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Author Topic: What vintage radio would you recommend?  (Read 7806 times)
W5RBB
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« on: February 26, 2014, 09:08:45 AM »

Thinking of getting a classic looking radio, think it could be fun to have some vintage equipment. What would you recommend to get or look for? Would prefer a tube over solid state. Looked at the Yaesu FT101 but thinking there could be a nice gem I don't know about being I am still fairly new to this. But I like the vintage old school look, and it would be fun to use on certain band but not all the time just to get that feel. Plus I would think it would make me a better ham operator as well learning the tuning and knob turning over just pushing buttons and the nuance of the whole process.
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KD8IIC
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 10:10:43 AM »

Find something one can still obtain service parts and tubes for. Avoid anything that uses TV sweep tubes (FT-101's) as those are about extinct and high priced if you can find them. Drake equipment is plentiful, fairly priced, tubes and parts are still available along with many knowledgeable people around to help and or repair. 73
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AD4U
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 11:09:45 AM »

Find something one can still obtain service parts and tubes for. Avoid anything that uses TV sweep tubes (FT-101's) as those are about extinct and high priced if you can find them. Drake equipment is plentiful, fairly priced, tubes and parts are still available along with many knowledgeable people around to help and or repair. 73

I agree that Drake gear performs up with the best.  Just remember that Drake T4 series transmitters and TR4 series transceivers also use sweep tubes for finals 6JB6A or 12JB6A.

Dick  AD4U
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KD8IIC
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 11:25:33 PM »

 But they are still available and that's my point. RF Parts has matched pairs and trio's on their shelves and very reasonably priced.Unlike 6JS6, 6KD6, 6LB6 etc.
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N3HEE
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 05:05:12 AM »

Vintage gear is allot of fun to own and operate but please keep in mind total cost of ownership.  If you are not able to do repair work yourself then it can get pretty expensive to own a piece of vintage gear. Besides actual repair costs and due to the weight of vintage gear round trip shipping costs and insurance can be very high.  Be very selective in your initial purchase to make sure the rig is in the best possible condition.   Ask about age of tubes, power supply filter capacitors, bypass capacitors and such.  These are all things you will need to deal with at some point in time.  Try to find a rig that has had some maintenance done to it already.  Preferable by a qualified technician.  I agree that the older Drake gear is good stuff.  I own vintage  Hammarlund, Hallicrafters, Heathkit, Ten Tec and Kenwood gear.   I love them to death but they get cranky at times and keep me busy with repairs.  Have fun and enjoy your trip down memory lane.  -Joe n3hee
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WD8OOJ
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 06:11:03 AM »

I LOVE my FT401B , ive had it since i was a novice back in 74 , nothing like a bare bones radio when you key it & it does 300W . just keep extra tubes around, keep the Bios tuned well & it will live.

WD8OOJ
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KS2G
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 09:08:30 AM »

Looked at the Yaesu FT101...

Many would say that 1970's gear is hardly "vintage".

But if that's the era you're eying, my recommendation would be the comparable Kenwoods -- TS-520s or TS820s series.

Even better (MUCH better) would be the 1980's TS-830s -- by far the best receiver of the era.

Have fun.

73,
Mel - KS2G
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W5RBB
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 09:13:38 AM »

Thanks for the replies, I have a friend who has the Yaesu FT 101E I think to be exact and I have seen theses on ebay and some that are completely tuned and ready so the cost around 350.00 which I don't think is a bad deal. I am not a Electrician or Engineer so the repair thing would be very limited, but of course I wouldn't be using this as my main radio just for a certain band or when the propagation is good. But I was trying to get an idea of some other cool vintage ones as well. So I will check out the Drakes. Feel free to make other suggestions and I can google to look at them, or if you have one you can attach a photo of it in your shack.

Rob W5RBB
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W5RBB
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 11:28:37 AM »

This looks pretty cool. Seems Collins is one of the more sought after ones, is that rue?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/COLLINS-R-388-GENERAL-COVERAGE-SHORTWAVE-RADIO-RECEIVER-RESTORED-/301102616287?pt=US_Ham_Radio_Receivers&hash=item461b1d4edf
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K6JH
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 11:57:46 AM »

If I recall correctly, the FT-101E still used sweep tubes in the final. They are not manufactured anymore, so if they need replacement you'll have to hunt for NOS or used. If it's working and HAM owned it'll probably be OK, but look out for CBer type modifications if you don't know the owner.

A better choice if looking from scratch would be something with 6146 finals, like the FT-101ZD (although purists won't think of this as a true FT-101 series), or the Kenwood TS-520, TS-820, or TS-830 series.

Otherwise, if you want "true vintage", as in all tubes, you're probably better off with a Drake. Collins is nice, but their collector value is higher. Older gear will probably have more issues to deal with.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 01:31:01 PM »


R-388 is only a receiver, and it's ~WW2 vintage.  Unless you want an old general coverage shortwave receiver mostly for AM (it's not easy to use on SSB), CW or RTTY, and don't mind its rather burdensome tuning, that wouldn't be a good choice.

For a "transceiver" you could use on today's popular modes but still "vintage" and "tubes," a Drake TR-4 isn't a bad choice; a Heathkit SB-101 is good also.  Collins KWM-2/2A are very classy and good on SSB-RTTY, not very good on CW and don't work on AM (neither does the SB-101).  Some cheaper stuff from Swan, Hallicrafters, Galaxy, National, et al.

Only problem with "vintage" stuff is to get a good deal on it, it's all a pig in a poke -- might work, might need substantial repairs to get it to work -- unless you're willing to pay much more for the same exact gear in "vintage, collectible" condition.  That stuff usually works fine but brings much more money.
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KK4MRN
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 01:34:48 PM »

I have a Heathkit HW-101 SSB/CW Transceiver for the HF ham bands.  It was given to me by an Elmer.   With the help of many different Elmers, I got it working and made my first contact on HF.  My first contact was on 40 meters talking to someone in New York with me being in Virginia.  The Heathkit HW-101 was my first HF transceiver.  And it was a thrill to get it working and being able to hear and talk to people around the USA and other nations too.   I have learned a lot and it has been fun along the way.  If it wasn't for the Elmers, I probably would have never considered an old tube radio like the Heathkit HW-101.   These can easily be found on ebay or a hamfest.

Yet, the downside of an Heathkit HW-101 compared to a Yaesu FT-101.   Heathkit HW-101 needs a separate power supply like the Heathkit HP-23.  Speaker is separate too.  

Since the Yaesu FT-101 includes the power supply, it is a heavy beast to carry around.   My brother has one of these radios - nicer than a Heathkit.  

Nevertheless, I think the most important thing a ham can do if they want more hams to get interested in ham radio and/or vintage equipment is to elmer them.

I hear Collins were definitely the sought after radios back then, but they are costly compared to other vintage radios.

The nice thing about vintage radios especially Heathkits -- they are repairable.    Not so easy to repair modern day radios with tons of tiny surface mounted parts.
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 08:29:54 PM »

I have an hw-16 that is a blast to operate... Simple, easy to repair and fun to use...
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AF5CC
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2014, 10:01:33 PM »

I second the TS830S idea, very good receiver on them, and nice filtering options for them as well.  A Yaesu FT102 that had the relays replaced would be a nice rarer find. A Yaesu FT902DM would be another great hybred. It includes many features that aren't found in other hybred rigs: FM, built in keyer, a memory function that allows you to run split frequency operations for pileups and such.

A cool vintage solid state rig is the Icom 740.  It is a great performer as well. Someday I want to try a Ten Tec Triton IV and a Yaesu FT107M, both solid state, but both cool looking vintage radios as well.

John AF5CC
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VE3GNU
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2014, 04:54:23 AM »

I have an Icom 740 and will attest to its performance, quiet and hot receiver, ham-band only, and overall quality.  Considered somewhat 'rare' as its production-run was short-----possibly curtailed due to the 'general-coverage' function that was being included with all forthcoming rigs at that time.  The only 'wart' on this rig is the COMP switch---being faulty, and from my understanding, not replaceable. It was the largest Icom transceiver produced by that time as its cavity could contain an available power supply offered as an 'accessory'.
Ernie
VE3GNU
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