Here on my Tech Blog I really long to be on the cutting edge…..I like to discuss new technology, and how to exploit that technology.
But let’s make no doubt about it, I’m old school.
And I’m about to prove that once again. Let’s face it, there were some things that were just done RIGHT that are old school. Let’s list a couple of those things.
- Film – Yep film cameras. 25 years from now all the computers and phones you have with all those millions of selfies on them will be in the landfill and you never really back anything up, do you?
- Audio Equipment – I dare you to tell me to my face that your iPhone sounds better than my old tube amplifier gear with gigantic speakers that cost as much as my first car. Nope the 70’s and 80’s were the golden age of sound.
And such it is with RADIO. Oh yes they certainly do make state of the art receivers and Software Defined Radios with excellent selectivity and sensitivity. But they are antiseptic at best, and void of the human condition.
As a little boy I was FASCINATED at the thought of dusk hitting and firing up the old Collins Short Wave receiver my fathers friend loaned me because he saw a future Ham operator in me. Putting on a set of headphones and spinning the poorly lit dial slowly and carefully at each and every blip outside of the normal static.
And so it is still ……………..
Yep you can listen to the BBC on your iPhone or computer but I can listen to it from Woofferton England replete with static and fading. My signal is coming right from the UK right into my house in NC. Is it as clear? No. Is it sometimes frustrating. Yes. Does it make me a little boy again? You betcha. Somewhere, somehow it touches the soul. It connects with some part of that 13 year old boy in Indiana. Can your iPhone do that?
And what an experience it is tuning the thing. You don’t just tune. THERE IS A PROCESS. A process that requires, SKILL, finesse, patience, HEART.
- Select the band for Tuning the Frequency Range you desire
- Set the MHz to the specific Frequency
- Tune the Preselector to match the band.
- Tune to a specific signal
- Observe signal strength. Fiddle with 2, 3, and 4 until it is JUST RIGHT
Anyway, The Yaesu FRG-7 is a legendary radio among Short Wave Receivers. Was it the best? Nope. But I’ll tell you what it was. It was that magic device that had just enough bells and whistles at an AFFORDABLE PRICE POINT that so many ham radio enthusiasts cut their teeth on.
It was hackable. Yep, they did that back then only they called it “Modification” back then. The receiver was made in the 70’s so I recall seeing these coming up and always wanting one. They sold them in Sears and instead of having a gray case and a badge that said “Yaesu-Musen” it had a black case and said “Sears” on it. Other than that it was the exact same radio.
Oh, how I wanted one. But life is like that. When you’re a little boy you can’t afford the $300 radio but when you are 56 you can and oddly enough it now costs more than $300. That’s another good indicator that you’ve stumbled across that magic piece of hardware ………..when it is well sought after 40-50 years later.
The FRG-7 is built like a tank, is remarkably sensitive, and with the later inclusion of a Fine Tuning adjustment is quite selective, although you may have to tune off signal and use that Fine Tuning adjustment in a crowded frequency band.
So here’s a quick video of me toying with the FRG-7. I hope you’ve enjoyed my nostalgia trip!
What makes this an excellent receiver is that it used a Barlow-Wadley loop! Not a PLL circuit but an mathematical algorithm for stable frequency, cancelling out drift and signal drop outs! Rather than repeat, here is a link…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadley_loop
Several receivers used this unique design including Yaesu, Racal, Drake and the Barlow-Wadley!
I have one! A Sommerkamp (not Yaesu) FRG7. I listen to SW radio from the end of ’70, when I was a teen. Now I continue to love SW, as Broadcasting Listener and as an radio amateur (my call is IW2NZR and I operate in CW-QRP mode only). It’s a pity that many SW stations closed. I remember the wonderful “Happy Station” program from Radio Nederland, the DX program of Radio Budapest and the nice Radio Prague. Now, all these stations are closed. So sad…
Can’t wait to get my Barlow wadley xcr30 fired up. Very similar tuning procedure.
Have just been given an FR 7 in reasonable condition. A friend of mine who was a ham used to have two of these receivers in operation and was very pleased with the performance. I can’t say that I agree with the above comment that its built like a tank. It is typical early Japanese stuff that is well engineered and built down to an economical price. Mine will be cleaned up and serviced and then we will see what it can do.
This was my ‘go to’ receiver. I bought it from Sears in the late 70’s and took it to Alaska on assignment. It was a real workhorse and was my preferred radio for MF and SW listening.
Packed it away for two decades and just unboxed it a few months ago. It will be used in my man cave. They sure don’t make ‘em like this anymore, do they? Dave AG7WK
It is one of the best radios ever made. When all else fail the FRG-7 keeps going and going. If something gives up it is only a matter of following the circuit diagram and working out the problem which is usually a capacitor. Whereas in the digital world you have to replace boards or throw away.
If only I could find a guaranteed factory-original condition FRG-7, I would buy one! I bought one in ’78, but several years later, my mom, clueless of the technical and sentimental value of it to me, gave it away to a relative when I moved out of their house.
Just like they recently created the FTDX-101D inspired by the good name of the FT-101 “Foxtrot Tango” transceiver of around the same era as when the FRG-7 was produced, I wish Yaesu would also create another SW receiver inspired by the latter. But I guess the Wadley loop and FRG-7’s other high-tech features at its time have long been been overtaken by modern PLLs and digital techniques, not to mention that there are very few SW stations to listen to now (very small market). 73 everyone!
I have one (Yaesu FRG-7) I bought new in about 1975. It has not been used since 1981. I cannot guarantee factory new condition, but the condition should be excellent. It looks new in appearance. I can provide photos. I used it exclusively for getting time hacks for celestial navigation, as well as weather reports. It was operating like new in 1981. I would sell it for any reasonable offer plus shipping. I am in Newcastle Maine. 6 Nov 1922
Hello Jay, I am interested in your receiver, if you intend to sell it, can you please send me the price, details and photos to , thanks and best 73 de IK1SPQ Roberto.
Happy to stumble into this post and thread. I definitely remember the FRG-7 reputation when starting my SWL in 70’s. I started with a Heathkit, eventually got a DX-150 and 160, the digital Sangean/Radio Shack unit. Then the FRG-7. Still in use, today! So much fun over the years and yes I miss that Happy Station too and all its transmitter locations…:)