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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | National NC-173 Help

Reviews Summary for National NC-173
National NC-173 Reviews: 5 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $189.50
Description: General Coverage/Amateur Band Receiver
Product is not in production.
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N0XE Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2010 06:46 Send this review to a friend
SSB is fine  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a great old recevier, I have had many of them, if you wish to use it on SSB, it can work pretty well, like a previous reviewer stated, the trick is Maximum AF gain and then adjust your audio gain with your senstivity control, SSB will sound just fine and you can have much better control, basically this is manual AGC and a lot of weak signal CW ops do the same thing even with modern gear, this old receiver like many of the older single conversion radios of the era has no product detector so using this technique allows for pretty decent SSB reception and controlling any gain over load. I also use it this way when on CW. Add a nice old vintage TX and have fun, it is a real blast to take a trip in the past with one of these fine old radios. This and the early Hammarlunds are some of my favorite radios.
73 Jim N0XE
KA4DPO Rating: 4/5 Sep 16, 2010 20:12 Send this review to a friend
One truly great radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Novice receiver was an NC-173 and it was a thing of beauty. I got it in 1965, it was like new even though it was nearly 20 years old when I got it. The crystal filter worked like a champ on CW and I made many DX contacts with that old heap on 40 and 15 meters. Somewhere along the way I sold it and wish I hadn't done that. If I ever find a nice one I'll refurbish it and keep it. One of the best old SWL radios ever and a fine rig for AM and CW but not for sideband. It had great sensitivity for a single conversion radio and was very stable for it's era. It also had a beautiful audio amp and had a phono input (you don't see that anymore). It even covered 6 meters and even though it didn't have FM you could slope detect easily since the IF bandwidth was so wide. They just don't make em like that any more.
VE4HAM Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2007 06:21 Send this review to a friend
Grand Old Master  Time owned: more than 12 months
This post war receiver endured the high seas of the Kon Tiki expedition of a raft, and when power was down ran on dry cells. It even got soaked and lived after drying out to voice the world. I still hold on to my NC 173 even though it weighs in at 40 some lbs. It's a nice old classic to operate not just for show , but to operate. It takes some skill to get used to all it's controls. The circuitry was really advanced for it's time and many circuits were used in it for it's age like cw filters, narrow band FM, 6 meters, good noise limiters, decent calibration, and very rugged. Most tube receivers sort of went dead after a certain megahertz, but not so with the NC. With proper resonant antennas it kept it's sensitivity right through all the bands. That is hard to beat, and only the best receivers in the post war era could out do it. It's a pleasure listening to the dynamic range of the audio of a tube amplifier. At times I use an old Heath DX 35 on cw as a transmitter and the National for a receiver. You really had to have some old fashioned experience to operate such a setup, why with all the controls to adjust just for one band, but it sure is fun and sometimes I tell the party at the other end I'm running some fancy Kenwood and they believe me, unknowest to them. The NC I have had little use and I tell you, on a 20 foot piece of wire and good propagation, short wave signals just pour in like nothing as well as a good number of hams. Running SSB is a bit unconventional because one has to back off the RF gain sometimes to match up with the BFO. This is not much a hinderance one one gets used to it on one's antenna setup. All around, for it's day, it's one fine piece of engineering for it's day, and for the price you got a lot, but for the price it was still a lot of money in it's time but still affordable in payments not unlike today where you get what you pay for. If you can still find one of these great old pieces, catch it, because they are awful scarce now, and will be scarer yet as time goes by because some just disappear from people not knowing what it is and heave it to ham heaven. Only my word, but it's a piece of the grand days of Ham radio that has a history to it. Catch it if you can..........
AD5QP Rating: 4/5 Dec 30, 2005 12:48 Send this review to a friend
Nice receiver for 75 AM  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a nice boatanchor radio to operate 75M AM that I got in a trade. Don't use it for much else. It is fairly sensitive, and works well with the end fed Zepp antenna. It still has the original caps in it, although I had to replace some tubes when I got it. For a 50 year old radio, it works really well. Nothing fancy, and it drifts until it warms up, but once it's stable it's great. No wonder that it was used as the main receiver on the Kon-Tiki expeditions. It was set up so that it could be run on batteries, and I think this design may account for some of it's longevity. If you are looking for an old radio to operate AM with, you might want to take a look. It's not an R-390A for sure, but works well for what I want.
W0LC Rating: 4/5 Feb 6, 2005 20:00 Send this review to a friend
Mid Range Rcvr  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got my NC-173 from a fellow amateur. The receiver is a typical boat anchor. Performance is so-so, definitely not on par with my Drake 2B's.

Have to turn the RF gain DOWN and AF Gain up in order to ungarble SSB signals if you want to use the receiver for SSB reception.

Of course, this drops the sensitivity down as well.

I would recommend the Drake 2B over this receiver any day. But, if interested in a boat anchor "glow bug" type receiver, it is good for casual use.

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