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The shortwave radio was once a must-have for anyone exploring the far reaches of their audio horizons. While they may not be as prevalent today as they were decades ago, Hallicrafters shortwave radios are still a viable communication tool for emergencies and long-distance broadcasts.
Shortwave radios like Hallicrafters tune into the high-frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum (3 to 30 MHz).
Moreover, these radios rely on re-radiating signals by the earth’s ionosphere for long-distance broadcasts.
This article will cover everything you need to know about Hallicrafters shortwave radios. From what made them popular and why they went out of business to where to buy them, read on to challenge your inner radio enthusiast about Hallicrafters shortwave radios!
The History of Hallicrafters Shortwave Radios
Hallicrafters shortwave radios have stood the test of time. Amateurs of the 1900s motivated the invention of these shortwave radios.
In the 1900s, amateurs transmitted and received messages through home radios. Even though they were limited in power and range, these radios were the direct predecessors of today’s modern communication systems.
In 1933, radio dealer William (Bill) J. Halligan founded Hallicrafters Corporation in Chicago, Illinois, and introduced the first Hallicrafters shortwave radio.
Halligan understood what worked in the industry since he was initially involved in the production and supply of radio parts. This was the factor that motivated him to design the first handcrafted amateur radio receiver.
Think about it this way. You’ve been involved in the automotive industry for decades, and one day you decide to build your own car due to your experience in the company. Exactly!
Halligan sold the Hallicrafters company to the Northrop Corporation (currently Northrop Grumman) in 1966.
In the 1970s, fierce competition from Japan-based electronics made it unsustainable to run the business. As a result, Northrop Corporation sold the company in 1975 but kept the factory, driving the company out of business.
Although the Hallicrafters company went the way of the dodo, vintage amateur radio enthusiasts and collectors still use the company’s equipment.
What Made Hallicrafters Shortwave Radios Popular?
In the world of technology, nothing becomes popular out of the blue. There was something special about the Hallicrafters shortwave radios that made them stand out from the competition.
Hallicrafters combined function with innovation. Unlike other brands, which relied on mass production techniques to create their products, Bill Halligan put a lot of thought into his designs when he created the SX-28.
The SX-28 was an excellent shortwave radio receiver with the highest sound quality output, more so than most home receivers at the time.
The SX-28 receiver remains a popular choice among collectors and vintage radio enthusiasts. The SX-88 and SX-115 are other popular Hallicrafters shortwave radio receivers that popularized this brand.
Are you an artist looking to get your song on the radio? If so, check out this guide on how to go about it.
The Difference Between Hallicrafter S and SX Series
The prefixes S and SX on Hallicrafters radios can drive you crazy trying to figure out their differences.
Imagine not being able to get a Hallicrafter radio of your choice by confusing these prefixes–it’s a painful experience!
The S-series is a line of receivers that Hallicrafters introduced in 1933. They were designed to be simple, easy to use, and affordable.
On the other hand, the SX series is an upgraded version of the S-series with a crystal filter.
The crystal filter in the SX series added switchable selectivity positions to the radio. Therefore, the crystal receiver is the main difference between Hallicrafters S and SX receivers.
Modern Hallicrafter SX shortwave radios have additional features such as signal meters, multiple filter stages, and alternate frequency capabilities.
Where to Buy Hallicrafters Shortwave Radios
As I mentioned, the Hallicrafters company went out of business due to intense competition from Japan.
Does this mean you can’t get Hallicrafters shortwave radios on the modern market? No, sadly, you can’t.
You can try a few places to buy Hallicrafters shortwave radios, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. The most popular option is buying them online from trusted retailers like:
● Radio Attic
You can also find these vintage receivers at swap meets, flea markets, and other local stores.
Why Are Hallicrafter Shortwave Receivers Considered Military Radios?
You might have heard the mention of Hallicrafters military radio on the streets. The explanation for this starts with the sale of the company in 1975.
When Northrop Corporation sold the company, it halted the production of non-military electronics. The move transformed the Hallicrafters plant into Northrop Corporation’s Defense Systems Division.
This division was responsible for producing radio receivers and other equipment that met the needs of the US military.
As a result, many Hallicrafters radios became synonymous with military-grade equipment due to their heavy use by the armed forces.
Popular Hallicrafters Shortwave Radios
Now that you know the story behind the Hallicrafters company, let’s look at its popular products below.
● SX-28: A powerful receiver with higher Q inductors and permeable tuning.
● SX-73: This is a general coverage receiver with double conversions. It has a tunable HFO band ranging from 7 to 54 MHz.
● SX-88: The SX-88 is another general coverage receiver with double conversions and six bands first produced in 1954.
● SX-99: It’s a popular receiver with eight tubes for general coverage. It has an amateur band spread tuning of up to 11 meters. The SX-99 model was produced between 1955 and 1959.
● SX-101A: This tunable HFO amateur band receiver features a point preset, antenna trimmer, band selector, and tee-notch frequency.
● SX-115: Unlike other models, the SX-115 has triple conversion and covers nine-500 frequency segments. The frequency segments range from 3.5 MHz to 30 MHz. It was produced between 1961 and 1964.
With these models, you can have fun listening to both local and international radio signals with ease.
Hallicrafters shortwave radios are an excellent addition to your vintage electronics collection. Whether you’re looking for a home-use receiver or one to take on the go, Hallicrafters will meet your needs.
The fact that the US military has used these receivers speaks volumes about their quality and reliability.
An essential factor to consider when buying a Hallicrafters shortwave radio is its sensitivity or ability to read weak signals. The higher the sensitivity, the better it will be at picking up distant signals.