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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Drake TR-3 Help

Reviews Summary for Drake TR-3
Drake TR-3 Reviews: 8 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $550.00
Description: Tube type 80-10 meter transceiver from late 1960s.
Product is not in production.
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NI6S Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2012 22:30 Send this review to a friend
Nostalgic and Holds Its Own  Time owned: more than 12 months
I don't think it's realistic to expect the TR3 to perform like an Icom, but with no other reference nearby, it performs well. This was my first radio as a ham that my mom bought for me used from HRO in 1979. I remained a Novice for a couple of years and used this radio almost exclusively on CW. It has no sidetone but I quickly learned how to listen for the transformer buzz which generated its own tone. The audio was fine and I worked quite a bit of DX. It was stable and stood the test of time until the relay failed. But the build quality compensated for its flaws. I now own a ton of Drake and love the build quality. If you like this vintage of radio, get one! But check out the chassis first, as the copper chassis is prone to corrosion. Hard to find in good shape.
KD5PNT Rating: 5/5 Dec 5, 2011 09:14 Send this review to a friend
TR-3  Time owned: more than 12 months
great transceiver . have owned it for 20 years and until recently was used only as a receiver I sold the IC 706MKIIG and hooked it up in its place . receiver is as good as the icom but I just like tubes better and I can work on it if needed .

only thing that is not good is the choice of 12JB6 tubes for finals , they are expensive and getting hard to find sylvania replacements .
N1NKM Rating: 4/5 Apr 23, 2011 16:24 Send this review to a friend
Nice old rig!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This was my first (and only) HF rig from 1992 until I bought my IC718 in late 2001! In the time I used it, I found that the sensitivity was much lower on the higher frequency bands, but it worked well. I discovered one of the major reasons for frequency drift was the VFO tube filament voltage! I modified the rig, adding a voltage regulator, and ran that filament on DC. The rig is now stable enough to use on PSK! (After 30 min warm-up, it stays within 10Hz!) A small fan atop the final area, drawing air upward, also helps. It's a nice old rig!
WW3QB Rating: 4/5 Feb 11, 2009 17:06 Send this review to a friend
Best of its day  Time owned: more than 12 months
I repaired a TR-3 I got from eBay. It was not working, but someone with fat fingers can actually work on it. It's very sensitive and the selectivity is really not that bad. It was one of the first with crystal filters. It is not really a CW rig, so accept it for what it is. It is a fun to operate, simple, and good radio for SSB. $550 in 1964 is about $3700 today. It was one of the best of its day and it is still one to appreciate. And it keeps the shack warm.
K4SPS Rating: 5/5 Feb 12, 2008 19:41 Send this review to a friend
A True Sleeper Transceiver!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Bought this 1961 Drake transceiver off of e-bay for $105. I then sent it to Jeff Covelli for a tune-up and a new antenna relay. This radio is dynamite. Very sensitive and outputs +190 watts on the 75 meter nets I join every night. I couldn't happier with this vintage old tube radio. I added an unused and in perfect shape, DC-3 12 volt power supply and run it off of a 12 volt battery in my shack. Works great. This is a true 'Mad Max' radio and will operate long into the future! 73, K4SPS
KC8YOX Rating: 4/5 Oct 1, 2007 14:48 Send this review to a friend
Love my TR3  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have a Drake TR3 and also a Kenwood TS520s.
I prefer the Drake hands down in almost all situations. I don't operate CW so can't comment on that, however the receiver in the TR3 is far superior to the 520s. I may get newer rigs but plan on keeping the TR3. I love it on 80m nets and get great audio and signal reports with this radio.

KA7OEI Rating: 4/5 Dec 12, 2005 12:31 Send this review to a friend
Good vintage Drake  Time owned: more than 12 months
Having owned this rig for more than 20 years (and it's older than I am!) I don't think that I would let go of it. It is, in fact, my rig of choice when I get in on the 75 meter roundtable...

It is all tube (it's solid-state component count is 6 diodes!) but remarkably stable after a 30 minute warmup - not too much different than my TR-7. This radio has separate USB/LSB filters and in my radio, these had been replaced by a previous owner with ones that were presumably sharper than the originals. In talking to others that have owned this radio - with original filters installed - it may not be the best rig to use under very crowded band conditions, but its RX and TX audio sounds very good under more typical conditions.

With a trio of 12JB6's in the final, my TR-3 easily puts out at least 150 watts on all bands except 15 and 10 where it is about 125 watts or so.

As mentioned in the previous review, it is not a good CW rig as it neither automatic T/R switching or a sidetone. Using an outboard keyer with a built-in sidetone is a great help if you *do* use it for CW - as long as you don't mind reaching over and operating the mode switch.

The only problem that I have had with it was that two of the heterodyne crystals went bad - but a phone call, <$50 and a couple of weeks wait got two new ones from ICM. As owners of vintage radios know, failure of crystals is not at all unusual...
NE0P Rating: 3/5 Feb 19, 2004 15:42 Send this review to a friend
Not recommended for CW  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I had one of these transceivers briefly in 1986. Seemed to do good on SSB, as it would put out 100 plus watts with the 3 finals. Receive audio also pretty good. It even looked nice. Not a good radio for CW, though. It does not have automatic T/R switching for CW. You have to manually switch between transmit and receive.

I traded it towards a set of Kenwood 599 twins and never regretted that.

I wouldn't pay more than $150 for one of these in good condition. Filters will be very difficult to find, and it has to warm up awhile to stop the drifting that was common in these older radios. Also has limited features, like no passband tuning or IF shift that was found on the Drake twins. It is a fun radio to play with, but wouldn't want it to be my only HF rig.

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