NC-300/303 ratings

Bob Miller bmiller at CALWEB.COM
Sun Nov 23 14:11:46 EST 1997

Gary Pewitt wrote:

> Having had several requests to share whatever information
> I received on this subject and having gotten permission
> from the source, I have edited out most exteranious
> material and attached the results to this message.
> Quite an interesting range of opinions.  I hope it's some
> help.
> 73  Gary
> -------------------------------------
> Name: Gary Pewitt N9ZSV/KT
>       6120 W. Calumet Rd. Apt 204
>       Milwaukee, WI  53223
>       414 355 8147 Home 414 297 4307 Work
> E-mail: gpewitt at
> Date: 11/23/97
> Time: 08:12:45
> -------------------------------------
>                                                   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> To: gpewitt at
> From: Mike Maloney <ac5p at>
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
> Cc: boatanchors at
> The 300 had no noise limiter that would work with the BFO on; a
> diode clipper is included in the 303.  The avc in the 303 features
> a fast attack and slow decay, in keeping with SSB requirements.
> The oscillator for the 6BE6 converter is xtal controlled in the
> 303 and is self controlled in the 300.  You already know about
> the Q-multiplier in lieu of the xtal filter; neither matches a
> good multipole xtal bandpass filter w/bandpass tuning which
> neither has.  Even with the 303, National was still not smart
> enough to use a product detector for SSB/CW.  There is a review
> of the NC-303 in QST for Apr 59 which covers the differences and
> "improvements" over the 300 in fine detail.  A nice NC300 product
> review was done by KD0HG in Electric Radio some yrs back.  My copy
> does not have the mo/yr on it.  Perhaps another list member can
> provide the date and other references.
> 73, Mike

Hi Mate,
    Just a few more comments re other commments.  I dug out my docs on the NC300/303 receiver and unless I am blind both
receivers employed a 6BE6 as a combination BFO/Product detector which was typical for most designs of that era.  The NC 303
like the 300 relied on its 80Khz IF to provide selectivity and while the ssb selectivity curves 6 and 60 db 2 Khz and 9 Khz
were certainly not brick wall mechanical filters, they probably represented a typical receiver of that period including a 75A3
w/o mechanical filter.
    Regarding comparisons with Hammarulund's offerings. I'll pretty much stand by original comment that the NC 303 was a much
better built receiver than the HQ170 series.  I have one of those also and it is by comparison a piece of crap. Cheap coils
and crappy construction throughout although not as bad as the HQ180 which has to lead the list for "Just add a few more
knobs--and anyone will buy it," receivers.
    As to the remarks that the NC-303 belonged in a New Orleans Whore house I can only say that from my perspective the NC-303
always impressed me as a bold statement in crisp design with its slide rule dial, heavy steel front panel, and bar knobs.  Now
a Seeburg it is not and I think you would have to look at the late Globe stuff to get into that catagory.  Or as one fellow
said about Hallicrafters SX101, "the big dial had the Detroit Auto look" which at the time was probably a good ploy as ole
Bill Halligan's designers always seemed to be in touch with the ham public from a facade standpoint even if his designs never
changed much in 30 years.
    I suppose most of the likes and dislikes of the various ham radio offerings over the years boil down to purely emotional
issues and most often throw technical comparisons and judgement to the winds.  Hell, it's just a hobby.

            Bob, KE6F

> Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 19:03:55 -0800
> From: Bob Miller <bmiller at>
> Reply-To: bmiller at
> To: gpewitt at
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
> HI Gary,
>         Be my guest given that what I put in the posting is from memory and a
> long stare across the room at the NC303..the 300 is in the garage.  Good luck
> on your trades.  For what it is worth, I traded a Collins R390A for my
> current NC303 and I paid $100 for the NC300 a couple years back--the 300 was
> in of work and I had to spend 20 dollars for a set of knobs to get One lousy
> pointer knob.  Be sure the sets have all the knobs and correct ones.  They
> are simple designs, but hard to find when you need 'em.
>     Good luck
>     Bob
> gpewitt at wrote:
> > Thanks Bob, that's exactly the type of information I was
> > looking for.  Would you mind if I pass it on?  I have had
> > several requests to share what information I received on
> > this subject.  I don't like to publish anyones messages
> > without permission.
> > 73  Gary
> > PS I am hoping to swap my AR-88LF for a nice 300/303.
> >
> > On Sat, 22 Nov 1997 12:29:14 -0800  Bob Miller wrote:
> > >Hi Gary,
> > >
> > >    I have one of each, and the 303 is somewhat better as
> > to general ham
> > >use.  Both receivers will do a fairly nice job and are
> > solidly built and
> > >in my opinion are a much better receiver than any of the
> > Hammarlund
> > >offerings and with few exceptions whip the Hallicrafter
> > offerings in a
> > >heart beat.  After warm up either receiver is stable
> > enough for most
> > >casual SSB contacts and I used my NC303 for years on RTTY
> > narrow shift
> > >on 80, 40, and 20 meters without any hitches.  Only
> > occasionally did I
> > >have to trim the tuning on long winded RTTY transmissions
> > (30 minutes
> > >plus running traffic).
> > >    The 303 has a scheme to shift the low frequency IF for sideband
> > >selection where the 300 requires that you put the BFO on either the high
> > >side or  the low side of the lower IF for sideband selection.  AVC
> > >action is supberb on the 303 and I cannot remember how well it works on
> > >my 300 as I have yet to do much operating with it.  The 303 Q multiplier
> > >is functional, but not that great compared to the one on my 51S1.  But
> > >for my money either receiver is still a bargain in today's super
> > >inflated boat anchor receiver market.  I do not know what prices you are
> > >looking at on these two units, but if the front panels are in good shape
> > >and all the knobs are in place, they sould not cost you more than 250
> > >bux and that would be high for the 300 and about right for a really nice
> > >303.  But I have seen 'em for much less.  My main station for years was
> > >an NC303 and a CE 100V exciter with a home brew final amp with a pair of
> > >4-250As in GG.  Still have the junk and it is still working fine which
> > >is more than I can say about some of the imported junk that I have
> > >bought over the years.
> > >    Let me know how you make out on these rascals and I may have some
> > >docs on 'em if you need help in that area.
> > >
> > >    73
> > >
> > >        Bob, KE6F
> From: MNHopkins at
> Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 19:20:45 -0500 (EST)
> To: gpewitt at
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
>    Funny you should ask.  I have been thinking of compiling a comparison of
> the two, knowing someone would be asking as I take every snide remark
> opportunity I see about the '303 which, among other things, seems to be the
> nation's first example of the "gold" chrome that is so appealing to pimps and
> rock musicians.
>     The 300, 1955-58, is a great gray box in the old style.  Inside is a
> double conversin RX with IFs at 2215 and 80 kc.  The first is to knock down
> images, the second to give selectivity.  In that second IF they switch
> tightness of coupling to affect degrees of selectivity, AND, they fit a
> crystal filter.  Crystal filters are dynamite on CW.  They exhibit a peaked
> response that is near ideal, but not "steep sided and flat toped" as the
> choice would be for SSB.  Both rigs cover 160-10M and have 5 mc wide slots
> for VHF converters.
>      The 303, 1958-62 drops the crystal filter, for which I will never
> forgive them.  But I do understand why they did it.  A crystal filter
> requires a skilled person to install and align and, to some extent, a skilled
> person to use.  It was replaced with a Q-multiplier, a stable regenerative
> stage which is a versitile addition to any RX, but no crystal filter.  There
> are markings on the dials and such that suggest the '303 is a SSB RX, but I
> don't see that it is.  The elusive flat top, steep side response does not
> come from a Q multiplier, either; it comes from a crystal filter with
> multiple poles, usually four or more.
>       So, what is wrong with a '303?  It lacks the crystal filter and it
> looks like it belongs in a New Orleans bawdy house.  The upgrade, in other
> words, is a cheapening for $100 more than the '300's $349.95.  In that price
> range, the Hammarlund HQ-170 was available for $10 more than the '300 and $90
> less than the monstrosity.  The Hammarlund had TRIPLE conversion with a last
> IF even lower (60 kc) and thus more effective plus a Q multiplier and what we
> would soon call RIT too.  It is my nominee for best all time v. tube RX, but
> I do not extend that to its general coverage cousin, the HQ-180.  Triple
> conversion is an effective means to an end, but the possibilities of spurs
> and other problems become crushing when one tries to apply it to a 0.5 to 30
> mc range.
>        Right after these rigs were designed (mid '50s) the shift to
> transceivers, which starts in '57 with the KWM-1, knocked big RXs off the
> design boards and they never really came back.  A modern upscale RX will have
> a first IF above the covered frequencies, often around 45 mc, and jump down
> to a crystal filter, or several.  Of course, you have to "taylor make" the
> modern RX which means you don't get a complete rig unless you ante $800 for
> extra filters.  The old timers were complete in themselves, as we all try to
> be.
> Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 16:47:06 -0600
> From: Stan &/or Pat Muller <pmuller at>
> To: gpewitt at EXECPC.COM
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
> R
> hi Gary,  i think its just a matter of personal preference. i remember
> years ago, when they first came out, playing with both of them in
> friends ham shacks and as i look back the only thing that stands out is
> that there was less knob twisting on the nc-300. it seems that the xtal
> filter was the better choice in those days.
> the next thing is that i just swapped into a nc-300 and am in the
> process of the restoration as we speak, so i wanted to pass on a site
> that i have found helpful:
> they have the original cabinet paints for the rigs, as well as they have
> the xtal calibrator in both kit and finished.  i just the can of paint
> and the calibrator yesterday.
>   if you come up with any info on the nc-300 side, that you think
> interesting, i would appreciate it if you would forward me a copy.
> i hope this helps, 73's  stan  KB0MHQ
> -
> Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 12:24:13 -0600 (CST)
> From: Larry Wolken <rhys at>
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
> Hi Gary --
> I guess when I was a kid I had always wanted an NC-300.  The massive bank
> vault knob and dial really appealed to me.  The advertisements were also
> very effective at portraying it as the ultimate receiver.  When I finally
> got one about a year ago, I kept it for a while but could not escape the
> conclusion that even though it peaked and spec'ed out, adn worked the way it
> was supposed to, it just seemed to be a fairly mediocre performer -- fun to
> operate, but not worth my limited desktop space.  I sold it to another list
> member here in the DC area who also couldn't wait to get his hands on it and
> then couldn't wait to sell it.
> Granted this is a sample of one, and all the collectors that I talked to
> said that the NC's as a rule were a pale imitation of the HRO's.  Obviously
> the ideal thing would be to somehow get your hands on one or borrow it
> before you buy.  But in most areas, there aren't too many National showrooms
> left.  Hope I have not "spoiled" things for you, but I didn't want you to
> have the same disappointing experience that I did.
> 73
> Larry N3OJD
> ================
> At 11:59 AM 11/22/97 PST, you wrote:
> >OK, you've got me interested.  What am I "in for"?
> >I've never owned one and had the impression that they
> >were pretty good rigs.  I like my other National rigs:
> >NC-155, NC-183, NC-190, HRO-50, and HRO-60.
> >Don't leave me hanging.  What's the scoop on the 300/303?
> >73  Gary
> >
> >
> Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 11:40:37 -0600 (CST)
> Received: from by via smap (V1.3)
>         id rma022574; Sat Nov 22 11:40:01 1997
> From: Larry Wolken <rhys at>
> Subject: Re: NC-300--NC-303
> X-UIDL: d1b466802e7f6636805eb8c848463419
> Hi Gary ==
> Don't want to throw a wet blanket on the search but in my experience the
> NC-300 & '303 do not perform as well as they look.  But perhaps you've
> already had a good experience with one and know exactly what you're in for.
> Good luck either way.
> Larry Wolken N3OJD
> =================

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