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Identify this radio

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WA4BRL, Nov 6, 2012.

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  1. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can anyone tell me the model number of this Motorola radio and approximately when these things were manufactured? Note the rounded corners all around the lower 3-inch "base" area and at the top of the front panel. The are art-deco touches but not to the extreme one might expect of genuine art-deco design in the 1930's. This looks more 1950's to me but that's just a guess.


    It was my first two-meter radio way back in 1974. Don Sherouse WB4OST (SK), one of my Elmers) was the original ham owner who converted/re-crystaled/adjusted it for 2-M. It had but one channel -- 146.34/94, the repeater atop the lunar landing gantry at NASA Langley Hampton, Va. That was the only repeater in our immediate area at the time. This radio has big panel lights indicating transmit and receive modes :eek: and a Hobbs meter to record how committed you are to monitoring the repeater. :)

    A year or so later there were several more repeaters in the Tidewater area so I bought one of the inexpensive multichannel rice boxes that were flooding the market by then. Shortly after that I sold the big base unit at the Richmond Frostfest for exactly what I'd paid for it ($75.00). I kinda miss the old rig, but I'm sure glad I didn't have to carry the beast with me every time I've moved since then!

    I never knew the model or year of the radio and when I recently came across a shack photo with the rig in it I thought I'd post it and ask.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  2. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    My guess would be early to mid 50's. Motorola really started making highband FM radios after WWII, and they really caught on in the 50's.

    I am familiar with a lot of stuff from the 60's, and this is definitely older than that.

    Glen would probably know. He probably has one, or had one.

  3. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here's the Lunar Lander Gantry I mentioned in the original post. It supported 5/6ths of the weight of a terrestrial LEM vehicle simulator as astronauts trained for the Apollo landings. I believe it is about 300 feet tall, by far higher than any other structure in the Tidewater region (other than commercial radio towers) and makes a wonderful site for repeater antennas. A group of NASA employees formed the Peninsula Emergency Amateur Radio Service in the early 1970's and secured permission to place the 34/94 machine atop the structure. That machine later changed frequencies due to mutual interference with the Richmond 34/94 machine which had been established first. PEARS eventually morphed into the Langley Amateur Radio Club.



    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't know the answer, but I think this is what "Headquarters" used when they answered Broderick Crawford's call "2150 to headquarters.":eek:
  5. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    It looks like a home brew equivalent of the old Motorola BY base stations. The equipment was probably from a mobile or even from one of the various Motorola base stations. I have never seen round meters on a Motorola built unit. At least starting with the post World War II base stations, the meters all had a square face. Also, from what I can make out on the meters, they say Triplett and not Motorola.

    The oval speaker grill on the top is definitely not Motorola. Motorola used round grills and they were always mounted on the front of the unit. In addition, the clock was always on the lower portion of the front panel and was mounted flush with the panel, not on the upper portion and in a protrusion from the panel.

    During the almost 10-years that I owned the Motorola reconditioned equipment center for the south-central United States, I have seen examples of basically everything that Motorola made from 1946 onward until 1980. I have even seen the 10-meter AM mobile unit that Motorola made for amateur radio in the early 1950s (I may have an example somewhere in my attic). However, I have never seen a unit that looked like the one in the photo.

    If the example was actually produced by Motorola, it would definitely be a rare example.

    Glen, K9STH
  6. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Glen. I kind of expected as much, but I didn't know any details about those early units. I doubt seriously that it's a rare Motorola unit. I'm satisfied to know I once owned a one-of-a-kind Don Sherouse original.
  7. WA9ZZZ

    WA9ZZZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    I looked around for pictures of the old Motorola base stations and came up with these two:

    Here is a page from the repeater builder site about test sets. If you scroll about 3/4 of the way down there is a picture of a '"Research Line" base station'.

    And an eBay auction for a base station manual. Scroll down to the images, the second one shows the three variants of the base station (large image available). Dated 1958.

    The similarities to BRL's picture include:
    - General shape of the box.
    - Location of the right side meter.
    - "Motorola" name just under the right side meter (hard to make out, but it is there and in the right position).
    - Position of switches on the front.

    However, there are also a lot of differences, as noted by Glen.

    One guess is that it is a highly modified example of the Research Line base stations.
  8. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    The base station pictured is the Motorola "BY". "BY" indicates the type of cabinet. There were actually single, double, and even triple versions of these base stations. The double and triple versions had the same basic front panel arrangement and those were bolted together. To get at equipment inside, the entire cabinet tilts upwards exposing the transmitter, receiver, and power supply. With the double and triple units all of the cabinets tilted at the same time. Over the years, I have seen a LOT of "BY" base stations, primarily the single version. There were not that many double versions made and very few triple versions. In well over 9-years of owning the Motorola reconditioned equipment center for the south-central United States, I saw only a handful of the triple versions.

    The actual equipment inside was the same transmitter and receiver as the 15-inch wide mobile units. Depending on the age of the "BY" base station and the frequency range, the transmitter and receiver were generally from the FMTR80D, FMTR140D, FMTRU80D, FMTRU140D, T51AAV, and T43AAV mobile units. There were a very few that had "G" type receivers. The AC power supplies were almost always a P8434 for the 30-watt transmitter versions and a P8464 for the 50-watt and 60-watt transmitter versions.

    Glen, K9STH
  9. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Gary for those links. Between those and all the info Glen offered I think we have identified the origin of the beast. Thanks for the help, guys!
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