The response from these two posts was pretty overwhelming.
I don’t actually check the SWLing Post viewer stats that often, but I was too curious: together, those two posts amounted to well over 20,000 unique pageviews in two days!
Obviously, I’m not the only radio nostalgic person around here!
These posts resonated so well, I didn’t want readers’ favorite models to be lost in the comments section. I decided to comb through the comments, make a list of all of the models, and link to sites and pages with more information and photos.
This is an interesting collection of radios since some are benchmark performers, while others much less so. Many were listeners’ first radios–the ones we cut our teeth on.
I would encourage you to read through the comments on our first and our second posts. Many great memories in there!
Below, you’ll find the full list of radios in alphabetical order, starting with receivers then moving to transceivers:
Many thanks to everyone who shared their favorite radios! I truly enjoyed checking out each of these models as I listed and linked to them. There were a number of unique models I had never seen before and many I had completely forgotten (like the Sony ICF-SW1000T)!
If you have more favorite models to share, feel free to comment here or on the original posts!
At Elecraft, like many of you, we are in our 9th week of shelter in place. This has been tough on all of us. Back on March 16th, when the initial California state and local orders were issued with an April 11 estimated end date, we suspected that it would last longer than that, but not as long as this. The majority of our production team had to be furloughed immediately, with a few working from home. Most of our sales, support and the K4 engineering team have also been working from home. We allowed a minimal skeleton staff on site. ( Less than you can count on one hand, with each operating alone in large separate areas.). We’ve been able to ship a subset of our existing radios and accessories from finished goods stock, which has kept cash flow coming in. We thank you for the continuing orders!
We’ve also spent this time totally reorganizing our sales, operations, production, and test areas for proper social distancing along with extreme cleaning and health screening procedures as per the new local and national COVID-19 guidelines for manufacturers. (Wearing masks at all times, Daily health screening upon entry to the building, additional spacing and partitions between work stations and ‘you touch it, you clean it’ procedures, etc.) This is a required change as per our local and State health departments.
Many of our local sub-contractors (sheet metal fabrication, circuit board assembly, etc.) have also been impacted by shelter in place orders. Over the coming weeks, as the State and local health authorities slowly allow more activity, we should be able to get better delivery estimates from them as they are able to ramp back up. Like us, they are eager to get back online. National and international parts suppliers have been similarly impacted.
So what does this mean for first K4 shipments? Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were projecting first K4 deliveries beginning sometime in the April – May window this year. Obviously the pandemic has thrown out those estimates. Based on a gradual reopening in California and other areas, our current feedback from suppliers, and taking into account unexpected delays, shortages, last-minute engineering changes, etc., my estimate is that the first K4 shipments will begin somewhere in a window of late July through the end of August 2020. We’ll keep you informed as we get better information.
As a side note, I’d like to thank everyone who has ordered a K4 for your support. We anticipated seeing cancellations during this pandemic delay, but we have received very few. Our K4 order backlog has actually continued to increase over the past 9 weeks. Wow! You, as our supporters and customers, have continued to energize and amaze us as we have created new products for you these past 21 years. Thank you.
Also, as with all of our products, our engineering team keeps designing new features during the product‘s lifetime. They certainly have not been idle on the K4 during the shelter in place order. (Our DSP S/W defined radio architecture allows us to continually give you a ‘new’ radio with each new sw release. 🙂
Keep an ear out for us on the air too. While making a few short test transmissions with my K4 this morning, I ended up in a very nice QSO on 20M SSB! If you hear me, or others on our team, please say “hello.” We may be on a K4!
We hope you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy.
Radio Waves: Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio
Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers. To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Mike, Paul Evans, Josh Shepperd, and Mike Terry for the following tips:
In response to the ongoing Coronvirus situation Spain’s national amateur radio society URE is allowing everyone to download the PDF of the June edition of their magazine Radioaficionados
A translation of the announcement on the URE site says:
One more month, and we have already been three, with the aim of accompanying its readers in the exceptional situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, the URE in its commitment to collaborate and help to cope with the complicated situation we are currently experiencing in our country, has decided to offer free access to the magazine of the month of June and we remind you that magazines prior to December 2019 are also available to you. In this way, citizens who wish to can read these publications for free.
A small gesture so that nobody feels alone at home in the face of this global challenge.
Ampegon Power Electronics highlights progress on the company’s third-generation solid-state shortwave transmitters, which it says will offer “significant advances in efficiency.”
The company says this work will pave the way toward higher-power broadcast outputs and meet current expectations of a shortwave equivalent to medium-wave and FM transmitters. “Combined, these two developments will bring FM-quality broadcasts with all the benefits of shortwave,” said Simon Keens, Ampegon sales and business development manager.
Ampegon has also developed a retrofit upgrade to current UCS generation control systems for previous generation 100 kW, 250 kW, 300 kW and 500 kW transmitter systems.[…]
Brian Fauteux reflects on the way COVID-19 is affecting his two passions: music and teaching
A lot of great songs effectively reflect the feelings that accompany isolation. The experience of being alone, however, is often constructed in opposition to a longing for togetherness. Heart’s “Alone” (1987) — maybe the greatest power ballad ever recorded — confidently asserts, “‘Til now I always got by on my own.” But this is no longer the case when the song’s protagonist meets and develops undeniable feelings for another: “And now it chills me to the bone.” In another iconic 80s anthem, “Dancing in the Dark,” Springsteen grows tired and bored with himself against the desperate urge to join up with “something happening somewhere.” The act of dancing in the dark can be fun, sure, but it’s much more fun with others. Inspiration in isolation is insubstantial.
I’m an Assistant Professor of Popular Music and Media Studies, and I teach and write about the role of music in society. I’m interested in how our listening practices shape, and are shaped by, issues of sustainability in the music industries — that is, how artists make (or struggle to make) a living in this day and age.[…]
Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 11, 2018, establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (‘EECC’) entered into force on December 20, 2018. Member states have two years to incorporate it into national law, except where specifically mentioned.
Radio is an important medium through which citizens access a diverse range of information news and entertainment services. The EECC leverages on the ever-increasing connectivity of new generation cars as well as on the digital platforms of radio broadcasters to guarantee a more robust radio experience to all drivers, ensuring good coverage, a wider choice of radio stations and more effective access to information at all times. The EECC ensures that car drivers have access to the benefits of digital terrestrial radio wherever in the EU they have bought their new car.
On April 21, the minister responsible for communications, in consultation with the Malta Communications Authority, published Legal Notice 151 of 2020 amending the Electronic Communications Network and Services (General) Regulations, implementing the provision of the EECC dealing with the interoperability of car radio devices. In line with the regulation, any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in Malta from December 21, 2020, shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided by digital terrestrial radio broadcasting of type DAB+. Radio programmes in Malta are broadcast terrestrially on DAB+.
The car radio requirement only applies to new cars.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alfred, who shares the following:
I have taken my DX-150 off the shelf and renewing a long-ago hobby. Circumstances have certainly changed since my introduction to SWLing.
One of the major changes is my operation of the receiver non-visually. To re-acquaint myself with the technology and new operational mode, I have been gathering literature (on the computer using screen reading software). I came across this link about Arthur Cushen, who I was not aware of – and you may be, and pass the link on to you to enjoy the aspects of his life and profession as a DXer.
From the Editor: Tim Hendel is a member of the Huntsville chapter of the NFB of Alabama. Since he was a student at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, he has been interested in travel, languages, and short-wave radio. That is how he first became acquainted with Arthur Cushen and his story.
This is what he says:
A large group of sighted people would tell you that the only blind person they know is Arthur Cushen. These people share the hobby of tuning around on their short-wave radios to pick up unusual stations. Hard-to-get stations are often referred to as “DX,” and people who have this hobby are called “DX-ers.” Arthur Cushen was called “the world’s only professional DX-er.” On September 20, 1997, he died in Invercargill, New Zealand.
Arthur Thomas Cushen was born on January 24, 1920, in Invercargill. This community is at the extreme southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand. It is about as far as you can get from most European and North American cities.
As a young boy Arthur is said to have suffered from poor eyesight. I do not know if he would have been classified as visually impaired in modern parlance. It is true that while in school Arthur did not receive any special educational training. During the 1930’s his sight became much worse. He lost all vision in the early 1950’s. Somewhere along the way Arthur learned Braille.
On Christmas morning, 1932, Arthur got up at 3:00 a.m. with his father and the rest of his family. They tuned their battery-powered radio to the BBC on short-wave to hear the Christmas address of King George VI, from far-away England. A couple of years later as a teen-ager Arthur picked up Suva, Fiji Islands, on his radio. By that time he was bitten by the bug and saved his money to buy better radios. He probably climbed around in his yard, putting up better antennas. Many of us have tuned around on our radios to see what we could pick up, but from his earliest explorations Arthur kept careful and detailed records of what he heard.
All of this might have remained little more than a pastime for a young man in a very isolated community, if it had not been for World War II. During that war most men of military age in New Zealand, as well as in other English-speaking countries, were called away to fight the Germans and Japanese. It was the nature of that war that many of these fighters were taken prisoner.
In the early 1940’s, Germans, Japanese, and Allies were all beginning to learn about international radio and trying to use it for their own propaganda ends. The Japanese were fond of sending out nightly broadcasts in English, touting their victories. These broadcasts went out from what was then called Radio Tokyo, but also from Manila, Singapore, and Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). To give their broadcasts more realism, they often read out the names and addresses of prisoners of war whom they were holding. Perhaps the Japanese felt that these details would increase the believability of their programs. They surely never knew that they were providing great comfort to the families of those prisoners.
Sitting almost at the bottom of the world, listening to his radio, was Arthur Cushen. He had been rejected for military service due to his vision. Arthur, together with his wife Ralda, copied down the names and addresses of the soldiers and civilians as they were broadcast from Tokyo, Singapore, and Batavia. (Arthur says that those were the strongest stations and had the greatest number of prisoners, but that he also monitored Shanghai, Chungking, and many other smaller stations.) Then Arthur would try to track down the families and tell them that he had heard news of a relative on the radio. True, the man might be a prisoner, but at least families got word that their loved one was alive.
To understand how Arthur did his work during World War II, we should bear in mind that there was no Internet, no cassette recorder, no word processor. I cannot even find any mention of his having had a typewriter. He dictated his messages to his wife and other helpers, who would often go to the local telegraph office and send telegrams or write letters to the families. Even long-distance telephoning seems to have been limited, perhaps because Arthur could not afford it. After the war letters of thanks poured into Arthur’s home. In 1970 Queen Elizabeth awarded Arthur the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his service during the war.
During the Vietnam War Arthur monitored the Voice of Vietnam (Radio Hanoi) and contacted many U.S. families whose loved ones had spoken over that station. By this time the actual voices of the prisoners were broadcast, and tape recorders were common, so Arthur was often able to provide recordings to the families.
In 1953 Queen Elizabeth made a trip to New Zealand. She made it known that she wanted to spend at least one night alone in her hotel room. She also requested a radio and asked that someone provide her with a list of frequencies on which she could hear the BBC. Arthur Cushen was called upon to do this and has kept the special souvenir card on which he listed the frequencies for Her Majesty. Another scoop came to Arthur on November 23 (New Zealand time) 1963. After President Kennedy was shot, Arthur monitored many U.S. AM broadcast band stations and relayed the news he heard to the local New Zealand stations. In that era before satellite coverage, they would not have had so much news if it had not been for Arthur.
In February, 1942, Arthur was contacted by the BBC in London, who had heard of his radio work. They wanted someone in New Zealand to check on reception of their programs and send them a cable each week, telling them how the station was doing. After the war Voice of America, Radio Canada, Radio Netherlands, Radio Sweden, and many other stations made similar arrangements with Arthur.
Between 1952 and 1954 Arthur had several eye operations. He hoped that they would restore his sight. Instead, he lost most of the vision which he had. At that time he felt that he could not continue the work he was doing and needed to find another source of income. He asked the stations for which he had already been doing monitoring if he could be taken on their payroll as a regular staff member. This is how it came to pass that Arthur Cushen became the world’s only professional DX-er.
In addition to his work for the large broadcast stations, Arthur wrote many articles talking about radio. Some of these were published in radio hobby magazines, others in newspapers in New Zealand. Arthur wanted as many people as possible to discover the magic of tuning their radios to far-away stations. He also wanted people to know that they could do this with whatever radio they had on hand, instead of going out and spending lots of hard-earned cash for a special receiver. Victor Goonetilleke of Sri Lanka said, during a tribute to Arthur by Radio Netherlands, “Arthur always put in stuff that was easy to pick up, as well as the rare, hard-to-find stuff. He was a great encouragement to those of us who were starting out, especially us who lived in Asia. No one else was talking about stations that we could hear.”
Glenn Hauser of the well-known short-wave program “World of Radio,” said, “Arthur is the only person who was active in the hobby when I started in 1957 and is still heard.”
I was a boy at the New York State School for the Blind when I first heard Arthur giving reports over Radio Netherlands, talking about stations he had heard. It is hard to describe the thrill I felt when, as a teen-ager living in what I thought to be boring Upstate New York, I heard Arthur talking about picking up Fiji, Tonga, or New Guinea. It certainly whetted my appetite for travel, languages, and radio—interests which I still have.
In the early 1970’s I lived in Hawaii, and I had the thrill of exchanging tapes with Arthur. He wanted to know how well Radio New Zealand was received in Honolulu. I was able to fulfill his request. In 1986 I met Arthur at a short-wave convention in Montreal. It was wonderful to see everybody, blind and sighted, clustered around Arthur as he told stories of World War II and radio in the exotic islands of the Pacific.
Arthur wrote two books. The World in My Ears is a combination autobiography and beginning guide for those who want to know about short-wave radio. NLS has recorded it as RC15856. Another book, Arthur Cushen’s Radio Listening Guide, has not been recorded.
Most of the tributes to Arthur have focused on his radio activities. In passing they have mentioned that he “did a lot for the blind of New Zealand,” but I have been able to obtain very little information about this facet of his life. Apparently he helped found the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. During the early 1960’s he and his wife Ralda began some kind of simple newspaper-reading service for the blind. Ralda would read articles on tape. These tapes were placed on an answering machine, where people could call in and hear them. Today most of New Zealand, as well as Australia, is served by radio reading services which operate on open channel, usually on the AM broadcast band.
In the tributes which many short-wave stations broadcast about Arthur, his wife Ralda was always mentioned. It was said that Ralda was “his eyes” and his greatest help. It is certain that Arthur and Ralda worked a great deal together, but I do not know how much of this reflects some sighted people’s ideas about what we can and cannot do without sighted help and how much reflects the actual way this couple chose to work together. A careful reading of his book reveals some gentle chiding of certain sighted people who, he felt, were trying to take over the running of some organizations in New Zealand, putting into place what they thought was “necessary for the blind,” rather than consulting with blind consumers.
It is true that Arthur grew up in a time and place when the special tools we take for granted were not available. I have no evidence that he used talking computers and other modern devices. I do know that he used Braille during his broadcasts. I used to fancy sometimes that I heard him rattling his Braille paper, though I don’t know if this was true.
Arthur’s family has requested that any contributions in his memory be sent to the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, 172 Queens Drive, Invercargill, New Zealand.
Tributes and condolences to Ralda Cushen may be sent to Ralda Cushen, 212 Earn Street, Invercargill, New Zealand.
Condolences and recollections of Arthur may be e-mailed to
Radio New Zealand ended its tribute to Arthur Cushen with a beautiful Maori sacred song. A very well-known blind person has passed from among us.
Thank you for sharing this remembrance, Alfred. I’m willing to bet there a number among the SWLing Post community who remember Arthur Cushen even though he passed away in 1997.
Name a piece of radio gear that for some reason, technical, emotional, design etc. that you’ve gotten more fun using than you would ever have expected based on its price, maybe more so than other much more expensive radios you’ve owned. Just a piece of gear that really hit the spot and you’ve had a blast using.
So I gave this quite a bit of thought and came up with two radios–one shortwave portable and one general coverage ham radio transceiver:
The Radio Shack DX-351
In 1996, I worked for a Radio Shack corporate store in Athens, Ohio. I believe we were getting ready for the Black Friday/Christmas season and the store manager decided to go through a pile of broken items customers have returned using their extended warranty. He had accumulated quite a number of returns in a box next to his desk in the back of the store. I stayed after hours to help him organize the shelves and prepare for incoming shipments.
Most of the items in his box were physically broken but still covered by the extended warranty (to their credit, many RS store managers were quite flexible with extended warranty returns). He pulled out a Radio Shack DX-351 from the box.
The customer returned this portable because the AM/FM/SW slider switch was broken. My manager knew I was an SWL, so I asked if I wanted it. He said, “If you don’t, it goes into the trash can because we can’t re-sell it.”
How could I resist?
This DX-351 was “well-loved.” I can’t remember all of the details, but the AM/FM/SW band switch could not be fixed, but I didn’t mind because the receiver was stuck on the shortwave band and the other shortwave band switch worked perfectly.
The DX-351 was a joy to use and amazingly sensitive! It wasn’t particularly selective, but it served me well for many years living, primarily, in the glove compartment of my car. If I took a road trip, a lunch break at the park, or if I was simply waiting in a parking lot to pick up my wife, I’d pull out the DX-351 and tune in the world.
The thing was pure fun to tune.
The Icom IC-735
In the world of general coverage ham radio transceivers, the Icom IC-735 would be my choice.
The IC-735 was my first ham radio transceiver. I used my hard-earned savings (from working at Radio Shack!) to buy a used unit via the now-closed Burghardt Amateur Radio Center in South Dakota. My friends, Eric (WD8RIF) and Mike (K8RAT) believed a used IC-735 would serve me well. They were right!
What I really loved about the IC-735 was that it had all of the features and modes I needed. It was easy to operate and, while I couldn’t call its receiver “benchmark” by any means, it was amazingly sensitive and selective.
I logged hundreds of hours on this radio in both SSB and CW, working DX across the globe.
But I spent even more time SWLing. Turns out, the IC-735’s general coverage receiver did justice to shortwave broadcasts. The AM filter was wide enough to produce wonderful audio (especially via an external speaker or headphones). For years, the IC-735 was my go-to shortwave radio because it performed so much better than any other radios–mostly portables–I had at the time.
The IC-735 was so much fun to use.
I did eventually sell it, if memory serves, to purchase my first Elecraft K2 transceiver.
What are your choices?
So what are the radios you’ve owned that may not sport the best performance, and may not have been terribly expensive, but were pure fun to put on the air–? Perhaps you still own one? Please comment!