Is anyone into vintage multiband portable radios?

BucksGuyUSA

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Oct 14, 2022
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Oh, you just triggered a WAVE of memories for me!

My parents had what I think was a Telefunken 776 radio - it was big, and had push-buttons to switch bands:

I was maybe 2 years old when I figured out how to work it, and since we lived in a major city in the 1960's, the AM band was alive with things to hear, and I distinctly remember the strange sounds of SW radio, which only came through a little bit because we didn't have an good antenna. But my parents tell me that I was perfectly competent using that radio before I was 3 years old.

A little later in my life, around when I was 5 or 6, my grandparents had a Lloyd radio that looked something like this one:
which I played with CONSTANTLY.

The one they had was not the same as the one in the picture, it had more bands and it had a rotating antenna bar on top, which I eventually figured out could tell me the direction to a particular radio transmitter. That radio also had "LW" (longwave) as an option, and back then, without the internet and as the only person in my family with radio interest, I didn't realize that I'd need a nice longwire antenna, but there was an antenna jack on the side of the radio, so one day, I stuck a long bit of wire in there - and the world changed. I slowly tuned across the LW band and heard mysterious sounds around 100khz - I eventually learned that it was LORAN-C .

Somewhere between when I was 5 and 10, as I was learning to read and learning math, I found a few books about radio in the library, RadioShack was a thing and I got various books and kits there, and started building my own crystal radios and so on, and my family was great about getting me radio-related gifts.

In the mid 1980's I had a Grundig Sattelit that was magical

and soon after that, I had the Sony ICF-1 radio when I lived in a major American City, and I brought that thing with me on so many trips all around the world:

Today, "radios" aren't as important in my life; I have a Tivoli Model 1 that hardly gets used at all, I like the way it looks.
The radios I use most are ugly little RTL-SDR devices, although I just bought a vintage radio shack pro-something scanner on eBay because it's better for local Airband.

thanks for the topic, it's a good one.
 

bbo14

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I have a Realistic DX440. Works fine but if I don't lock it, it will take off all of a sudden and wind up god knows what frequency. Common encoder problem. No replacements available of course. I also have a Grundig SD350L. If I could cure the hysteresis in the tuning dial, it would be my favorite for AM, FM and SW broadcasts. Great audio.
 

OldRadioFixer

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I enjoy this category too. I like to buy old beaters and fix them up. My favorite for everyday listening is a GE 7-2990A. I recently restored a Panasonic RF-2600 which appears to be the same radio. I got the Panasonic cheap because it was DOA, covered with dirt, broken antenna, no knobs, damaged case. I repaired the power supply & antenna, cleaned it, 3D printed knobs, patched the case w/ epoxy molds. For the DOA GE I printed a tuning gear and repaired a cracked PCB. Both radios look and sound great.

Like you, I’m also getting into SDR and made a retro portable to play with in my back yard. It’s based on the RTL-SDR dongle and cobbled together from junk I had sitting around. It runs Dragon OS, a Linux variant that comes with tons of SDR apps pre-loaded.

Be glad your 3000 works on batteries only. Safer for the final transistors.

I learned that the hard way. Mine came from an amateur radio store consignment section, and it came with a wall wart and adaptor. After using it a couple times the radio just faded to black. After maybe 10 minutes, the volume dropped and there was no sound. I don't remember how I figured out that the final audio transistors were hot, but they were. A quick peruse online I learned that if an AC adaptor runs 'hot' -- i.e. a 9 volter putting out 11 or 12 volts, a 6 volter putting out 9V, etc. -- the old germanium finals don't like that, and you can get 'thermal runaway'. They heat up and shut down. If the power isn't cut off immediately, it can fry the transistors.

I rigged up a battery holder and loaded it with AA's. Runs like a charm. I was lucky.
A bunch of my vintage radios use D cells, so I bought a bunch of plastic 3AA (parallel) to D adapters. I have a lot of rechargeable AA 1.5V cells, and they are reasonably priced. The capacity of 3 parallel rechargeable AA cells is less than an alkaline D cell, and that’s the main drawback. Also, the AA cells with a builtin charger have a switching boost regulator that could generate interference (harmonics) I suppose. I got a Talentcell 12V/5V battery pack for a project that would easily fit the same space as a 9V D cell battery holder and could be modified to output other voltages.
 

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OldRadioFixer

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Picked this up yesterday 21st June after winning it on our auction website - a Satellit 2100. Great condition and a couple of minor problems with panel lights and switch contact which are being fixed. Some plastic parts have gone very brittle so I'm taking it very easy - huge whip antenna in perfect condition - looking forward to evicting the dust bunnies and giving it a good polish. Sorry the pics are a bit out of focus.
Got this Grundig cheap b/c DOA. Fixed cracked p/s board and broken knob shaft. Has a huge speaker and sounds nice but don’t use it much b/c it’s so bulky & heavy.
 

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Omega-TI

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Oh wow, I really enjoyed stumbling across and going through this thread. Thanks guys for posting your stuff. It seems the older I get, the more nostalgic I get. Over the past few years I've been in the process of re-obtaining radios I've onced owned, who knew it would so dang fun?
 

Blackswan73

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Nice memories. My first multi band portable was an Elgin like the one pictured. Next I got a Royale 7000( the one with a VHF weather band) and later a Frog 7. My best portable I have ever owned is my Grundig Satellit 800 designed by Drake. I also have two DX 440’s and a Sangean 803a. All three are in very nice condition, and the first 440 I bought new from Radio Shack on a red tag sale. I have a Belka DX on the way I am looking forward to playing with. I also have a Grundig 450DLX field radio that is a pretty decent portable.

B.S.
 

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ratboy

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I have 2 FRG-7's, ignore the stuff below, its out of date, an Astronaut 8, which works pretty well, and for once was packed decently by the Ebay seller! One of my FRG-7's was pretty banged up due to being packed into a tiny box without padding of any kind. Works fine, my first Allied SX-190 was slammed due to bad packing and has an odd some bands are dead, some aren't, the other looks almost new and works very well. I have a bunch of tiny SW portables, new and old, including the Hangronda HRD747, which works amazingly well, a Raddy RF-75, an old LLoyd's multi band portable, that looks very much like it was made in the same factory as the Astronaut 8.
I have had a few of these radios, they were sold under at least the following brands: LLoyd's, Philco, Radio Shack, Lafayette, Raleigh, and several others. They almost always die the same way, the caps explode when plugged in. The one I have now looks like it was made last week, and I only run it on batteries. There is always one of them on Ebay, sometimes a bunch of them. A lot of them seem to have survived over 50 years. There are at least 7 of them on Ebay right now, one of them looks a lot better than this one does, but for about 60 years old, it's held up well.
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KB2GOM

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My most commonly used vintage multiband receivers are a pair of Coastal Navigator radios. These were made for maritime use, and monitoring navigation beacons, as well as broadcast stations. Still interesting to tune in a radio station and move the antenna around and find which azimuth gives the best signal (or back azimuth as it is just a bar on top that turns around 0,359 degrees.). These also work on four "D" cell batteries which seem to make up the bulk of the weight for the unit.

These navigation type of receivers are metal cased, and have held up well due to their durable construction and use case in the maritime industry. Many have survived, but I sometimes find these at thrift stores cheap, as people do not know what they are, or if they are still "useful".....more for us enthusiasts.

View attachment 140775
Wow, I think I just broke a couple of commandments!

Are those available used anywhere?

My personal favorite, still in use, is this:


photos for SWLing blog 002-001 (Medium).JPG
 

Blueliner

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Michigan
Wow, I think I just broke a couple of commandments!

Are those available used anywhere?

My personal favorite, still in use, is this:


View attachment 156762
Ditto. Mine sits just off to my right side on the desk. Just click the power button and it comes to life. Generally a great receiver with great sound using a decent antenna. I confess that I have recently neglected it a bit in favor of the SDR RSP1A on SDRUno and SDRConnect both of which sit on my PC screen ready to go. Using the MLA30+ antenna oriented E/W.
 

MiCon

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central AZ
You don't think about these things when you're young, but I wish I had taken a photo of my first multiband portable. Received from my grandmother as a HS graduation gift in 1967, it had at least four bands: AM & FM broadcast, VHF Air, and at least one SW band. I can see it in my mind but don't remember the brand.

I used the AM band to listen to the local R&R stations. There wasn't much on FM at that time. I tuned around the SW band a lot, but my main interest was the Air band. I loved airplanes, and this was my first opportunity to listen to them. I would sit on the roof of our two story farm house and listen to the commercial jets as I watched them fly over head. In later years as I progressed to more and better radios, that radio sat on my garage work bench. I finally got rid of it about ten years ago.
 

K0WWX

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Apr 15, 2023
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I know this is an old thread but could not pass up mentioning my old Kenwood R-11..small but powerful. Somewhat hard to tune but quite sensitive on all AM. Not as good on FM but I feel a very attractive radio.View attachment 162184
I'm a Kenwood aficionado, both for ham gear and audio gear, and didn't know they had ever sold a multiband shortwave portable. Thanks for sharing this.
 

Omega-TI

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I was at kid at the time, but this was the first "multi-band" radio I ever owned. I regretted ever getting rid of it, but a couple of years back I paid through the nose to get another one off of FleaBay for nostalgias sake. It's an anemic radio, but it'll always have a place in my heart.

Globe Patrol.png
 

a727469

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Maine
I'm a Kenwood aficionado, both for ham gear and audio gear, and didn't know they had ever sold a multiband shortwave portable. Thanks for sharing this.
Yes, I have owned other Kenwood products in past..especially a few handhelds…always made a solid product. I truly don‘t remember where I got this(maybe Lentinis in Connecticut). but it did come out in the mid 80s…but I still use it from time to time.
 

Blueliner

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Among my few SWL radios, I have one in my storage area that I rescued from a thunderstorm a few years ago. Someone renting a house down the road got evicted and their stuff piled along the road side. It was summer and happened that there was no rain for almost a week. The renter came and took a lot of his stuff but left almost as much. Before a rain storm, I grabbed an old radio sitting out on the pile for a week. Next day, a sanitation truck took everything away. Turned out to be a Nordmende Rigoletto in rough shape. Top has some wrinkles in the veneer etc. I never did test it other than to see if it would light up which it did. Got a couple of local AM stations but never went further. Maybe I'll dig it out and see if it does anything.
 

Omega-TI

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Among my few SWL radios, I have one in my storage area that I rescued from a thunderstorm a few years ago. Someone renting a house down the road got evicted and their stuff piled along the road side. It was summer and happened that there was no rain for almost a week. The renter came and took a lot of his stuff but left almost as much. Before a rain storm, I grabbed an old radio sitting out on the pile for a week. Next day, a sanitation truck took everything away. Turned out to be a Nordmende Rigoletto in rough shape. Top has some wrinkles in the veneer etc. I never did test it other than to see if it would light up which it did. Got a couple of local AM stations but never went further. Maybe I'll dig it out and see if it does anything.
Sometimes refurbishing an old radio can be fun, if not time consuming. I learned a lot in the late 90's bringing a Halicrafters S-38 back to pristine condition. An old Ham friend of mine, now a Silent Key wanted it so badly I parted with it. He really liked "boatanchors".
 

Omega-TI

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I could not resist buying this Realistic Astronaut 8 multiband radio recently. Is in great condition for its age, and fully functional, to include all four lights working. Found several stations that my Tecsun PL-368 passed over as they were weaker signals. Manual tuning may take time, but when you hear more as a result, old school just seems to be better at times. The foam behind the battery door went to powder on touch, but other than that, I cleaned this up a little bit and will enjoy its use.


View attachment 140721

I like it, so I hope you don't mind that tweaked the photo a tad to look a little better, mainly for lighting and sharpness.


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Omega-TI

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+1 on the Astronaut 8

As mentioned in my post above, the Astronaut 8 is one multibander I still have. Used it for a long time, and it is a surprisingly good receiver, better than I expected. My only complaints are the ridiculously small tuning/battery meter, and the telescopic whip antenna, which is somewhat thing and flimsy. But it works well and is nice looking and they made a lot of them, making them easy to find for low prices. The date code on mine suggests it was built in February 1972. Here's a picture plus the listing from the 1973 Radio Shack catalog.


View attachment 140834

View attachment 140835

That advertisement has yellowed over the years, so....

Astronaut_8_1973_RS_Catalog (1).jpg
 
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