Tag Archives: Solid State

Mark loves his National Panasonic RF-1150 and could use some advice

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Lane, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I have been reading the SWLing Post for a few years now but hadn’t contacted yourself since I announced my re kindled interest in SW and radio in general when I purchased a Sony ICF2001D a couple of years ago.

Well since then I had also bought a couple of modern travel radios but was hankering after something more retro.

I recently was lucky enough to receive a small bonus from work and thought it was an excellent opportunity to have another hunt for the European version of the Panasonic RF2200.

I had heard so much about this radio and really wanted a good analogue set. However, trying to find one in good condition in the UK was proving difficult to say the least.

Whilst hunting, I did find a radio that peaked my interest. I had not come across it before but was intrigued, initially by the looks and then read up on it a little. The Panasonic RF1150. After a few days of debating I took the plunge and bought one.

I don’t know if any other readers of the Post have or have had this radio but I must say I am very impressed with the MW and deep sound on this radio from the large speaker.

I am no expert, still learning all about radio and I am on the fence about the SW performance, but I did snag a Ham from Barcelona calling for North America on the first night of operation. I did have to work the BFO to keep the signal in check but it was enjoyable. There is something about these old receivers that keeps me listening. I do love my 2001D but it’s nowhere near as much fun as tuning the RF1150.

I just thought I would share the details of my new purchase and also wondered if anyone had any tips on maintaining a radio of this age as this is all new to me. It’s in pretty good shape but there is some crackle from a couple of the pots.

Also there is a switch in the left had side of the radio which I think is to allow input of an external device. The issue I have is that if I so much as knock this switch it turns it from ‘radio’ to ‘phono’ and it is nearly impossible to get it back. Not sure what I can do about that.

Anyway keep up the good work in helping keep radio alive!

All the best.
Mark

Thank you for sharing your find, Mark! The Panasonic RF-1150 is a handsome radio–no wonder it’s such a pleasure to operate!

The feel of tuning the RF-1150, RF-2200, and other solid state radios of that era is simply unmatched. I imagine like the RF-2200, the shortwave tuning experience especially employing the BFO, is a little “loosey-goosey.” Still, it’s incredibly fun and produces the most amazing variable het sounds!

Regarding the sticky pots and radio/phono switch, I suspect this is due to a little oxidization on the contacts. At least, if you wiggle or slightly budge the switch and the audio pops back all of the sudden, that could be the case. A very careful application of contact cleaner may solve your problems.

I have no history with the RF-1150, however, so perhaps readers can comment with their experience and advice!

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1955 Film: Assembling Regency transistor radios in Indiana

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete Eaton, who shares the following vintage industry short film:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Like Pete, I’m impressed with the size of those soldering irons!


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Thrift Store Find: A $2.50 GE Super Radio II

A few weeks ago, I stopped by our local Habitat For Humanity ReStore searching for reclaimed building supplies.

This particular ReStore is one of the largest in the area–it has an amazing selection of building supplies, furniture, housewares, books and even music, but has a very small section dedicated to electronics which is primarily stocked with DVD players, VCRs and occasionally the odd component system. The person who sets the prices for electronics always over-inflates them so it seems items sit on the shelf for ages.

In all of the years I’ve visited this store, I’ve never found a portable radio of interest…until a few weeks ago.

As I passed by the shelf, a GE Super Radio II caught my eye. Cosmetically, it was in rough shape (in other words, “well-loved”).

I expected a $50 price tag but instead was surprised when I saw $2.50! I put on my reading glasses just to make sure I was reading it correctly.

I plugged the radio in and tested it on FM. It easily snagged a number of FM stations and the audio sounded amazing although the loudness, treble and bass pots were very scratchy.

The AM broadcast band worked as well, but the RFI/noise inside the retail warehouse was overwhelming.

I opened the back of the radio and found an immaculate battery compartment. Obviously, the previous owner was either diligent with removing cells when not in use, or never used batteries.

The antenna was in great shape and had no bends or breaks.

The speakers were in tact as well.

I took the radio to the counter and the guy who rang up the order said, “Well…she ain’t pretty, but for $2.50 how can you go wrong?

My thoughts exactly!

I brought the Super Radio II home with the idea of immediately cleaning her up (like David Korchin did with his “barn find” II), but I’ve had a couple intense travel and work weeks, so it had to wait.

Fast-forward to yesterday when my father-in-law was in town and stopped by for a visit.

He mentioned in passing that after his favorite public radio station decreased power from one of its translators, he could no longer receive it easily with his small AM/FM portable at home. Of course, I have at least four dozen radios here that could easily receive this station, but few of those include a power cord, are incredibly simple to operate and have room-filling audio.

I took a look at the GE Super Radio II, then a look at my father-in-law, and decided he needed it. I knew the ‘Super II would make him a happy man.

I quickly dusted off the chassis and cleaned the pots with DeOxit–it played like a new one.

I tuned to an FM station playing classical music, turned up the volume and my father-in-law beamed when he heard the rich, clear audio.

No doubt, this time-honored portable will get a lot of use and love in its second life.

If I’m being honest with myself, this might not have been a truly altruistic move. You see, when we do an overnight at my father-in-law’s house, I can now do a little AM DXing without having to lug one of my own receivers!

A win-win in my book.

Post Readers: Have you snagged a good radio deal lately? Please comment/brag with models and prices!


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

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Jack Berg Sales: You too can own a brand new vintage radio!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who shares a link to Jack Berg Sales–a company specializing in New In Box (NIB) vintage electronics.

Ron points to one radio example in the Berg inventory, the Americana 10 Transistor AM Portable Pocket Radio:

 

The price is a very reasonable at $35.00 US plus $8.00 shipping and handling. Click here to view.

Jack Berg has dozens of other radios and electronics, though. It’s like walking through a vintage vault.

As Ron points out, Berg would probably make much more profit posting these vintage gems on eBay, but fortunately for us they do not.

It doesn’t appear Jack Berg does online ordering, which could make purchasing from outside the US quite complicated. In fact, they request a money order or cashier’s check sent to their office in El Paso, Texas.

(Side note: I honestly can’t think of the last time I purchased something from a company by sending in a money order or cashiers check.)

I suppose it would make sense to contact Jack Berg via email or phone (915-532-4519) to make sure your order can be fulfilled.

Additionally, there is no warranty of any sort.

These are NIB units and are untested. There’s a decent chance some radios may not function without replacing a capacitor or two and using a little DeOxit on switches and pots. For me, it’s worth the risk.

Click here to browse Jack Berg Sales full radio inventory. 

Post readers: please comment if you’ve ever purchased from Jack Berg.  How was your experience? See any particularly amazing models in the inventory? I bet many of the AM radios have decent ferrite bars inside!

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Edward restores a Star-Lite Town & Country FM-820 portable receiver

Star-Lite TownAndCountry_FM-820_2Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Ganshirt, who writes:

This is a “mystery brand” radio that I picked up at a swapfest for a buck, I never heard of a Star-Lite Town & Country FM-820 by the HOKUYO MUSEN KOGYO CO in Japan. This portable behemoth is not “lite”, It is heavy (13 pounds).

The only thing I came up with is Sam’s photofact that refer to radio. (I am not about to buy a service manual for something that is not broken). There is a Chrysler Town & Country station wagon, which is also a behemoth that swamps out all Google searches. This set appears to be made in the mid sixties. I was told that is was on a fishing boat as evidenced by its condition it was very dirty with a lot of corrosion on the bezel and missing a tuning knob.

Star-Lite TownAndCountry_FM-820_3

I fabricated a tuning knob on a lathe, which was a 2-piece affair. The outer knob is tuning and the inner knob is the fine tune. It cleaned up well and I had to repaint the bezel. The auto parts store said that the Chrysler of that area did not use metal flake paints but they matched a touch-up spray can of a Toyota millennium silver.

Star-Lite TownAndCountry_FM-820_5Star-Lite TownAndCountry_FM-820_4
This radio has 8 push-button bands: long-wave, AM, short-wave 1.6 to 26 MHz, and FM along with tone controls. The sound is surprisingly good it is a 6-cell battery only (no AC). It has reasonably good short-wave drift-free performance. The paint job looks good, there is a rusty chrome bumper next to the push-buttons. I decided to to restore this part. It is ok for your 1960’s Town & Country to have rusty bumpers.

While you would not take your Panasonic RF9000 your Transoceanic or Grundig, This radio is my “beater” to take to the beach.

Star-Lite TownAndCountry_FM-820_1

Does anyone know about the Star-Lite brand?

Thank you, Ed, for sharing this.  I am not at all familiar with this make and model of radio. I must say…I’m most impressed that you were able to fabricate a tuning knob! It would have been a challenge to find a replacement knob otherwise.

I bet she plays well, too–looks like a decent ferrite bar inside and a substantial telescoping antenna.

And you’re right, Edward, it is ok for your 1960’s Town & Country to have rusty bumper! Now take that girl to the beach! 🙂

Post readers: please comment if you’re familiar with the Star-Lite brand!

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1953 film anticipates the transistor’s impact on technology

TheTransistor-Film

Many thanks to an SWLing Post reader who shared this brilliant 1953 documentary film about the anticipated impact the transistor could have on technology.

Here’s the film description from the AT&T YouTube channel:

Made between the 1947 invention of the transistor at Bell Labs and the 1956 awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physics to its creators, this documentary is less about the discovery itself than its anticipated impact on technology and society. The intent of the film was clearly to give the public of that era their first understanding of what a transistor was and why it mattered so much.

Made for a general audience, the film provides a clear and concise presentation on technological developments that began with the vacuum tube, showing different types of transistors and explaining the significance in their ultimate replacement of tubes.

Included are visions of “things to come,” concepts and creations of how the small transistor might free up an encumbered world: the wrist radio, similar to Dick Tracy’s, but with a cool lapel sound speaker worn like a boutonniere; a portable TV set, which must have seemed astonishing at the time given the huge, heavy cabinetry required to accommodate the plethora of tubes inside 1950s TVs; and the “calculating machine,” or computer, whose size, we’re told, will one day be so reduced because of transistors that it will only require “a good-sized room” rather than a space the size of the Empire State Building. The concept of how small computers could be still remained decades away.

While The Transistor’s vision of the future seems somewhat quaint in retrospect, it captures a moment in time before the transistor became ubiquitous; a time when Bell Labs wanted the world to know that something important had occurred, something that was about to bring tremendous change to everyone’s daily lives.

Click here to view the film on YouTube, or simply watch via the embedded player below:

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