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Reviews Categories | Amateur Radio Periodicals | RCA Ham Tips Help

Reviews Summary for RCA Ham Tips
Reviews: 1 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $Free
Description: Company publication from 1938 - 1970, presenting practical construction projects for hams.
Product is not in production.
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W6LBV Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2014 21:14 Send this review to a friend
"Tips" from the hams at RCA  Time owned: more than 12 months
As a corporate entity, RCA is now long gone from the electronics scene, and so also is their engaging little free newsletter “RCA Ham Tips.” Today it would be expensive and perhaps impossible to buy a factory-new RCA 12AX7A dual triode vacuum tube, but surprisingly it’s still fairly easy to read their ham publication (see below).

“RCA Ham Tips” was published, irregularly but mostly quarterly, from 1938 to 1970, with publication suspended during World War II. The production of this publication reflected an RCA corporate view that recognized, supported, and encouraged early Amateur radio and those who were engaged in it. Such was not universally the case for the other major electronics company of the era.

(RCA of course published other, professional-level journals. The “RCA Review” showcased new technology being developed in their research and commercial labs. One could get a glimpse of what was likely to become “mainstream electronics/communications technology” in the five to ten years following a publication by reading the Review.)

General Electric, the “hated competition,” also fielded a similar ham publication, GE Ham News, but it never achieved the success and recognition of Ham Tips.

Each issue of Ham Tips was a small printed pamphlet usually consisting of four pages, sometimes more. After about the year 1950 each issue often contained a single major article that was devoted to a ham radio construction project or perhaps to a detailed explanation of a technical topic.

The articles reflected the technology of their times and did not deal very much with Amateur operating topics or (at all) with DX and contests. The pieces seem to have been written by RCA employees, most of whom were hams themselves. It’s not known whether the articles and the development work behind them were part of the general daily work assignment for some RCA employees, or were contributed as a result of “after hours” projects by these dedicated hams. I believe it was by the latter process.

Each construction article was complete with text, drawings, schematics, photographs, and parts lists, so that the project could be duplicated by other hams. The level of difficulty of these projects ranged from fairly simple to complex. The only “concessions to Mammon” that RCA took in the publication were specifying RCA parts in the construction parts list (where appropriate), inclusion of occasional articles announcing new RCA electronics products coming onto the market, and often a small company advertising block on the back page.

We used to get our free copies of Ham Tips as they were released, grabbing them from the counter tops of the local electronics parts stores. The release of the new issue was always to be anticipated, and the arrival of a new issue could be an excuse by itself for a trip to the store. Free subscriptions by mail were also available and I believe that I had such a subscription.

Now, a caveat: few current hams will either fully understand or will want to build these projects today. Their designs are technologically obsolete, and parts for building them would be both difficult to find and expensive to buy. But these articles are an available and easy-to-use resource for those individuals who would like to study how our technology evolved and how everyday ham tasks were handled in the “golden age” of Amateur radio.

Almost every issue of RCA Ham Tips is available, in downloadable PDF format, at the URL This site is an invaluable “treasure trove” resource for which N4TRB deserves much credit.

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