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Reviews For: swan 500

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : swan 500
Reviews: 25MSRP: swan-500
hf radio w/ssb
Product is not in production
More Info: http://
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KB2E Rating: 2018-03-06
Love my 500CX Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have a 500CX I bought 46 years ago brand new. It's had the caps replaced and the 117XC caps and diodes replaced. Nothing else but retubing has been done to this rig. I use it as my not so instant on linear now. She still puts out almost 300 on 20. If I can't get through a pile up I fire her up and almost always make it through. That booming audio helps a lot. She'll go when I go SK. The funny thing is when I fire her up I usually don't turn the IC-7300 back on again until the next day. There's just something about these old rigs I can't stay away from. I have recently thought of sending her off to John Bruchy, well known in Swan circles, to have him make it like new again. He worked there for over 30 years. In fact his stamp of inspection is on my unit.
KG6YV Rating: 2016-08-07
Nice vintage rig w/power Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I just finished going thru a 500CX and making it good as new. 45 year old 1 and 2 watt resistors "Must" be replaced, they age, change values and cause strange issues especially in transmit. Put in a VFO stabilizer although drift wasn't bad before I installed it. With a new set of finals it puts out 275W PEP on 75/40M... Plenty of gas.
No, this is not a contest rig, but it is fine for casual operation and some DXing. A fine piece of vintage gear with plenty of power to get thru without an amp.
KG5HOA Rating: 2016-04-19
Great radio, built in 1967. I was 10 years old! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
My first radio. Used it for two months. Pretty forgiving so far (I think). Just made a contact 3,975 miles away barefoot with about 100'watts.
K6NXI Rating: 2014-08-10
Best of the majority tube hybrids Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
With the exception of a couple transistors in the VFO and the master oscillator this rig is tube type and easy to get inside and work on. By far the easiest to work on of all the old tube ssb rigs. Mine is a 500c and oddly enough has what appears to be factory wired tube sockets for 8950s as opposed to the 6lq6s it shipped with and which are indicated on the bottom cover plate. I simply snipped the ground lug on one of them and moved the filament wire over so now the two parallel wired tube filaments are now in series and I can run 6lb6s in it since they are otherwise identical to the 8950 and far more available. My rig was not neutralized properly which I did not know until after the 8950s it came with got roasted from parasitic oscillation at high current. With the 6lb6s I'm back to on air status and at full power. Around 250 to 300 watts on SSB on 20 meters. About 200 SSB on 40. Great audio. Great noise limiter. Transmitted audio is great. Rugged. As simple as you can make a ssb tube transceiver without sacrificing anything important.
N1RND Rating: 2014-03-09
Like an old musclecar. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It is hard rate an old radio like this because what are you comparing it against, a modern radio? That would be unfair.
I give it a 5 only because I have had lots of fun working and using this radio.
Anyway, it reminds me of an old muscle car from the same time period, lots of horsepower and no creature comforts.
I recapped my 500C and then re-aligned it. It works well for what it is. After an hour of warm-up it does not drift too bad.
The only "mod" I did was I spliced into the speaker line of the 117xc and installed an Autek QF-1A audio filter. This makes CW reception easier on a crowed band. I also replaced the speaker in the 117xc with a modern full range driver (direct bolt-in) and packed some fiberglass around it.
So all in all if your interested playing around with an old tube type transceiver one of the old Swans just might fit the bill.
W4NNF Rating: 2012-10-24
Not bad for an old refugee... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I had and used a 500c on a daily basis for years. The good? Decent, hot enough receiver. Good audio. Definitely preferred it over my first SSB rig, a Drake TR-3. Solid. Kinda pretty, even.

The bads? It would drift a little till the rig warmed up good. had to be really careful with the finals. Very easy to melt down for the uninitiated.

Do I miss the old Swan sometimes (the ex-wife disposed of it before I could get it out of her clutches)? Sometimes, but only sometimes. ;-)
W5GW Rating: 2011-09-16
Great Value - Use Mine Daily Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I was fixing up a white dial 350 for a ham and entered into another deal to get a basket case 350C (intended for parts) and this 500C with two power supplies. Well I ended up selling the 350C after I decided the 350 white dial really didn't need as much TLC as I had thought and I got the 350C working. That left me with a 500C and PS/Speaker combo with about $75 total investment. The PS needed the 12 VDC circuit repaired and the 500C then took off like gangbusters except for a lot of drift. DeOxit in the bandswitch and VFO variables and trimmers fixed drift (with less than 400 Hz in 5 minutes and +/- 100 Hz after that on 40) and it puts out 375-400 Watts on 40 SSB. I use it regularly to check into a 40 meter net and have built N3ZI's digital display for it. See a picture of it on my web site at
N0WYO Rating: 2011-05-20
A nice blast from the past Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I just picked up a swan 500 at a hamfest. I used to have a 700cx, and kick myself for ever parting with it. The radio is rated at 125 watts output, but the guy selling the radio didn't know that. He thought it did more, so I got the radio cheap with a spare set of finals!

This is a good radio for a beginner in boatanchors. The finals aren't very pricey, and they're easy to tune.
They have a punchy, strong audio and The old timers will know what you're running when they hear that relay 'click' when you key it up.

KE7SZC Rating: 2011-03-09
A fine rig to repair.. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This particular rig, and all Swans in general have a load of publicised documentation, making it easy to troubleshoot and return the radio to service, I have honestly enjoyed the ones that I had owned, and sorely regret letting them go.

This particular rig is capable of substantial output power from the radio itself, I saw nearly 300 watts on 75m with a NEW set of finals, and the radio is still running strong with it's new owner.

There is much to be learned from these radios, they are the starting point of my first experiences with HF radio, and with safety in mind, they are easy to work on and even easier to operate.

If you can find one that's not beaten to death, and have some skills, they are a great building block for any operator that wants to do more than talk.

It's a shame that the company faltered such as it did, but there are many "Swannies" left out there to make sure that these rigs stick around, the only drawback right now is the increasingly scarse "Sweep" tube finals, however, the ones in this rig are still around, though no longer in production, and will last indefinitely if treated with care.
WA7OCZ Rating: 2010-11-28
Great Old Tank! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought mine because of a morbid want to be ready for "the big one" meaning EMP wiping out my fancy schmancy transistorized gear. Yes, it has a few semiconductors, but only two transistors in the VFO and a few diodes in the rig and power supply. Easy to protect replacements just in case they need it.

Now I really like this old boat anchor!

I listen to it all the time. The audio sounds great to my old ears and it just LOOKS solid and cool!

I wish it had a sidetone, though. I'm mostly a CW guy and end up turning on my Drake 2-b without an antenna to get one.

People complain about them being drifty. Mine hardly drifts at all and once warmed up is very stable. If you get one that does drift, try cleaning the contacts first. Dirty contacts can add capacitance which can change as the temperature does. While I didn't have to clean mine, I will anyway just to keep everything in good contact and lubricated.

Sure, it has 17 tubes and gets hot but that was easy to fix. I found two very quiet 12 vdc fans on ebay for about $5. Made a simple half wave rectifier circuit tapping the front panel light supply. Fastened them on to the rear grills using panduits and now the final box stays nice and cool while the rest of the cabinet barely gets warm at all.

My recommendation? If you can get one, get one. This old girl was a little over $200 with power supply/speaker and Turner mic on ebay.

Sure, you gotta do the dip and peak things and it has no frills whatsoever. You actually have to either remember or write down the frequencies you use (gasp how archaic!), To an old dial tweaker like me(I built a DX60 myself as a kid and had a HQ160 receiver to go with it) , it just adds to the fun of being a ham.