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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Hallicrafters FPM-300 (Original version) Help


Reviews Summary for Hallicrafters FPM-300 (Original version)
Hallicrafters FPM-300 (Original version) Reviews: 2 Average rating: 3.5/5 MSRP: $625.00
Description: One of their last HF transceivers
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the Hallicrafters FPM-300 (Original version).

WA7VTD Rating: 3/5 Apr 16, 2007 09:49 Send this review to a friend
Good...Bad...and Ugly...  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have ambivalent feelings about this rig. It is both cool, and awful!

The FPM-300 was both one of the worst, and one of the favorite, transcievers I've owned and operated. Picked up one of these as only (at the time) my second ever HF transceiver (the first being an SBE 33 two years earlier) in 1983, having previously exclusively used the Hallicrafters HT-37 xmtr and SX-100 Mk II rcvr since upgrading to Advanced from Novice (WN7VTD) in 1974. (Fooled around 'till 1990 before ughrading to Extra). Got it for $250 together with a classic Astatic mic (not D-104) on a TU-9 stand.

Starting with the worst features:

1. The VFO can be extremely unstable on transmit as far as CW work. The receiving station will hear the CW note siren up and down during one's transmission, varying also with tiny fluctations in house line voltage. The signal will often slip outside of the edges of the other station's passband. But (see, best features below) this is very easy to remedy, as it requires only replacing the large dropping resistor at the output of the internal AC supply, with one of better tolerance -- a 5-minute job.

2. As was all too common with many Hallicrafters rigs, the VFO frequency indexing was unsatisfactory, around 25 kHz resolution. It used a large vernier knob which provided good dual-speed tuning rates, but the outer bezel of the knob had un-numbered index lines which did not correlate to anything (rather like the similarly deceptive dots on the outer bezel of the tuning knob of the HT-44 which looked like 1 kHz indexing but were illusory), although until one operated the rig one assumed that they were 5 kHz demarcations. It was thus often impossible to set the rig on a particular precise frequency without an outboard receiver of known accuracy or a frequency counter. For net operations, for example, one had to listen for the net to begin and then zero beat. Definitely NOT a TS-520!

3. A single VFO, no provision for an external VFO or other means of working split.

4. VOX controls located "under the hood," several inches below the top edge of the cabinet, and consisting of variable pots soldered directly to the circuit board which required a tuning stick or screwdriver to adjust. THe VOX attacg gain, anti-vox and delay did not have sufficient intrplay/overlap, and one often would curse after carfully adjusting the three controls and then closing the cabinet, only to find that the VOX would not trip until the second or third word, would chatter, or would ot trip at all with only a slight increase in receiver audio gain. Re-adjusting the VOX controls each time one switched from SSB to CW was a royasl pain in the posterior.
I was heavily into NTS traffic handling as a grunt, NCS and RN7, DRN7, PAN and DPAN liaison, and thus had to go through this ritual several times each day as the daytime NTS voice system transitioned into the night CW cyxle. Ultimately, I opted to leave the VOX adjusted for CW and used PTT only on SSB, which stopped my cursing.

5. No RIT.

6. Loud T/R relay. (CLANG!) and no QSK, semi-QSK only.

7. A fixed IF bandwidth of around 2.6 kHz, fine for SSB but an open barn door on CW. The latter aspect, however, at least helped compensate for the poor tuning resolution noted above.

8. If the single, very simple IC goes belly-up, you are going to have a Hell of a time finding a replacement these days. (When mine failed in 1984, I found a single local source, from an electronic oarts wholesaler that did not offer sales ot the general publiuc. Fortunately, a ham worked at the "Will call" window and was permitted to help out fellow hams from time to time. He told me on the phone he could not sell me one of these ICs...but he could sell me TEN of them! It still amounted to less than five bucks.

9. No speech compressor.

10. No AM/DSB.

Now, for the best features:

1. This was an incredibly easy rig to troubleshoot and repair. In fact, this is what I liked about it the most. It was the first nearly-total solid state radio I ever ventured to diagnose and repair with confidence, giving me the confidence and skills to move on to more complex and difficult rig repairs. Anyone who can read a schematic and/or even a block diagram, can identify the culprit in a particular situation, esecially with the typically well-written Theory of Operation section of the provided manual. The parts themselves are mounted far enough apart and are large enough to enable even a solderer of poor to moderate skill
and fat fingers to remove and replace components.

2. With the exception of the single integrated circuit, all parts are easy to obtain and substitutions are readily made with different parts of the same values. The IC itself resembles an early space satellite, with its three legs plugging in like tube pins into a small, rubberized receptacle on the top of the circut board.

3. 99% of the radio is on a single, easily removed, main circuit board which is mounted with screws on short standoffs, and sits horizontally a few inches below the top edge of the cabinet. Access is by "opening the hood;" rather than having to loosen and remove (and possibly mangle the heads of) 8-24 machine screws, or to lift the lid but still often have insufficient hand room or lack access to some componenets (as in Collins S-line or FT-101 series), the FPM 300's cabinet is hinged at the back and is held together at the sides by a pair of suitcase-type latches. Unlatching them and "openng the hood" provides comfortable access to almost everything which may require attention. A handful of screws made of real metal are removed to gain access to the components amnmounted below the circuit board and to the power supply.

4. It will run AC or DC, but the DC power cables are like hen's teeth to find. Not to worry, though; all one needs is a Jones-Cinch connector wired per the instruction manual. One would not really wish to run this rig mobile due to its lack of stability (though many did), so the direct DC capability would be used, if ever, in an emergency only,

5. As was the practice in all of Bill's amateur radio lineup, the manual is a very well-written combination operating, theory of operation, and alignment/service manual.

6. Outstanding transmit audio, very crisp, especially when an Astatic D-104 was used (unamplified version of stand more than sufficient). In this mode, using PTT, loved the CLANG! when the D-104's PTT grip was squeezed.

7. Built-in crystal calibrator. As in many of the Hallicrafters rigs, the calibrator put out a strong signal and, as in most of the models of the Hallicrafters label, one could acually tune the tranbsitter using only the crystal calibrator, which greatly prolonged the driver and PA tubes' lives.

8. Though fairly heavy, it was lighter than many of its contemporaries, and had a side handle; with the built-in AC supply this made the radio truly "portable" as that term was used in its day.

9. The metal cabinet is thick and strong.

Would I recommend this radio to a beginner looking for his/her first HF xcvr? No, because there are many, many others of the same vintage with more features, fewer issues, greater frequency indexing precision, etc., obtainable for the same or less money. The FPM-300 is somewhat rare and often fetches an inflated price from collectors, in no small measure woing to its sttus as the last xcvr Hallirafters produced. Also, if I recall my adolescent-age readings correctly, this xcvr was used by Thor Heyerdal on the Ra Expedition, suffering a similar fate as the xcvr/rcvr pair which got soaked with seawater in his earler Kon-Tiki adventure. As I recall, the FPM 300 actually went overboard and had to be recovered by a diver. Again, if I recall correctly, flushing out the seawater and then exposing the removed main circuit board to the sun to dry it out, resulted in the FPM-300 operating nominally despite the mishap. That is something I would not expect from most radios of that (or this) era, and is a result of the manner in which the radio was designed around the single, large main circuit board, mounted with amnple space above and below it.

I've not opeated mine for at least ten years; it ceased operating on one sideband or the other on each band. The culprit is one of the crystals of the sideband filter, the leg of which broke at the base of the crystal. I planned to have a new one made by Internationl Crystal, but just haven't ever gotten around to it. I hope to do so this summer, however.

This is definitely not a contesting, serious DX-ing or demanding traffic-handling radio. It is a good rig to have on the operating desk for use in regular skeds, roundtables, etc. as well as general hamming and rag-chewing. It also, as demonstrated by The Ra Expedition, is a sturdy and reliable radio that can take a fair amount of abuse, and therefore earns a place on the operating desk as a "standby" rig, as well as a part of the beloved early history of the solid-state revolution, when "hybrid" rigs made their debut and provided the foundation for the complex computers that generate RF which we refer to as transceivers today.

In my opinion, we don't need to keep the ratings between 1-3 on this review site, because almost everyone is nostalogic enough about a particular radio to almost never rate a radio truly objectively, as being less than a "4." I am going to break prcedent by rating the FPM-300 as honestly as I can (but still positively influenced by some nostalgia), giving it a score of 3.34565789 (round that down to a "3," please.

73,

- Kevin WA7VTD



















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































 
K6DPZ Rating: 4/5 Feb 4, 2007 13:36 Send this review to a friend
Very nice little transceiver designed ahead of its time  Time owned: more than 12 months
The unit will run off 110v ac and 12 volts which makes it very handy in an emergency and is not very large for all of its capabilities
 


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