My Year With Antique Wireless Gear

The Fabulous National SW-3

A year ago, I set out to purchase one antique wireless receiver – a Regenerative National SW-3. I found one and love it and will keep it. Accidentally, I then “fell into” the Collins Gold Dust Twins. That was a bridge too far as far as “having stuff” – but it was a good experience – I learned how to use test gear – and now fully understand the “hubbub” about Collins gear. There are features today that started with the Gold Dust Twins.

As far as “bang for the buck” is concerned, the SW-3 has been by far a better deal – I was able to get a read on history and what it was like in 1931 with a tube radio that had coils to change bands, and also that crazy “swooping” Regenerative tuning and sound. That alone exudes history like nothing else. I was very surprised to learn more about receivers reading a 1931 October QST article by James Millen – the designer of the SW-3 than just about any other article. Now that surprised me – and it was a pleasant surprised.

I also tried to get back into a “bug” for keying. That was another big FAIL – however – when I tried the oddball – but very cool – Begali Intrepid Bug – I accidentally stumbled on its ability to be a single lever (Mono) key. WOW – that was priceless – my sending is better than all of my years in Ham Radio – going back to 1973.

None of this has been bad – because its all a learning experience. There have been many times in my life where I took things “one step over the line” and then had to pull back on the reigns, and this was one of them. Also – all of this has been me searching for the “next chapter” after my 2001 – 2016 years as a serious “true blue” DXer. I’m still a DXer, but what has stuck more than Vintage Gear is QRP DXing.

I have found the “next chapter” after trying Vintage, Maker and QRP projects. Its all good – and shows just a few of the many facets of this great hobby of Ham Radio.

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