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Reviews Categories | Transmitters: Vintage amateur | Johnson Viking II Help

Reviews Summary for Johnson Viking II
Johnson Viking II Reviews: 12 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $279.95
Description: 160 - 10 Meter Plate Modulated CW/AM Transmitter
Product is not in production.
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W5GW Rating: 5/5 Jul 26, 2011 17:47 Send this review to a friend
My third one  Time owned: more than 12 months
My first one I used on CW almost exclusively. Never had an issue with it or the companion VFO. Like a dummy I sold it.

My second one I got a few years ago. It is very good but has a chirp on CW I'm still trying to tame. Someone had replaced the low voltage 15 Mfd caps with 50 Mfd (probably thinking more is better). I took those out and replaced with 15 MFd and chirp improved considerably, but still a bit there.

My third one I got about a week ago. It came with the grid-block keying add-on that Johnson sold for the Viking Is, IIs and early Rangers. I replaced the low voltage and bias caps, finals, and cleaned it up. No chirps on CW and audio with a D-104 sounds pretty good. Previous owner had overhauled the modulator and it is really nice, no hum whatsoever and a good frequency response. Both Vikings I have now produce 110 Watts on CW or 90 Watts on AM on 40 meters. Keep grid drive below 5 ma for better tube life and maybe only load up to only 100 W CW and 80 W on AM for a more conservative treatment of this old iron.
KG8LB Rating: 5/5 Mar 19, 2011 09:43 Send this review to a friend
Solid performer  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned a few of these over the years and have always been pleased with the Vikings, both the 1 and 2 series. Solidly built, well engineered and built from very high quality commercial grade components . Heavy duty ceramic sockets and switches along with a unique roller inductor that is gear coupled to an air variable in the output tank. A bit more to the learning curve in this one compared to later EF Johnson transmitters but still easy to operate. Some folks consider the external VFO a drawback but not really need be. There are many fine VFOs that will work with the Viking. As a side note to those who expressed difficulty from the VFO being keyed by an empty key jack : The manual details how to use pin 8 (IIRC) on the accessory socket to key the VFO when going to "Transmit" in the phone mode.This will allow turn the VFO into standby while receiving and eliminate the VFO tone from your receiver. Spotting is then accomplished by simply moving the mode switch to "CW" . The PTT mod is quite simple. A couple variants use rectified 6.3 volts from the filament circuit and a 6VDC DpSt relay across the plate switch. A diode voltage doubler on the Filament line can provide 12VDC in order to use a similar relay with a more easily sourced 12VDC coil. Another source of 12VDC would use a wall wart supply mounted under the chassis and tapped in to the 110 VAC switched AC supply. Avoid using AC on the PTT line to prevent hum pick up.
Audio mods abound for those who care to experiment a bit and taylor the audio as they like. All in all a fine, easy to use and service transmitter.
N8CMQ Rating: 4/5 Feb 6, 2011 20:55 Send this review to a friend
Nice CW annd AM transmitter  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned my Viking II for two years, then the modulation transformer shorted and at the time, I could not find a replacement, so I sold it.
I did have a chirp problem when using the VFO, but it depended on how you keyed the VFO or transmitter. When the VFO was free running and you keyed the transmitter, there was no chirp. There was a small tone heard in the receiver though, but I used it as the "tune" signal, and you only heard it in the transmit mode.
Only good memories for this tank of a transmitter!
AC0FA Rating: 5/5 May 11, 2009 21:05 Send this review to a friend
Plate Modulated  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Johnson Viking II is a heavy duty cycle plate modulated am transmitter. It puts out
400W peak to peak on AM Phone. It has a very nice TX audio when on the air.

The Johnson engineers designed the original modulation transformer to operate from
300 to 3000 khz. This is where the power in my voice is also.

It has a very rugged design for operators who can talk for 10 minutes straight in a round table qso(I am not kidding) it dosen't over heat.

I the best audio results come from adding more capacitance to the driver tubes in the audio chain. I also find the 6C4 and 6AH6 tubes to perform better than the originals.

Early designers were also limited by the size of the capacitors. More capacitance is better. Improving the bottom end and giving that full body audio sound.

I really enjoy using my Viking II it will tune a Gap Titan vertical or a 80M horizontal loop.

I was also impressed with the precision of the external 122 vfo. It is extremely accurate for a rig of its age without much drift. Once it settled down.

The only things I would change would be on a bone stock Viking you need to flip the plate switch to talk.

I would much rather use the key on the mike. There are mods on the internet that are very easy to do.

The other nit i would pick on a bone stock Viking II would be the goofy button connector for the mike.

The mikes that originaly used the button connectors had diferent impedance requirments than my Astatic D-104 I really prefer the 1/4" female plug.

The CW jack will short to ground and continously transmit key down when there is no code key plugged in to the CW jack.

There may be a reason for this but it is not helpful to me on phone.

All in all a very easy rig to work on. Well laid out. Plenty of room. Good rf shielding copper cabinets. The owners manual includes assembly instructions. diagrams and Pictures. You can actually trace every connection on the rig. If you wanted to.

I give it a 5
AF9J Rating: 5/5 Mar 21, 2008 17:53 Send this review to a friend
What a Cool Transmitter!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
About 13 years ago, I made an abortive attempt (at a previous QTH) to get on AM. It was a mess, due to the Ranger II I owned at the time, causing TVI with Channel 2 TV. Last year, I decided to give AM a whirl again. I didn't have the TVI problems I had years ago, but my FT-897D just didn't cut it (besides, I wanted some cool tube gear, like I used to have in the 80s & early 90s, when I was teenage & 20-something Novice & General). So I progressed to a Hallicrafters SX-96 receiver, for better AM reception. I still have it. The transmitter - well, that was a different story. The Heathkit Cheyenne was OK, but not my cup of tea. The Globe Scout 680 was OK, but I wanted 160m capability (I've had a soft spot for that band, since I was a General in college, in the 80s), and a bit more carrier power for the noisy band conditions that are all too common on 160, 75, & 40m. That's where the Viking II enters the story.

A regional AM swap net that meets on 3885 kHz listed a Viking II for sale one Saturday Morning in November 07. I contacted the seller. The $75 selling price was easy on my budget, so I made the 135 mile trip to pay for, and pick up the radio. My Viking II was loaded with dust. Four holes had been drilled in the front panel (two of which, had BNC connectors in them, that weren't connected to anything), and it hadn't been used since who knows when (the seller had never powered it up). There were the inexplicable mods made to it (such as tapping two 15 ohm 300 watt resistors [hanging in thin air on one lead of each resistor], one filter capacitor that was not connected up on one lead, and the use of a multiturn audio pot for the clamper circuit [THAT threw me for a loop, when I had to set the clamper circuit for the finals]), that had to be straightend out. The old, paper electrolytic capacitors were also replaced. Over the next 4 months, I restored my Viking II as time allowed. It went on the air for the first time in how many years, 3 weeks ago.

What a great transmitter! Mine already has the factory approved PTT mod installed, so it's nice to have PTT (which the Scout lacks). Tune-up is relatively straightforward. I get good audio reports with the Astatic D-104 I use, and with 100W of carrier power, I'm heard much better, than I was heard before (which beats having to get an amp, which the Scout really needed during noisy band conditions).

My Viking II mated up well with the Heathkit VF-1 VFO I have, so I now also have frequency flexibility. SWRwise the Viking II is pretty forgiving, especially since it has a Pi network in it that matches a pretty wide range of loads. It is also relatively easy to work on (unlike most of today's SMT componented rigs). Yep, I'm set for AM. I will say this though, it sure is heavy enough at 75 pounds!

73 & may the modulation be with you,
Ellen - AF9J
AC0FA Rating: 5/5 Feb 7, 2008 07:58 Send this review to a friend
Solid Performer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked up a Johnson viking II. Recently for less than a tank of gas. I could tell it was the original paint because it was only half there. but thank fully the brown spots showing through were the copper chassis and not actual rust.

I sanded her down with 220 grit and shot her with menards kona brown and battleship grey.

I never thought a country boy like me with construction paper and an exacto knife could get so close to Johnson factory quality.

Well every rig has their story. The viking II seem to have the power supply tubes come loose durring shipping. So pack tubes seperate.

The CW key jack shorts to ground when in CW mode. The Viking will transmit full blast key down with no key in the jack.

Be aware of this before buying from the guy that dosen't know what it does but it lights up when he plugs it in. Yea I bet it lights up!!

I altered mine with electrical tape between the shorting contacts in the key jack.

I ohmed out the iron all was well except the audio driver transformer.

They do seem kind of fragile and the first thing to go.

I found a standard 3:1 audio transformer that was suitable but not center tapped.

I fed current to the audio transformet through a voltage divider network consisting of 2 10k resistors fed at the center with each end feeding an 807 tube socket.

Discovering no modulation I built the speech amplifier section x1 and x2 with a 12ax7 and a 6c4.

Adding capacitance here and there mainly because capacitors are higher voltage and much smaller now than in 1955. more capacitance means more bottom end and less distortion.

Upon very close examinition I discovered the large roller inductior ganged with the final capacitor. Had a problem.

One of the leaf springs had broken on the roller mechanisin that holds the small shorting wheel to the windings of the inductor.

Intermittent contact on the roller inductor means intermittent loading and unloading of the final not good.

After dis-assembly,repair and conservative use of grease that does conduct electricity.
The Viking II was ready for full power operation.

The modulator came to life.
The old Viking II sounds beautiful on the Hammarlund HQ 129X with the 6khz filter. Excellent audio Full Power. High Quality components.

W1BKZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2007 17:39 Send this review to a friend
Great AM/CW XMTR  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I got my General class license in 1955, my Dad (W1BBB) bought me the kit and a 3.86 Megacycle XTAL. I put it together and with the aid of a D-104, Hallicrafters S-76, and a dipole, made my first 'phone contact with my "Elmer", W1AVP. Since that moment, I have enjoyed that rig more than any other transmitter (except, of course, my Heath AT-1, which I still have). Really well-built, excellent design, thoughtful layout, and easy to operate. The addition of the 122 VFO really made the Viking a versatile 160-10 transmitter. Mine had stock audio, and I added the Key-click reduction unit, along with a PTT relay. Really nice rig that runs forever.
K7UA Rating: 4/5 Jul 21, 2006 14:27 Send this review to a friend
Heavy Iron  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm giving the Viking II a 4 because mine had the worst key clicks I have ever tried to deal with. Other than that it was great. Built like a tank and about in the same weight class as one! I used mine on 160M when my new fancy rigs didn't include that band. Early 1970's. Lots of knobs to tune. I set up mine with a bunch of crystals to make a simulated VFO for my wife when she got her novice. Just turn the knob and slide up 10 khz. Last time I moved I gave it to a kid next door that was interested in ham radio. It wasn't a very pretty version. Along it's long life someone had done crumby paint job on the front panel. It still worked ok though.
VE3CUI Rating: 5/5 Jan 18, 2006 11:44 Send this review to a friend
What a GREAT Boatanchor Rig!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I sold my Ranger-1 several years ago, & when the opportunity arose for me to buy this Viking II "C-C" transmitter ("C-C" as in "continuous coverage" --- a variant built for the Royal Canadian Air Force, & quite rare to-day) for sixty bucks, I JUMPED at the chance!

What a GREAT radio this is --- built like the cars Detroit made in that same era, i.e. big, beautiful, and like a proverbial tank! I had to snip out a few bypass caps, & increase the size of some coupling caps, in the audio chain to "brighten" the audio, but it took VERY little effort, & the rig sounds like a BC fact, some V2's ended-up as that, i.e. local SW BC stations, in some South American countries!

They are rugged, dependable, easy to work on, but O-SO-HEAVY!!! You & I will be long gone, buit these big boys will still be here, doing what they were designed to do...
W4PTO Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2005 14:41 Send this review to a friend
My 2nd one!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had another one 10 years ago that was given to me FREE but foolishly let go for the same amount. After it left my hands, I figured why I wanted one in the first place: WARC band coverage. My Ranger didn't have 10 Mcs CW capability and I started looking for another and soon, I struck a deal with a ham in Texas and got a fairly clean one in a trade.

First off, I love the multi knob layout. It seems the more knobs on the rig to twiddle, the better but in this case, everything is straight forward and has function to the operation. CW is a blast and I've heard reports on other Vik 2's on AM. If you have one that came without PTT, it's a good idea to modify one (very easy to do and change back). Mine already came with a PTT relay and it keys the plate light too on AM.

If you have one that you intend to keep, think about shelling out some $$$ for a front panel from Dee Almquist if you haven't done so already (and your panel looks mediocre/scratched up).

In my view, this is one rig that's capable of WARC AM and CW and should not be let go if you step across one.
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