Tag Archives: Vintage Radio

2019 Huntsville Hamfest photos: Flea Market

Yesterday (Saturday, August 17), was the first day of the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama.

Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of friends that Huntsville is a must-see hamfest. And, boy, were they right! Turns out the Huntsville Hamfest is one of the largest hamfests in North America.

The entire event is held in the amazing Von Braun Center and is fully air conditioned–a good thing as temperatures were pushing 100F/37.8C yesterday!

I took a number of. photos in the flea market area of the hamfest. In truth, though, this is only a small sampling of what was there. I told a friend that–in terms of selection and radio density–this was one of the best hamfest flea markets I’ve ever seen. If you were looking for ways to rid yourself of your hard-earned cash, this was the place to do it!

Click on the photos in the gallery below to enlarge each image. Note that I plan to take photos of the vendor/club areas today and hopefully post them tomorrow:


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Bill’s NJARC swap meet deal and some tailgate photos

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

This morning (Saturday July 20), I went to the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) Summer Swap Meet.

They typically hold three Swap Meets each year at various locations This time it was at the InfoAge Science

History Learning Center in Wall, NJ. The InfoAge Center has many exhibits including:

  • InfoAge Space Exploration Center
  • World War II Radar
  • Marconi Wireless Room
  • Radio and Television Museum
  • Vintage Computers
  • plus much more

Check out this link.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to it.

The Swap Meet was held outdoors and it was a hot humid morning – 80 degrees at 6 am with 90 percent humidity. By 9 am it was 90 degrees. But it was worth the hour trip.

I acquired one new radio – the Nova-Tech Pilot II Direction Finding 4 Band transistor radio. It’s in great condition and is working. It’s an interesting radio.

The four bands are Beacon (190-400 kHz), Broadcast (550-1600 kHz), Marine (1.6-4.5 MHz) and VHF (108-136 MHz).

There is a rotatable antenna on the top that is used to get your bearing. The top of the radio has the Bearing in degrees. It includes Squelch and DF Level controls; both can be switched off. The DF Level is the RF Gain and I read somewhere that when it is activated the AGC is switched off.

I was very fortunate in that the radio came with the three telescoping antennas – all in perfect condition. It also included the original AC Power Adapter.

All for only $25. A great bargain.

The radio seems very sensitive on the Broadcast Band.

I tuned it to my standard test weak station – WALK, 1370, in Patchogue, NY. This station is a 500 watt repeater station to WHLI, 1100 in Hamstead, NY. With most of my radios, I can barely hear a station in the noise. The exception is the Panasonic RF-2200 which can pick it up the best. The Pilot II could pick up a readable signal of WALK.

Very impressive.

Below are some photos of the radio.

Bill also included the following photos from the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) swap meet:

Thanks for sharing this, Bill! No doubt, you snagged a fantastic deal on the Nova Tech Pilot II. My dear friend Michael Pool (who passed away earlier this year) acquired one and loved it. Here’s a link to his guest post about this cool DF receiver.

Thanks for sharing the photos and links to the NJARC swap meet. Looks like an event I’d certainly love to attend!

Post readers: Have you attended any swap meets recently?  Any good finds?  Please comment!


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More than mere nostalgia: why vintage technology still has appeal

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who shares a link to this CNN Business article that briefly explores why consumers still invest in vintage electronics:

New York (CNN Business) – That beaten up Walkman buried in your basement might be someone’s hot new accessory. The retro tech market is alive and kicking.

In May, Apple refreshed the iPod touch for the first time in four years. Vinyl record sales clocked in at 400 million on average over the past four years, according to data from data tracker Statista.

[…]Other gadgets that have stayed the course: camcorders, radios, clock radios, desk phones, and DVRs. Millions of these are still in use in US households in 2017, according to Statista.
What drives people to continue purchasing vinyl records, instant film cameras, and iPods, long after new products have made those objects irrelevant?

Older gadgets have a lot of staying power because they allow people to unplug from the constant ping of smartphones and tablets.[…]

This short article and accompanying video are worth reviewing. I for one, can certainly relate.

When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, shortwave radio was simply wireless magic. Even though the medium had been around for many decades, when my friends learned about what I could receive at home with my Zenith Transoceanic (which by then was a good 15 years old) they couldn’t wrap their minds around it.

Today, of course, international communications are effortless and nearly free via computers, tablets and smart phones.

And, I don’t know about you, but the shock value of what new technologies can do has worn off. A phone app that can control the lighting an appliances in your house? Sounds useful. A voice-activated wireless home camera system that allows you to talk to and feed your dog while you’re at work? My neighbor has one of those. A car that can drive itself? Sure. Why not?

Major technological leaps are happening at such a rapid pace that innovation is hardly appreciated…it’s expected. Ask any Apple stockholder.

And digital technologies are often incredibly affordable–but I would argue there’s a directly relationship between affordability and a loss of privacy.

As the article points out, vintage electronics have appeal because they effectively do their job without monopolizing your attention or personal space.  “Vintage” tech can be with you for the long run and doesn’t necessarily rely upon an app developer or company that may or may not exist tomorrow.

Maybe this article struck a nerve…

Like TV, digital devices tend to monopolize your attention. Almost all new apps, for example, default to “push” notifications that beep, buzz and effectively turn one into Pavlov’s dog. Human beings are wired to respond to this stuff!

It’s sad to have lunch with a friend that is constantly checking their phone because it’s pinging them with notifications. It’s like having an attention-deprived two year old in the room while you’re trying to carry on a meaningful conversation.  I have a rule: the only time I’ll answer a text or call when I’m with someone is if I’m expecting something urgent. Even then, I usually mention the possibility in advance and apologize when it happens. It’s an intrusion and I treat it as such.

Besides the nostalgic factor, I turn to “vintage” technologies because they lack the insidious nature of internet-connected digital devices.

When I turn on a radio, it’s on. When I turn it off, it’s off. It’s not listening to me, not reporting my shopping habits and not sending me notifications. It’s a companion.

Photo by Steve Harvey on UnsplashListening to a vinyl record is a proper experience too–one that’s high-fidelity, has unique character and won’t stop what it’s doing to tell you that you lost an eBay auction or that a friend took a photo of their Tiramisu.

Am I shunning internet-connected digital devices? No. [In fact, I’m sure I’ll get called a big fat hypocrite when I review the Google Nest Hub soon!] But I do advocate taming these devices and educating yourself about what they can do while they’re in your home.

Consider turning off their notifications, their microphones, their cameras, and even creating a single-use throw-away user account to tie to devices. Do what I do and unplug them when not in use.

I’m sorry for the Friday soap box and what seems to be an issue of Thomas’ Pet Peeves, but I’m willing to bet other radio enthusiasts feel as I do. Do you still use vintage tech in your daily routine? Do you attempt to tame digital devices? Or do you embrace notifications, automaton, and all things connected?

How do you strike a balance?  Please comment!


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Ed restores a Hallicrafters S-72L cabinet


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Ganshirt, who shares the following:

This is a Hallicrafters S-72L “barn find” I restored.

This turned out to be a furniture refinishing project and not a radio (electronics) restoration job.

It is a 1949/50 era portable with batteries and 1 volt tubes.

When I brought it home the cosmetic condition was such, I kept it away from the litter box out of an abundance of caution to prevent it from being buried by the cats.

This is a very early portable radio made out of plywood and coated with brown wall paper fabric imitating cheap portable record players and luggage of the era.

I decided to laminate it with cedar drawer liner to give it some class instead of vinyl wallpaper.

While learning to laminate wood is another skill outside the scope of this article, The trick when applying laminate is to prevent bubbles forming under the laminate.

Also all divits and dents should be filled in with Bondo or wood filler. The surface is lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper and at least 8 layers of gloss water based floor varnish applied and allowed to thoroughly dry before the next coat.

This radio has nice audio quality, It has a BFO and tunes the longwave band through 11MHz.

The only regrets is cleaning it aggressively which took away a lot of the “old radio smell”, but the cedar aroma will keep the moths out.


Fantastic, Ed!  Thanks for sharing. I think you made a considerate upgrade to the S-72L. Great to hear this radio plays well and has excellent audio. I found one at a hamfest once in slightly better cosmetic condition, but much worse electrical condition than your pre-restoration unit. I’m sure I took a photo of it, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives.

Post readers: any other Hallicrafters S-72L owners out there?  Have you ever installed wood laminate on a radio cabinet? Please comment!


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Radio receiver innovations over the last century

(Source: Microwaves and RF)

A Selected History of Receiver Innovations Over the Last 100 Years

by Brad Brannon

This article, the first of a two-part series on receiver technology, looks at the genesis and early advances of this all-important area.

Many contributed to the early days of wireless, but it’s safe to say that Guglielmo Marconi ranks as one of the more prominent. While known for his wireless technology, many people are less familiar with the business he created around wireless technology at the turn of the 19th century. For about 20 years after the start of the 1900s, he built a critical business that launched the world of wireless toward what we have today.

His commercialized technology was not the most up-to-date.  However, it was good enough despite rapid technological changes because he figured out how to use the technology available to him to enable a new industry.

Marconi set out to deploy a worldwide network capable of sending and relaying messages wirelessly at a time when the world was in turmoil at the end of colonialism, mainly due to the wars and disasters that pockmarked the start of the 1900s, including the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. The role that wireless played in both the rescue of survivors and the dissemination of the news of that accident reinforced the importance of this fledgling technology.

The key role that wireless technology could play wasn’t missed by either the public or the military, notably Joseph Daniels, who later became the secretary of the U.S. Navy. In the U.S. and elsewhere, leaders such as Daniels felt that the military should nationalize radio to ensure that they had access to it during wartime. It must be kept in mind that during this period, the only usable spectrum was below 200 kHz or so. At least for a while, things moved in this direction. After World War I, the government’s control of wireless weakened, but not before the formation of the government-sanctioned monopoly that created the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).1

The Early Radio Days

By our expectations, the radios of Marconi’s time were quite primitive. The transmitters employed spark-gap devices (only later did they employ mechanical alternators) to generate the RF. But on the receiving end, the systems were fully passive and consisted of an antenna, resonant LC tuner, and some sort of detector. These detectors will be covered shortly, but they were either mechanical, chemical, or organic.

Some of these systems employed a battery simply to bias them, but not to provide any circuit gain as we might recognize today. The output from these systems was supplied to some sort of headset to convert the signal to audio, which was always very weak and just a simple click or buzz at best.

Because these systems provided no gain on the receiving end, range was determined by the amount of transmitted power, the quality of the receiver, the experience of the operator to adjust it, and, of course, atmospheric conditions. What Marconi realized was that given a reasonably predictable range, a network of stations could be built to reliably communicate information across both continents and oceans. This included installations both on land and at sea.

Marconi set off to install his wireless stations across the globe and at sea, both on passenger ships and cargo ships.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at Microwaves and RF.

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