[AWA] Best of the "century"?

Sun Dec 26 21:57:34 EST 1999

Hi Everyone, The early thirties were a time that must have made it very
exciting to be a radio amateur with the rapidly unfolding technology of the
day and the advancements that came about to make the commercially produced
communications receiver a reality. This is a tough one. Hammarlund had the
1st successfull commercially produced superhet communications receiver in
1932 in the Comet but the set didn't have preselection and used individual
plug in coils for range selection. National followed with the "cost is no
object" AGS in 1933 and while undeniably a fine performer hand built to
laboratory standards it was produced in small numbers, built for govt. use or
aimed at the commercial aviation market and priced beyond the means of most
amateurs at that time. RME was busy readying their model 9 in the basement of
the founders home in 1934, and while the set featured a bandswitch,
preselection, and an "R" meter for reading signal strength it was also
produced in small numbers at first followed by the 9D. Meanwhile Bill
Halligan was getting his small Hallicrafters company organized in Chicago to
be included in that elite group of early commercial producers and had their
S-1 ready in 1934. This was a bandswitching TRF set which featured the power
supply and speaker in the same cabinet with the receiver and sold for a low
price. For 1935 Hallicrafters brought out their bandswitching superhets which
had preselection and still included the power supply and speaker inside.
Hallicrafters used common standard grade parts commercially produced for the
broadcast receiver industry where ever possible to hold the line on costs.
Their philosophy was to "give em the most bang for the buck" and they became
very good at it by carrying over existing designs, adding a few new features,
and; presto- new model! Not to be outdone the West coast boys were busy
designing and building their Bretings and Pattersons under the Gilfillan RCA
license but these were mostly the same basic design as the others with a
little different packaging. My vote for the milestone radio of the 20th
century would be the recognized and respected everywhere National HRO. The
radio had timeless design and was light years ahead of its competition at a
time when most amateurs built their own regenerative receivers. The receiver
was brought from conception in late 1933 to production in late 1934 in record
time by some of the best engineers in the business headed by James Millen and
featured uncompromising mechanical construction and excellent electrical
design with a two stage preselector, single-signal crystal filter and an "S"
meter. The earliest version of this receiver had a little white push button
"S" meter switch and black on white calibration charts on each coil (soon
after changed to push-pull switch and white on black charts). A survey was
done several years ago on HRO owners by an AWA member to learn more about
early production numbers and condition of surviving examples. A surprise
emerged from the questions answered and turned in by the then current HRO
owners. The earliest versions tended to be the most original and in the best
condition. It was surmised that the original purchasers of this fine receiver
in late 1934 and early 1935 knew they were getting something very special and
tended to keep them and care for them for many years. The early HRO gets my
vote. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2000. 73, Greg Gore; WA1KBQ

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