The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

November 19, 2011

An Echo From the Past

Filed under: Electronics,ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 6:38 pm

I mentioned to my parents a couple of weeks ago that I was going to take the exam for my Technician’s class amateur radio license. They informed me that the remainder of my grandfather’s shack had come into their possession after he passed on (in 1993). I asked them if I could try to put it to use and they graciously unloaded the parts that the could easily find on short notice. Turn the page if you’re interested in seeing some photos and commentary.

I was going to just post the photo’s in order, but it’s more interesting to me out of order. Below is my grandfather’s short wave radio receiver. It’s a Heathkit, so I assume he built it from a kit.

The sad old heathkit sw receiver.

And here are some pictures of the guts.

Innards from the bottom

Innards from the top

It will be a lot of work to restore this old radio. I’m not sure I’m up to the task. I have fond memories of playing with this radio when I was a kid. It’s the only radio Gramps would let me touch because it had no transmitter.

Below was one of Gramps’ parts bins. This view shows some crystals, old transistors, resisters, and a resistor color code decoder resting on top!

sorted bits

And below we have the contents of several bins. It may look like junk, but there is some good stuff there too. There is a terminal block on the left obscured by some (what look like) RG-58 feed lines with PL-259 connectors. The rear left bin contains some kind of tuner, and some assorted small amplifier kits. The rear middle bin has a fair size pile of vacuum tubes which I haven’t identified yet, and a bunch of wire-wound resistors. The right rear box is, as labeled, full of rectifier diodes. Center front bin contains some insulators, some power transistors, and some bridge rectifiers. The front right bin has some prototype boards and some projects which look like amplifiers.

The picture blow has some other strange bits. To the left is the parts bin again. The white thing in the middle seems to be a coin drop with lots of neat electronics bits on a clean circuit board. I may have to dismantle that. The box actually looks like a nice project box. The green thing in the lower right is a 12vdc to 120VAC converter meant to plug into your car and produce power (100 watts) for something that would usually plug into the wall. I wonder if it works… I wonder if it’s safe. In the right rear is some type of power amplifier which seems to have been removed from some other piece of equipment.

Below are a bunch of old crystal oscillators. I am guessing that these are for a tranceiver. A couple are marked on the back like 147.06 or 144.18. These sound like megahertz measurements in the 2 meter band, but that’s just a guess since I’m a radio newbie.

And lastly, below is a bit of a “then and now” comparison. Gramps had a bunch of indicator lamps in three drawers. I have piled of LED’s in my parts drawers. It made me feel a bit closer to him knowing that he had similar types of parts lying around as I do.


  1. Glad you enjoy the mystery box shortwave radio. Have you plugged it in? We can troubleshoot it later if you want to. Your grand uncle Eilif was chief engineer on Demarks largest freighter; so I don’t think would have any trouble fixing anything you really put your mind to. Love, Dad and Mom

    Comment by Dad and Mom — November 20, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  2. The radio needs a new power cord. The strings which control the tuning from the knobs are broken. I’ll have to sort out how to re-string them. The electrolytic capacitors may need replacing. I’d rather not have them spill their guts on the circuit boards when I spark the thing up. Also, one of the potentiometer/switch knobs is frozen. There is also a lot of grime and dirt on all of the parts.

    All of that said, there is a lot of simple work to do to get a nice SW radio up and running (assuming no invisible problems). I wonder where I can get some “heathkit blue” paint.

    Comment by Cranky Sysadmin — November 22, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  3. Gotta love that Texas-crystal!

    Comment by AnttiP — February 28, 2013 @ 9:24 am

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