"The Digital 500" transceiver from Robyn

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by W7UUU, Apr 20, 2017.

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  1. W7UUU

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

    I wonder if any of these ever actually sold.... Robyn of course made CB radios in the late 60s and into the 70s. But in the September 1971 issue of CQ Magazine, they advertised "The Digital 500" for a mere $895 (around $5300 in today's dollars)

    Obviously they built a prototype - for creating the ad photo. Might have just been an empty box too...

    But I wonder if any were sold. I cannot find a single reference anywhere to this.

    Anyone have any background on "The Digital 500" transceiver from Robyn International?



    20170419_175906 (1).jpg

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    N7ANN likes this.
  2. K6GB

    K6GB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I was pretty plugged in back then and I never even heard of it. Looks like a nixie display.
  3. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Looks like a rebadged SBE SB-36.
  4. W3ATV

    W3ATV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very cool- looks a little like a Yaesu. I never heard of one or seen one.
  5. W3ATV

    W3ATV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Google image search confirms that. It sure does.
  6. KP4SX

    KP4SX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I remember seeing it advertised but I suspect the brand name being so heavily associated with CB made it a non-starter in the ham market.
    It would be cool to find one. I have all ideas that it is simply something from Japan rebadged.
  7. W7UUU

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

    By George you're right!! Very good catch.

    Interesting: I did a Google Street View of 269 Northland Drive in Rockford, Michigan - it's just a tiny house! He must have been building CB sets in the garage, and figured out a path to try to sell the SB-36. My guess is he never did

    Thanks for that!

  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It certainly was a re-badged SBE-36, which in turn was produced in Japan as an OEM product.
    I recall that this radio was briefly marketed in Europe in 71/72 using either the SBE-36, Yapman Digital 500 or the Robyn brands.

    Both a small outfit in western Sweden and a major electronics outlet tried to sell these transceivers,
    but as far as I know, only one or two actually were sold.

    The small dealer then went on to become the major ICOM representative in Scandinavia,
    but this is "something completely different..."

    N2EY likes this.
  9. K5RT

    K5RT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've actually worked on a couple of these over the years. My understanding is SBE didn't manufacture very many SBE-36s and a deal was struck with Robyn to sell off remaining inventory. I've never come across a total production number, but I'd guess it's less than 500 pieces.

    My limited experience fixing these is that the factory seems to have implemented several engineering changes during production that don't appear on the schematic.

    These radios are pushing 40 years old and the electrolytics in the outboard power supply will need to be replaced. Tom at Hayseed Hamfest fixed me up on these.

    The SBE-36/Robyn 500 are certainly cool looking with their Nixie tube display. The only other radios I recall that employed a Nixie tube display were the CX-7 and CX-11. A CW filter was an option too (neither of the radios I fixed had on installed).

    These radios do work as well as most of their contemporaries, I did get good audio reports after replacing the filter caps.

    KC8VWM and N2EY like this.
  10. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    My late friend Henry had one of these in his vintage collection. No idea what became of it.

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