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

Reviews Summary for Johnson Viking Ranger
Johnson Viking Ranger Reviews: 13 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $179.50
Description: This is the original (ca. 1960) Johnson Viking Ranger, plate modulated, AM transmitter. It uses a single 6146 rf power output tube. It operates on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 11, and 10 meters with a built-in VFO. The output power is approximately 50 watts (carrier level).
Product is not in production.
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K0KNL Rating: 5/5 Jul 31, 2013 07:01 Send this review to a friend
Very Good  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought used in 1961 as my first General license VFO transmitter.

Worked about 2/3 of the states with it.

Traded it for GT500 !! - Sorry

Now have 3 of them as wqell as Valiant, Pacemaker, Challenger and 6n2
VE3CUI Rating: 5/5 Oct 18, 2011 08:08 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful & Versatile Little Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Ranger was my FIRST entry into "QRO"(!) transmitting gear, back in 1973 (I was licensed 2 years to that point, & only had a homebrewed 8-watt 6T9 transmitter).

Man-o-man, but I thought I RULED the airwaves with that thing! What a sweet little transmitter...
WA7KGX Rating: 5/5 Aug 5, 2011 05:41 Send this review to a friend
What a Trip  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Picked up a mostly stock Ranger I in exchange for some stereo stuff I haven't used for years.

It needed some work. I replaced the frayed power cord with a modern 3 conductor grounded cord and added an internal fuse holder.

I removed a pilot light socket which had been rattling loose inside the VFO compartment. I had to make a tool to fish it out.

I also replaced the 700 volt electrolytic with a pair
of matched 450 volt caps from my junkbox. Johnson didn't use a resistor divider and neither did I. A previous owner had substituted a 5U4 for the 5R4.

In keeping with the boat anchor spirit, I used a light bulb for dummy load. Not very accurate but more fun than a calibrated dummy load.
WD4ELG Rating: 5/5 May 12, 2009 19:08 Send this review to a friend
My first transmitter, always remember it  Time owned: more than 12 months
A very emotional thing to look back with nostalgia at my first transmitter. I got it used when I was 13 with my savings, along with a Mosley CM-1 receiver. With a 40 meter inverted vee on the chimney which I tuned to 15 meters as well, I worked the world.

It was amazing what I was able to achieve with 50 watts output. When I upgraded to General, I was able to work on the lower ends of CW. I put up a 20 meter dipole and really got in on the action!

I never worked it on AM, probably because I was such a CW nut (still am to this day, 32 years later).

I have fond memories of this rig. It generated a lot of heat (nice in winter, really made me get a workout in summer). Pounding away on a straight key with a T/R switch between xmtr and rcvr, using a light bulb as a dummy load.
WD8PNL Rating: 5/5 Oct 17, 2007 15:31 Send this review to a friend
Epitome of the Classic XMTR  Time owned: more than 12 months
Just as the 1957 Chevy is the exemplary automobile of the 1950's, the Johnson Viking Ranger is the most recognizable transmitter of its era and remains distinguished into this 21st century. Other reviewers here have cited its most appealing features: sequenced blocked-grid keying for CW transmission, and excellent quality audio for AM transmission. I believe it's best mated via a Johnson Electronic T/R Switch to a Drake 2B receiver (fast AGC recovery) for the smoothest QSK this side of heaven.
KG9SF Rating: 5/5 Jul 25, 2007 18:11 Send this review to a friend
Boatanchor par excellance!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Everything old is new again, according to the lyrics of a song that was popular two or three decades ago. That has never been proven so true as in amateur radio. Boatanchors that once sold for $20 at hamfests now fetch $400. With boatanchors, as in most things of this world, some are better than others. The Ranger is a winner.

I've had my Ranger for decades. It's probably had a dozen or more owners since it was built. About every ten years or so I drag the Ranger out of the store room and hook it up to a dummy load. It loads like a champ. No smoke, no snaps, crackles, or pops.

I just finished going through my once-every-ten-years routine with the Ranger. This time I brought it up slowly, on a variac. Oh, me of little faith! Still no fireworks. The smoke alarms are quiet. All is well. As sure as I write this, I know that within a week or two I'll haul out the old Hammarlund HQ-170 and get the dynamic duo working together again. I can just feel it.

Dontcha just love giving up your Icom or Kenwood or Yaesu with its full break-in capability and built-in electronic memory keyer in favor of the Ranger and a straight key? Going from T to R requires throwing 3 or 4 switches, just like in the long-gone novice days. Whoopeeeeeeee!

Rangers just reek of coolness. I think I bought mine for $35. I wouldn't sell it for twenty times that amount if I couldn't ever have another one.

Sweet transmitter. Bravo Zulu.
WB5KCM Rating: 5/5 May 11, 2007 12:45 Send this review to a friend
Great Vintage Transmitter  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have wanted the Johnson Viking Ranger for many years. It is one of the coolest vintage boat anchors you can find. If I had to think of any deficiency of the Ranger it would be that the power output is a little low (40 to 50 watts). Even with the low output it can be easily heard when the band is not too noisy. I was fortunate to find my Ranger from a local Ham that gave me a decent deal on it. It was all completly original. I started out by replacing all the old paper capacitors. Solid stated the power supplies. There are several excellent articles on the web for modifing the Ranger. I have my Ranger teamed up with my awsome Hammarlund HQ-170 receiver. I have had these for several months now and really enjoy them. You are welcome to checkout my vintage Ham station on my Yahoo Flicker page. Here is the link;
You may have to copy/paste in the browser address bar to link to the site. If you have a chance to pickup a Ranger for a reasonable deal go for it. They seem to go for top $ on Ebay so I would suggest find a local Ham that has an extra one or find one at a Hamfest. Look for me on 75 meters AM, usually on Saturday mornings, anyday in the evenings on 80 meters CW. 73 de Randy, WB5KCM
KQ6IG Rating: 4/5 Mar 13, 2007 09:02 Send this review to a friend
Good Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my Johnson Ranger in 1994 for 150.00, from the estate of a deceased ham. For a rig from an era that produced loads of terrible gear (1950's) the Ranger holds it's own pretty well. The audio quality, and construction is better than average. You will need to replace the paper capacitors, as they do not age well. The frequently failing dropping resistor in the VFO will need to be replace too. Over all, I've had very little trouble with my Ranger. It will sit on the shelf for years, then fire up, and play like new. At the same time, its a rather simple design, so there's not much to go wrong.

The audio quality of a stock Ranger is acceptable for Ham communications. If you want something closer to hi-fi, replace the coupling, and decoupling capacitors with larger ones. Then reduce the value of the filtering caps accross the audio transformers. That, and a good mic (Shure SM-7, EV 664, etc) is all that is needed. Don't butcher your Ranger by going overboard.

Overall it is a fun, although under powered rig, minus the bone crushing weight of it's counterparts.
K1DWZ Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2005 19:20 Send this review to a friend
Best boat anchor  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased the Ranger in 1960. Used it with an NC-98 receiver for the next 10 years or so. The rig is probably the best boat anchor ever built. The modulation and audio are superb and the craftsmanship is outstanding. After the advent of SSBfound Iwas using the rigless and less. I still have the rig even though I haven't turned it on for many years now. I have thought about selling it but can't bring myself to do it thinking I may put it back on the air sometime. Of all the boatanchors back on the air undoubtably the Ranger is the best.
KC0SHU Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2005 13:53 Send this review to a friend
Engineering Marvel  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
If this rig doesn't rate a "5", I don't know what does. I've been using my Johnson Ranger now for the better part of a year on an almost daily basis, so feel comfortable stating that this is one heck of a boatanchor transmitter. Top quality parts, design and construction. I don't know exactly when mine was made, but they are advertised in my old QST magazines from 1954 thru 1961 or so. So it's 45 to 50 years old, and works perfectly, and to factory specs! What being made today will attain that benchmark? I have consistently superior voice and tone quality reports on AM and CW on all bands (160-10M) and the VFO is amazingly stable for the vintage. As you can tell from the photo above, this rig is also unmatched for pure radio aesthetic beauty. I have never had a problem with my Ranger and only wish my newer electonic gizmos (computers, stereos, TVs, etc.) were as well engineered, constructed and reliable. If you get the opportunity to get your hands on a good Ranger, DON'T HESITATE--GET IT!! You won't be disappointed.
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