Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB)

On 23 April 2007, I visited the RSGB National Amateur Radio Museum.  John Crabbe, G3WFM, is the collection curator and he provided a wonderful tour of the collection.

The museum consists of three modest rooms with gear from the earliest days of radio all the way to some pieces that represent models still in service in some shacks.  Below are some of the highlights.

Above is the main cabinet in the early radio collection.  Even though the devices were behind glass, I tried to get some detailed photos.  Each of the thumbnail images below links to a rather high-resolution photograph that should automatically shrink to viewable proportions in your browser window; but I left the images large so you can "zoom-in" and really see the details in these radios. 

LS5A transmitter homebuilt by GW3SSJ.  Provides 7 watts output on 80 meters.  1927 design.
1919 Marconi VHF transmitter using a V24 valve (tube) directly connected to a 1 meter element that was originally in a parabolic reflector.  
160 meter transceiver with a built-in ATU.  Built in the late 1930s by G8TL.
Home built crystal (xtal) sets from around 1927.    
Marconi Perikon crystal and detector.  A Perikon detector is one that uses two minerals. 
Two-valve medium wave receiver built by GW3SSJ with a horn loud speaker and plug-in coils. 
A commercial xtal set from the famous Gamages department store.
5 meter transmitter built in 1931 by G5CV/G6JP and used in air/ground experiments in 1933.  
This was one of my favorites.  It's a very elaborate crystal set made around 1915 for the Army for use in WW I.  It has two separate detectors, standard carborundum and a Perikon crystal.  The batteries would be used to bias the detectors.     

On to the next room....

Although there are a couple of early radios on the shelves on the left, the radios on the table all relate to WW II.  The set of two on the left are the transmitter (lower) and receiver (on top) from a Lancaster bomber.  Their positions would have been reversed when installed in the rack in the aircraft. 

This radio has real historical significance.  It belonged to Barbara Dunn, G6YL, the first British licensed transmitting YL.  She was licensed in 1927.  This is her one-valve Tuned-Plate-Tuned-Grid (TPTG) transmitter for 23 - 46 meters.  From her QSL card, you can see that the TPTG was an upgrade from a Split Hartley.  There's lots of information on this extraordinary woman on the web if you're interested.    See, for instance:  Also, click here for a G6YL QSL card from my collection: front, back.
Here is the radio position from a Lancaster bomber.  The settings for the transmitter controls for the frequencies of interest for a particular mission would have been marked on the card in the center of the rig.  The receiver is even more interesting.  First, it uses a "magic eye" tube for tuning.  The second photograph shows the radio operating and tuned to a strong broadcast station.  You can see that "magic eye" display has almost completely encircled. 

This receiver also has RDF capability using one of the loops visible in the larger photo above.  This would allow the pilot to follow a beam homeward after a mission.  A great many of these radios went surplus after the war and ended up being used by hams.  In the large photo, above, note the gray radio in the middle of the table.  This is the same receiver re-packaged for ham use. 

This National HRO model was widely used by hams after WW II.  Thousands upon thousands were made.  This is also the model used to intercept German coded transmissions that were deciphered by the wizards of Bletchley Park  The radio covered 48 kHz to 30 MHz with 6 plug-in coils using 9 tubes.  The HRO has a fascinating history and there's plenty of information about it on the web.  The fourth photo to the right shows the stack of coils needed to change bands.  
Radio Manufacturing Engineers (RME) Model 69 general coverage receiver.  Covers 550 kHz to 31.5 MHz using 9 tubes.  Made in the USA in 1937.  This model also has an interesting history linked to WW II. 
Just imagine, a 150 watt AM/CW transmitter so compact that it fits on a desktop instead of a rack!  That would be this Minimitter from 1956 using two 807 tubes.    
Here is THE dream WW II surplus receiver for a great many hams in the 1950's.  This is a U. S. Army Signal Corps BC-348L receiver manufactured by Belmont Radio Company in 1943.  It covers 200 kHz to 18 MHz using 8 tubes and runs on 28v. 
The final stop in this room of the museum is a famous transmitting tube, the Mullard 0-150 valve that was used to produce 75 watts output in the 1924 transoceanic tests. 

The third room of the museum takes us into the modern era with some really extraordinary radios.  Below are three views of this collection.  Click on each thumbnail image to see the full-size photograph.

The first stop is what a nicely equipped 1950s station might have looked like.  This station includes a home-built transmitter along with a surplus National HRO receiver along with its set of coils. 
This is the Heathkit HW-20 "Pawnee" 2 meter (8 watts AM/10 watts CW) used by ZB2VHF from the Rock of Gibraltar in 1964. 
Here are three views of a revolutionary radio, the Collins KWM-1: SSB/CW, 24 tubes, 100 watts PEP, covering 14, 21, and 28 MHz.     
Here's a home built G2DAF receiver from 1963.  It covers 10 m - 160 m using 18 tubes.  Check out the crystal filters in the interior photo.   
Nearly as revolutionary as the KWM-1, here's a KW Electronics KW2000 SSB transceiver from 1963.  This is a really compact radio, quite comparable with today's radios in size.  It is, of course, an all-tube radio and it covers 10m - 160m. 


The final radio that caught my interest was this Eddystone model 740 receiver from 1949.  It covers 480 kHz to 30.6 MHz with plug-in coils.  In the photo at right you can also see the modulation meter on top of the radio. 
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