saving military communications gear at hamfests

jeffhuey1n

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I've got some Ham radio doodads out in the barn. A big arsed antenna among other things. I'm getting rid of all of it. Too many projects so some are going away. If interested PM me.
 

General Hood

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Are any of you guys making it to HamCom this weekend? There is usually some military radio equipment available from some of the vendors who set up outside the building. I can't make it this year due to other responsibilities
 

maddawg308

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Next show: Manassas VA 6/4/17, bright sunny day and a decent crowd! Always fun at Manassas...

Pic 1-2: telegraph set TG-5-B - this is a late war telegraph key set, comes in a self-enclosed box with a bunch of electronics and a battery pack, along with the headset and key. This unit was in good shape but was missing most of the set, except for the key which was present. No price listed for it.

Pic 3: Another Hammarlund SP-600, this one is a JX-17 version, probably the most common of the SP-600 Super Pro series. This unit was used by several agencies and military branches, but this specific iteration was never given a military designation, unlike other -600 SPs. The JX-17 was the only one that had the red-colored metal knobs, other versions had black plastic. $600 obo was listed for this boat anchor, a bit high but if it worked okay I would gladly offer $450 to $475.

Pic 4: I've posted pics of R-390As before and given you the rundown, they are a great HF radio receiver. If you have $300-400 and you like quality radios, you NEED to have one in your shack. This unit was in good condition and working, seller was taking offers. I figured $250 would've brought it home.

Pic 5: A Hammarlund BC-794-B, the Signal Corps version of the SP-200SX. All Hammarlund are well-built and will give you decades of enjoyment if well cared for. This unit was mid-WWII in age, the BC-794 is perhaps the most rare of the SP-200 series. It's rack mounted, covers 1.2 to 40 MHz in receive. This one came with the rack mounted power supply for $100 - a GREAT deal and I was ready to purchase it when the owner said it worked. However, seeing a tag attached to the top of the power supply listed a half-dozen problems with the radio set, it DID work, but there were 5-6 features that didn't, all probably related to capacitor failure. While this can be remedied by a recapping job, I need another radio project like I need a hole in the head, so I opted to leave her where she was.

Pics 6-9: what I came home with!

I caught up with the seller who had the TS-497B/URR signal generator for $25 at the Howard Cty. show, he was set up there and still had the unit (!!!). I whipped out a $20 and a $5 and was glad noone else caught that unit first!

- Lot of 3 various ARC (Aircraft Radio Corp) R-34 type aircraft receivers. I don't know much about these, from what I understand they are descendants of the venerable ARC-5 radio sets I have plenty of. For $10 for the lot of 3 units, I'll take a chance.
-Test Oscillator TS-170/ARN-5. This unit was disassembled when I found it, I put it back together again. The AN/ARN-5 is an airborne glide path receiver, fixed freq. of 335 MHz. This is calibration source for that radio. It's probably useless for me, but for $2 I'll hold down more paper around here. :)
- Couple military coiled cables, a H-113/U headset, a WWII J-45 leg key bracket (without the key, but I have one here), and an odd flip-phone-like radio handset that is for a European military radio. Unsure of model, there are several places on it with three crowns in an inverted triangle, I assume that is supposed to hint at its country of origin, but got me. If anyone knows what model handset it is, please let me know.
 

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SCSG-G4

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and an odd flip-phone-like radio handset that is for a European military radio. Unsure of model, there are several places on it with three crowns in an inverted triangle, I assume that is supposed to hint at its country of origin, but got me. If anyone knows what model handset it is, please let me know.
Three crowns is most likely Sweden (two above, one below), so look at their stuff in Jane's to see what you can find. Sometimes it helps to be a stamp collector.
 

maddawg308

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Well another February, another Frostfest! Back to Richmond VA to see about saving some military radio gear!

FIRST - the gear I saw there but did not buy:

Pic 1: Another Collins-made R-390, circa 1951, 500 KHz to 32 MHz. I have spoken at length about them previously, so I won't bore you all with the specifics again. This one was complete, but had obviously seen better days, one of the panel guards was missing on the front, along with most of the finish on the knobs. The warning stickers on the radium dials were neat. The seller was asking $275 I believe, which was a bit high considering the unit looked like it had been in a dusty shed for several decades and would need a thorough cleaning and testing before plugging it in. I would have offered $150-200 range.

Pic 2: Pair of military vacuum tube testers. Shame I forgot to write down the models of these units. The seller said they both worked, left one was $130, right was $160. If they did indeed work, those are very good prices! I should've picked at least one of them up, but I forgot all about them. :(

Pic 3: Another Hallicrafters SX-28, in good shape. Price was a fair $200 for this classic rig. I should get one of these, and a spare set of tubes for it, before they all vanish into history...

Pic 4: This is a WWII BC-342N receiver, 1.5 to 18 MHz receive. It's a brother unit to the more common BC-312 receiver, except this rig runs off standard 110-120 VAC wall current so it doesn't require a dynamotor for power requirements. It was primarily used in the field, and in stationary installations. This unit looked in very nice shape, the owner said it was restored for sale for $250, with a spare parts unit and a matching speaker. The antenna jack on the front has been replaced with a more modern UHF connector, but other than that, it's a neat radio in mostly original condition.

Pic 5: Surplus BC-348-Q radio, this one was in need of TLC but everything looked like it was there. $70 would get it out the door with you.

Pic 6: YET ANOTHER R-390A/URR, made by Collins. This one was in really nice shape, in a pristine rack mount, all for $600. I've seen ones just as nice as this sell for hundreds more, if you were in the market for a plug-and-play R-390 this was as good a deal as you could possibly find.

Pics 7-8: This were mystery units! I've never seen military radios as colorful as the knobs on these are. These were made by Watkins-Johnson, they are the receivers for the AN/PRD-11 direction finding radio set. I will have to look up more on these rigs online. I wanted to talk to the seller about them, but every time I passed by he must've been out shopping. The sticker says $350 each, I have no idea if that's a fair deal or not, I know nothing about these at this time. :(
 

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maddawg308

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Now for the things I DID save!

Pics 1-2: AN/URR-27 fixed frequency receiver. Receives 105-190 MHz AM, must use a single crystal set to the freq. you would like to listen to. Complete, all there, but seller never used it himself so it's a gamble. Cost was $20, so I'll play with it and see what she can do.

Pic 3: This is the unit I didn't pick up last Frostfest, then found out it was the power supply for the LM-18 frequency meters I have here that I have no power source for. The seller still had it! This time, though, the price wasn't $10. It was $2 !! In the basket you go!

Pics 4-5: This was in a big wooden crate, it's a BC-638A frequency meter, made by Bendix Radio. Note it has American and I believe British data plates! Info I got on the net says this is for use with the BC-639 and SCR-522 receivers. Paid $30 for it, I think I'll clean it up and see it I can't find any other buddies of mine that might have the specific use for it.

Pics 6-8: The heavy iron this time around was this WWII RAK-8 VLF receiver, covers 15-600 KHz, so it can receive very low frequency AM radio signals, and a lot of other interesting radio traffic like submarine comms, etc. Came with the receiver itself, and a separate power supply unit, all for $60. A lot less than a dollar a pound!

Pic 9: Odds and ends - a pile of manuals for $10 altogether, a small test set for the TRC-1 radio set for $2, a Boy Scout morse code key in decent shape for $2, and a like-new WWII machinegun oil can for $5.

All in all, a decent haul from this Frostfest! Next ham radio show is Annandale, VA in mid-March, so I'll be sure to save more stuff there!
 

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maddawg308

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It's been some time since I updated this thread with my military radio finds at ham radio swap meets, and since now it's a new year and I'm getting back into the swing of things, and starting to visit some more hamfests, I'd like to revisit this topic a little bit. Perhaps get you interested in saving more military commo stuff as well.

First, a show I went to late last year, Howard County MD hamfest in October 2021. I don't have any pics from the event itself, but did save a bunch of heavy old iron there so these are pics and info of what I got. The show itself was pretty packed, lots of neat stuff for sale. Anyways, here we go...

Pics 1-3: I came home from the show with no less than 3 (!!!) R-390A radio sets. I've mentioned these great HF rigs several times, so I won't bore you with the details again. There were commonplace in fixed installations and Navy ships from the 1950s through the 1980s. One was a Motorola contract specimen in nice condition in a portable rack mount enclosure, seller said the faceplate needed a little touch-up but it worked great. Taking his word for it, it was well worth the $325 price tag to me. The other two were parts units that might be able to be combined into one working rig, my price was $90 each. The parts units were made by Motorola and Electronic Assistance Corp.

Pic 4: Purchased for $150, a very fair price, was a Hammarlund made R-274A/FRR, basically a militarized Super Pro SP-600. I believe I've mentioned this one before as well, similar performance as the R-390As above just a different manufacturer and model. I really like the rack-mount Navy-style receivers of the 50s and 60s, they are very heavy duty and easy to repair. In the right hands, these rigs will give many more decades of service.

Pic 5: Also snagged a URM-26B signal generator for $40, with the manual. Don't scoff at military test equipment - I've worked in an electronics lab once, and newer test equipment is REALLY PRICEY, like 4 or 5 figures pricey. These mil-spec pieces of test gear are inexpensive and built very well, with components that were very high quality, and if you find one in good physical shape, odds are there's still lots of accurate life left in it. The URM-26B covers 4 to 405 MHz, which is most of everything you'll need in HF and VHF radio servicing.

Pics 6-8: The rest of the pieces I saved were ARC-5 units that I scrounge if they are cheap enough (in this case, $5 each), some mil-spec antenna cables, and a handful of mostly aircraft radio system components. If they are good prices, they are going in the basket!

Will post pics and gear from a couple more hamfest soon...
 

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papakb

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Maddawg, Your "colorful knobs" receivers are GRR-8 receivers that are a part of the PRD-11 Direction Finder Set. There are 4 tuning heads that interchange to give it a .5 - 500 Mhz tuning range. The manuals are all online for the set. I have all 4 tuning heads and an extra .5-30 head. Do you have any plans for them?
 

maddawg308

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Maddawg, Your "colorful knobs" receivers are GRR-8 receivers that are a part of the PRD-11 Direction Finder Set. There are 4 tuning heads that interchange to give it a .5 - 500 Mhz tuning range. The manuals are all online for the set. I have all 4 tuning heads and an extra .5-30 head. Do you have any plans for them?
Those units I did not buy, only some stuff in this thread I purchased, the rest is just a showcase for items I saw at the hamfests.
 
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