Who remembers Swan

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KA4DPO, Oct 11, 2017.

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  1. W8IXI

    W8IXI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Ah, the Swan Song!

    Henry Radio must have sold a ton of them. They looked great to a new ham like me in 1969.
    Never owned one, or the Drake which I really wanted (the school club spoiled me with new Drake stuff).
    By the time I could afford my first good rig, an FT-757, Swan was long gone. As a dedicated cw user at the time, I had however heard about Swan.
  2. KE4OH

    KE4OH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Within my fleet of boatanchors, I have a Swan Cygnet 260. This is one of the older ones with a magic eye tune up indicator instead of a meter. It wasn't totally beat when I bought it, but it isn't mint, for sure. I bought it on eBay. I think I paid more for shipping than I did for the rig. Previous owner added an AF gain control and replaced the hard-wired mic with a jack.

    It was pretty easy to get this thing back on the air. Just a recap and replace some drifted resistors. There aren't many parts inside and they are easy to get to. The Swan engineers were pretty smart (except for the ones that designed the goofy VFO scheme!) This is truly minimalist design at it's finest. Just 10 tubes and a few SS devices. Built in AC and DC power and puts out a very strapping signal with a single sweep tube. Has a handle on the side, making it easy enough to carry it with you. Kind of a "proto-hybrid" that foreshadows the Yaesu and Kenwood designs that would take the market by a storm a few years later.

    Is it a great radio? Nope. Has stupid "features" like a mic gain control on the bottom. Gotta have an external meter to set bias and carrier balance. No CW sidetone. No crystal calibrator. Need the lid off and a screwdriver to set dial calibration. Drifts like crazy for the first hour. No AF gain. Wacko VFO scheme.

    But I have a ton of fun with mine. It does settle down and stops drifting eventually. Tune up is super fast and easy because the driver, PA tune, and PA load controls can all be peaked on receive. So once you go to tune, you are already almost set. The blue/green magic eye is just beautiful. And 99% of the time, I use mine on .... CW! Nobody believes me when I tell them that. And the thing puts out a potent 120w+ on CW. Pretty sure the single final won't last very long, but I have spares. The receiver is really pretty sensitive. Main problem with it is that it is awfully wide. So, it's not ideal for CW. But I use it anyway ...
  3. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I remember Swan hunting up and down the band.
  4. W0XX

    W0XX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Had a Swan Two Drifty (250) a long time back but never ventured into the 350 realm..
    KA9JLM likes this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The SW-250 and its better successor, the SW-250C, put a lot of hams on 6m SSB who never used the band before, or used only AM previously.

    They were very popular.
  6. N5DMC

    N5DMC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Somebody had to do it~

    Had a 350 as my first rig. Hooked up with a Hustler 4BTV in a 3 story apartment with a redwood tree a foot away. Made so many contacts. Great memories. Top of the antenna had to be a hundred feet in the air!
  7. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why do you say the VFO scheme is "goofy" and "wacko"? It's the same scheme as used in the Swan 350, 500, and some others!

    The IF is at 5500 kHz, which permits good image rejection.

    The VFO is bandswitched for the various bands, producing VFO output that is above both the IF and signal frequencies on 80 and 40, and below the signal frequency but above the IF on 20, 15 and 10.

    This scheme produces sideband inversion on 80 and 40 but not 20, 15 or 10, resulting in automatic selection of the "traditional" sideband, and a simpler design because the same carrier oscillator crystal is used on all bands.

    This design also results in a single-conversion design, which minimizes images, spurs and birdies and such because the IF is relatively high. It also permits coverage of 10 meters in a single range, and eliminates all those expensive heterodyne crystals.

    The only real issue with the VFO design is that it results in the VFO being bandswitched and operated at relatively high frequencies (8500 to 25700 in kHz in the various ranges!) which is why Swans drift so much.

    It's a design with tradeoffs, but "goofy"? "wacko"? Not so much.

    And, with modern technology, the drift problem could be eliminated by either a HuffPuff stabilizer, or a DDS VFO. DDS could provide RIT and some other features, such as a much slower tuning rate and much better calibration.

    If there were a source of 5500 kHz sharp IF filters....watch out.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The first SSB gear that I operated as 2nd operator back in 1968 was either a Swan 350 or a KW Viceroy.
    I knew for sure that later operations were with the local club's Swan, and it also went along at the first Field-Day I ever attended.

    Swan 350/500 was very popular among the budget-minded here before the era of the SB/HW-100's and early Kenwoods
    and held their own to the TR-3 which I Believe was the choice in the next price stratum.

    The Swans that belonged to clubs had a reputation of "eating" final tubes, as tune-up needed a quite light touch that some people lacked...
    My two Swans (350A and 500C) have a slight power advantage as compared to the SB/HW, KWM-2 and TR-3/4 rigs, but has a downside of nowadays expensive and delicate finals. Some years ago I was given two Galaxy GT-550's, one with "shot" final tubes.

    It turned out that a slight rewiring of the PS, and the substitution of 2E26's created a quite nice QRP Morse rig, and a nice IF for VHF transverters without the heating and tube damage problems that the 6LB6' showed.

  9. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    There have been conversion articles for a number of sweep-tube SSB rigs, such as the Tempo One/FT-200/FT-250 to use 6146s. Don't know about Swans.

    Another trick is to get odd-heater-voltage tubes of the same type (31JS6C, anyone) and install a separate heater transformer for the finals.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've modified a few Swans for 6146Bs. Don't expect more output power or anything, that's impossible.

    But for years 6146Bs were easier to find at lower cost than the sweep tubes were. Today, not necessarily true as 6146 manufacturing seems to be discontinued and they're getting expensive, also.

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