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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Racal RA17L Help

Reviews Summary for Racal RA17L
Racal RA17L Reviews: 12 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1200 - 2400
Description: The Racal RA17 was a state of the art valve receiver when it was first introduced back in 1954. The Reciver that made Racal
Product is in production.
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WB6MYL Rating: 5/5 Oct 3, 2004 09:40 Send this review to a friend
a new champ??  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I think my friend, Larry Tinkler, got tired of me bugging him about this rig and finally sold it to me; very nice receiver; I have listened to hundreds of receivers and currently own many of those but I think the RACAL has to be close to the top. I love my R-9000 for sensitivity and "not getting in the way" of the signal path, but it is hard to beat the sound of tubes (valves); in that regards, I never thought I would listen to a "best over-all" receiver as my R-390 with the TMC SSB adapter; the RACAL is that good; I was fortunate to get the SSB adapter with mine and the sound is great and is as sensitive (if not more than) as the 390; I give the edge to the RACAL in ease and pleasure to use because of the great tuning system with the "typewriter ribbon-type" scale that winds and unwinds; large and easy to read; highly recommended if you can find one; if someone can provide any input to me,I would appreciate any feedback on why my unit has no BFO?!? Without the SSB unit, I could not listen to CW; thank you for reading and the bandwidth. Phillip W. Harris, PhD.P.C.
EI6IZ Rating: 5/5 May 3, 2004 19:11 Send this review to a friend
A true Classic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The Racal RA17 was a state of the art valve receiver when it was first introduced back in 1954. The RA17 remained in production until at least 1967

When new the RA17 cost around 1000 pounds sterling , a small fortune in the 1950s. In todays terms including the effects of inflation this is approximately 24,000 Euro !
The primary customers for the RA17 were defence and monitoring users.

The RA17 uses 23 valves, is designed for 19 inch rack mounting and weighs about 30 Kg.
The RA17 is a double conversion superhet with excellent sensitivity and selectivity. It is also very stable due to the use of a Wadley loop drift cancelling arrangement, once warmed up it will stay on frequency to within 50 Hz or so making it stable enough for reception of modes such as FAX and slow scan TV, Not bad for an all valve set.

My particular RA17 is the RA17L model and dates from November 1962. Sets this old usually need quite a bit of work to restore them to their original level of performance, in particular many of the original resistors have changed value due to age and lots of the original paper capacitors used throughout the set have become leaky however modern replacments are easily avalable.
Spare valaves for the RA17 are easily obtained.

The RA17L covers the frequency range 500 KHz to 30 MHz. Coverage is in 1 MHz wide segments with the tuning knob on the right selecting the desired 1 MHz segment. Tuning within the 1 MHz wide segment is done with the Tuning knob on the left, the frequency readout is by means of a sliding film scale and a tuning accuracy of better than 1KHz is possible.

A BFO is provided for CW reception and it works reasonably well for SSB reception too even though the design of this set predates the commercial use of SSB by a number of years.

A range of filter bandwidths are provided, the RA17L has the following filter bandwidths installed as standard
100 Hz, 300 Hz, 1.2 Khz, 3 Khz. 6.5 Khz, 13 Khz

In operation this RA17L certainly holds its own against modern solid state receivers. Its very sensitive and the filters work well. The set is well able to deal with weak signals close to strong ones and has no problems with spurious signals or images. The receiver is very quiet, even by modern standards and seems immune to overload.
Tuning with the R17s flywheel weighted Tuning knob feels very smooth indeed and the tuning scale is easy to read. The received audio sounds good and the ergonomics are excellent.
The RA17 is a top notch receiver even by today's standards, Not bad at all for a 1954 design, I wonder how 2004 state of the art will perform in 50 years time?
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