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Author Topic: the very best of HF BA receivers  (Read 52272 times)
IW5CI
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Posts: 71




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« on: September 05, 2014, 05:50:09 AM »

I am wondernig which of the following receivers is more rappresentative of BA spirit and have the best all-round performance both for ham reception and BC reception:

RCA AR-88
HAMMARLUND SUPERPRO (200-400)
HAMMARLUND SP-600
COLLINS 51J4
COLLINS R390/390A
HALLICRAFTERS SX-28
HAMMARLUND HQ-180
NATIONAL NC-303
HALLICRAFTERS SX-117
HALLICRAFTERS SX-101
BC-348
...

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AD4U
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Posts: 2543




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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2014, 06:04:34 AM »

This is a lot like asking which is a better classic automobile a 55 Chevy, a 57 Chevy, a 55 Ford, a 57 Ford, or a 63 Corvette.  It all depends on whom you ask.

Now back to your question.  As a serious boat anchor collector I own a Hammarlund HQ 180A that I purchased many years ago in pristine condition.  I personally made any needed repairs and I did the alignment.  IMO it is a GREAT boat anchor receiver.  

I also have a true Collins R-390A that I sent to Chuck Rippel for one of his famous restorations.  I know my limitations.  Even by today's standards the R-390A is an amazing receiver.

I have not had any experience with any other receivers that you listed, but I seriously doubt if any of them will beat the HQ 180A or the R-390A in a head-to-head competition.

Dick  AD4U
« Last Edit: September 05, 2014, 06:08:38 AM by AD4U » Logged
G3RZP
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2014, 10:18:15 AM »

The 51J4 may well give some competition to R390A, but it depends exactly what you want. For BC reception, forget the SX101 and the NC303 - they are both ham bands only. The SX117 allows 4 crystal positions for 500 kHz bands between 85 kHz and 30 MHz so its HFBC capability is a little limited.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2014, 10:36:19 AM »

http://www.amwindow.org/tech/htm/jnreceiverguide.htm
Here is a long standing article by John, W3JN, on his personal preferences on Boat Anchors for AM operations. 

John can often be found hanging out on www.amfone.net, though his work takes him away from home for extended periods.
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KA0HCP, ex-KB4QAA Relocated to Ks. April 2019.
AC5UP
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2014, 04:31:57 PM »

I just finished reading the article and must say one that one paragraph in particular is just oozing with truthiness..........

Ten Worst Receivers for AM Use

1. Heathshkit Mohawk
    A passel of design mistakes make this very attractive receiver almost worthless for ham use. Heathshkit took advantage of every opportunity to add distortion they could. Electric Radio had a 3-part article several years ago that outlined the steps necessary to correct these deficiencies. If you have the patience and expertise to do the mods, this radio has definite potential.


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... A sentiment I can agree with 110%. The Mohawk was a looker, but aside from that, ewwwwww!  Grin

BTW: It wasn't too many years ago that most of us knew the TMC GPR-90 was a desirable all-band RX that conveniently worked quite well with the TMC CV-591A outboard SSB adapter. TMC gear wasn't built to the Collins standard of fit & finish nor were they blessed with oddball tubes. No frills, no hassles, no unobtanium. GPR-90's tend to live long and prosper.
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KE6EE
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2014, 07:26:37 PM »

I just finished reading the article and must say one that one paragraph in particular is just oozing with truthiness..........

I want to add that the article also celebrates the outstanding beauty and charm of the Hallicrafters SX 28. I have to agree that it is the Most Beautiful of All, bar none. The article also points out the poor quality of many of it components which means a lot of time and trouble in renovation.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 09:38:33 PM »

I've used the Super Pro, the SP-600, the R-390 and the SX-101A. (In that order)  I also used two or three other high performance communications receivers during this time which are not on your list.

From a professional viewpoint, the R-390 was the best.  We were told our unit was to receive the R-390.  At that time (1956) it cost about twice as much as the other top 3 communications receivers being used by the military. 

The second best was the SP-600.  I was able to check out an SP-600 to use in our ham shack.  We tried about 3 or 4 receivers available at that time (Commercial, no amateur) and the SP-600 out performed all of them, including the popular Collins 75A3 or 4 (I think). We were not allowed to take the R-390 out of the building and we wasn't even allowed to speak of it outside the operations building.

The Super Pro was the receiver used by the military very early on and although they performed well, they simply didn't have the modern circuitry that the new receivers had.

I owned the SX-101A.  It was a triple-conversion receiver, ham band only, and performed very well. 

Of the receivers I've used this is the order in which I would list them as far as performance is concerned.
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A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!
KAPT4560
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Posts: 558




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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2014, 02:28:27 AM »

 Every BA tells a story. In the cold war days, a budget-conscious family man might purchase an S-38 to stay in tune with world events. That may be why there are so many of them. It is how many of us got bit by the SWL bug when we were young.
 Battery radios might be more prudent in times of disaster or a civil defense emergency if the power went out. Many BA's could be run on batteries if the thirsty final audio and rectifier tubes were pulled and headphones used. Charged car batteries are good to keep around. You can run a radio and have light.
 Shortwave radio sales to the public always jump in times of distress, but not not so much lately. 'Did you know that there is an 'app' for that?' People don't realize that shortwave might be the only medium still operating if the internet and cell phones go down or become very limited.
 I have an R-390A that I rebuilt the geartrain on (a bandswitch gear clamp was cracked and slipping). It was akin to rebuilding a manual transmission. I never could have done it without the y2k manual instructions. It is the boatanchor queen.
 I have a Hammarlund HQ-129X that is my current bedside radio with the attic longwire. It also goes to the cabin with me for my yearly October vacation at Letchworth park. Very good AM broadcast band DXing, especially just before dawn with coffee and doughnuts!
 http://i836.photobucket.com/albums/zz289/wmccryst/100_12742_zps678564a7.jpg
 I have a BC-348L (attractive style and performance), but it misses the AM broadcast band.
 I have the National NC-200, NC-98 and NC-125.
 The NC-125 has the built-in Select-o-ject for selectivity control in the audio stages, it has no IF crystal selectivity. It takes some getting used to like a one-knob graphic equalizer. The results are fair. I would almost rather have crystal-controlled selectivity.
 The Millen-era Nationals are exemplary. The 1950's-1960's National NCs are OK, but lost some of their early mojo.
 The AN/GRR-5 is handsome in green with its olive drab shawl and vibrator purr. It is sensitive, well-constructed and simple (except for the power supply).
 A CRV-46151 was my first radio. I still have it and went through the bandswitch and redid the mods that allow AC house current and loudspeaker level audio a couple of years ago.
 The classic half-moon dial of the Hallicrafters radios and Raymond Loewy styled cabinets are attractive and iconic. The wife likes the SX-42 so she can listen to her 'FM'. I have an SX-25 with 2 rf amp stages on bands 2, 3 and 4. It also has a PP audio output.
 Any big metal gray, green or black-wrinkle finish 'General Coverage' radio is awesome.   Grin
 
« Last Edit: September 06, 2014, 02:33:46 AM by KAPT4560 » Logged
N4NYY
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2014, 07:29:13 AM »

Knight Star Roamer !

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AC5UP
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Posts: 4546




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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2014, 10:08:07 AM »


... you'd be bragging about the Lafayette HE-30 if you hadn't had sex with yours.

60's example of a Kenwood all-band receiver that was not only attractive and well designed but used no exotic tubes.

Definitely a keeper with a long service life.  Unless you clean the slide rule dial glass with a Brillo pad.   Roll Eyes
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N4NYY
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2014, 03:59:32 PM »


... you'd be bragging about the Lafayette HE-30 if you hadn't had sex with yours.

60's example of a Kenwood all-band receiver that was not only attractive and well designed but used no exotic tubes.

Definitely a keeper with a long service life.  Unless you clean the slide rule dial glass with a Brillo pad.   Roll Eyes

I sent you a message. You read it?
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W8RXL
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Posts: 70




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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2014, 07:02:29 PM »

I am wondernig which of the following receivers is more representative of BA spirit and have the best all-round performance both for ham reception and BC reception:

RCA AR-88
HAMMARLUND SUPERPRO (200-400)
HAMMARLUND SP-600
COLLINS 51J4
COLLINS R390/390A
HALLICRAFTERS SX-28
HAMMARLUND HQ-180
NATIONAL NC-303
HALLICRAFTERS SX-117
HALLICRAFTERS SX-101
BC-348

I don't think that there is one that represents the spirit of a boat anchor above another  but all in that list and a few more.

I've got several on the list, omitted is an SX-88 - which is my favorite when I get to use it (not often because it doesn't live here with me). Another one that is missing is an National HRO, which I think works very well.
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IW5CI
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Posts: 71




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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2014, 10:17:26 PM »

Well, no help from the group solving the question... Smiley

I own all of them, unfortunately all this stuff is heavy and fills a room of my house and my girl-friend is asking for a reduction of the radio gear to a couple of full working Lines instead of 30 more radios just showing up in the shelf.
At the moment i am considering the collins 390 (non A) with the tmc ssb converter or 51j4 coupled with johnson valiant for the first line and hammarlund 180a coupled with hammarlund hx-500 for the second. But i also like a lot the an/art-13 with bc-348.
And what about sx-115 coupled with ht-32... Also another cool combination.... Maybe changing girl friend is a better option?  Huh Smiley

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IW5CI
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Posts: 71




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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2014, 11:09:27 PM »

some of the stuff...



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W1BR
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Posts: 4195




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« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2014, 06:50:41 AM »

That is an odd mix of receivers.

To be fair, you'd have to make allowances for different generations; such as the best of the earlier single conversion designs vs. later double conversion models.

I did note you left the SX-42 off of the shopping list; it is an interesting receiver and a good band cruiser.

pete
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