An old friend returns, and arrives with a mystery item

Sony ICF-2010

Sony ICF-2010

I’ve owned many of the classic shortwave receivers throughout the roughly 40 years that I have been a SWL.  Most of these I passed on to friends and relatives, while others were sold at hamfests, and on eBay.  I know that my beloved Panasonic RF-2200, is still used by my sister-in-law Alice.  My late brother Paul kept it prominently displayed on the counter for years.  My Sony ICF-6500 lives in Wisconsin, in the hands of a good friend that wanted to get in to shortwave listening.  Others, I’m not so sure as to the whereabouts, but hopefully they are still in use (with exception given to my National HRO-60 which I know was lost in a flood).

Of all of these, the one I frequently regret selling was my Sony ICF-2010.  The 2010 is still considered to be one of the best portable shortwave receivers around, and rivals many tabletops.  I sold mine on eBay during what we’ll call a dark time  in my life a number of years back.  I purchased the 2010 new at Gilfer Shortwave in NJ, in-person.  Now, as I see working examples sell for upwards of $350 on eBay, I have relegated the replacement of this radio to a status of someday, along with several other things that I want but do not need at the moment.  It would be a nice addition to my collection though, considering it is a great receiver.  It has a synchronous detector, separate USB/LSB modes, and 100Hz resolution, and portability.

Last week while watching new postings on eBay I saw one come up.  This example was listed as for parts or not working.  Upon reading the description, I noticed that the seller indicated the radio to be completely dead.  Now, in the world of radio repair, completely dead is usually better than many other states of being.  Especially in the case of the 2010, which is known to have battery compartment issues.  Anyway, I grabbed the radio immediately for a VERY reasonable price.  It arrived last night, and as I suspected, the problem was battery compartment related.  The 2010 runs on 3 D-cells, and 2 AA-cells.  The AA cells are listed as the computer batteries.  One thing about the 2010:  If you want to run it on AC power alone, you still HAVE TO have the AA-cells in place.  One of the plastic supports for the AA battery contacts had broken from the housing.  It is still held in place with a ribbon-

sized piece of plastic though, causing it to tilt at an angle back and forth like a loose tooth.  I temporarily fixed it with a piece of compressed foam and some plastic tubing.  The radio works great!  Better I think than my early example from years ago.  I have a couple of questions for the radio community though.First of all, what should I glue the AA-cell support back in place with?  I would try crazy-glue (or any generic cyanoacrylate), but I know that it will sometimes react with some commercial plastics, making the problem even worse.  I was thinking of using Gorilla Glue, but I would need to devise a clamping method.  I know some of you out there have dealt with such things before.  What do you use?

Second, the radio arrived with a loop antenna of some kind.  I have put pictures below.  It is approximately 21 inches long, made from PVC pipe with two endcaps.  On one end is an connector and on the other end, an eye-hook.  I scrounged in my adapters and was able to hook it up.  It definitely improved reception on a few bands.  Has anyone seen one of these before?  Is it a commercial product, or homebrew?  What is the bandwidth?  And, if no one knows, what is the best method for determining its properties?  Feel free to answer in the comments.

Neil Goldstein, W2NDG, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New York, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “An old friend returns, and arrives with a mystery item”

  • KK4JKS:

    Looks a *lot* like a vhf/uhf j-pole or slim jim antenna that we often house in pvc pipe (with the antenna being made out of 300 ohm twinlead or 450 ohm ladder line). The only problem is it’s length – most vhf jpoles are on the order of around 5′ in length. However…there are many designs out there, and you might have a uhf antenna of some odd design or something.

    I guess the big thing is, I doubt it’s a SW antenna. Not with that much effort put into it, as well as the connector (looks like an SO239). Most SW antennae are going to be long wires, stretched to get as much coverage area as possible. Even a calculated wire, wrapped and put in that pipe package, would be kind of pointless.

    I’d pop that thing open and have a look inside! 🙂

  • KK4JKS:

    Oh, my bad – you said “f” connector. I’ll bet it’s got some type of twin-lead in there. You could probably throw an antenna analyser on it just for kicks, or (as I said before), pop that bugger open and have a peek (and post pics!!). 🙂

  • I have a friend with a basement full of test equipment. I see similar products for sale on eBay:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MAGIC-WAND-SHORTWAVE-ANTENNA-Hang-Play-Listen-to-the-World-/180942637377?pt=US_Portable_AM_FM_Radios&hash=item2a21058941#ht_2304wt_1166

    The seller told me it was a commercially-available antenna. Not homebrew. I guess I can crack it open, but from reading the ad for another version of the one above I believe it will contain a wooden dowel with helical-wrapped copper wire. We’ll see!

    –Neil

  • KK4JKS:

    Ah, fair enough! It’s for tight spaces; probably not better than long wires, BUT, better than just a short length of something random, or a telescoping antenna. It might be better to *not* crack the thing open, just use it! ;-P

  • Tom W5GV:

    Probably a coil of wire inside the pipe. I’m sure it beats the whip antenna. You might try hot glue on the battery holder. if someone can hold it in place while you apply the hot glue and then hold it in place for just a few seconds.

  • Stuart WB6RXG:

    Looks like a Dick Smith Electronics ferrite/coil antenna, it’s basically a loopstick that can be setup for different bands. If it’s got ferrite in it it will feel a lot heavier than just PVC and a copper coil.

    I used to work for an am and tv broadcast station that needed good reception of another am broadcast station about 100 miles away for EBS/EAS. Nothing we tried for an antenna worked well until we tried the Dick Smith loopstick. It worked so well we even bought another one and set it up for WWV on 10mhz.

  • Dean VK4TDB:

    Mate, It probably has a few ferite rods taped together with some turns around them. Possibly includes a varactor to tune the rod. You could try putting some DC on the centre and see if the antenna tunes accordingly.
    I made one like this but using a small plastic tuning cap to tune the rod. The signal was picked off the rod with a few turns, sent to an amplifier and fed into my old radio. Worked a treat, very good reception. Equal to anything I’ve heard before. Good luck.

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