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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Commercial/Military/Marine adaptable to ham use | RACAL RA117 Receiver Help

Reviews Summary for RACAL RA117 Receiver
RACAL RA117 Receiver Reviews: 2 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $350 - 550 (used)
Description: Commercial Grade valve (tube) receiver manucatured by RACAL.
Product is not in production.
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PA4TIM Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2008 23:09 Send this review to a friend
top  Time owned: more than 12 months
The best receiver I have, together with his european used twin-brother the RA17, It is true you need to learn operating it. A friend whoi owns one too always says: if you can not hear it on a racal it is not there. I also have the separate preselector and independend sideband adapter. First time I used those I thought there was something broke or not connected because there onley was silence until I by accident had all filters on the same frequency, then my headphones jumped from my ears because the volume and RF gain were still on max. It takes time to aligne the 3 but then you can hear a QRP station sitting 500Hz under a +1KW splattering contester.
GM1SXX Rating: 5/5 Sep 21, 2006 05:38 Send this review to a friend
Superb commercial valve receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
The British built RA117 receiver is a superb example of UK radio engineering at its best. I've owned one for around 20 years having bought mine second-hand from a radio dealer. The RA117 uses the Wadley-loop (Dr Trevor Wadley) drift cancelling system to provide an incredibly stable drift free reciver. The receiver has a high-Q preselector, typical of receivers of this era that can be switched to a 'wideband' position to bypass the preselector.
It uses 23 valves, weighs 66 pounds bare and is built on a diecast aluminium 'chassis' for mechanical rigidity.
The tuning system is worthy of note. There are two tuning dials, one calibrated in Megacycles and the other providing the (Kilocycles) coverage of each 1Mhz wide tuning segment. Tuning is silky smooth and the Kilocycles dial can be easily spun from one end of the dial to the other with a single flick. The Kilocycles tuning dial moves a long strip of horizontally run 35MM calibrated film between two metal capstans while the megacycles dial operates a conventional tuning capacitor.
The dial accuracy is amazing and a crystal calibrator is supplied for frequency cross checking. A dial lock allows a selected frequency to be held, ideal for data modes.
Where the RA117 really shines is in its filters. The filter bandwidths are user selectable by rotary switch from 13Kcs down to 100 Cycles (hertz) and available on both sidebands. BFO operation is excellent and stable and the receiver is an absolute joy to use. The RA117 was produced alongside it's stablemate the RA17, a slightly simpler design. Both are similar in appearance.
If you can find one, buy it. You will not be disappointed.

I also own the Racal RA1772 receiver, a much later and excellent receiver in its own right. The RA1772 uses a PLL system while the RA117 uses the Wadley loop. Both are excellent receivers but the much older RA117 is just a bit better. It has a better preselector and better filters and what's more, the stability is also superb.

The RA117 is a receiver that you need to learn to operate to get the most from it. Three hands are useful. When in circuit, the preselector requires regular 'tweaking' to stay tuned as you traverse the dial. This soon becomes second nature. Plug and play it is not. You have to learn to 'fly' it and thats part of the appeal.

The quality of construction is top class with serious engineering. The filter switching uses chunky bevel gearing that makes a loud clunk as you swap the filter bandwidths. The receiver has a small but effective front panel mounted loudspeaker and also a variety of outputs on the rear apron. The circuitry is partly modular with the VFOs and other modules above chassis being interconnected by co-ax leads and BNC connectors.

Being a commercial grade receiver, there are a number of variants available for different purposes and Keith's RACAL Pages lists the different models.

You can also see photos of this and other RACAL equipment on Keith's excellent website.

73 Al.

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