Help with "New" Shortwave Radio (Crown circa 1960)

Status
Not open for further replies.

angelofwar

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
47
Picked this sweet thing up at a local consignment shop for $20...I caught it out of the corner of my eye, and upon further inspection, it was a leather encased Crown Constellation Shortwave. Other non-band related markings include "16 Transistor Solid State" and "4-Band" before the "Constellation" marking.

Here's the link to it on Radio Museum:
http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/crown_crown_trf_2200s_constella.html

Now the radio is excellent shape, given it's age, but I need some help understanding some of the older markings. The markings on the "meter" is "FM", BC, MC, KC, SW1, SW2.

What are the BC/MC/KC markings for? What bands? The selector switch on the side reads FM, BC, SW1, SW2. Is the MC/KC a foreign marking for FM/AM???

Front pic of the unit (the bottom where you can see the "speaker" is not transluscent like it appears in the pic, but looks solid/shiny black)


Here's the band selector (top) and the tone selector (L-H) on the bottom


Here's the "Sleep Switch" and the dual earphone jacks on the other side


Here's two of the inside, first ine showing the "data" and the second one the guts
(2nd pic, clear tube on the bottom is the battery sleeve for 4 "C" Cells)



Here's you can see the tabs on the back of the leather case to access the guts


Here's the top of the unit. The antenna telescopes out of the case, and THEN swivels, which I thought was pretty cool
(A little dusty, but once I clean the outside up and one of the chrome knobs, it'll shining)


What's this thing worth? I did function check it. The volume switch has static when moving it, but once you stop messing with it, everythings clear. SW2 works fine, but when set to SW1, it just hums the same. What's wrong with it? Can it be fixed? I know these things were built ALOT different back then, so I'm no too optomistic about getting the part to fix the SW1.

Anyways, any help/info would be greatly appreciated!

Dave
 
Last edited:

ridgescan

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2008
Messages
4,724
Location
San Francisco, Ca.
this will explain MC and KC (megacycles/kilocycles) your radio is AM/FM/SW1/SW2. MC and KC indicate those bands' frequencies in megacycles/kilocycles (megahertz/kilohertz)
Hertz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
also that 'hum' could be a simple dirty bandswitch-try working it back and forth a little and see if you catch the band.

The volume scratch is dirt in the drum-RADIO OFF, pull the knob, a small shot of electrical contact cleaner right where the shaft enters the volume pot, return knob then work volume up and down several times let radio set OFF for 10 minutes then turn on and check.
The bandswitch contacts inside radio could use same.
 
Last edited:

Token

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,176
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
OK, there are basically 4 bands on that radio, the bands are designated on the left side of each scale.

“FM” (marked in blue) is the US FM (Frequency Modulation) broadcast band, and runs, on that radio, from 87 MHz to 108 MHz. On the right edge of that band is the marking, in blue, of “MC”. MC is an abbreviation for “mega cycle”, a term now replaced with MHz, or Mega Hertz (the frequency of the signal expressed in millions of cycles per second). MC and MHz mean the same thing, one is just an archaic usage.

“BC” (marked in red) is the US AM (Amplitude Modulation) or MW (Medium Wave) broadcast band. In that radio it is marked in 100’s of kHz, or 5.4 to 16, meaning 540 to 1600 kHz. The right side says “KC” and that means “ kilo cycles” (frequency expressed in thousands of cycles per second), a term now replaced with kHz, or kilo Hertz. Like the MC/MHz issue KC and kHz mean the same things, with KC being an archaic term no longer in wide spread use.

“SW1” (marked in blue) is an arbitrary band of operation on that radio. It covers 3 to 9 “MC” (as marked on the right side), or in todays terms 3 to 9 MHz.

“SW2” (marked in blue) is an arbitrary band of operation on that radio. It covers 9 to 22 “MC” (as marked on the right side), or in todays terms 9 to 22 MHz.

The arbitrary nature of the band designations of SW1 and SW2 are common on portables. While you could cover the whole range in one band the dial markings would be so close together as to have no use. So they often split the coverage up into two or more “bands” to give more resolution on the scale and finer tuning control. This can be confusing to some people, particularly new comers, because the HF bands are also broken up into more regimented “bands”, such as the “40 meter” ham band (about 7.0 MHz on the scale) or the “49 meter” broadcast band (about 6.0 MHz on the scale). These designated bands will be concentrated radio activities of one kind or another. The important thing to take away from that is that the “SW1” and “SW2” designations will only mean something with that model of radio and it is always better to use the “correct” and recognized band designations if you are going to say anything other than the frequency of the signal. In other words, forget the SW1 and SW2, and just read the frequency on the dial.

Some shortwave bands here:
Shortwave bands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some ham bands here:
Amateur radio frequency allocations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

T!
 

angelofwar

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
47
this will explain MC and KC (megacycles/kilocycles) your radio is AM/FM/SW1/SW2. MC and KC indicate those bands' frequencies in megacycles/kilocycles (megahertz/kilohertz)
Hertz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
also that 'hum' could be a simple dirty bandswitch-try working it back and forth a little and see if you catch the band.

The volume scratch is dirt in the drum-RADIO OFF, pull the knob, a small shot of electrical contact cleaner right where the shaft enters the volume pot, return knob then work volume up and down several times let radio set OFF for 10 minutes then turn on and check.
The bandswitch contacts inside radio could use same.
Thanks for the MC/KC Break down...basically, old school radio lingo. Thanks for the info on removing the volume/sound scratch...however, the volume is the on-off switch as well. Would it still be safe to add the electrical cleaner and work the knob? Never mind...I'm an idiot...I'll unplug it. Sorry...not super new to radio, but I really wanted to figure what this unique radio was about.

So, am I reading this right, I can pick up certain HAM tx's on SW? I'm guessing off the frequencies listed, the answer is yes? I knew about HAM and SW, I just wasn;t aware you could pick up HAM on SW.

Thanks for all the help folks. I'll let you guys know when I get the volume and SW1 noise/scratches taken care of. I think this will make a nice retro radio for my man cave :0) (or "Shack" on RR)

Thanks for the more detailed breakdown Token. While I have other newer SW's, I ondered about the difference, if there was one, between the SW "Channels". Now I know It's just mfg's preference
 
Last edited:

jackj

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2007
Messages
1,548
Location
NW Ohio
It should be a nice radio to play with. It will work, or at least did work, on shortwave but it isn't a really high quality receiver. Portable radios from that time commonly had more than one band but the shortwave band(s) were a marketing gimmick. They were added cheap and dirty using the already existing circuits (RF & IF). This radio will use a 455 Khz IF with a simple diode detector on AM and shortwave with a bandwidth of about 12-15 Khz. This is fine for commercial AM where the broadcast channels have 10 Khz spacing but is really too wide to work well on shortwave. It doesn't have a BFO so you can't pickup SSB or CW with it. The 455 Khz IF means that the image rejection will be poor, it will pick up the same station at two points on the dial. It isn't something you would use for serious shortwave listening but they are fun to play with.
 

Token

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,176
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
So, am I reading this right, I can pick up certain HAM tx's on SW? I'm guessing off the frequencies listed, the answer is yes? I knew about HAM and SW, I just wasn;t aware you could pick up HAM on SW.

Thanks for all the help folks. I'll let you guys know when I get the volume and SW1 noise/scratches taken care of. I think this will make a nice retro radio for my man cave :0) (or "Shack" on RR)
Yes, you will be able to “pick up” ham transmissions on that radio. In particular it covers the frequency range that includes the ham 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meter bands. Ham on SW, or HF (High Frequency, the range of frequencies from 3000 kHz to 30000 kHz, or 3 to 30 MHz, this includes the ranges your radio calls SW1 and SW2) is the core and history of ham radio. Ham radio has more individual bands of operation in this range than in any other single range, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. This is more bands (but not more bandwidth) than in the VHF (Very High Frequency, 30 to 300 MHz) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency, 300 to 3000 MHz) ranges combined.

However, in most cases you will not be able to understand the hams you hear on that radio. That radio receives, in the SW region, in the AM mode only. Most voice ham transmissions on these bands are in SSB (Single Side Band), either USB (Upper Side Band) or LSB (Lower Side Band), by convention most hams use LSB below 10 MHz, and USB above that point. Listening to an SSB transmission in AM receive mode normally results in a “Donald Duck” type sound, where you can occasionally make out a word or two but most of it is incomprehensible.

A few hams still use AM on HF, and your best bet in finding them would be at the upper end of 80 meters and at night, call it 3800 to 4000 kHz (3.8 to 4.0 on SW1 of that radio) and after local sunset. You can find them in other frequency ranges also, but that is probably going to be the most likely place.

Another popular ham mode is CW (Continuous Wave), or Morse Code. Again, that receiver will not be able to do much with those transmissions as they are not meant to be received in AM. You can receive them, and you can hear them, but they will not sound the way they are meant to sound.

That radio is really meant for SW Broadcast reception. Stations like the Voice of America, Radio Moscow, Radio Havana Cuba, etc.

By the way, “shack” is not just an RR term. It comes from the term “radio shack” and has been used to describe an area with radio gear since the early 1900’s. It probably got started with the earliest ships to receive radio (and those were some of the earliest adopters of radio outside of experimenters). On some of the early ships that did not originally have designated space that was convenient to install radio gear an above decks “shack” was added for the purpose.

T!
 

ridgescan

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2008
Messages
4,724
Location
San Francisco, Ca.
Like was stated above you won't be able to monitor hams, or any ssb comms (aircraft, military etc) they will only sound garbled on that radio. But I searched around the net for your radio and it seems to be a pretty rare one which in my book makes it a keeper, worth a good cleaning and to be enjoyed for what it does. A lot of us here have neat old portables we proudly display and keep in operating condition. Your Constellation has a very unique style, a well made old school Japanese radio very cool:)
 

kb2vxa

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Banned
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
6,131
Location
Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
Since your questions were nicely answered I have little to add, just a little... ? That's a super great portable you have there, better than some of the modern ones in many respects. You'll have hours of listening fun, guaranteed, just drop in 4 AA batteries and have fun in the sun.

Oh you'll hear hams on it, someone forgot about our AM windows. When 75M opens at night 3800-3900 and sometimes a little lower gets pretty wild with my favorite AM Gangstas and the very top end (forgot the frequencies) of 40M is a favorite spot for regional communication. Then evening through night the broadcasters roll in and everything changes. Those are the ones where most of the action is, there are others.

As for those scratchy and intermittent controls be VERY careful of what kind of contact cleaner you use, some destroy volume controls (potentiometers). Some leave nasty residue so my years of experience recommend DeOxit made by Caig, cleans like a champ and leaves behind nothing but a thin lubricant. Using a degreaser (the industrial term) without re-lubricating moving contacts is inviting disaster.

How you use it is of paramount importance, sorry to contradict someone but cleaning the shaft isn't the intent here, cleaning the guts is. Remove that rear cover the cord gets wound on so you can access the board and rear of the controls. Then using the extension tube that comes taped to the can for accuracy give the switch contacts a squirt, just a little (you don't need a wash-down here) and work them back and forth to the limits of rotation a few times, they're done. Next comes the volume and any other pots you may find, you'll see where the solder tabs come out of the slot, stick the end of the tube in and shoot. Like the switches rotate them a few times, done. Put the back plate on and you have a "new" radio.
 

ridgescan

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2008
Messages
4,724
Location
San Francisco, Ca.
Thanks Warren for a clearer instruction. I have always done mine from the face-just removed the knob and shot a small amount at the base of the shaft, and it always works its way into the pot for me. I am well aware that the shaft doesn't require cleaning.
 

angelofwar

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
47
Wow! Thanks for all the replies! So, I heard some of you say "No HAM" and some of you said "Yes HAM" (LOL!). I know kbx2va mentioned hearing HAM on the AM windows...does this radio have a wider AM freq. range than modern radios with standard AM reception?

I cleaned up the outside...wiped it down with a moist soft towel, and then hand dried it. The chrome polished up pretty good.

I guess from what else I've read, another thing that makes this a nice collectors item, is the reverse painted plastic.The numbers/markings are "painted" on the inside of the plastic, so they won't wear out.
 

jackj

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2007
Messages
1,548
Location
NW Ohio
AM stands for Amplitude Modulation, not the frequency range. Aircraft use AM and they operate in the VHF and UHF range. So if a ham is using AM and if his operating frequency is within the tuning range your radio can receive and if you are tuned to his operating frequency and if his signal is strong enough at your location then you can hear him, maybe. A lot of 'if's' and a maybe but that's one of the things that make SWL'ing interesting.
 

kb2vxa

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Banned
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
6,131
Location
Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
Got some interesting posts after mine, let's see what we can do here.

Ridge, the cleaning the shaft comment was sarcasm (;->) but sometimes it works. Once upon a time a friend showed me his "gazinta", a tube you screw over the shaft and the other end somehow fits on the can... imagine that.

Angel, I'd have to take a closer look at the radio to answer the question. My guess is no, actually a bit less than today's radios because the AM band only went up to 1600 then and now it's 1700.

Jack, you're right that AM stands for amplitude modulation BUT in everyday parlance it means the standard AM broadcast band. Just thought I'd dispel some possible confusion.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top