio for late night DX’ers and insomniacs.

Speaking of DX, the ‘2200’s rotatable AM ferrite antenna is one of the main virtues this radio possesses.  As an avid AM DX’er and faithful disciple of AM radio in general, the ‘2200’s rotary directional antenna nulls out noise and routinely pulls in stations as far away as Nashville (WSM), Chicago (WBBM), St. Louis (KMOX), Atlanta (WSB), Boston (WBZ) and Toronto (CJBC) when the sun goes down. Look closely at the antenna mount’s base and you’ll even see compass-like degree markings that’ll help when retrieving a favorite local or DX AM station.

Photo 4. Operating manual copy is available on-line

Shortwave coverage is approximately from 3.9 – 28 MHz as per the service manual, but I’ve checked the actual coverage of my unit using a calibrated service monitor and found it to be 3.47 – 28.9 MHz which makes sense since I’ve tuned to W1AW’s code practice on 3.581 MHz with no problem and have also heard the Volmet station on 3.485 MHz. That’s good news for hams wanting to receive 80m CW.  It gets a bit tricky though using the fine tuning option for CW hi hi.

AM broadcast band coverage is only from 525 – 1610 kHz as per the specifications; the AM band had not yet been extended to 1710 kHz at that time.  The ITU approved the extension in 1988. With that in mind I wanted to determine what the actual band coverage of my unit was. Again, using an IFR service monitor it was found to be from 514 – 1720 kHz; that’s good news for those who listen to stations at the top of the band.  It also explains why I can hear YWA, a non-directional radiobeacon (NDB) from Toronto, Canada just below the AM band on a frequency of 516 kHz. If you own a RF-2200 or DR22 tune to the bottom of the AM band and listen for it. You may also hear the warbling sound of NAVTEX stations on 518 kHz.  Switch on the BFO and wait for dark, you might get lucky like I have.

My apologies for not being an FM broadcast band listener so all I can state is the few times I’ve listened it sounded absolutely great.  The specs state a FM broadcast band frequency range of approximately 87.5 – 108 MHz. Mine measured from 86.8 – 108.9 MHz but I’ve yet to realign my unit so these ranges may vary among the population.  Note that I have undertaken the labor intensive task of aligning my National Panasonic DR-22 which is almost the exact same unit as the ‘2200. You can search this blog for my results that were kindly published by Thomas previously (click here to read).

Photo 5. Side by side comparison.  Panasonic RF-2200 on left, National Panasonic DR22 on right.

For those not aware, the RF-2200 was also marketed in Europe as the National Panasonic DR22 and in other parts of the world as the Cougar 2200. My DR22 was an eBay purchase, and that’s the best place to find either model.

DR22s are rather rare compared to the ‘2200 though. First off, one of the major differences with the DR22 is that it runs on either 110 or 220V, and that’s accomplished by a switch on the back of the unit.

DR22 runs on 120 or 240V via switch on rear panel

The DR22’s front panel stenciling is slightly different too, as shortwave bands are labeled “KW 1 – KW 6” in addition to “SW1 – SW6”.  Not sure what “KW” means though. Perhaps some reader can enlighten us.

Well, that’s about it, if you want a RF-2200, or DR22 then window shop on eBay.  Lately they have been selling from $40.00 US (parts only) to $455.00 for pristine units. That’s a pretty wide price range and even I’m surprised at the high prices being gotten for clean units.  All I can say is that the two I have now are staying right here in the shack with me.

Thanks for reading and 73’s.


eBay searches (note these eBay partner links support the SWLing Post):


Thank you so much for sharing this excellent post, Mario. Like you, I’m a massive fan of the Panasonic RF-2200; in fact, I own two of them! It is, in my opinion, the best AM/MW portable ever made. 

Post Readers: Any other RF-2200 and DR22 owners out there? Can anyone explain why the DR22 labels shortwave bands as “KW1 – KW6”–?  Please comment!


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Guest Post: Repairing the National Panasonic DR22, the Panasonic RF-2200’s Euro-Sibling

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who shares the following guest post:


National Panasonic DR22, the Panasonic RF-2200’s Euro-Sibling

By Mario Filippi, N2HUN

(All photos courtesy of author)

Thomas, your recent and thoroughly excellent post on the Panasonic RF-2200 was the inspiration for this short review of the RF-2200’s European sibling, the National Panasonic DR22.

A few years back when I was hunting for a used RF-2200, a second-hand National Panasonic DR22 was for auction on eBay. These radios were sold in Europe and are almost an exact match for the RF-2200, with a few minor cosmetic differences.  It was so close in appearance that I decided to bid and won the auction. The cost was around $150.00 plus shipping.

Author’s National Panasonic DR22, a.k.a. RF-2200BS

The seller described the unit as working, not a tech special, and was complete except for the original earphone.  The strap, which can be missing on some used models was in place, the antenna and all the knobs were there. When the radio was received, all appeared to be working well and most importantly the rotatable ferrite antenna was fully functional.  With the exception of tiny paint specks and years of accumulated dust the unit was cosmetically acceptable for a 40 plus year old radio. After a close olfactory inspection (smelling the unit hi hi) it was determined the radio was from a smoke-free home, which is important as smoke not only causes yellowing of plastic components, but it inundates the internal electronic components and coats them with a yellowish-brown stain.

National Panasonic DR22 Dashboard Shows Slight Labeling Differences

On close inspection, the unit differs slightly from the RF-2200, in that it is branded as a “National  Panasonic” along with the “DR22” designation on the upper right of the unit. And, the National Panasonic logo can be seen to the left of the AM/SW gain control.  Another difference is the additional labeling found above each shortwave band, the designations are KW1, KW2, etc.

Power, Dial Light, and BFO Switches Are Identical to RF2200

As for the rear panel of the DR22, a major difference is the presence of a voltage selector which allows one to switch from European voltage (220) to the US standard (110).   Inside the unit there’s a transformer that handles this option. Alternatively you can simply use four “D” batteries to power the unit.

DR22 Line Voltage Selector Switch

After receiving the unit, first order of business was a good cleaning of the outer case with mild soap and water.  All the knobs and carrying strap were removed and soaked in a warm soapy solution. A toothbrush was put to work to remove years of human tactile residue from the sides of the knobs.

Knobs (left) removed for cleaning. Carrying strap (right) was inundated with decades of dirt.

Next on the “to do” list was to obtain a copy of the service manual, available on line.  You’ll find it under the title of National Panasonic RF-2200BA. It’s an excellent manual with detailed photos of the circuit boards, exploded diagrams of the mechanical parts, parts list, schematics, and of course the alignment procedure.   Cracking open the case required removal of all the case screws and very gently coaxing of the two panels apart. Years of use, rust on the screws, and dirt/dust buildup all contribute to the challenge of this endeavor.

DR22 Case Disassembly

The alignment took several weeks as the radio was worked on in my spare time.  Note that I did not replace any electrolytic capacitors, and yes it was the lazy man’s way but a basic inspection of the caps for any evident leaks, explosions, or burns was conducted.  In short I did not want to replace capacitors at this time since the radio, as received from the former owner, was working well on all bands. Surely, as other operators have reported, cap replacement will restore full operational excellence but I felt if the radio passes the alignment specifications  that was good enough for me at this point.

DR22 Undergoing Testing

After several weeks the radio was restored to specifications, all switches were cleaned and dusted and the radio reassembled.  This was done a few years ago and the radio continues performing well. Even the 125/500 KHz crystal markers are pretty much on the money when checked against WWV.  No scratchy pots either hi hi. So now the radio sits in my kitchen and is on at least a few hours a day and keeps company with its sister, my RF2200. Note that recently DR22s have sold on eBay for $150 – $300US. Tech specials/parts radio run considerably less.  Thanks and 73’s de N2HUN.


Thank you, Mario! It looks like you scored an excellent deal on the DR22 and it’s serving you quite well! I’m glad you spent time checking for leaky capacitors after opening the chassis. Using the DR22 so frequently will keep those caps “juicy!”

Post Readers: Please comment if you love the National Panasonic DR22!


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Mornings with the Panasonic RF-2200

It’s been a busy winter season here at SWLing Post HQ. Many of you might have noticed a slow response time if you’ve tried to contact me. I’m in the midst of a rather involved investment property renovation that’s consumed nearly all of my spare time.

Still, I’m keeping up with the Post and even managing a little one-on-one radio time in the early mornings/late evenings. Indeed, I’ve actually tried to turn my renovation project into an opportunity to play a little radio. The property is unoccupied and very rural, so there’s quite literally no RFI there. Woot!

Since I’ve been spending time evaluating the new CCRadio3 (click here to read my preview), I’ve also had the CCRadio EP Pro, Sony ICF-5500W and the legendary Panasonic RF-2200 nearby for comparison purposes.

All of these radios have their strong points, but the Panny RF-2200 is still the rig I reach for the most. That’s why I listed it as one of my daily drivers.

It also helps that my RF-2200 feels like a brand new unit after Vlado re-capped and cleaned it.

Band-scanning

Band-scanning with the RF-2200 is such a tactile experience. The ‘2200 tuning knob is quality and almost feels like a weighted encoder you’d find on a proper tabletop receiver. The RF-2200 even has fast/slow tuning gears and you can calibrate the dial so easily. Though tuning on the shortwaves feels a little vague, I find mediumwave is incredibly accurate.

Speaking of the dial and logging scale, I think it’s one of the most attractive from the 1970s:

Since I’ve been doing most of my listening around sunrise and sunset, it’s been a lot of fun to fit in a little mediumwave DXing as well. I see why the RF-2200 was one of The Professor‘s favorites.

If you ever find a good deal on a Panasonic RF-2200, don’t hesitate, just grab it!  Occasionally you’ll find one on eBay, but also check your local hamfests and swap meets! That’s where I’ve had the most luck.

If you ever find a ‘2200 for less that $100-125 that’s in decent cosmetic shape, with the original antenna, clean battery contacts, and is in good mechanical shape (meaning the tuning mechanism and dial work as they should), buy it! If there’s an electrical problem, Vlado can fix that. In fact, if your RF-2200 still has the original capacitors, you’d probably want to re-cap it anyway to keep leaky caps from eventually harming the board or internals. Plus, a properly re-capped ‘2200 will play like a new one!

My takeaway?  The RF-2200 is a keeper! I suppose that’s why I even have a spare!

Do you have or would you like an RF-2200? Please comment!


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