Best Analog Shortwave / HF Receiver Ever?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KK4NSF, Jan 25, 2020.

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  1. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page


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  2. W2AAT

    W2AAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The best affordable great radio was the SX101A. The most popular good radio was the HQ129X. The most unaffordable great radio was anything made by Collins (R390... 51J4, S-line and so on)...
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  3. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep, performance is just decent, not stellar. Now put both of them in the back of a steel floored deuce and a half, and drive on unpaved roads for about a month. Which one do you think will fare better. The Telefunken radio is a lot like a Watkins Johnson and can't really be compared with the 390 anyway since it is a lot newer design. The R-390's are full old style mil spec, tropicalization and the works. I agree there are better radios than the R-390, but not lighter.:D
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  4. KC0DSU

    KC0DSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    It wasn't the best but I thought it was pretty nice at the time, was an old Hallicrafter shortwave that I had when I was young before I ever got my license, it was an SX-110. It was one of the catalysts that motivated me to get into ham radio. It had a lot of sentimental value because it was the first radio I put any work in to . And I really felt like I was doing stuff when I re-stringed the tuning knob, tracked down some tubes for it, soldered some loose connections and made an antenna for it. I enjoyed it for a lot of years and now I'm not even sure where it went to.
    KK4NSF likes this.
  5. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I vote for the R-808! R-808-front-small.jpg

    It was made for the Marines to carry on the back of Jeeps during invasions. It's in an armoured / waterproof box. It works great but is VERY heavy. (like 130lbs of heavy) I've used mine as a step-stool from time to time. Try THAT with an R-390! :D
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  6. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    The R-390A was never designed for some huge antenna like that it is a poor comparison example.
    they were primarily intercept receivers aboard ships, a bank of them at a shore station using short verticals, by the CIA, in a van for triangulation, etc.

    Have you ever used one in a proper setup? They wont win any MDS awards on the higher frequencies without a few simple tube swaps.
    Mine (An all Collins 1956 version I fully overhauled over 25 years ago and still meets spec) is hooked to a T2FD for general listening and works as I expect it to.

    If I had used it with the 4/4 40M yagis years ago I would have expected it to fail in reception from all the noise in Europe and most elsewhere probably during wide open conditions.

  7. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now the engineers in Ulm have a reason to feel insulted.:)

    The E1800A was greatly superior to any contemporary
    Watkins-Johnson. I know this because I have compared them side-by-side.

    Another Government agency evaluated several top-of-the-line HF receivers during the mid-90s, and the R&S and Telefunken came out on top, with the Racal RA3790 as a close third and the WJ 8711 a very distant fourth. Cost reasons however made them buy the Racal and stay with the SRT CR91, which had become difficult to support after the manufacturer folded.

    With a sufficiently small and narrowband antenna, it is possible to get decent results even from a HF receiver having a quite limited dynamic range. This is one reason why the R-390A is designed the way it is.

    The "acid test" comes when big antennas are to be used in large frequency ranges in very RF congested parts of the world.

    This has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
    I believe that DJ2LR and G3RZP, a former Marconi employee, are among the few amateurs that understand this, and they have published several articles to this effect.

    Anyway, today's lousy signals on the amateur bands have for all practical purposes nullified any advantages from high-performance HF receivers for amateur use, as shown in mine and SM5HP:s recent paper.

  8. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    It all depends upon what you want to listen to. Many of the tube era are marginal on the higher frequencies plus SSB or need a mod or external adapter stability improvements.

    Ham Band only doesnt count according to the thread title and Ill take a NC-300/303 over any SX-101. My SX-101A sits on a shelf once I got a SX-115

    The HQ-140X with modern tubes but otherwise still a 129 was far better in its time. Both widely popular. I had a 129 from 1956-59 and it needed a lot of help on 1o, 11 and 15M.

    The Collins R-388 is far less expensive these days than some overrated Hallidrifter for general coverage. For ham bands only the 75A2 and HQ-170/170A is a bargain.

    Some of the best GC tube receivers are the HRO-60, NC-183D, NC-400, HQ-180/180A, SP-600/R-274A and 274C. The Hallicrafters SX-73, R-274 and R-274D are superior IMO. The RACAL RA-17 and variants was another good performer but a PITA to overhaul and hope the rotating dial doesnt come also introduced the Wadley Loop to the receiver world.

    The SX-88 is an overpriced very low production model and easily surpassed by the NC-183D which was built for many years in large quantities. Once its bezel falls apart the looks are gone.

    For vintage SS a well restored HRO-500 is hard to beat but pricey. Down to 5 KHz with the optional LF-10. I have and use both mostly for serious VLF such as SAQ.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  9. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let me add that the receiver I've loved best was my SX-42. I have no illusions it was the "best." But it sure sounded wonderful. :)

    KA4DPO, KK4NSF, DL6MAA and 1 other person like this.
  10. G8ADD

    G8ADD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used to have an Eddystone 680X. I don't know how its performance compared with other radios of its time, but mechanically it was a joy to use.
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