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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | Hammarlund HQ-180(A) Help

Reviews Summary for Hammarlund HQ-180(A)
Hammarlund HQ-180(A) Reviews: 17 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $443.00 (1963)
Description: High Performance Tube Receiver
Product is not in production.
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SWL377 Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2005 14:14 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding tube rcvr  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was lucky enough to find a mint 180 (not A) last year at a local ham swap for $100. Why it was still available near closing at that price still baffles me but I bought it quick without asking any questions about how well it worked. I was lucky, it plugged and played. Even the clock worked. A couple of noisy pots were my only problems and spray cleaner made them noise free. This is one QUIET rcvr, sometimes I think it is dead then a signal pops out loud and clear. Like all analog rcvrs accurate tuning is harder than digital, but there are retrofit freq counters made for the 180 and I'll probably cheat and buy one. I'll hide it somewhere when the BA purist crowd drops by. Drift on the higher bands is tolerable, but noticeable... this is not a synth set and it lets you know with a bit of drift. Once warmed up the drift isnt too bad. It is VERY sensitive, better than my aligned and recapped Halli SX 100 in all respects except looks. SSB performance is really good and audio on AM is good too. It is not a Collins R 390 as far as performance goes, but it is a LOT easier to bandscan without wrist fatigue. I doubt if there is any signal that the R 390 could hear that you couldnt also hear on the 180. I am not crazy about the looks of the 180, I think the Halli SX 100 wins the beauty contest, but performance wise the only better non synth tube radios I have used are the Collins PTO family, R 390, and its rugged cousin, the R 392. My guess is that these sets will increase in value as more users experience their outstanding performance.
W4PTO Rating: 5/5 May 30, 2005 14:06 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding BA rx  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had two of these receivers. One (given to me in 1993 for free) and the other I most recently bought. The HQ-180 is probably by and large the "friendliest" BAham/gen coverage rx around. It's classic lines are timeless and performance is something that is excellent. While not on par with todays Yaekencom units, the old '180 can hold it's own with QRM and QRN fighting circuitry, easy to use analog readout, and rugged design. Needless to say, I believe I found my all around "boatanchor" rx. If I had to pick only one...the HQ-180 would be it. Teamed with a Johnson Ranger...that's all she wrote.

So, if you have a chance, get one of these babies right away! You won't regret it.
KC0SHU Rating: 5/5 Mar 25, 2005 01:29 Send this review to a friend
One of the Greats  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Please keep in mind that boatanchors should be judged in context to their time and the technology of the day, not necessarily relative to today's science. The HQ-180 was very highly regarded during its time, with good reason, and has withstood the test of time as well as any equipment ever made. It is essentially a commercial/military grade receiver that was available for the higher end of the consumer market. It rated a "5" when new, and my staight early model 180 easily gets a "5" 45 years into its life. I use it on an almost daily basis for SSB and CW on all HF bands. It is also a superior AM reciever, though I prefer my Hammarlund HQ-140XA for the daily AM net because it has a wider passband (the 180 only opens to 3khz) and thus has better audio quality. Though the HQ-180 does not possess the QRM and noise fighting capability of today's DSP rigs, you can basically work anyone anywhere anytime, within reason. Between the noise limiter, selectivity and notch you can isolate weak signals, particularly CW, very well, and the front end is very hot. My 180's 45 year-old controls work flawlessly, both mechanically and electrically, and the audio quality in any mode is a pure joy to behold. Technology has not leapt forward so far in that regard since 1959. The workmanship and architecture were classic in their time and are even more impressive in today's "throw away" world. If you like vintage ham work or just SW listening, and you get a chance to acquire a Hammarlund 180 in good shape, grab it while you can. You'll never be disappointed, and you'll never let it go. It remains a technological standard for the golden age of amateur radio!
BOBYOUNG Rating: 5/5 Feb 24, 2005 13:14 Send this review to a friend
excellent receiver  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Remarks: I totally agree with all the positive things said about this fine receiver in the preceding reviews. I have owned mine for about 8-9 months and am 100% satisfied with it. Mine is the HQ-180C, the 18 tube (recifier tube) model with the telechron clock. I bought it on ebay for about $450.00 with a Hammerlund Speaker after researching them. I have logged many hours on it so far, I'm primarily a medium wave DXer but have used it on shortwave a lot as well. All the controls are smooth, the tuning is weighted and very smooth and accurate. The ham bands have bandspread in correct kHz, and the tuning on the medium waves doesn't need it. It has excellent selectivity along with being very sensitive which is what I want in a medium wave DX machine. The crystal filters really work. I use it with a 4' tuned loop and it is plenty sensitive and selective enough to get and copy very weak signals adjacent to strong stations on medium wave and also is very good on the splits. When I tune up and down the bands on it it locks right on to the signals like a magnet.
I can only compare it to two communcations receivers, one was a National HRO-60, which I used extensively some years ago and was made concurrently with the 180, this is a much better radio in all respects. The other is a Radio Shack DX-394, that one was like a toy compared to the Hammerlund.
If you don't mind a big heavy boat anchor (I love them) this is one great radio, it will keep up with most of the best of today and is infinitely cooler and much cheaper. It is also an easy radio to work on, it's like an old Chevy, has plenty of room under the hood and is easy to take apart.
For what I paid for this I would only buy another one, the only other radio I would consider buying at this point would be a R390A and they are way more expensive usually and this would be in addition to the Hammerlund, not a replacement. I should point out that for $450.00 mine is both electrically and cosmetically excellent and although I don't have the S-200 speaker (have the S-100) I got a Hammerlund speaker with it. This radio is a bargain.
W1BKZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2004 21:21 Send this review to a friend
51j-4, look to your laurels!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Other than the difficulty obtaining a 6BV8 triple triode, this receiver has given me no problems. If you come across one, I recommend going over it with a fine-tooth comb before judging its quality.
I have an "A" model and the clock DOES work!!! Some, I have heard, don't.
Technically, you can't ask for a better performer (for the money) for the period in which it was created. There are a lot of receivers out ,with state of the art circuitry (Icom R-75 for onr) that should outperform it and might, if only for some of the bells and whistles, such as passband tuning, etc. However, if you are an appreciator of equipment that glows in the dark, you will be hard pressed to find a better radio.
WB6MYL Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2002 23:54 Send this review to a friend
A Hidden Treasure  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Five to seven years ago, you would see a Hammarlund receiver at a swap meet and pass it up; you could pick up an SP-600 (with a truss) for $50 to $100 and an HQ-170 or 180 for $150 to $200 (with little takers). How times have changed; A lot of hams wanted Collins equipment that just priced themselves out of the budget of average hams and many started looking at these hidden treasures. I am restoring one now that needs vey little work. A great receiver! It is big but no bigger than a 75A4; what a nice experience to be able to use big knobs and look at the dial w/o "squinting". This is a general coverage receiver which has a bandspread covering the ham freqs; very sensitive; Fred Osterman describes the differences in the original and "A" model but they appear to be slight (the solid state rectifier in the "A" may explain lesser drift than the original). Probably not quite as sensitive as an R-390 but a pleasure and fun to use; well built and a pride of any shack; prices are around $500 to $1000; should of bought these instead of tech stocks for my 401K. Regards.
DAROBIN Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2002 20:12 Send this review to a friend
The HQ-180 is one of the best of the old-time tube boatanchors  Time owned: more than 12 months
One of the premier general coverage receivers ever produced, the HQ-180A (and its various versions) combines legendary Hammarlund construction quality and fine tube audio with unusual flexibility in selectivity and interference reduction. Often mentioned in the top-10 lists of DX listeners, the 180 is a triple conversion radio with coverage up to 30 mHz. Its five crystal selectivity positions can be used in AM, LSB, or USB. Alone this provides a tremendous degree of flexibility in rejecting adjacent channel interference. But the 180 also includes a fine tune control, which Hammarlund called the "vernier tuning" control. With it, one can tune plus or minus 3 kHz with gradations between each kHz. In addition, the HQ-180 was equipped with a notch or slot depth control, which is particularly handy in getting rid of adjacent interference. Tuning weak signals so-called "exalted carrier" techniques (simply using LSB or USB rather than AM) made shortwave listening a pleasure. Although HQ-180's are tube receivers, ECSS tuning was a particularly handy way of digging out weak signals. Once zeroed in a frequency, most 180's required only occasional tweaking of the vernier control to bring the signal back to zero beat. Used with the previously-mentioned selectivity positions and notch, the 180 could frequently guarantee inteligible results. One other feature the 180 series provided, although optional, was an excellent IF noise silencer. This control placed a second knob on the existing noise silencer knob at the far right and was especially effective in reducing band noise and pulse interference. Other notable front panel controls included the antenna trimmer, to maximize signal levels from the antenna, and a three positon automatic gain (AGC) -- something that many solid state receivers in later years short changed on. The HQ-180, which was the final tube boat anchor Hammarlund produced, has only gained in reputation over the years. Hammarlund made some design changes from the original 180, replacing the heat-producing rectifier tube with a solid state plug in for the HQ-180A. On the used market, HQ-180AX receivers (which replaced the clock unit in the upper left with selectable crystals) are highly prized, especially if in good to excellent condition. Some users believe the audio from the plain HQ-180 was, in fact, better than the 180A. For those looking for 180s, pay particular attention to the condition of the electrolytic capacitors and transformers, as these often produce excessive "buzz" if they are in poor condition or failing. HQ-180s with original telechron clocks in good, working condition are also likely to fetch a premium, as are those with clean, unscratched cabinets and metal front bezels. The clock, among other things, enabled one to have the receiver turn itself on in advance. Many of us who used the HQ-180 as a primary receiver used the clock to warm up the radio in advance of a search for DX signals. Finally, the HQ-180 series had what was perhaps the best S-meter ever placed in a tube receiver. Unlike many of the well-known and respected tube receivers of its time, including the Hammarlund SP-600 series, the HQ-180 received relatively little attention in the radio press. Those who used the 180 over the years remember it as one of the most sensitive receivers ever made, and one that was a joy to operate. It was particularly adept at reception of the lower shortwave bands, which in the 1960's and into the 1970's were used extensively by tropical band broadcasters. Today, the HQ-180 still holds its own going head to head with some of the most high-tech and expensive solid state equipment, and occupies the ranks of classic radio design along with such greats as the SP-600, and the Collins 51J3/4 series.
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