View Full Version : Sonar Transceiver

04-03-2012, 12:26 PM
I wonder if anyone on the forum can remember a company from the early 1960's that manufactured an amateur Hf Transceiver that went be the name of Sonar. Although my company in the U.K. was the agent for them and the Ham that I dealt with went by the name of Jack Babkis, I cannot remember much about the transceiver itself.

I wonder if they ever manufactured many of them and if anyone ever operated one.

04-03-2012, 01:17 PM
In the 1960s, Sonar made CB and marine-service radios, such as the vacuum tube FS-23 (circa 1964), FS-3023 and hybrid FS-2340, 40 channel CB radio (mid-1970s)
I have seen used 10-15 watt crystal VHF radios sold at flea markets.
They also made a 26-33 MHz linear amplifier, advertised for the old low-VHF LMR allocations.

I never saw a radio model targeted for amateur radio market in USA.

04-03-2012, 05:22 PM
As I recall, the Sonar ham transceivers were monoband SSB rigs. Very nice looking. I'll get some more info.

Dale W4OP

04-03-2012, 05:24 PM
Joe Veras has a very nice pix of one of the Sonar monobanders at:

Dale W4OP

04-03-2012, 05:52 PM
Sonar started manufacturing equipment for amateur radio operation starting in 1946 with the VFX-680 "exciter" with FM and CW on 160-meters through 2-meters. The rig was rated at between 4 and 6 watts output depending on the band. The transmitter used plug-in coils. It came with a coil for 40-meters and a coil for 20-meters. Other coils cost $1.50 each. The transmitter had a built-in AC power supply and sold for $87.45.

The next rig was the MB-611 which also came out in 1946. This rig was for either 10-meter or 6-meter mobile was crystal controlled and used phase modulation or CW. Originally sold for $72.45.

In 1948 they came out with a new version of the original transmitter that was band-switching and ran a little more power. The original price of this model SRT-75 transmitter was $203.67.

In 1951 Sonar produced the SR-9 mobile receiver which was available in single band models for 10, 6, and 2-meters. Original price was $72.45 less power supply.

In 1951 Sonar produced the MB-26 mobile transmitter for 2-meters. Original price was $72.45 less power supply.

In 1953 Sonar produced the MR-3 mobile receiver for 80 through 10 meters. This receiver had a BFO and ANL. Original price was $89.95. This receiver was also available as the MR-4 which covered 80, 40, and 20-meters for the same price and the MR-5 receiver which covered 80, 20, and 15-meters for the same price.

In 1953 Sonar produced the SRT-120 mobile transmitter covering 80 through 10 meters with 100 watts input for AM and CW. Price for it in kit form less power supply was $159.50, factory wired $198.50, kit with power supply $198.50, and wired with power supply $279.50.

Also, they had an equivalent of the Gonset "gooney birds" with the CD-2 AM transceiver for 2-meters and CD-6 for 6-meters.

In the early 1960s, Sonar produced the mono-bander SSB transceivers for 80, 40, 20, 15, or 10-meters which sold for $395.00. Power supplies for either 120 VAC or 12 VDC cost $135.00.

Next came the "Four-Bander? SSB transceiver that covered 80, 40, 20, and 15-meters which sold for $495.00 less power supply. Power supplies for either 120 VAC or for 12 VDC cost $135.00.

In 1968 they came out with the Model 2301 portable for 2-meters which coast $375.00

In 1970, Sonar had the FM-3601 (10-watt output) and FM-3602 (25-watt output) transceivers for 2-meters. The FM-3601 sold for $299.95 and the FM-3602 sold for $350.00.

In 1971 Sonar came out with the Model BR-2906 mobile linear amplifier for 10-meters that had an input power of 1 to 15-watts and put out 170 watts (really for illegal "CB" operation). Cost was $129.95.

Their final product was the model 2307 2-meter portable which sold for $450.00 less crystals!

Therefore, Sonar was "around" for about 30-years manufacturing amateur radio equipment.

Glen, K9STH

04-03-2012, 06:37 PM
Here is a real live SONAR CD-2, Easily the Rarest 2M AM rig in the world! Magnificently built, designed for Civil Defense locations. Mine is short the nice cabinet that it came with, but even without it, it works as well as you could desire! What a wonderful radio, and a centerpiece for the 2M AM exhibit in the Museum.


04-04-2012, 03:23 AM
Sonar made some fine equipment that never really caught on well in any market. Their FS-23 CB rig was uncommon but it was a really good performer and had a Nuvistor front end that was extremely good. The downfall for Sonar was their prices were always just a bit too high and they had limited distrubution.

04-04-2012, 06:32 PM

On the surface, it looks like the CD-2 has the wrong knobs on the plate tuning and antenna loading. However, they are original! Sonar used "chicken head" knobs on everything except for those controls.

Glen, K9STH

04-04-2012, 07:52 PM
I suppose the NCX-3 and Swan monobanders and other models put an end to their transceiver market. The off the shelf but modified LMB cabinet didnt help the cosmetics either and any attempt at emulating Collins didnt go over well.

The cost of manufacturing in Brooklyn/NYC area was always high limiting competitiveness.


04-04-2012, 11:31 PM
I agree Carl. However, looking back now, the rigs look really beautiful. I have no idea of the design philosophy or performance, but the look is gorgeous. Reminds me of the KW Electronics or Hallicrafters SR series. As you alluded to though, all these companies were a bit behind the curve. Technology was changing at a rapid pace.

Dale W4OP

04-05-2012, 01:26 AM
I like the panel Dale but the LMB CO-3 cabinet looks too homebrew. I used to sell lots of those cabinets to hams when I ran Radiokit 1986-95, usually for a HB version of a 30L1 or an antenna tuner.


04-12-2012, 12:59 PM
This is quite a coincidence. I just stumbled upon this 1955 ad:


Darn, I was hoping that would come out bigger...

04-12-2012, 01:16 PM
Thanks so much for that ad! I captured the image and it came out PERFECT!!! That is the only data I have on my CD-2. No chance of finding a manual for it. It uses a very rare 6252 Final which is like a short 5894. I even took it to the ARC of El Cajon meeting to show off and demonstrate. Most were not impressed, as they are new hams from the "HT" era and couldn't understand why someone would want a radio nearly as big as a Hallicrafters SX-28 to do 2 meters! So it is on display in the Museum, which might be gettting a new, very prominent home if things work out today. Then, thousands of people can walk by and see the CD-2 in all it's glory!

04-12-2012, 03:15 PM

The 6252 is identical to the 6907 which Motorola used in the Mocom 30 UHF FM units. The 6907 is not rare!

Glen, K9STH

04-14-2012, 11:24 PM
I got lost in the Internet Archives this afternoon ... reading scanned copies of the 1955 QST magazines
that they have on-file.

The Sonar CD-2 radio that Pat has, the advertisement for that exact radio was there.

Re-read Lew McCoy's original 15-meter dipole article that appeared in all
ARRL Antenna Handbooks till 1972.
Scanned the original W3DZZ article on traps for 3-element beams and wire antennas. :-)

The National Radio advertisement had list and phone extensions of their amateur employees.

04-15-2012, 06:46 AM
I have a Sonar 20, 15, and four bander. I can assure you that they do *not* use the LMB cabinet! The cabinets are as heavy as the Collins stuff.
I'm still looking for schematics for any of the above transceivers.

BTW I used a CD-2 as a brand new Novice (KN6SMD) in June 1956. I was operating the 2M station in our club's field day on a peak in West Covina CA.

John, KU6X

07-11-2012, 02:12 AM
I never used one as a ham but did as a CB. they were good radios.
They also made commercial mobile radios for hf/vhf fm .

07-12-2012, 03:05 PM
Here is a real live SONAR CD-2, Easily the Rarest 2M AM rig in the world! Magnificently built, designed for Civil Defense locations. Mine is short the nice cabinet that it came with, but even without it, it works as well as you could desire! What a wonderful radio, and a centerpiece for the 2M AM exhibit in the Museum.


That certainly is s gem, Pat. However, are you sure that's the same SONAR company of CB fame? I didn't think they were around THAT long.


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