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Thread: Rockwell Collins KWM-380

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default Rockwell Collins KWM-380

    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.

    Mike


  2. #2

    Default

    For assistance with getting licensed, I'd recommend you consult here: http://www.arrl.org/upgrading-to-a-general-license

    Then, find the location of a local "license class" activity: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-class

    They often include VEs who can actually provide the examination; but for more information on your local VE sessions and locations, look here: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-...e-exam-session

    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: http://www.arrl.org/shop/What-s-New/

    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!

    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.
    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default

    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. #4

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by MB104
    My main reason for posting is for some help in getting this up and running. I
    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.
    http://www.wa3key.com/kwm380.html

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

    Jim Maccani - WHUP
    4140 Elkhorn Drive N.E.
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52411
    jimscs@mchsi.com
    Phone: 319-393-0094

    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.
    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.
    http://www.w2xc.com/KWM-380.htm

    KWM-380 Accessories, microphones were mfg. by Turner.
    http://www.radioing.com/collins/acc07.html

    Do Not Attempt self repairs, radio is early computer logic design, some parts now difficult to find.
    http://www.wa3key.com/kwm380.html
    A local ham recommended a G5RV classic antenna.
    That may be suitable.
    Do you have an FCC license? What are your intentions?
    Last edited by W9GB; 02-01-2013 at 04:46 PM.
    Nullius in verba

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MB104 View Post
    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.
    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.
    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Crest, Ca (just East of El Cajon)
    Posts
    31,509

    Default

    That is a VERY VALUABLE, and HIGHLY COVETED Radio!!! Treat it gently as it is worth THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Dollars!!!
    I love my cats!
    PHOEBE and PENELOPE MEW!

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by WA6MHZ View Post
    That is a VERY VALUABLE, and HIGHLY COVETED Radio!!! Treat it gently as it is worth THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Dollars!!!
    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: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI...ectorid=229466

    I sold mine in 1988 for $1195 and it was perfect, but there's been inflation since then.
    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by W9GB View Post
    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.
    http://www.wa3key.com/kwm380.html

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

    Jim Maccani - WHUP
    4140 Elkhorn Drive N.E.
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52411
    jimscs@mchsi.com
    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.
    http://www.w2xc.com/KWM-380.htm

    KWM-380 Accessories, microphones were mfg. by Turner.
    http://www.radioing.com/collins/acc07.html

    Do Not Attempt self repairs, radio is early computer logic design, some parts now difficult to find.
    http://www.wa3key.com/kwm380.html

    That may be suitable.
    Do you have an FCC license? What are your intentions?


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

  9. #9

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by MB104
    My intentions are to:
    1) get this working with the right antenna/mic
    2) get a license
    3) use and enjoy it!
    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).
    Nullius in verba

  10. #10

    Default

    If you really want to know a lot about the KWM-380, download this: http://collinsradio.org/archives/man...elf_Study_.pdf
    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

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