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July 05, 2009

Comments

RK Henderson

This is an old post, but some info of possible interest:

I own a much-loved 5900 that I bought with money I saved up from my paper route in 1975. (It was a very expensive purchase, especially for a kid, and it drew frowns from my dad, but I was into shortwave listening and wanted a real radio. This was it.) Since then mine travelled the world with me, most notably being my only source of news and entertainment during a year in Latin America. (Thus I experienced the First Gulf War as if it were WWII.)

Anyway, to your concerns: yeah, the 5900's tuning roll is famously is a little off-kilter. Apparently the fix is complicated; some have done it, but I never bothered. The crystal-zero feature on SW allows you hit precise freqs with digital accuracy, but on my radio the roll is fully one full step off on the fine-tune dial. It's also developed significant backlash over the years. I still managed to QSL some hundred stations on it.

I don't get the complaint about the antenna. Mine can be pointed in any direction, though it can't be angled; the friction at the joint is such that it lies horizontally. I have angled it in the past, when required, by leaning it against a wall. Maybe you have a different model year. (They also varied by country; there was a slightly different 5900 that was specific to Japan.)

Which AC adapter you use is important. When I was in college, mine was gnawed in half by a pet gerbil. The factory replacement cost 30$ (food for two weeks) and had to be mail-ordered and waited for, so I replaced it with something I bought in a local electronics store. Terrible! Hum across all the AM bands. (That is, MW and SW). I ordered in the exact replacement, and got my full-battery performance back. If your AC adapter isn't the one that was sold with the radio, with "Sony" and the polarity symbol on it, that will reduce performance significantly.

The 5900 was considered a marvel of miniaturisation in its day; a better set than many big serious bank-breaking boxes meant for sophisticated outdoor arrays. The military look was very popular in electronics back then. I loved everything about it: the look, the ruggedness, the functionality, and especially the performance. That was the last portable radio that really sounded good. (Half of it is speaker.) I remember marvelling that the FM, though mono, sounded better than most stereo sets I'd heard.

I abused the hell out of mine; worst example was using it as my bathroom radio for several _years_. (I know; it hurts to think about it.) The light doesn't work anymore; I've had it apart a few times, fixing small issues; there's that backlash... But frankly, it's still better than anything I've seen since. Imagine that.

Memories!

Robin
Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

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