Drake B vs. C

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by K0OKS, Feb 23, 2021 at 12:00 AM.

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  1. K0OKS

    K0OKS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you had an opportunity to get either Drake B line transmitter and receiver or a C line transmitter and receiver which would you choose and why?

    They would be used for SSB send and receive, as well as for AM receive.

  2. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Drake "4-Line" -
    T-4X, T-4XB, T-4XC-------R-4, R-4A, R-4B, R-4C (2 versions)

    My opinion-- If you operate them as true "separates" TX / RX like in the good-old days, I would take the R-4A or R-4B as receiver and the T-4XB as transmitter.

    If you're going to integrate them together in 'transceive' mode, which I guess you will for voice, R-4C either version locked-in with T-4XC. The line-up's strengths for particular
    purposes are also their weaknesses. Later variants have quite a bit more complex circuitry along with more solid-state circuits. Thus, with interconnect cables for "Carrier Oscillator"
    and "Injection" you get perfect frequency control with either TX or RX as Master.

    The R-4A,B and T-4XB are somewhat less complicated, far easier to trouble-shoot and repair, and fewer obsolete and difficult-to-source transistor replacement components. The pre-R-4C
    receiver versions are almost exclusively vacuum tubes in signal chain and do not use crystal bandpass filters, and have far better audio. They sound like real radios did, once upon a time.

    Have you considered a TR-4C transceiver? Hot receiver, great receive audio, as good or better transmit audio than you will find in a $9000 radio today.

    Recommend go to " WB4HFN Drake" website and read about the history and technical aspects of all the gear. Well-done and thoroughly technically knowledgeable without typical ham nonsense.

    Not-recommended T-4X--Too simple, too old. -- R-4 too old, runs physically hot.

    N2EY and W1TRY like this.
  3. K0OKS

    K0OKS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you for the fairly detailed info. A friend of mine who is now a silent key had one set of each. I have the opportunity to purchase one or the other from the estate. It will mainly be for sentimental value, to remind me of a lost friend. However, I do plan on updating and running whichever one I choose. I enjoy my TR4 and other tube gear, and use the tube gear daily.

    I will check them out of the website you mentioned. I am pretty sure I have read about the TR4 and my 2B there before.

    I do understand about unubtanium parts, and that is a concern since I plan on operating the units. Thanks again.
    WA1GXC likes this.
  4. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agree with all the comments . . . (I owned an R4A for many years, but also a friend had an R4C).

    I would suggest - if possible - you have a play with both the Receivers and see which one you prefer.

    There really are many pros and cons with each version!

    Roger G3YRO
    WA1GXC likes this.
  5. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've owned several R-4B and R-4C receivers over the decades. I like the sound of the R-4B better. Not sure exactly why, but it just sounds "better".
    W7UUU likes this.
  6. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    To me the R-4C was significantly quieter but that could simply be related to my situation at the time.
  7. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think I know why.

    The R-4 models before the C get their selectivity from LC circuits in the 50 kHz. IF. The R-4C gets its selectivity from crystal filters in the 5695 kHz IF.

    The shape factor of the crystal filters used in the R-4C is pretty good, particularly for the times, which may explain the differences in "sound".

    For comparison:

    R-4C SSB: (stock) 2.4 kHz at 6 dB, 4.2 kHz at 60 dB.
    AM: (stock) 8.0 kHz at 6 dB, 28 kHz at 60 dB.
    (optional) 6.0 kHz at 6 dB, 10 kHz at 60 dB.
    (optional) 4.0 kHz at 6 dB, 7.5 kHz at 60 dB.
    CW (optional) 1.5 kHz at 6 dB, 3.0 kHz at 60 dB.
    (optional) 500 Hz at 6 dB, 1000 Hz at 60 dB.
    (optional) 250 Hz at 6 dB, 600 Hz at 60 dB.

    From the graphs in the manual:

    R-4B SSB: (2.4 setting) 2.4 kHz at 6 dB, 8 kHz at 60 dB.
    AM: (4.8 setting) 4.8 kHz at 6 dB, 18 kHz at 60 dB.
    CW (0.4 setting) 400 Hz at 6 dB, 2.4 kHz at 60 dB.
  8. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    This comment does not rise to the level of informing a buying decision, I just find it interesting.

    Many folks understandably believe that a later-designed variant of Amateur equipment should and would have superior
    performance to its older brothers. I enjoy and use R-4Cs (for the past 33 years). As it turns out, there's actually 3 R-4C variants
    with 3 distinct tube line-ups, dependent upon production-block. In my opinion, the early 2 designs are quieter than than
    the most modern design. I have all three.

    Early one uses 6HS6 1st and 3rd mixers (6AH6 is a perfectly suitable and readily-available inexpensive substitute) 2nd mixer is a
    dual-gate MOSFET.

    Second variant uses 6BE6 as second-mixer.

    Third variant uses 6EJ7 as 1st and 3rd mixers. In my experience, very noisy tube, random crud, squeaks and slurps, then they disappear.
    I now have a box of 40 6EJ7 tubes and when I don't like how the RX is sounding, I take off the cover, change-out one or both tubes, and
    throw the old ones in the trash without testing so I won't be tempted to re-use them.

    Late sub-model appeared on the scene in late 1974. 6EJ7 is a frame-grid tube, mechanically very complex, and I assume what I am hearing
    is "Shot Noise" although the engineers out there might correct me.

    I have a hard-copy original manual for the MOSFET-version but it seems difficult to find online.

    I highly recommend along with WB4HFN's Drake website, "VE3EFJ Drake" website. Also very authoritative and knowledgeable and
    details the engineering evolution of many units.

  9. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    My preference has always been for the B series. I just like the sound better, and I love the analog IF passband tuning.

    I've had a couple of C lines as well and they were great rigs. But I just prefer the B myself.

    WA5VGO and WA1GXC like this.
  10. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As info: The passband tuning in all of the Drake R-4x series is analog.

    73 de Jim, N2EY

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