Late-nite DXing

Cohasset / Hippisley
Sun Feb 24 08:01:32 EST 2008

-----Original Message-----
From: Howard Glazer [] 
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2008 12:17 AM
Subject: Re: Late-nite DXing

Quoting A. Joseph Ross:

> When I was in high school, someone showed me a trick that works on
> most of the later-model 5-tube radios with miniature tubes and
> printed circuits.  I never could get it to work on the earlier 5-tube
> radios.... 
> What you would do was connect a length of wire, about two to three
> yards (shorter or longer didn't work as well) across the terminals of
> the loop antenna.  That would cause the radio to receive shortwave
> signals from about the  six to eleven megahertz bands

That reminds me of a reception trick I used to employ. I had a couple of old
tube shortwave radios, but neither had a BFO (beat frequency oscillator) for
single-sideband reception, and I wanted to hear hams and marine radio. So I
just put one radio next to another and tuned them a few hundred KHz apart
(455?). Voila, no more Donald Duck audio!

Now Bud's turn:

My first receiver for hamming and "serious" AM broadcast band DXing was the
borrowed chassis of a Zenith all-wave living room console that had been
"de-commissioned" by some friends of ours.  Like Howard, the only way I
could copy CW was to find other sources of signals to "inject" in the right
frequency relationship to some stage or another in the Zenith.  Needless to
say, I only managed to work a very few very strong stations when listening
with that chassis.

AJR's experiences are "proof" of sorts that the "earlier 5-tube radios" he
mentions almost always contained more tuned RF circuits (hence, out-of-band
selectivity) than most of the then-new (miniature tube) consumer receivers.
But even after the transition to miniature tubes there was a continuous
decline in quality through the 50s as manufacturers fought to maintain a
$49.95 price point for "entry level" ham receivers such as the Hallicrafters
S-38 series.

My first "store-bought" ham receiver was a new S-38D; it was pretty stylish
for its day.  For its BFO it used a so-called "gimmick" capacitor that was
front-panel switched to add controlled feedback around an IF stage for CW
and SSB reception.  No user adjustment of the CW beat note or SSB carrier
offset was possible.  I soon sold my "pretty" S-38D for an original
battleship-gray used S-38 (no suffix) from the late 40s, which included an
honest-to-goodness BFO stage with front panel tunable pitch.  It was a far
superior receiver.  (Much to my wife's "delight", I still have one of those
on display here in my great room.)

I would have to say that -- with the exception of Collins Radio -- the era
of the late 40s to early 60s was a period when styling was king and function
took a hit at the expense of marketing price points.  Throughout that period
the smart money in ham circles was on *used* gear.  This situation continued
until the early 60s, when it became obvious to even the stodgiest of
manufacturers that the Collins approach to receiver design was a winner, and
*all* manufacturers had to revamp their product lines to compete.  Some,
like Hammarlund, never bothered to try; others, like Heath and
Hallicrafters, continued on for many years with some success because of
their lower prices (compared to Collins).

Bud Hippisley


More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list