Rockwell Collins KWM-380

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by MB104, Jan 29, 2013.

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  1. MB104

    MB104 QRZ Member

    I am a first time poster here, and have never used a ham radio. My grandfather was quite the radio user, and has many patents and inventions to his name. I don't recall his call sign, but he was big into ham radios for decades. He passed away recently, and I was just given his Rockwell Collins KWM-380 radio. I literally know nothing about it. There is no microphone or antenna, but when I plug it in, it powers up fine. He barely used it, since he had a heart attack shortly after buying it in 1969 and never set it up. It sat in his closet for decades until he passed away in 2012. A picture is below...

    My main reason for posting is for some help in getting this up and running. I assume I need the following three things: 1) a call-sign 2) a microphone (it is missing) 3) an antenna. I understand that I can make an antenna with 50 feet of stripped wire, but this is foreign to me. I'm not looking to break the bank, but do want to get this operational. Sorry, it is not for sale, please don't make an offer. Yes, I do know what is worth.

    Thanks for any/all help.


  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For assistance with getting licensed, I'd recommend you consult here:

    Then, find the location of a local "license class" activity:

    They often include VEs who can actually provide the examination; but for more information on your local VE sessions and locations, look here:

    I doubt your grandfather acquired the KWM-380 in 1969, as it wasn't invented yet. It's actually from about 1979 (first introduction) and was sold for several years after that.

    50 feet of stripped wire doesn't make a good antenna. You can "listen" with almost anything for an antenna, but for transmitting and actually making contacts, there's more involved. Several good books that can serve as an introduction to amateur radio, including antenna theory and construction, are here:

    You can also use the search feature of this website to find local hams who are close to you and will be able to help. Type your zip code into the search box and click the arrow next to the box directly under that, highlight "BY NAME/ADDRESS" and then hit ENTER to do a search on hams in your zip code. You may find some who are very close by to you. Reach out and see if you can find an old-time ham who's been licensed many years and has a lot of antenna experience, and ask for help!:eek:

    Good luck. The KWM-380 is old enough that even after a long period of "storage," it could have functional problems such as oxidized switches and controls, etc. However it's worth trying out, and if necessary, servicing to bring it back to full functionality. It was a very good "rig" in its time.
  3. MB104

    MB104 QRZ Member

    The year 1969 was a typo. I read your post and then realized I put in the wrong year. He did buy it in 1979. When I picked it up last week, it still had the plastic covering that he put on it before storing it. It is in nice shape. A local ham recommended a G5RV classic antenna. Any thoughts on it? I also found a mic. designed for this radio for $45.
  4. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    The KWM-380 was built by Collins at their Cedar Rapids & Anamosa, IA factories. It was based on the military / US gov't Collins HF-380 transceiver.

    There are handful of qualified technicians for this radio, many retired or former Collins employees.
    KWM-380 Service & Parts

    Jim Maccani - WØHUP
    4140 Elkhorn Drive N.E.
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52411
    Phone: 319-393-0094

    The date is incorrect, as this radio was only available from 1979 - 1983 (My Elmer had one).
    There were ~ 20 factory modifications for this radio.

    KWM-380 Accessories, microphones were mfg. by Turner.

    Do Not Attempt self repairs, radio is early computer logic design, some parts now difficult to find.
    That may be suitable.
    Do you have an FCC license? What are your intentions?
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The 380 will work with many microphones except condenser mikes which require phantom bias voltage. But if you can find a "matching" mike for $45, that sounds like a good deal to me.

    A G5RV works on 80-40-20-12 meters, so it's kind of a "4-band" antenna. The KWM-380 does not have an internal antenna tuner of any sort, so you'd probably need one unless you use antennas that are well matched.

    Try it out, receiving; that will allow you to check the functionality of all the front panel controls (switches and potentiometers) and give them some exercise, which after lengthy storage they might need.
  6. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is a VERY VALUABLE, and HIGHLY COVETED Radio!!! Treat it gently as it is worth THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Dollars!!!
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Could be. There's one on eBay right now that's like brand new with a $2000 "Buy It Now!" price. It may or may not go for that:

    I sold mine in 1988 for $1195 and it was perfect, but there's been inflation since then.:p
  8. MB104

    MB104 QRZ Member

    My intentions are to 1) get this working with the right antenna/mic 2) get a license 3) use and enjoy it!
  9. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mike -

    You may be eligible for your grandfather's call sign, IF you progress in your licensing in near future. Otherwise, it will be available as a vanity or for reassignment by the FCC (for US amateurs).

    As I remember, only 2000 of these radios were manufactured -- which is reason for collector pricing ($1700 - $2300 typical).
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

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