Tag Archives: Transistor Radios

Arvin Model 68R05: John’s 1967 transistor radio

arvin_68R05

Many thanks to John Harper (AE5X) who shares the following in reply to our post about transistor radios:

Attached is a pic of a like-new transistor radio from 1967 [see above].

Remember the days when they bragged about how many transistors a gadget contained?! Sort of like bragging about RAM or clock speed today I guess.

That’s a cute little Arvin radio, John!

You’re right, too–radio manufacturers used to boast transistor compliment like nothing else. Crosley, Zenith and RCA did the same thing–boasting tube/valve numbers–in their 1930s consoles as well. Thanks for sharing the photo of your pocket radio!

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Memories and transistor radios

Magnovox 1R 1203I’ve always had an affinity for pocket transistor radios.

The Realistic Model 23-464.

The Realistic Model 23-464.

My first one was an AM-only model: a Realistic Model 23-464. It was about the only new pocket radio I could afford–and purchase locally–when I was a kid.

It was surprisingly sensitive on the AM broadcast band, but the dial was a far cry from accurate. At some point, I either gave this radio to someone or lost it. Last year, I happened upon one on eBay and purchased it for $9 shipped. Its plastic body shows signs of wear, but it works and reminds me of my childhood.

My grandpa's Magnovox 1R 1203

My grandpa’s Magnovox 1R 1203

Another pocket AM/FM radio that brings back a flood of memories is the Magnovox 1R 1203. It belonged to my dear grandpa, who also shared and conveyed a love of radio. When I was a kid, we would sit around on his front porch on hot summer days and listen to local AM stations on this little radio, cicadas whirring in the background.

I still have his Magnavox–it sits here in my radio room and brings back memories every time I look at or listen to it.

Am I a nostalgic fellow? You bet!

Anyone else have memories associated with pocket radios? Please feel free to comment and share!

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James’ vintage transistor radio collection

In response to my recent post about the vintage Arvin 68R58 transistor radio, SWLing Post reader, James Patterson, has shared photos of his collection in New Zealand. James has captioned each photo below:


Sanyo

This portable Sanyo was bought at a “Second Hand” shop. It had badly corroded battery connections. I repaired it and it works fine now.

Very early National portable with twin speakers, broadcast [band] and [shortwave. Works very well.

Very early National portable with twin speakers, broadcast [band] and [shortwave. Works very well.

This PYE Caddy was actually made here in New Zealand. I believe the design was from the UK though. It still works very well.

This PYE Caddy was actually made here in New Zealand. I believe the design was from the UK though. It still works very well.

The PYE Caddy without the plastic cover.

The PYE Caddy without the plastic cover.

Very popular in their day, the RED National Panasonic pocket AM Transistor 6. Works well.

Very popular in their day, the RED National Panasonic pocket AM Transistor 6. Works well.

Very early AIWA pocket Transistor 6. Still works well.

Very early AIWA pocket Transistor 6. Still works well.

The "Murphy 8" Transistor radio. Broadcast band only. Wooden case in fab condition. Works very well.

The “Murphy 8” Transistor radio. Broadcast band only. Wooden case in fab condition. Works very well.

Murphy8-BackOpen

This is the rear view of the “Murphy Transistor 8.” I gave it a new battery holder.

This is a "Murphy Transistor 7+"  Im not sure what the "+" means because it does have only 7 transistors. Very good performer for its age. Wooden case is identical to the previous Murphy 8.

This is a “Murphy Transistor 7+” Im not sure what the “+” means because it does have only 7 transistors. Very good performer for its age. Wooden case is identical to the previous Murphy 8.

This is the rear view of the "Murphy Transistor 7 plus." All very original, and works fine.

This is the rear view of the “Murphy Transistor 7 plus.” All very original, and works fine.

This National Panasonic DR 28 is not part of my early AM Transistor radio collection. It is, however, part of my Short Wave Radio collection.

This National Panasonic DR 28 is not part of my early AM Transistor radio collection. It is, however, part of my shortwave radio collection.


Many thanks, James, for sharing photos from your collection! You certainly have some gems in there. I was not at all familiar with the New Zealand-made PYE Caddy, in fact. I’m curious if other radios were made in New Zealand in the past.

I bet you and I might agree that the Panasonic DR-28 (a.k.a. RF-2800 in North America) hardly feels “vintage,” but at 37 years old it certainly qualifies by most standards–hard to believe. The RF-2800 pops up on eBay quite often and has certainly held its value well. (Click here to search.)

Seeing the DR-28/RF-2800, in fact, is making me lust even more after the venerable Panasonic RF-2200! Alas…so many radios!

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Hamvention find: the Arvin 68R58 AM transistor radio

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1390Though I believe I spent more money at the Dayton Hamvention this year than I have in all previous years, I only purchased one radio: the Arvin 68R58 eight-transistor.

I spent a whopping $5 on the little Arvin in the Hamvention fleamarket. To be fair, the seller sold it for this modest price because he was not sure if the radio worked.  But when I unsnapped the back leather cover, peered inside, and found the works remarkably clean, I suspected it might…

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1373No original power supply was included, of course, and I was a bit concerned when I saw the somewhat out-of-character plastic battery holder. In the filtered fleamarket light, it appeared to me as if it required proprietary batteries–the holder appeared too small for C cells, and too large for AAs. There was no indication of the type of batteries it used, but since the spec read “6 volts,” I knew I could build a small AA battery holder, if need be.

So, at $5 (I bargained him down from $10, based on the doubt of operation) it was a very low risk purchase, and a potentially a fun project.

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Back at home, I popped open the battery holder and looked inside…And I discovered the Arvin did, indeed, take four C cells. Simple enough! After inserting fresh batteries, I turned on the radio via the tone pot, and instantly heard beautiful, rich audio.

What I thought would be a project radio ended up being fully functional, and was, moreover, in tip-top shape.

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So far, I’ve been very impressed with the Arvin’s AM sensitivity and audio fidelity. No doubt the generous ferrite rod antenna is doing the trick on medium wave.

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Last night, as I tuned through the AM broadcast band, I was able to null out unwanted stations and noise amazingly well. There is something to be said of transistor radios from this era–let’s just say, they’re classics.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1376The Arvin has a simple set of controls: tone, tuning, and volume. There are no filter selections, of course, but I can tell that it’s quite wide; perhaps 8 or 9 kHz.

ARVIN-68r58All in all, I’m very pleased with my little purchase, and the Arvin has become my new (vintage) bedside radio. Last night, I tuned in one of my favorite AM stations on 740 kHz, CFZM in Toronto, Canada.  CFZM (a.k.a. “Zoomer Radio”) is not only a benchmark, but a right of passage for any worthy AM radio in my household. The Arvin passed the Zoomer test with colors flying.

And, yes, it even soothed me to sleep.

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Now I only need to properly clean and restore the Arvin’s leather chassis and perhaps build a 6V-regulated linear power supply.

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Next time you pass by a 1960s/70s vintage transistor, grab it! I’m certainly happy I did.

Now, I think I’ll turn on the Arvin, sip some dark beans, and put up my feet in the Pawley’s Island hammock…Cheers! Summer’s on the way.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1381Want one of your own? A quick search reveals that the Arvin 68R58 can be found on eBay for quite reasonable prices. Click here to search eBay for an Arvin.

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