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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | Hammarlund HQ-170A Help

Reviews Summary for Hammarlund HQ-170A
Hammarlund HQ-170A Reviews: 16 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $369.00 in 1960
Description: Circa 1960 advanced tube type amateur radio band receiver. Receives 160 - 6 meters with provision for adding an integrated 2-meter converter. Modes: AM/CW/SSB/DSB.
Product is not in production.
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KV1M Rating: 5/5 May 31, 2008 09:24 Send this review to a friend
Super little reciever!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought one of these from an estate auction in mint condition and paid probably way too much for it, but I don't feel like I did.

Mine is spotless, looks like it could have been bought yesterday and sounds like it too.
With just a random wire tossed out the window I was getting great DX on the fist night I fired it up, BIG signals from Europe and Africa were available and easily readable.

After I hooked it up to my vertical the notch filter became essential when working around the CW portions of the bands, and using it was a marvel!
I can notch out massive local stations right next to weak signal DX with the greatest of ease. I am still amazed by it.

Mine also does NOT drift, maybe I got lucky.

They are cheap as already stated, if you want to give boat anchors a go this is a good one to try out.
VE3CUI Rating: 2/5 Nov 25, 2006 09:18 Send this review to a friend
Disappointed, overall...  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ever since I first joined the ranks of SWLérs in the late 60's, I used to drool at the sight of ANY of the Hammarlund receivers --- what functional, business-like looking beauties!

Several years ago I FINALLY acquired an HQ-170A --- joy! But then I started to use it...

Now, the bandspread/vernier fine tuning controls are SUPERB --- but that legendary Hammarlund drift was not. I hated that! I had to adjust the frequency even HOURS after initial warm-up. The drift was acceptable for a mode like AM, but what a great pain listening to stuff on CW & SSB...

I finally sold the rig after only a few months in the shack, & built my own HB superhet...but the vernier fine tuning control remained implanted within me, & I copied that feqature in my own design...
N4UE Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2004 21:08 Send this review to a friend
Another fine old receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I added this fine old radio to my collection about 1 1/2 years ago. It worked very nicely but was cosmetically 'challanged'. The chassis was very spotted, not rusty, just funky looking. The front panel was very good and after a couple of new (correct) knobs, and a re-spray of the cover and it looked very nice.
I can't leave well enough alone, so it was time to re-do the circuits. New filter caps and a quick look at the bypass and coupling caps indicated quality 'looking' caps. The ones in my radio, look like large silver micas. I left them alone. During a lull in the 'action', I did a quick test of the caps. About 1/2 were leaky, some VERY leaky. I replaced them all with Orange Drops. Did a full alignment. It really rocks!

If I have one complaint (?) it's that the radio is too sensitive. Hard to believe, but it's true. Even though the radio is 'kinda' shielded, I can hear 20M signals (very weakly) with no antenna. Put on one about 2 feet long and it really hears signals. I obviously ride the RF Gain a lot, but the radio has excellent audio and is relativly stable, considering it's vintage. Like all my boatanchors, I put a small 24 VDC fan inside (run with 12 VDC) to move air around. Keeps the radio cool and keeps the drift to a minimum.
Although pretty deaf on 6M, I have an Ameco Nuvistor preamp (powered by the radio), in line and that improves things dramatically!
All in all, a nice addition to my collection and it's used in one of my CW/QRP positions (with a Knight T-60).


KB2HSH Rating: 5/5 May 7, 2004 09:00 Send this review to a friend
Great old boat anchor  Time owned: more than 12 months
Hammarlund's HQ-170 is simply a great radio. On the plus side, the adjustable receive filtering is beneficial in crowded CW band segments. Recently, I was able to notch out a VERY close signal when listening to W1AW on 40 meters. By tightening the filter, the offensive signal simply sounds like it vanishes. Also, very precise fine tuning control is provided; a feature many modern rigs should have in this fashion. On the negative side, however, is the fact that this rig runs out of gas pretty fast above 15 meters. Addition of a preamp might be what the doctor ordered here...but, it isn't bad enough that hearing RS12/13 was impossible with good passes.

I still use my HQ-170 in conjunction with a Ramsey kit QRP-40 transmitter. Together, they make a very solid (but hardly portable) QRP station.
W2WO Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2004 15:27 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful in its time  Time owned: more than 12 months
In my opinion this was one of the best receivers ever made (although I never tried the VHF bands).

Sensitivity and selectivity were both great. The vernier tuning (plus/minus 3 KHz) was the best think available at the time. Dial calibration did not match a Collins unit, but was pretty good.

People complaining about the high cost of ham gear might look for these at Hamfests or on eBay. They go for as little as $200 (in good condition). With the triple conversion design a little extra effort is needed for alignment, but this is not needed very often.
WB5HKO Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2003 18:21 Send this review to a friend
Top-of-the-line bargain  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is the receiver I've wanted since I saw an ad for it in the catalog section of my first ARRL Handbook back in the early '60's. Considering that it had taken me many weeks to amass the $3.50 (!) required to purchase the Handbook at the time, the advertised receiver was totally out of the question.

Nowadays, in the midst of my baby boomer back-to-the-womb "phase", I can not only afford the Hammarlund, I have been moved to buy one.

My model is the "ultimate" Hammarlund ham band set, the HQ-170A VHF. It receives AM, CW and SSB signals on 160 through 2 meters (yes, two meters! -- a review of ham radio magazines from the ca. 1960 era reveals that VHF was all the rage at the time).

I purchased my Hammarlund from an eBay seller who accurately described the radio as working well but in need of sprucing up. I bid just $110.00 for the rig. It turned out to be, in my opinion, a true bargain price.

Though the HQ-170A played nicely upon receipt -- and apparently had never undergone a major repair -- I've refurbished the radio with a light disassembly, cosmetic scrubbing, switch and contact cleaning, replacement of a small handful of capacitors (just as a preventative maintenance measure), retubing, alignment and cabinet repainting. The whole process took one weekday evening and one Sunday afternoon to complete. I'm very pleased with the result, both aesthetically and technically.

I don't know what this radio sounded like when it was new out of the box, but it certainly "hears good" 40 years later. It's very sensitive and, with its triple conversion IF scheme and amazing image rejection, yields a squeaky clean output. That's remarkable considering that I live less than a half mile away from a notoriously filthy 50 KW AM broadcast station.

The Hammarlund's "wide-open" selectivity isn't quite as spectacular as my Collins 75S-3's, but it's more versatile than the Cedar Rapids legend. Unlike the Collins, the Hammarlund offers an effective built-in noise blanker, four-position bandwidth filter (3, 2, 1 and .5 KHz), the three extra bands (160, 6 and 2 meters) and -- of course -- the distinctive Telechron clock/timer! Like the 75S-3, the HQ-170A is equipped with a variable BFO and notch filter (though the Hammarlund has a notch depth control that the Collins does not).

The Hammarlund audio is cleaner and richer than the stock Collins output. I've modified my particular 75S-3's audio chain extensively, though, so in my shack they're about even. The Hammarlund is quite a bit more resistant to manmade electrical noise than the Collins, however -- which is a real advantage in my noisy environment.

On the downside, the Hammarlund falls a little short of the Collins in ease of tuning and its dial tracking isn't quite as precise -- but it's adequate and certainly more than acceptable in its chronological context.

Like the Collins, the Hammarlund is beautifully built. One has only to compare its pristine under-chassis workmanship with other rigs of the era (well, Hallicrafters, anyway) to appreciate the care and pride that went into its crafting. The fact that it worked well without extensive repair for forty years also speaks well of Hammarlund's quality control and component selection.

All-in-all, the Hammarlund HQ-170A is a fine receiver. Perhaps it cannot compare with a modern DSP-equipped machine, but it is a very nice radio, nonetheless, and quite useful even on today's over-populated bands. If you're a nostalgia-stricken boatanchor enthusiast, this is a wonderful -- and wonderfully affordable -- radio to own and enjoy.
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