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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

TRGHS -- My First SW Receiver Offered FREE for Pickup -- The Lafayette HA-600A (Looking for Globe VFO Deluxe)

 


So on September 27,2020,  I was sitting quietly in my shack, perusing the postings on various radio-related Facebook groups, when suddenly I saw it:  my very first shortwave receiver, the magic box that had put me firmly on the path to amateur radio, the Lafayette HA-600A.  Joe, the owner,  was offering it FREE to anyone willing to pick it up at his home in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.  Holy Cow!  I was scheduled to drive through that very valley later that week.  A message was sent and the deal was done.  CLEARLY THE RADIO GODS HAD SPOKEN (TRGHS).  

Sure, the cabinet looked a bit rough, but I had high hopes for this receiver.  A while back I had -- in a similar fit of nostalgia -- bought what had been advertised as a Lafayette HA-600A on e-bay.  But it turned out to be a Lafayette HA-600 (no A).  I immediately noticed a big difference in performance.  That was NOT the radio that I remembered, not the receiver that had carried HCJB and Radio Moscow to me. Joe was clearly offering the A model.  

A few days later I was in Joe's front yard for the hand-off, and a few days after that the HA-600A was on my bench.  

I quickly realized how little I knew about this receiver.  Mine was a Christmas gift, probably in 1973. (A few days ago I talked to my mom and thanked her for driving all the way to New Jersey to get this receiver for me.)   I was so taken with this thing that I feared doing something -- anything -- that might mess it up.  I lived in fear, for example, that some sort of freak mid-winter lightning bolt might destroy it.  I covered it with a towel each night lest dust encumber its "jeweled movements." Obviously I was just not inclined to crack open the case and have a look around. So I didn't, and the receiver remained pretty much an appliance for all the time I owned it.  (I eventually sold it on consignment at Electronics 59 in Spring Valley, New York.  The proceeds probably went toward the purchase of a much better Drake 2-B receiver.) 

I downloaded the manual and familiarized myself with the receiver:  It is a single conversion superhet with a 455 kc IF.  It is all solid state with no ICs -- all discrete transistors and diodes. The manual claims it has a mechanical filter.  I kind of hoped for something like a Kokusai mechanical filter,  but it turns out that the filter was really ceramic, not mechanical.  Bummer.  

The thing fired up right away and was inhaling on the correct frequencies.  I noticed immediately that (as Joe had indicated) some of the controls were scratchy.  I also noticed that the ganged band selection switch was intermittent and required some jiggling to get it to work properly.  A few squirts of Deoxit D5 took care of all that. There seemed to be a bit of dirt in the main tuning capacitor, but I think I managed to blow that out using a can of Dust-off.    I was quickly listening to the SW broadcast stations, and to radio amateurs on 75 and 40 meters. 

Out of curiosity, I compared schematics of the HA-600 and the HA-600A.  There was indeed a big difference -- the front end of the 600 lacks a lot of the RFA amplification circuitry of the A model.  That's probably why is seemed so deaf and so different from what I remembered of the A model. 

There is really not a lot to do on this receiver.  I'll get some paint to fix up the top cover.  I may check the alignment.   But this single conversion receiver is so simple that alignment would be quite easy.  In many ways this receiver seems like a solid state analog to the Hammarlund HQ-100, but without the clock, and without the regeneration circuitry.   The dial lacks the exotic station locations (Java!) that make many of the older receivers so much fun.  I guess this is an indication that this receiver was aimed more at amateur radio operators than at shortwave listeners ( I was both).  I wonder how the ham band-only HA-800 compares to the HA-600A? 

I could pair this receiver up with a DX-40 transmitter that I have on the shelf and I'd be most of the way toward re-creating my novice station.  Anyone have a Globe VFO Deluxe?   That would complete the setup.  

Thanks very much to shortwave listener Joe Pechie for providing what is, for me, a very meaningful piece of gear. 

Here's a short video on the receiver: 
 

1 comment:

  1. The front view of the unit reminds me of MacIntosh stereo equipment. Black, chrome and glass.

    Bill N5ALO

    ReplyDelete

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