Tag Archives: Vintage Radio

The best radio you have is the one in front of you

This autumn, I’ve received a number of emails from new readers who’ve dusted off the radio in their closet and decided to get back into shortwave radio listening and/or ham radio.

I can’t recall another time I’ve gotten so many similar messages and I can only attribute it to the fact so many people across the globe are still having to social distance due to the C-19 pandemic.

There’s.a common theme in the messages I’ve been receiving from readers. Here’s an excerpt from the latest message (note that I removed the model name from this question because, frankly, it’s irrelevant):

“[My radio] seems to be in great working order. It’s been stored in a climate controlled environment and besides needing a little DeOxit on some of the pots, it works like new. I couldn’t be happier! My question to you is, this model is from the 1990s when I used to be hot and heavy into radio. I know technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since then, so as I get back into radio maybe I should invest in a newer model? What do you think or suggest?”

It’s true that radio technology has gone through a massive number of innovations since the 1990s. We’ve seen the advent of Software Defined Radios and portable receivers/transceivers sporting DSP technology.  Far be it from me to dissuade anyone from acquiring new gear!

With that said, I also believe that the best radio you have is the one in front of you. Period.

Listening is a skill

You can’t buy it. Whether you’re an SWL or ham radio operator, most of the time you’re on the air, you’re listening. And the best filter you have is the one in your head. I’ll quote from an article I posted many moons ago:

My good friend Vlado (N3CZ) is a case in point: he is one of the most capable ham radio DXers I know. His extraordinary ability to pull intelligible conversations and CW (Morse code) out of the static, even in crowded radio conditions, is simply astounding. Vlado’s main transceiver is nearly two decades old, and by no means a benchmark technically. If you ask Vlad if he uses filters and digital signal processing, he will wisely tell you, in his Macedonian accent: “Your best filter is between your ears.”

The same goes for SWLing. I have spent enough time listening to shortwave and weak DX that I can now pull conversations out of the noise that my (non-radio) friends can barely detect. I’m convinced this is healthy exercise for the old grey matter.

A seasoned radio enthusiast can grab any radio and make the most of it.

Imagine what Joe Walsh could do with a toy guitar…

Do you think the guitar makes him one of the greatest guitarists of all time?

 

Many of the advances in technology over the past two or three decades has, of course, given us better tools for working weak signals. But more importantly, it’s brought down the price of performance. I can invest $200 in an SDR that will perform as well as or better than multi thousand dollar benchmark receivers from the 1990s. So yes, in terms of equipment, it’s a brilliant time to be an SWL or ham radio operator.

But at the end of the day, your skills are more important your gear.

My advice?

Make the most of the radio you have.

Challenge yourself to log a certain amount of DX with your radio–try to work states, counties, provinces, regions, territories, or countries. Make your own goals!

Take your radio to the field.

Experiment with antennas.

Get to know your radio so well you can use it blindfolded!

If you still feel you want to invest more in your gear, go for it and don’t look back!

That will be all.

-Thomas

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Paolo warns of persistent classifieds scams targeting radio collectors and advises how you can be scam savvy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paolo Viappiani (SWL I1-11437), who shares the following guest post:


A recent resurgence of Internet scams involving quality radios

by Paolo Viappiani (SWL I1-11437)

After my previous post on this subject, I found on the Internet other very dangerous fraud attempts concerning high-quality radios offered at very convenient prices. Below, you’ll find the details of a recent attempt concerning the highly-desirable SONY CRF-V21 receiver.

The methods are always the same, but the scammers greatly refine their fraudulent techniques, even going so far as to carry out real identity thefts, as in this case.

Of course, I knew from the beginning that it was a fraud (I don’t let myself be fooled anymore!), but I tried to continue corresponding with the scammer in order to get as much data on his real identity as possible. At the same time, however, I reported the fraudulent advertisement to the site webmaster in order to prevent other users from falling into the trap. The ad was promptly removed, but the scammer noticed it and immediately he slipped away…

Here is the story…

I have been trying to detect and report Internet scams from some time (since I was scammed!), and recently I found an advertisement for a SONY CRF-V21 radio, described as working and in good cosmetic conditions, on the Italian website “Clasf”, look at the picture below:

The radio was offered for Euro 2.600 from a seller who supposedly resided in Rome, Italy.

I sent him a message through the “Clasf” site and almost immediately I received a reply from someone who claimed to reside in Reichertshofen, Germany.

Déjà vu… Germany, Spain or Portugal always seems to be the same story…

But this time the very serious thing is the fact that the scammer identified himself as an “implantology dentist”–a fake identity–also providing a counterfeit website:

From my investigation it appears that both the picture and the website were stolen from a true professional from Hamburg, Dr. Bernhard Brinkmann, look at the websites (here and here).

Of course I tried to contact Dr. Brinkmann and I still make all the documents available to him, in case he wants to prosecute the thief.

About the pictures I received from the scammer (you’ll find some of them below):

All photos were stolen from a Canadian eBay advertiser instead:

So, buyer beware! The number of frauds in the radio market on the Internet is growing day after day, and it always advisable to keep your eyes wide open, even in the rush to purchase a much desired item at an affordable price.

Today scam techniques are increasingly refined, as shown in the example reported above.
Sincerely I don’t know if this user has something to do with the other European scammers (supposedly from Spain and Portugal) I quoted in my former post. The Italian Postal Police, after having examined the headers of the e-mails that I received along with other documents, believe that such scammers can reside anywhere in the world.

Most scammed

Anyway, the three “most scammed” radios are currently the Panasonic RF-8000, the Panasonic RF- 9000 and the Sony CRF-V21 (pictures below):

Please also notice that a number of advertisements on the most popular classifieds sites (Quoka.de and ebay-kleinanzeigen.de in Germany, Subito.it, Clasf and AAAnnunci.it in Italy, Le Bon Coin in France, ComoFicho in Spain, etc.) still are mirrors for larks only, and you have to pay a great attention in order not to be scammed.

A recent trip over all the mentioned sites revealed that only a few ads are really true…

Red Flags

I repeat some notes about scammers and their usual techniques:

A.) The scammer advertises a very rare radio in like-new conditions at an unbelievably low price. The buyer does not want to miss the bargain, so he contacts the seller and promptly transfers the money to him without further ado, but after that he waits in vain for the delivery of his item.

B.) If you contact the seller, the item is always abroad. The alleged seller then proposes to handle the purchase through a “trust company”. The radio should be paid in advance and the amount sent via cash transfer, but after that you never hear anything from the seller again.

C.) Alternatively, the buyer is requested to to deposit the money to the eBay company account to get the product. But the account is fake (eBay HAS NO “Company Account” and never handles private transactions!), so the buyer loses his money and receives nothing in return. Please also notice that often the fraudulent sellers offer a free period for evaluating the item, saying that if you do not like the device you can send it back. Please don’t fall into this trap, it is only one of the means the scammers use to entice you to purchase, but IT IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!

I repeat also some useful advices in order to make secure and safe purchases on the Internet:

1.) Always beware whenever the item is in a place (or a country) different from the one that was specified in the advertisement; also there is a valid reason for suspicion when the name or the address of the advertiser does not match the seller’s ones;

2.) Do not completely trust the pictures sent by the seller (they could be stolen from the Internet) and don’t forget to proceed to a “Google Reverse Image Search” in order to find the sources of similar ones;

3.) Always ask the seller for some specific pictures or videos (radio precisely tuned to various frequencies and/or modes) and do not accept any runarounds about it (“you can try the radio for some days”, etc.);

4.) Never pay the item in advance by rechargeable credit cards, Western Union or other non-secured/guaranteed ways of payment. Also Bank Transfer (Wire Transfer) is not a secure form of payment in order to avoid frauds;

5.) Always ask the seller for paying by PayPal “Goods and Services” (NOT “Send money to friends”); via “Goods and Services”, your purchase will be fully covered by the PayPal warranty.

In the case you are a victim of a scam anyway, please always report the incident to the Police or the Judiciary of your Country, and don’t forget to also warn the site where the announcement was found.

Best regards!
Paolo Viappiani – SWL I1-11437


Thank you so much for sharing this, Paolo! All very solid advice for avoiding scams. 

If you think about it, scammers want to optimize their scam profits per transaction–in other words, go for the “low-hanging fruit.” This is why quality, rare radios are their bait of choice. They know there are motivated collectors and buyers who need to act quickly in order to secure a deal. The stakes are very high if you’re purchasing a rare/vintage radio via online classifieds sites. 

Bookmark this article. Before making a radio purchase, re-read this post and follow Paolo’s advice. I promise: real vintage/rare radio sellers will happy take specific photos and videos in order to prove that the radio is indeed in their possession and that it functions as specified. If you receive an excuse–any excuse–from the seller, consider that a major read flag and do not proceed. 

Thank you again, Paolo! I hereby name you an honorary SWLing Post Investigative Reporter!


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This Norelco B5X-88A/03 table radio has a story and a caretaker

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


Pamela’s radio

 

A neighbor gave me this radio. It had a story.

It is a Norelco B5X-88A/03 Table radio AM FM SW1 SW2. (You can see it takes up the whole kitchen table…that is why it is called a table radio). Has very good sound.

The speakers are 600 ohms, not 8 ohms, and uses bypass capacitors instead of an audio transformer.

Now about the carnation: I think my neighbor had thoughts that I may be giving it a Funeral and interring it in the backyard. (It has a nice finish you usually see on caskets)

Her Father was a Doctor who had his practice in the house and had this radio always playing low volume in the waiting room. He served in WW2 and brought this back in the late 1940’e. She inherited it and had it serviced a few times by a local repairman who since passed. Taking it apart I noticed several mechanical problems after removing an abandoned yellow jacket’’ nest.

The FM dial string was wound wrong so 88 MHz is where 108 MHz should be and vice versa. I restrung the dial properly but when tuned the string flopped off the pulley, so I fabricated a string restrainer to prevent this.

Also the station selector was scratchy and intermittent. To solve this, I played the garden hose with a forceful stream of water on the switches then dried out the chassis in the hot summer sun. Sprayed volume control restorer on all the switch contacts. After that, it worked perfectly. The remaining issue was the walnut veneer I sanded with 400 grit paper then coated with clear Krylon .

Now what to do with it!

Well I used her same sweet talk charm she used on me to take it off her hands to take it back, this time fully functional and I even demo-ed it. It had the wonderful mellow sound that she remembered and was so pleased.


What a true gentleman you are, Ed! Thank you for sharing the story of this Norelco table radio–what a gorgeous machine! I’m so pleased you were able to surprise Pamela with her father’s radio,  fully restored! 

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Mario suggests a virtual visit to Schulman Auction

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi, who writes:

You may already know about Schulman auctions, but if not here’s the site: https://www.schulmanauction.com/vintage-electronics/

Even if one is not interested in vintage electronics it’s still a great window shopping experience.

Have a great day and 73’s

Thanks for the tip, Mario! I have browsed their offerings in the past and it is an impressive amount of gear. As you say, a great place to window shop and possibly even place a bid!

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Flea Market Find: David restores a Hammarlund HR-10 solid-state portable

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin, who writes:

Stumbled on this rig at an estate sale and laid out a cool $5.00 for her. She was mostly in pieces in a big plastic bag covered in a LOT of dust, and the battery compartment had seen better days. But I thought I could get it going.

Once I got to the chassis I noticed someone with a Golden Screwdriver had been rooting around in there (the PS module was missing screws to the frame and there was some solder bits dancing around inside).

Threw in 4 C cells: pots were noisy, but there was sound, and after liberal application of De-Oxit and some scrubbing the thing snapped to life! Quite good MW reception: I snagged KMOX 1130 St. Louis at 06:30 GMT this morning, a good hop of 960 miles.

Hammarlund only made this Weather/Marine band receiver in 1969-70, so it’s a rare bird, though probably not collectable, per se. Still, it was fun to get the thing operational.

Oh wow! Thanks so much for sharing your flea market find with us, David! I’m so glad you were able to not only give this HR-10 a proper clean-up, but also bring her back to life–and even snag some DX!

And your photos, as always, are simply gorgeous.

I’m curious if anyone else in the SWLing Post community owns or has owned the Hammarlund HR-10. Please comment!

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Radio Waves: Questions About New HF Stations, Towers Damaged after Hurricanes, Evolution of Ham Radio, and The Vintage Radio Repairman

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

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ed, Paul, Bennett Kobb, and Kanwar Sandhu for the following tips:


Questions Remain as New HF Stations Wait for Licenses (DMRNA.info)

Here is the story by Bennett Kobb:
As previously reported here at DRMNA.info, the New York company Turms Tech LLC has applied to the FCC for a license for International Broadcast Station WIPE in New Jersey. The license would cover a station already built under a FCC Construction Permit, and would allow it to begin regular operations.

The FCC announced on August 13, 2020 that this license application was accepted for filing, a routine stage at which the FCC examines the application, and might even visit the station, and if everything is in order it will be licensed.

We’re not sure everything is in order. The application for Construction Permit placed the transmitter site at N 40° 57′ 40.38″, W 73° 55′ 23.97″, the broadcast and communications center surrounding the famous Armstrong Tower at Alpine NJ. Its Application for License, however, specifies N 40° 51′ 40″, W 73° 55′ 23″. (Hat tip to Alex P for noting this discrepancy. More about him below.)

While the substitution of 51 for 57 in the coordinates might seem a simple typo, the FCC typically has no sense of humor about coordinate errors. Commission examiners may wonder why a station intended for a historic radio-TV facility ended up among some Manhattan apartments.

The deeper question with WIPE and another, apparently similar station WPBC, is what these stations are really for and what that means for the FCC Rules. WIPE was extremely vague about its program plans, but told the FCC that it will transmit data obtained from third parties using Digital Radio Mondiale. Putting that tidbit together with exposures in a series of public articles in the media and tech blogs, it would seem that audio programming will not be the central mission of this peculiarly named station, whose principal is a financial executive and forestry entrepreneur without any broadcast experience we could find.

We suspect instead that the WIPE data stream will be used not for broadcasting to the public — the only function permitted to International Broadcast Stations under FCC Rules — but instead will be used for private communication with foreign exchanges for high-speed trading.[]

KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy (Brad Dye)

Images of tower damage in Lake Charles, LA Bottom photo by KATC-TV of KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy

After bombarding coastal areas of southern Louisiana with wind gusts up to 130 mph and a storm surge over nine feet as a hurricane, Laura swept north while also spreading over Arkansas Thursday. Laura weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday afternoon, with winds at 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Laura is predicted to move through the Tennessee Valley and the Mid-Atlantic today into tomorrow.

Power outages from the storms totaled over 900,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutageUS. The site collects data from utilities nationwide. The bulk of the outages were in Louisiana and Texas, according to ABC News. Mississippi reportedly had over 9,400 customers without power as of Thursday morning, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Louisiana and Texas had the most cell site outages as of Thursday mid-day, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. Of the 4,650 cell sites served in Louisiana, 380 were not working. Over 200 of the site outages were due to a lack of power, 141 had a transport issue and 16 were damaged.

Calcasieu and Cameron counties were hit especially hard. 140 sites (75 percent) were not working in Calcasieu County and 20 (69 percent) were out in Cameron County.

Of the 17,621 cell sites served in Texas, 113 were non-operational.

Jefferson County was the hardest hit, with 39 (15.8 percent) out of 247 sites not working. Just over 45 of the non-working sites were out due to a lack of power, 41 for transport reasons and 20 were damaged, according to DIRS.

Cable and wireline companies reported 192,915 subscribers out of service in the affected areas; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or Internet services.

Three television stations, five FMs and one AM reported they were off-air.[]

Ham radio is dying! No it’s not, it’s evolving (K0LWC)

I’ve heard ham radio is dying since as far back as I can remember. It’s one of those common sayings you always hear. Like, “get off my lawn,” and “kids these days.” But is it true? Is there any evidence to support this? Let’s take a closer look.

Data from the ARRL shows that ham radio licensees are increasing. When you look at the chart above, you see two significant markers that are likely driving this growth.

  • The removal of the code requirement by the FCC.
  • The economic collapse of 2008.

The Morse code requirement was always an intimidating part of obtaining your General FCC license. Learning Morse code is like learning a second language. It takes time and effort to learn, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it doesn’t change that it scared many people away from the hobby. When the FCC removed this requirement in 2007, I believe it opened the door for many who spent years on the fence. Then you have the economic downturn of 2008. What does that have to do with ham radio? A lot.

After the economic downturn, the United States watched as survivalism, now commonly calling “prepping,” entered mainstream culture. People were worried as the country was involved in multiple wars and our economy was on the brink of collapse. Citizens stocked up on food storage, water, firearms, and…communications equipment. As our country spiraled into more turmoil ham radio licenses steadily increased to more than 750,000 by the end of 2019.[]

The Vintage Radio Repair Man (Great Big Story–YouTube)

Click here to watch on YouTube.


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The Allocchio Bacchini RF4D: That mystery radio from “The Last Man on Earth”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrew, who correctly identified the radio Ed spotted in The Last Man On Earth as the Allocchio Bacchini RF4D. Andrew shared the following notes and links:

That radio is an Allocchio Bacchini RF4D (see photo below from this site):

Here’s a snippet from an Italian movie showing the same rig:

Another pic and notes can be seen scrolling down this page:

Year : 1940
TX Frequency Range : 1,270 – 4,300 kHz in 3 bands
RX Frequency range : 220 – 4,400 kHz in 5 bands
Facilities : CW and RT
Receiver Circuit (Valves) : Superhet. 7 tubes type 6RV (same as RF 4)
Transmitter Circuit (Valves): MO(P C05), PA (2x P CO5) Mod.(3x 6RV)
RF Output : 25 W
Aerial : Dipole
Power supply : 12 V storage batteries. Mains for battery charger.

And here you’ll find the shack of an Italian ham which shows an RF4D:

Photo: I5HGM

Further info and schematics can be found here.

Wow! Thank you so much, Andrew! I would love someday to operate an original RF4D.  What a fascinating WWII era radio. Thank you again for all of the details!

Post readers: I’m very curious if anyone here owns or has owned an RF4D.  Please comment!

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