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Author Topic: tube radio recomendmendations  (Read 6325 times)

Offline kc9hqv

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tube radio recomendmendations
« on: December 30, 2013, 1900 UTC »
I new to the group. I have a Kenwood ts-940,R-5000,TS-711a, Yaseu FRG-7.  I am wondering what to get for a tube general coverage receiver. I have considered a Hammerlund HQ-180.  Any thoughts on any other radios in this class?  Something that had all the bells and whistles of the day.

Offline DimBulb

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 1933 UTC »
The HQ-180 has the advantage of being relatively simple and lightweight with wide-open construction making it easy to work on.  

If you have a bit of a budget and you want something more typical of an earlier age you should think about the Collins 51J-4 (or R388, the military version).  If you do some Googling you'll find lots of info including update and restoration tips.  

www.k7jrl.com/pub/manuals/collins/51j4/51j-4.pdf‎
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 2310 UTC by DimBulb »
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Offline skeezix

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 2230 UTC »
I have a few of the National receivers- NC-183D, NC-173, NC-125, and NC-60.

The NC-183D is a very fine receiver and I use it all the time. Sometimes use the NC-173, which is also a very good receiver. The NC-125 is smaller, and still does a nice job.

Minneapolis, MN

cmradio

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2013, 2256 UTC »
The HQ-180 has the advantage of being relatively simple and lightweight with wide-open construction making easy to work on. 

I have the 170 and it beats sensitivity wise, my Eton E5 :o

Just turn these old boatanchors on a good two hours before you want to use them to minimize drift.

Peace!

Offline Danoman

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 0121 UTC »
I restored a National NC-173 and it's a hoot to play with.

Some day I hope to find a NC-183D to bring back to life.

Like skeezix I'm partial to the National brand but there are some good Halicrafters also.

central Louisiana
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Offline Andrew Yoder

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 1605 UTC »
I have an R390A, R388, HQ-180C, SP-600, SX-28A, SX-96, & NC-120. Personally, I really dislike bandspread tuning, so I don't listen to most of these very often. Aside from the bandspread tuning (which shouldn't be a problem with all of the other digital radios you have), I think the HQ-180 is a great pick. It was one of the top receivers in its day, but the prices haven't skyrocketed like the R390A, R388, & SP-600. I was fortunate & bought my R-390A at Dayton for $50 in '91. Even so, there are still good deals to be found: I bought a completely recapped SP-600 in nice working order at a tiny hamfest last year for $150. I'm guessing that the caps probably cost around $50 & the labor was probably a bear.

Hope all goes well with your search. I like the hollow state radios
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Offline skeezix

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 1736 UTC »
Back in 2003 or so, I got the NC-183D off of eBay. The description said it was new in the box until 1988. Sure, I thought. Pix looked good, price was right, so rolled the dice. The condition of the thing was fantastic. Only one little scrape on the side, that you really didn't notice unless looking for scratches. No rust, no dust, and no reason to believe it wasn't new in the box until 1988. In those 15 years since 1988, they took great care of it.

Even being in the box for 35+ years, still replaced the capacitors and some resistors. The radio sounds and plays great and I've used it quite a bit in the past 10 years.

Until about 2 months ago, the NC-183D used a 100' wire running around the house. It worked ok, but lots of RFI. In early Nov, my Perseus went with a friend on a DXpedition and its Wellbrook ALA1530S+ loop antenna was idle. So decided to do something crazy and hook the loop to the NC-183D.

All I can say is that I was shocked at how well it does. In some respects, it seems to beat the Perseus. The audio quality is superior (thanks to the pair of 6V6s) and even the sensitivity on MW seems to give it a slight edge. The Perseus still is better in other areas, recording, filter selection, sync-AM, SSB (183D has a BFO, but is a bit drifty), FM, C-QUAM, spectrum display/waterfall, but even after the Perseus returned from its trip, I still find myself listening to the NC-183D + Wellbrook more often than not, especially on MW.

The NC-173 was one of the first tube radios I owned. Replaced its caps and still plays great today. Not as good as the NC-183D, but the -173 is still a very capable receiver.

I've never used a HQ-180, so can't compare, but I love the NC-183D (and the -173) and could not recommend them higher.





Minneapolis, MN

Offline Jolly Roger

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2013, 1742 UTC »
I have HQ-170, SX-111, HR-10, and I supply RCA AR-88 parts to much of the world. I have to go with the RCA. They have genuine Hi-Fi audio (unlike MOST of the rigs of the era) and epitomize art deco styling. They are comparatively easy to find for between $100 and $500 and outperform nearly every other receiver in every way. Google it. Only problem is they weigh 110 pounds.
***UPDATE While I was typing this Skeezix posted. I agree with him re: audio. Hi Fi audio is fantastic. On my Ar-88D we like to listen to South American stations. The music, at least on a strong signal, sounds as good as local FM. I'm serious.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 1746 UTC by Jolly Roger »
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Offline skeezix

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2013, 1806 UTC »
Thanks for the info on the AR-88... never heard of it before and then looked it up. That is going on the list to acquire. Although, not sure where to put it here. Figure that part out later.

Also have a Hallicrafters SX-28 downstairs, but it needs work and that thing is a challenge to work on (unlike the Nationals).

Minneapolis, MN

Offline DimBulb

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 1846 UTC »
Here's a couple of links to HQ-180 pix.

   Nice pix of the topside:

   http://www.k3msb.com/hq180/hq180.html

   This entry in a restoration blog includes some nice pix of the underside:

   http://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=172244

You can see on that last underside picture how accessible everything is.
Location: New Hampshire  eMail: dimbulb999@gmail.com

Offline Jolly Roger

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2013, 2145 UTC »
Skeezix there's usually a few AR-88's for sale in Ontario so shipping wouldn't be too bad to you. I have 5 of them but shipping one from here would be expensive. An identical but cheaper radio is the CR-91. Identical in every way to the AR-88D except it's grey and AR-88's are black. I really do supply the world with parts. If you find a junker I probably have what you need to get it going.
Please QSL to MaplRadio@gmail.com

Next weeks contest: guess how many Volkswagons can fit in Joy Behars mouth. I pick five.

If Rosie O'Donnell jumps in the water Rosie doesn't get wet, the water gets ugly.

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Pixel magnetic loop

Offline Dr. Strangelove

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2014, 0113 UTC »
I used to have a 183D that was great!  Sensitive, great audio and would heat the room up!  Loved it but lost it in a move a few years ago.  I currently use a Hallicrafters SX-42 and a SX62.  Great radios and not too expensive to get, otherwise I wouldn't have them, but kinda hairy to work on.  I didn't even know until reading this thread that the RCA AR88 and CR91 even existed!  After looking a little on the web about them I have added one of those to my bucket list.  The search is on!
R-390a, WJ-8718, Collins HF-2050, Hagenuk RX-1001M, NC-183D, 51j-4, Cubic R2411, Racal RA6830JD, tons of glow in the dark radios.  I might have a problem, Lol!  Please QSL to morrisgarage770@msn.com   Northwest AL

Offline BDM

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2014, 0125 UTC »
I had a friend well into the HC NC and Hammarlund comm receivers. I'm no expert, but I know he liked and preferred the NC-183D (or the MR, another version with variable bandwidth) or the HC SX-28 & 42. He always said the NC183D was one of the easier if not the easiest to restore and work on. I played with the NC-183D here at home many years ago and was really impressed with that set. That would be my choice especially for a first timer.
Radios -- Perseus SDR // Icom IC-7410 // Tecsun PL-660 // Panasonic RF-5000A --Antennas-- Pixel Pro 1B loop - 82' fan-dipole at 40' - tuned MW/BCB 40" loop and 100' receive only dipole
-Brian--North of Detroit--MI-
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Offline Andrew Yoder

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2014, 1910 UTC »
I've seen the AR-88 & CR-88 listed in books, but I think I've only ever seen about 1 in my life. Took a look on the Internet after reading your posts & found this:

Many of the British AR-88s were destroyed after WWII ended. This was due to the provisions in the Lend-Lease Act which stated that materiel had to be either returned or destroyed. In just one incident, a load of AR-88 receivers were "dumped" into an abandoned well by USA forces after the war ended. Some sources even indicate that RCA had made it clear they did not want to see the receivers back in the USA for any reason. The AR-88 survivors, along with other surviving materiel, generally were placed in groupings that were "sold back" to Great Britain at discount, which was usually at "ten cents on the dollar."

and

AR-88s survived in Canada because the receivers were built in Montreal and during WWII remained in Canada for various needs there. The AR-88LF versions, which were only built in Montreal, found their way to airports, civilian and military, ship-to-shore coastal stations around Canada and for general communications. Although Canada did export AR-88LFs to Great Britain, many remained behind for wartime use. After WWII, commercial users, such as the airports and coastal stations, did continue using their AR-88LFs for sometime. Eventually, most of the receivers have made it to the Canadian government surplus sales and many were available though other Canadian surplus outlets.

That explains a lot!
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Offline Jolly Roger

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Re: tube radio recomendmendations
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2014, 2020 UTC »
re: AR88/CR91. I remember seeing several on the shelves of a surplus store in Edmonton, Alberta. This was in '79 or '80. The price was $150 each. In about '05 I got the Edmonton Bargain Finder paper and there was an ad for a WWII RCA receiver that weighed 110 pounds. I called the guy, then drove 720 miles one way to pick it up. He had it sitting in his living room, and when he turned it on LOUD clear audio poured out. The volume control didn't work and was on full blast all the time. Price was $100.00. Then he asked if I wanted any more. More? Sure! He had 4 more that didn't work he'd toss in for $50.00. He said he found them in a shed at a garage sale. All still had the price tags on from the surplus store. They were the radios I had seen two and a half decades earlier! I took the bunch for $150. Now I had to fit 5 huge 110 pound radios in my Jeep, along with wife, daughter, and luggage.
When I got home I immediately fixed the volume control on the first one and cleaned it up. Fantastic audio. I still have it, always will. I got two more going, and sold one. The other 2 provided parts for these, as well as many other sets throughout the planet.
In the years since I've bought and sold others. One that is waiting in line is the original 1942 set from my local airport. It would have been used to communicate with the supply line of aircraft that flew up to Alaska then on to Russia.
Please QSL to MaplRadio@gmail.com

Next weeks contest: guess how many Volkswagons can fit in Joy Behars mouth. I pick five.

If Rosie O'Donnell jumps in the water Rosie doesn't get wet, the water gets ugly.

Icom R9000 (yes, a R9000!)
Pixel magnetic loop