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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | Hammarlund HQ-180(A) Help

Reviews Summary for Hammarlund HQ-180(A)
Hammarlund HQ-180(A) Reviews: 17 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $443.00 (1963)
Description: High Performance Tube Receiver
Product is not in production.
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N6MV Rating: 5/5 Oct 5, 2015 12:12 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Receiver !  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have been a ham for over 60 years, and am a collector of "boatanchors",i.e. Vintage HF Receivers,and though the HQ 180 and 180A are not built to the quality of a Collins R-390A or the Hammarlund SP-600, the HQ 180 and HQ 180A are excellent HF receivers who hold their own to both the R-390A and SP-600. When recapped, restored,and aligned, you will have a receiver that you will truly enjoy using - for years to come - that's how well they were made and how good they perform.

73 Jim (N6MV)
W7MBR Rating: 4/5 Aug 31, 2015 13:00 Send this review to a friend
Decent Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
To some extent I will have to agree with some average reviews of this receiver but I will refrain from using words like "terrible" which really doesn't apply to the HQ-180. These receivers were manufactured for the retail market and prices had to be kept within reason. The Hammarlund SP-600, developed for commercial and military use, was Mil-Spec, and cost considerably more to produce. The RCA AR88 wasn't designed for the average Ham budget either. Apples and oranges here but the HQ-180 performed as well or better than either of these receivers especially on SSB and CW. The components used in the HQ-180 were not inferior either but of decent quality. For a general coverage receiver it could hold it's own with the best of them of the period. It was well suited for communications use as many other general coverage units of the time were not. It actually performed better than the Collins 51S1 mil spec receiver. I have both. Vacuum tube point to point wiring can look messy even in high priced radios. I will give the Hammarlund HQ-180 nearly a "5" on performance and a "4" on build quality as compared to Mil Spec receivers. Today they are a bit pricey but most who own them love them including myself.
GW4PJQ Rating: 3/5 Apr 14, 2015 11:21 Send this review to a friend
Good badly made  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have repaired many American (USA) receivers and I always get the impression they were well designed electronically but the component and build quality is terrible. There are exceptions: My all time favourite radio is the RCA AR88. We were very lucky in the UK to get these new in their boxes after the WAR. I still have one I bought new in 1970 and the only things I have replaced is. The dial lights, Rectifier and the final IF amp rusted through and I replaced it with one of the spares supplied with the radio.
Don't for a second think I am letting off the UK makers. Eddystone for example invented the scanner - by accident!
OK I was harsh on the 180A but take a close look at it and ask yourself am I looking at a quality product? the honest answer is no. I think it is hilarious that they put flywheels on the tuning controls with their 9:1 ratio! Would I part with mine? No but as a great American company they could have done better, much better. But I never meant to offend anyone.
KM1H Rating: 5/5 Oct 19, 2012 12:26 Send this review to a friend
One of the classics  Time owned: more than 12 months
Considering its age and continuing popularity it is a radio that must be seriously considered in any high quality setup be it receiving only or vintage equipment ham use.

Its minor flaws are well documented and easily solvable. It can be owner tweaked as a superb CW/SSB and AM battle conditions radio for which it was built or a higher fidelity AM band cruiser.

Finding one with the optional noise blanker built in is a big plus.

I have been restoring these for customers plus the earlier HQ-180 for decades. Ive found the component parts quality to be even above National and Collins of the same era. An out of tolerance resistor is almost never found and only the electrolytics and Centralab Couplates get replaced besides any tubes that either dont test well or are not up to snuff in actual use.

My own cruiser is a HQ-180 with noise blanker that Ive brought up to a 180A to a large degree.

Ive also had a 1956 contract all Collins R-390A for over 25 years and in many areas it is far superior but not a good band cruiser. However both will run circles around any of those cheesy imports that most entry level SWL's are bragging about. If they only knew how much they were missing.

Oh, almost forgot. I also work on and own a Racal RA-17, what a nightmare to work on for only mediocre performance.

KA0AAM Rating: 5/5 Aug 21, 2012 12:52 Send this review to a friend
Excellent all around  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have always wanted one. Heard about them and the works. I decided to buy one off of ebay. . .HUGE bucks. So I finally found one on Ebay that said: "Does not work". "Do not buy unless you expect a dead radio". I bought it. . .200 dollars to my door.

I downloaded the schematic and tuning manual and set to work. 4 hours later, I had a radio that was the hottest radio I have ever seen for a tube radio. Tuned up easily (Though I had to borrow a Signal Generator that goes down to 60kcs.). Excellent signals on all bands. Easy to use, band spread was nice. It will be very hard to purchase another receiver. it is as hot as my ts440s. Tone quality is fantastic.

I now use it as my main receiver, with a Heathkit SB401. I have also used the Hammarlund hq100, 110. These are also nice hot rigs for their age. These older HQ's I have used for over 30 years.

These 180 and 180A's now go for an extremely high price. They are worth their mint in gold.

They are easily connected up to a T/R switch, and can be switched in and out for a seemless automatic transmit and receive. I only added a relay that attached to the Send/Rec/Calibrate switch to kill the entire radio while transmitting. Nothing like having a modern day Transceiver using boat anchors!
KG8LB Rating: 5/5 Apr 7, 2009 05:49 Send this review to a friend
A lot better than most  Time owned: more than 12 months
Although some may perceive the "build quality" as inferior it is certainly right up there with any similarly priced competitors of it's time. The proof is of course in the actual use. The HQ-180 is a stable, reliable radio that operates and tunes quite smoothly indeed. Add to that some very powerful QRM fighting tools and you get a darn good receiver. On the crowded ham bands of today, dollar for dollar it will surely give an Eddystone or even some of the Racals from the same period a pretty good spanking. Easy to find and easy to operate. A lot of performance for the dollar indeed. They are still here and still being used by knowlegeable and experienced operators.

At least it doesn't use a strip of brittle 35 mm film for it's "dial readout" LOL !!!

The tuning rate on the bandspread dial is just fine for any person with even average manual dexterity. The VERNIER tuning is another plus that very few receivers in this price range enjoy.

The Hammarlund receivers are all pretty darn good performers that have very well withstood the test of time. The Super Pro series were all very high quality receivers, The 200,210, 400 600 were ALL superb, very well built radios. Of course the HQ-129,140 and 150 were built as economy models and when the price is taken into consideration offered excellent quality for the dollar spent when compared to the competition.

My only negative comment is the narrow audio passband and I would surely like to see a broader bandwidth made available. That aside, the selectivity offered by this model and pure functionality certainly make it a radio worthy of consideration.

GW4PJQ Rating: 0/5 Jan 5, 2008 15:57 Send this review to a friend
5/5 Come on!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm sorry! Have I missed something? The HQ 180A along with all except the SP600 Hamarlund radios are badly built, use poor quality components and for a tuning mechanism uses a pair of springy washers that grips (if you are lucky) the side of the plastic tuning scale giving less than TEN turns end to end band coverage. I have to concede looking at the circuit diagram; there is, (deep down) a good radio in there, but the compromises in the receiverís build quality make finding that deep down good radio very difficult indeed. This is definitely one to avoid.
AA0CX Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2006 04:41 Send this review to a friend
great!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought this boatanchor on e-Bay for slightly less than 500 bucks about four years ago. I have it mated with a Hallicrafters HT-32B transmitter -- and it is sooooo cool! CW is my mode --- it is very sensitive, and there's nothing like seeing that HQ-180 "S" meter swinging to the signal. AGC is excellent -- and Telechron 12-hour clock hasn't missed a beat!

If you're looking for a great boatanchor receiver; something that can dig deep for those distant CW signals; and with classic lines and a radio that does indeed "glow in the dark," you won't go wrong here!
GW4JPC Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2006 15:34 Send this review to a friend
A true classic.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I acquired my HQ180 after it had been stored in a very damp shed for several years. I was aware that it is a very highly regarded triple superhet receiver, but this one was in such poor cosmetic condition I thought that I was taking on a long term restoration project. These radios are quite rare on this side of the pond, so I didn't mind this prospect! When I got it home I was in for a pleasant surprise, it worked just fine and was very sensitive. The sound quality through the Hammarlund speaker was quite acceptable. The clock had been disconnected at some time in the past, but everything else was in full working order.
This radio is just so well thought out. There is nothing on it that is surplus to requirements. No unnecesary bells and whistles. For searching around the SW broadcast and amateur bands it is superb. I have a couple of JRC receivers, the NRD525 and 535, but for general listening around the bands I turn on the HQ180. The tuning rate is just right for searching around the shortwave and the medium wave broadcast bands.
Stability after warm up is adequate. Signal to noise ratio is fine, better than the JRC NRD525.SSB operation is good,AM quality is a little restricted by the bandwidths available.Ergonomics are excellent, a few minutes of familiarisation with the control layout and you are away.
The HQ180 is like driving a classic car with a manual gearbox and no power stearing, you have to drive it. As compared to the JRC's which could be compared to a modern Lexus, all very nice but not in the least bit involving.
My problem will be having the heart to strip this radio down to clean it up and repaint it. I just enjoy using it too much, I don't want to have to take it out of service for a few weeks!
I can heartily recommend this receiver if you are feeling jaded and bored with modern radios.
If you grew up in the valve (tube) era the HQ180 will restore that warm glow of satisfaction when you listen to the bands.
TUBESAREKING Rating: 5/5 Oct 11, 2005 08:40 Send this review to a friend
Simply the best!!!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After spending big bucks and lots of time on my 1955 Collins R-390A and a handful of dollars and hours on my HQ-180 I have this to say: While a R-390A is potentially superior to an HQ-180, in practice the HQ-180 is a far better rig for most boatanchor enthusiasts most of the time.

The 180 is easy to restore. Built like a tank, although a lighter tank than Hammarlund's HQ-129-X which I also own and love. Easy to bring a Hammrlund in decent shape up to 100% and when you do, they are the best for MW and low frequency SW. Modern premium receivers shine on the higher frequencies and have precise frequency displays and rock solid stability. In all other ways - sensitivity, real world selectivity etc. the Hammarlunds shine.

The next time someone offers to trade their R-390A for an HQ-180 don't laugh. They just are smart and want to unload their underachieving R-390A for a real receiver. Sure, R-390As can really scream but they need a guru. You don't have to be a guru to bring an HQ-180 to good health.

So here I am in PEI, picking up a 1000 watt X-Band MW station at night from southern Texas, while my cute R-390A is happily bringing in 50 KWers from New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. My Drake R8 can bring it in the Texan and verify the frequency, 1700 KHz. But I can't read the station ID in the 1994 Drake. I can, clear as a bell on the 1962 HQ-180. Then, I discover I forgot to peak the antenna trim on the HQ-180!!! Even better now.

Yup, for the last few weeks Croatia on 1134 KHz clear as a bell nightly. So is Phil using a beveridge antenna? Naw, a 70 foot wire only 8 feet above ground. No fancy sloper either. Just ratshack 14 guage antenna wire.

Picked up Saudi Arabia on 1521 last evening. Sweet. Sure, WWKB owns 1520 and will come in ona 5 transistor radio, but the HQ-180 can split hairs and shove KB Radio out of the way. Give the Drake R8 credit though, its doing well on this too.

CHU on 3330 KHz like nothing else.

Don't like the Hammarlund variable response? Simple fix - use your 180 with a reasonably efficient speaker.

Crave a 180A but have a 180? Get a Weber Copper cap, the best way to solid state the rectifier. My HQ-180 runs pretty cool now.

Tired of the impressive power on thunk? Put in a CL-90 current inrush limiter. Easier on transformer, power supply filter caps, choke, tube filaments. Replace the 3 amp fuse with something appropriate, like 2 amps.

The best consumer grade premium general coverage tube receiver ever made.

A practical choice. Get one instead of a R-390A unless you can take apart old spring driven clocks and put them back together - all the gears - and they work!

Want a great MODERN general coveridge receiver? Guess you should have grabbed a Ten Tec RX-321 on eBay.

Guess you know why HQ-180s are not cheap! As Tony the Tiger says, their GGGGRRRReat!

Still want a R-390A? $600 for a checked unit from Fair Radio and then send it to Chuck, Rick or one of the other true masters and then you will have the ultimate when it comes back. the potential with the R-390A is there, but chances are you can't make the potential happen. You likely can bring an HQ-180 to its true potential if you have some experience working on tube gear.

Otherwise, get an HQ-180 and set it beside your R8, R-75, or other fine modern consumer grade receiver.

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