Normally, I avoid posting items of a nostalgic nature, preferring to keep moving forward and not getting stuck in the past. I am going to make an exception today because I stumbled across some photos of my first radio receiver that went beyond the standard AM/FM broadcast bands.
Aiwa AR-158 Radio
As a kid, I remember saving up my money and buying this radio from the local “dime store” about 3 miles away from my house. It was a 6-band radio made by Aiwa, not a very common brand. I am not sure of the exact model number but it was probably the AR-158.
Of course, the radio had the standard AM and FM broadcast bands, but the real fun came from the other bands. The “Marine Band”, 1.6 to 4 MHz, picked up some shortwave broadcast stations. The “Shortwave Band” covered 4 to 12 MHz, allowing me to listen to broadcast stations from around the world. The VHF1 band covered the aircraft band from 110 to 136 MHz. I probably did not realize it at the time but the radio must have selected AM for that band. The VHF2 band provided FM reception from 148 to 174 MHz.
This receiver gave me my first experience with the wonderful world of radio. My best buddy, Denny/KB9DPF, bought a similar radio about the same time, so we were always comparing notes on what we heard: Radio Netherlands, Deutsches Welle, BBC London, Voice of America, Radio Moscow, Radio Havana, Radio Johannesburg and more. Sometimes I would hear SSB ham stations but they just sounded like Donald Duck on the AM receiver. I remember stumbling upon the signal from WWV and wondering what this ticking clock signal was all about. Whatever it was, it was really cool. (Yes, I listened to it for hours. Just because.)
The VHF Bands
The VHF aircraft band was fun to listen to, although the transmissions were short. I don’t remember if I could hear the control tower from the local airport (probably not) but I could receive aircraft transmissions. The VHF2 band was very interesting and probably planted the seeds for my interest in VHF. I could listen to the local police and fire radio calls. Tuning was a bit tedious because the receiver had an old-school analog VFO. No digital synthesis on this radio.
The radio picked up the 2-meter ham band, so the actual tuning must have been a bit lower than 148 MHz. Hearing hams chat on the local 2m repeaters got me thinking about getting an amateur license. This receiver did not have a squelch, so listening to two-way FM signals was filled with lots of receiver noise!
Even back then (in the 1960s), this was not a great radio receiver… imprecise tuning, no squelch, limited shortwave coverage. By today’s standards, it’s even worse. But I had a boatload of fun playing around with it and exploring the radio spectrum. So maybe that’s the thing to be learned from this story:
Whatever radio equipment you have, use it.
You can probably have a lot of fun.
73 Bob K0NR