A Classic Shortwave Radio Restored

Before the Internet, if you wanted to hear news from around the world, you probably bought a shortwave receiver. In the golden age of world band radio, there was a great deal of high-quality programming on the shortwave bands and a large variety of consumer radios with shortwave bands. For example, the Sony CRF-160 that [M Caldeira] is restoring dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s and would have been a cool radio in its day. It retailed for about $250 in 1972, which sounds reasonable, but — don’t forget — in 1972 that would have been a 10% downpayment on a new car or enough to buy a Big Mac every day for a year with change left over.

As you can see in the video below, the radio seemed to work well right out of the gate, but the radio needed some rust removal and other sprucing up. However, it is an excellent teardown, with some tips about general restoration.

We liked that there was an access port to get to the alignment adjustments without taking the whole thing apart. Overall, the construction looks great for the period. We were happy to hear the cleaned up radio once again tuning in the world or, at least, as much of the world as is still transmitting.

Of course, if your neighbor had one of these back in the day, you pretty much assumed he was a spy. These days a shortwave radio is not much more than a chip and won’t buy nearly as many Big Macs.

20 thoughts on “A Classic Shortwave Radio Restored

  1. The Big Mac was available in 1972?
    I wouldn’t know, our town did not get a McDonald’s until the latter 1970s.
    “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, …”

  2. “There are 2 versions with very slight difference. The 1st version has a black BFO knob, the power supply has fuses on the CI and the voltage selector is circular. The 2nd version has a silver BFO knob, no fuses on the CI of the power supply and the voltage selector is rectangular. ”

    Source: https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_crf_160.html

    Gratefully, it has a BFO, at least!
    I was just going to say that this repair is the right time to add one.
    I’m glad I double checked if it has one. 🙂
    73s everyone.

  3. Listen all these are important Era radios.
    Before you put money and time into that
    you could be restoring a REAL classic like
    one of the “Big 3” post war radios: the
    R-390 OR R-392, The National HRO 50 or
    60 or the great Hammerlund SP-600.
    You get GREAT performance, Have a
    Really valuable rig if you ever want to sell
    AND….You have a great ENP PROOF SW CLASSIC…..

    1. The closest thing I had to this was an Eddystone EC-10 from the UK/GB.
      It was a control receiver, often used by coastal stations to monitor 500 KHz emergency frequency.
      It had an BFO, too, of course.

      Reception of telegraphy and un-modulated carrier waves is a must have feature of a good radio, no matter if it’s a world receiver or a more professional communications receiver.

      Gratefully, most basic shortwave radios can be retrofitted with a BFO.
      A wire/coil next to an 455 KHz IF can often be used to insert the BFO signal.

      Having a beat frequency oscillator (BFO) also opens up the world to SSB, DSB and all the interesting, wonderful things on the air waves.
      No radio should be without one anymore.

      Same goes for an IF tap, maybe, to interface an external SDR dongle to demulate the more obscure things.

    2. If you can find one! And don’t forget the Hallicrafters SX-16 & SX-28, and the HRO-W and Hammarlund SP400, great single-conversion radios, and the Hammarlund HQ-170/180 series, and also the Zenith TransOceanic series. there were many great radios out there; find an older ham and get some guidance from him.

  4. Great video, the CRF-160 is one of my favourite receivers; I’ve been lucky in that mine hasn’t needed anything much apart from a bit of switch cleaner every now and again. I’ll have to have a watch of the video he’s done on the Earth Orbiter, maybe it’ll help me do something about the wobbly selector drum on mine!

  5. I remember during the 9/11 events I was at the office when I received an email about the first events from my colleague next room. We tried to get more news but the internet did not respond – it seemed everybody on earth tried to do the same thing.

    We then remembered that we had a battery radio in a drawer… It worked very well !
    Always keep a battery radio nearby, the internet is not so reliable sometimes !

    1. I saw it live on German TV. There was a boring programme about the stock exchange in America running.
      The news reporter and the camera man were on the roof, with the (in)famous towers as a background image (symbol of capit*lism).
      As the show went on, a little silver something was slowly flying into the picture.
      Very subtle, at first. Then there was some action. The rest is history.

      The very least I did was using the internet at the time.
      It was clear that now everything gets being logged, including telephone calls etc. And/or break down under the high load.

      Being quite and silently praying for the poor souls was all someone could do from the far.
      No kidding, that time all of us here over the pond felt seriously sorry for the Amis.

      1. It was shocking. Most people around the world were holding vigils, as it was shocking.

        Moreover, It was the World Trace Center, and a total of 93 nations were represented by the victums, including 11 from Germany (just an aside, my daughter was born in Bitburg)

        As for the internet, it was the first time I saw it “crash” on that scale. We ended up improvising an antenna for our TV/VCR in the conference room, and people drifted in and out all morning.

        1. “It was shocking. Most people around the world were holding vigils, as it was shocking.”

          Yes, we can say so. Personally, I felt most sorry for the rescue workers who had to go IN
          and knew that the building would come down eventually.
          These were good hearted people who didn’t have money on the mind.

          Historically, Krakatau, Titanic, Hindenburg, WW2, Pearl Harbour & Hiroshima and Fukushima were shocking events, too, also.

          The sinking of the Kursk was a tragedy, too, albeit on a smaller scale. I mention it, because it happened in 2000, just shortly before Sept., 11th. 2001.

          The lack of any real information made it very uncomfortable, similar to the Sept. 11th tragedy.
          It has horrible knowing that the air was running out for the few survivors down in the cold ocean.
          I remember the news reporters being so depressed and helpless at the time.

          Horrors. I remember, my grandma told be about the burning phosphor story in WW2, were citizens didn’t stop burning. They jumped into water, but as soon as they came out of water, they started to burn again.

          In concentration camps in WW2, many people were burned alive, too. Their screams could be heard for hours. Poor souls. 😢

  6. It’s a shame that there is hardly any shortwave stations worth listening to. Nearly all the broadcasters have disappeared.. The jammers are still there and a handful of number stations. Sad, really.

    1. You hit the nail on the head with your remarks; even the once reliable Latin American stations have bailed on the Tropical Bands (120, 90 and 60m), leaving mostly ultra right wing USA Christian Fundamentalist stations and occasionally Cuba’s Radio Rebelde on 5025 kHz during North American evenings, although WRMI, Radio Miami International still relays some of the old time International Broadcasters that still want to keep their toes in the water……..

  7. The japanese usef to make the best electronics their stuff wad made to last i still use japanese grundig badged stereo made in 1985 and a casio cslculstor from 1979 the japanese short wave radio were good quality so were the german grundig radio as well as the russian radios i have a british made eddystone ec10 that still works so british stuff was good i still use a psion organiser from 1993 modern stuff is throw away junk

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