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Author Topic: Johnson Viking Challenger  (Read 12979 times)
WA2MGB
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« on: November 09, 2005, 08:24:03 PM »

Pardon this dumb question. But... is the Johnson Viking Challenger  (vintage '59 and '60 consider a plate modulated AM/CW rig.  There seems to be very little info on this model.....unlike its big brothers.

Tnx,
Ted
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KA5N
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2005, 06:21:54 AM »

The Johnson Challenger is AM/CW transmitter that uses a "clamp tube modulator."  This in effect is a screen grid modulator (Heising) and not a plate modulator.  While this form of modulation is usually less than 100% it was used on any number of less expensive transmitters in the 50's and 60's.  You can download a manual at
http://bama.edebris.com/manuals/

This transmitter uses a pair of 6146's on 10-80 m and a single 6146 on 6 meters and could easily be adapted to use an external plate modulator if desired (and one is available).  If you don't tell people that you are using screen modulation, they seldon notice.
Allen
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2005, 09:33:52 AM »

That's not quite right.

The Challenger is not plate modulated, that's true.  But it doesn't use any 6146s at all, it used a 6DQ5 sweep tube for the PA and only ran about 75W DC input power.  I owned two of these back in the mid-60s (I must not have felt sufficiently punished for owning the first one).

I owned a lot of Johnson gear and believe this is one of their absolute worst efforts.  The Challenger is a stinker.  But I give E.F. Johnson Co. credit for coming up with such a broad variety of transmitters over the years, in some cases having six or eight on the market simultaneously, to suit a wide range of budgets from very small to quite large.  Not many companies could do this.  They also manufactured (fabricated) a lot of their own components, including variable capacitors, standoff insulators, tube sockets, all sorts of stuff.  Not many equipment companies ever did that, either.

The Challenger's screen modulation sounded pretty crappy without modification.  I used a D-104, which is normally a very "bright" microphone (lots of highs) but the Challenger wouldn't let those through, it always sounded too bassy.  I made several mods, almost 40 years ago, that finally made it sound acceptable to me.

WB2WIK/6
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WA1RNE
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2005, 02:36:22 PM »

 That's not quite right.


 It uses (2) 6DQ6A's in parallel for 70 watts input on phone, 120 watts input on CW (85w on 6 meters).


 But that's OK, shouldn't stop you from trying one out, especially if it ends up costing you a whole $15-$25.


 Even better if you can find a Johnson 122 VFO...


 73,  Chris
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K7UNZ
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2005, 02:56:44 PM »

And the winner is.....Chris!

Right tubes, right power ratings...

When I was a Novice in '59, I never could figure out why anyone would buy one of these. They didn't even LOOK like anything from Johnson Viking (hi). Kit sold for $115.00 and wired would set you back $155.00.  The Johnson Adventurer, with an 807 final sold in kit form only for $55.00...much better deal in my opinion.

Me, I was running a DX-20 with a single 6DQ6A and 50W input CW, and out only about $35.00.

I did finally graduate to a Ranger, then a Valiant, then.....

73, Jim/k7unz

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KA5N
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2005, 04:16:07 PM »

OK Steve,
I was wrong, they aren't 6146's, but the schematic lists them as 6DQ6's not 6DQ5's.  6DQ6's were for black and white TV's and 6DQ5's were for color sets.  But at any rate they were sweep tubes and not real transmitter tubes.  
As an aside I never liked the meter in the Adventurer.  It swung back and forth on CW and would oscillate for some time after keying the rig.  
Considering that dollars in the 50's and 60's were worth about 10 times today's dollars (Wayne Green called them dollarettes)none of the rigs were real bargains.  The Johnson Ranger sold for about $280 and I bought a new 1964 Chevelle for a little over $2000.    
Allen
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2005, 04:53:05 PM »

I guess it pays to refer back to real manuals and schematics and not trust our memories....including mine!

I could have sworn the Challenger had a single 6DQ5 and not two 6DQ6s.  Obviously I was thinking of a different rig, probably some other Johnson model of yesteryear.

I didn't like the Challenger or the Adventurer!  I do remember the incredible "swing" on the Adventurer meter, it was hilarious.  

Despite how bad some of these rigs were, I sure made a lot of contacts with them.  I used an Adventurer on 40m CW, three crystals and a dipole strung between trees in my parents' back yard and probably filled three logbooks with QSOs before I realized how bad it all was.

Ah, youth!

WB2WIK/6
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2005, 04:55:35 PM »

RE: Johnson Viking Challenger  Reply  
>by KA5N on November 10, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
The Johnson Ranger sold for about $280 and I bought a new 1964 Chevelle for a little over $2000.<

::That must have been a pretty well equipped Chevelle!  The first car I ever bought "new" was a 1969 Toyota Corona, for $1,900 out the door.  It was a rarity at the time, because nobody I knew had a Toyota and about half the population never heard of one.

Times have sure changed, eh?

73!

Steve WB2WIK/6
 
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WA2MGB
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2005, 09:32:11 PM »

Found one of these Challengers....but WOW, expensive,,,,,,

http://cgi.ebay.com/JOHNSON-VIKING-CHALLENGER-AM-TRANSMITTER_W0QQitemZ5828719690QQcategoryZ4675QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2005, 09:53:30 AM »

The $219 "buy it now" price is a bit optimistic, I think.

I sold my last Challenger in 1968 for about $50.

You might place a bid at what you think is reasonable (maybe $100) and see how it goes.

It is *NOT* a good transmitter.  The Pacemaker, Ranger, Valiant, Invader, etc were pretty good but I wouldn't spend anything on a Challenger unless I was purely in it to make a "Johnson Collection" for display.  For a serious "collector," the $219 might be a good deal.

WB2WIK/6
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K3HVG
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2005, 04:00:39 PM »

Well, the Challenger was my first rig to use on the air.   My Elmer coached me in its construction.  I used it for about a year, had good success, and it never failed me. I also used it for CAP, back then, too.  I got no complaints on the audio quality.  I bought two Challengers about a year ago and kept one.  Its paired with an S-40B, emulating my novice station.  I still have my original 7175 rock!!!
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KE1L
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2019, 09:30:20 PM »

Revisiting this after many years...

I had a Challenger for a few years, bought used in 1970 along with an HG-10 VFO for $50. Certainly a deal at that price. AM was largely dead on the airwaves at that point so I only used it as a CW rig, which it did well.

I remember from the manual that it was screen modulated on AM, not plate modulated. So it was in a weird in-between position in the Johnson line; expensive for a CW transmitter but less than ideal for AM. That may have limited its appeal when it was new; they seem to be scarce on the used market, suggesting that it was not a big seller. Very sturdy construction; except for the electrolytic capacitors I suspect it would still work just fine now if I had kept it.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2019, 05:01:31 AM »

Johnson were making components long before they were making transmitters. Edgar F. Johnson, 9ALD, started his small machine shop in 1922 at the back of a barber shop in Waseca, MN. In 1931, Don Wallace, W6AM, who had started his own business as a manufacturer's representative and had known Johnson when they were both at college, wrote to him and said he would like to represent the E. F. Johnson company. Johnson replied saying that every sales rep he had ever met was a bum, and he would handle his companies sales by advertising. Wallace  showed ads for Johnson components to the customers he had until he had enough orders to fill a boxcar, which he sent  into Johnson, and said for old times sake, there was no charge. Johnson sent him a cheque of 10% of the order value as commission, and Wallace eventually became the exclusive West Coast rep for EF Johnson.

Edgar Johnson was very religious: even in the 1980s, long after  Johnson had gone, when I visited on business there, alcoholic drinks at lunch time were a no-no for employees and I was told that promotion was helped if you were seen going to church on Sunday...
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JS6TMW
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2019, 04:32:15 AM »

RE: Johnson Viking Challenger  Reply  
>by KA5N on November 10, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
The Johnson Ranger sold for about $280 and I bought a new 1964 Chevelle for a little over $2000.<

::That must have been a pretty well equipped Chevelle!  The first car I ever bought "new" was a 1969 Toyota Corona, for $1,900 out the door.  It was a rarity at the time, because nobody I knew had a Toyota and about half the population never heard of one.

Times have sure changed, eh?

73!

Steve WB2WIK/6
 


The Viking Ranger was a class act though. Beautiful proportions and decent performance for a single 6146.

Toyotas were already making a splash on the West Coast by the mid-'60's. My car buddy's sister had bought a new Corona and we examined it closely. I remember the yellowish plating on many of the engine auxiliaries that made it LOOK different from Euro and Detroit. That was back when a VW Beetle cost $1.00 a pound delivered: about $1400.

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