Posts Tagged ‘Hallicrafters’

Hallicrafters Shortwave Radio; Winning WWII With Technology (1944)

Great film about a great radio manufacturer and radio set.

In 1944, this short subject film was produced by the Jam Handy Organization and sponsored by the Hallicrafters Company. It shows the construction of the SCR-299 and dramatizes its use during World War II. This is a B&W documentary presenting a look at the manufacturing and use of the (now defunct) Hallicrafters Company’s SCR-299 “mobile communications unit.” This 1944 film, produced with help from the US Army Signal Corps, and by the Hallicrafters Company, explains how, using radio gear such as this Hallicrafters shortwave radio transmitter and receiver technology, the US Forces and Allies were better equipped to win World War II.

The SCR-299 “mobile communications unit” was developed to provide long-range communications during World War II. The US Military sought improvements of range, flexibility and durability over its existing SCR-197 and SCR-597 transmitters. In 1942, Hallicrafters Standard HT-4 was selected as the SCR-299’s transmitter, known subsequently by its military designation as the BC-610. The SCR-299 was first used on November 8, 1942, during Operation TORCH involving companies of the 829th Signal Service Battalion establishing a radio net that could exchange messages between beach-landed forces and bases in Gibraltar. Despite initial problems unloading the sets from convoy ships, the SCR-299s served until the installation of permanent Army Command and Administrative Network stations. According to US Army military historians, “General Dwight Eisenhower credited the SCR-299 in his successful reorganization of the American forces and final defeat of the Nazis at Kasserine Pass.”

The SCR-299 was a “self-contained” receiving and transmitting mobile high-frequency (HF; or, shortwave) station capable of operating from 2 MHz to 8 MHz. Using conversion kits, it could operate from 1 MHz to 18 MHz. The transmitter output reached 350 watts.

The entire unit came in a K-51 truck except for Power Unit PE-95 which was in a K-52 trailer. Power could either be supplied by the Power Unit and a 12-volt storage battery or 115-volt 60-cycle AC commercial power and two spare 6-volt storage batteries. The power requirement was 2000 watts, plus 1500 watts for heater and lights.

The system could be remotely controlled up to a distance of one mile (1.6 km) using two EE-8 field telephones and W-110-B Wire kit. Remote equipment was provided for remotely keying or voice modulating the transmitter, remotely listening to the receiver, and for communicating with the operator of the station.

Read more details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCR-299

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive.

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73 de NW7US

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The Hallicrafters SX-88: a rare find and a gem of engineering

[Note: this post first appeared on my shortwave radio blog, the SWLing Post.]

Hallicrafters-SX-88

Yesterday while glancing through the QTH.com classifieds ads, I noticed a rare boat anchor for sale: the Hallicrafters SX-88.

The seller, Jeremy, describes this SX-88 as follows:

Hi [t]here, I have one SX88 in minty shape and is one of a handful that came in military green on [the] front panel for evaluation by the military. This is an exceptional radio in amazing condition. I can provide pics for someone who is seriously interested. I am open to a fair offer on radio. Please, no low-ballers. We all know what [it’s] worth…

Halli-SX-88-QTH-Ad“We all know what it’s worth–?

Well, it just so happened that my good friend (and Elmer, or ham radio guru) Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) had recently provided me with a little history lesson on the subject of the SX-88, so I did know what this rig is worth: a great deal of money.

But curiosity got the best of me, so I contacted Jeremy (a nice fellow, by the way) and asked what he was expecting to receive in exchange for his Hallicrafters SX-88? Jeremy’s reply:

“…$5,500 USD will take it. It is a very rare unit; it was… only one of about 6 [painted green]…for presentation to the military for evaluation.

That price is firm. [I] will not negotiate downward, and shipping [from Ontario, Canada] is extra.”

After receiving this response from Jeremy, I happened to think that I have the reference guide to rare/used shortwave receivers: Fred Osterman’s Shortwave Receivers Past and Present 4th edition. (Click here for more info.)

Osterman’s wonderfully comprehensive guide mentions that the SX-88 is a “highly regarded, rare and collectible model.” As for the rarity of the SX-88, he describes it thus: “Extremely Scarce.” The used price range he gives is from $3,500-7,000 US.

I also have Chuck Dachis’ book, Radios By Hallicraftersin it, he states that the SX-88 is, “the most sought-after Hallicrafters model.” Wow.

After thanking Jeremy for his response, he replied:

“It’s a lot of money for a receiver for certain, but it is a fantastic shortwave receiver as the audio that comes out of it is amazing.

It has 10 watts of audio and into a big speaker–it is second to none. The fidelity is amazing and it is the king of its kind. [For those who like] tube rigs, it is the best of its kind.

For ham purposes on AM it is amazing, and on CW I find it incredible to use.

[W]hen they built this thing they intended to pull all [the] stops out and build the best radio they could for the day with the military in mind. It was an engineering marvel for the day.

Anyway, I have played with it for years now and need to thin out the herd.”

Impressive. And while I just don’t have that kind of money to fork out for a receiver, I did ask myself the question: “If I had $5,500 to blow, would I get that Hallicrafters SX-88?”

And my answer? Yes.  In fact, I would personally drive to Jeremy’s home in Ontario and bring it back; no way I’d trust it to a parcel carrier or the post office…

Click to enlarge (Source: AntiqueRadio.org)

Click to enlarge (Source: AntiqueRadio.org)

Come on, you may say. For a guy who rarely pays over $50 for a vintage receiver, how could you possibly justify that kind of financial and time commitment–?

Well, let’s think of it this way.  I remember when when I paid well over two thousand for my first laptop in college. How much is it worth now? Maybe twenty dollars–?

Many people have retirement funds in investments, some of which are in a variety of innovative companies that they actually patronize–for example, Apple or Microsoft.  But how often can you find an investment that you can actually play with? One which you can turn on, tune in, work the controls, and enjoy?

Yes, I’m sure this is just the sort of justification voiced by many a vintage car collector…So, why not for a museum-worthy radio? After all, they’re not making these anymore.

I expect this Halli will not only hold its value, but will probably increase in value over time.

Ah, well; fun to ponder.  My question to you: Would you buy a $5,500 vintage receiver if you had it to spare?

If your answer is yes, and you do have the money, then you might want to contact Jeremy.

I’m very curious if there are any SX-88 owners among our readership? If so, please comment with your thoughts about the ’88!

And for the rest of us, just so we can revel in the vicarious pleasure of ownership, I’ve included some additional information about the Hallicrafters SX-88 below, including two videos.

Resources (courtesy of Jeremy):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozclVUwZ_mM]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clF5HsewTnU]

Nostalgia from LA3ZA in 1949

Those who are familiar with me will know that I wasn't even born when this LA3ZA QSL-card was issued in 1949. This is because I am second generation LA3ZA after my father. When the callsign was reissued to me in 2001 it had been inactive for 40 years or so.

I still have the Hallicrafters S40A receiver which my father used with a 2 W input homemade tube transmitter. The S40A (image below) was what introduced me to shortwave listening during the good conditions of the solar peak in the late sixties, despite its mediocre performance I would say.
Read more »

The Johnson 275W Matchbox Antenna Tuner

I had purchased a Johnson Matchbox from an estate a while back & decided that while I was home with the flu I would open it up and check on its condition.

The Johnson Matchbox is found most commonly in two versions, the smaller “275W” unit and the larger Kilowatt Matchbox. Why did I use quotation marks around 275W? Well, these units were manufactured back in the good old days when men were men and transmitting voice meant using AM, not single side band. The conservative rating of 275W of AM translates into roughly 800W of peak SSB  (Not really but close enough so you get the idea)

Unlike many who own a Matchbox I was hoping to keep it 100% original and that it would contain all its original components, including the antenna change-over relay and wiring for the high-impedance receiver antenna connections. I plan to use this Johnson Matchbox with a Heathkit AT-1 transmitter and Hallicrafters SX-25 receiver so the inclusion of an antenna change over relay and 300 Ohm receiver connections will make life MUCH easier. Something I didn’t realize until I had the unit apart (There are a LOT of screws holding this thing together) is that there is also a receiver control contact on the relay to break HT and mute the receiver during transmit which will work with my SX-25.

An initial inspection showed that the only modification was a small piece of plastic wedged into the relay contacts that held the relay in the transmit position. It was easily removed and the relay coil and contacts tested for continuity. The contacts seem a bit dirty which, from the little I have read online, seems to be a common problem.

Once the relay contacts and band-switch are cleaned I will button the unit back up and connect it to the loop antenna I have recently run around the eaves of the house. The loop has been a huge improvement to the long-wire and magnetic antennas I have run in the past, at least as far as reception goes … but that is a topic for another post.


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