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Best Analog Shortwave / HF Receiver Ever?

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

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  1. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    That was later the civilian version of the WW2 USN RAO-2, general coverage only; no ham bandspread that were left over cancelled contracts after the war. Nothing could beat that moving carriage coil assembly for low loss and good sensitivity on the higher frequencies (except maybe plug in coils) where normal wafer switched rats nest wiring receivers dropped off rapidly even at 20M. I use a ham band only NC-101X, Plus a GC plus bandspread NC-200, and NC-240D at times.
    KK4NSF likes this.
  2. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I first listened to hams on AM on my grandmothers 1937 Zenith when 11 or 12. Built a regen when I was 13 from a Popular Mechanics article using mostly parts salvaged from the town dump; prewound coils were purchased in Radio Row NYC, a subway ride away. It was good enough to learn CW, get a Novice and suffer thru a few months of QRM.

    This was all 100% learn on the fly in the basement at home with lots of guidance from the HS math teacher and W2ZLK ham club trustee, Brother Patrick Dowd, W2GK who became rather famous in later years.

    Next step was a BC-454 and BC-455 that was bandspreaded per a CQ magazine article. Finally wound up with a used HQ-129X so I could get on 15 for the wild Cycle 19 openings.

    Into the USN in 59, learned a LOT as an ET, got out of active duty in 63 and went to work for National Radio as a Servicc Dept bench tech.

    From there it just kept getting better for equipment and learning thanks to the great engineers at National.

    N4DJC, KA4DPO, W4NNF and 1 other person like this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, I know R-390s/As were made by a few different companies.

    But although I sure wasn't there, I'll bet Collins basically "wrote the spec" for them, and the military simply adopted and published it.:p

    When I was in the defense/aerospace industry years ago (semiconductors) I spent lots of time at RADC (Rome, NY) drafting USAF detail specs, and at Ft. Monmouth/ARADCOM (NJ) drafting U.S. Army detail specs, and at NWDC (PA) drafting Navy detail specs, and at SAMSO (AL) drafting NASA detail specs; in all cases, "we" actually wrote the specs, and the government agencies signed off on them and published them. Everything is open for bid (from American companies, anyway), but if you write the specs just right, at first round really nobody else can bid on them.:)

    Those paid for my first four houses.:p
  4. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, the US did.

    For very demanding co-sited applications, the US Navy chose the British ICS-3 integrated HF system from Marconi.

    Looked in old conference proceedings from the 90s
    and found a paper about the naval HF state-of-the-art, where the performance goals of the ICS-3 systems were discussed.

    It can be argued if the receiver in the ICS-3 (which in the 80s was exported under the AN/URC-109 designation) was a general purpose "shortwave receiver", but its performance of +52 dBm IP3 and a blocking level of +33 dBm at a noise figure of 14 dB is likely unmatched even today.

    It took very serious applications of tuned preselection and high-level/low-noise amplifiers and mixers, together with the design of an extremely low-noise synthesiser built on the impulse-governed oscillator concept to reach these goals.

    One of the reasons that European HF engineers had to consider strong-signal performance even outside co-located systems
    so seriously was that spectrum congestion was in the order of at least 20 dB worse, compared to what could be experienced in the Americas.

    If the June 1977 issue of Ham Radio Magazine is dug out, where DJ2LR presented some measured data about spectrum congestion at the US East coast, it can be seen that signals seldom exceeded - 30 dBm, compared to Europe where -10 dBm levels were commonplace.

    This was reflected in both civilian and military specifications for receiving equipment, and consequently also in the design practices.

    I would say that solid-state techniques, properly applied, surpassed the performance attainable by tube designs some time during the first half of the 1970s. It was the low-noise synthesiser and the switching mixer that made this possible.

    One example which I had the opportunity to get first-hand data about, former colleagues were parts of both the design team and the evaluation team, was the comparison between the ITT-Standard Radio CR302A and the Rohde&Schwarz EK11-10.

    This was a consequence of ITT-SRT getting a development contract in 1968 to design a solid-state replacement for the
    R&S receiver, which was a 85 kg, 75-tube (55 tubes in the synthesiser) behemoth used in diversity pairs for Air Force fixed links.
    It had became obvious that maintenance was consuming far too much resources.

    The requirements, simply stated by the programme manager, a quite colourful person named Harald Thomsen, were that the new receiver should surpass the EK11-10 in all aspects including close-in IM3 and blocking performance.

    A test-bed was made where an EK11-10 and the CR302 prototype were fed with test signals in parallel, and the
    strong-signal performance compared for each new iteration.
    After some months and many iterations did the performance finally equal the tubed receiver, and the design became accepted during the winter of 1969/70.

    It turned out, after ironing out a few "infant diseases", to be a very good and reliable design that was produced up to 1987 practically unchanged, and also became an export success.

    It was also part of the 1972 Marconi evaluation of the HF receiver state-of-the-art and placed itself as "upper-middle-class", not at par with the very best, but considerably ahead of similarily priced contemporary SS receivers.

    Now are the days of extreme HF spectrum congestion, even in Europe, gone and the receiver design efforts can be spared for the cases of co-located systems deemed necessary.


    Attached Files:

    PU2OZT, WA1GXC, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  5. KG5UN

    KG5UN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Hallicrafters S-41G, not because it was a great performer but because my uncle gave me one when I was 12 and started me on the path to this hobby.

    My favorite to use was the Drake R-4B with the FS-4 frequency synthesizer. To my ears nothing sounded better.
    K5RRC, N4DJC, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  6. K4PIH

    K4PIH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hmm, I worked R390's at several land based intercept sites like San Vito, Elmendorf AFB, Clark AB, Bad Aibling, Menwith Hill, to name a few. Seemed to work pretty good with the Elephant Cage antennas. Yeah they were also aboard ship and in Army mobile command centers. Google USS Pueblo and look at the pictures posted by visitors to the ship in Pyongyang.
    W4NNF likes this.
  7. W8AAZ

    W8AAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Methinks the OP was thinking in narrower terms when he left the discussion open wide to just about any non digital radio ever produced. Hobbyist, or military or commercial. That is like going on a car forum and asking "What is the best gasoline powered car, ever?". Thus contention and wildly varying responses. I suspect he might be fishing for ideas of something to buy. Then he needs to be a bit more specific in his query unless his patience and bank account are totally unlimited.
  8. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    For all CW haters out there--

    USS Pueblo's notification to their command that they were being captured could not get

    through on synchronous Radioteletype (RATT). Traffic was effected by RM1 Ralph McClintock

    on manual CW.
    KN1M, N2EY and WW2PT like this.
  9. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    not at all. I've got what I need. My intent here is to discuss what folks like and why they like it..... not what receiver the general crowd thinks I should buy.

    Reading all of the posts, I find it interesting how many folks prefer a particular radio because they just like it, or had one years ago, or just becasue it has some "cool factor" to it. I guess my point here is the there is a lot more to radio than just numbers / test results.... which is why I framed the question the way I did.
    WD4IGX likes this.
  10. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is unfortunately true and has become more prevalent over the years. The good people at AMC have become a rubber stamp agency whereby industry dangles their stuff in front of TRADOC and the General staff. The Generals are like kids opening Christmas presents, and immediately adopt their favorite presentations as "the next big thing". Then the chosen contractor writes the specs while TRADOC watches and shakes their heads in approval. That is not how it is supposed to work, but it happens all too often these days.

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