A.R.C. -- THE NATIONAL PUBLICATION FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS
OF OLD RADIOS AND RELATED ITEMS -- PUBLISHED MONTHLY
BOOK REVIEW:The Pocket Guide to Collins Amateur Radio Equipment 1946 to 1980, By Jay H. Miller, KK5IM
REVIEWED BY RAY BINTLIFF, K1YDG
From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1996 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
There seems to be a growing interest in older communications receivers and Amateur Radio equipment. This impression is reinforced by the publication of The Pocket Guide to Collins Amateur Radio Equipment 1946 to 1980 by Jay H. Miller. Over the years, Collins Radio gear has been held in high regard by the ham community, and owners of Collins radios, past and present, are fiercely loyal. These individuals will surely find this book a welcome addition to their libraries. But newcomers to the radio collecting hobby or younger hams will also find much to enjoy in this handy book.
The word "handy" springs to mind because of the book's compact size. The book measures 3 1/2" by 7" and uses a wire binding that allows it to lie flat when in use.
The book, dedicated to the memory of Art Collins, is a pictorial guide to Collins Amateur Radio equipment that includes an impressive range of Collins accessories.
The introduction is a concise explanation of the book's purpose and organization, along with some words of appreciation. Regarding organization, the book is arranged by equipment era and begins with early post-World War II equipment. This first section includes a description of the venerable Model 75A-1, an AM/CW/NBFM receiver from 1946.
The next section, "Finishing Out the A-Line," covers equipment produced from 1949 to 1957. Included are such memorable items as the Model KW-1 -- a one kilowatt AM/CW transmitter that weighed 600 pounds and stood nearly 6 feet tall, as well as the Model 51J4 communications receiver, circa 1957.
The section dealing with the production of single sideband (SSB) equipment for Amateur Radio use will recall fond memories for many older hams. Previously, Collins offered equipment with only AM and CW modes, and in some cases narrow band FM (NBFM). However, SSB offered hams a new mode of transmission and reception, and the hobby would never be the same.
The 75A-4 receiver, described in this section, was the first SSB receiver for amateur use. The 75A-4 received AM and CW signals as well. When used with the KWS-1, a 1 KW SSB/AM/CW transmitter, the result was a "dream station."
A separate section, devoted to A-Line accessories, contains descriptions and high quality photographs of items, such as a station console, an antenna tuner, a wattmeter, low pass filters, and speakers.
The KWM-1 SSB/CW transceiver is covered in a section of its own, which includes detailed information on accessories for the KWM-1.
A total of 36 pages is devoted to sections on "The S-Line" and "S-Line Accessories." The variety of accessories offered by Collins may amaze you. The period covered runs from 1958 to 1967.
The final equipment section describes the KWM-380, a solid-state transceiver that covers the HF ham bands. This section of the book documents a total of 18 Collins Service Bulletins and 8 factory-authorized modifications. Apparently, the leap from vacuum tubes to solid-state was not an easy one. The book concludes with a "Technical Reference Section" that provides useful data, including rear panel diagrams, tube charts and S-Line connector information.
The book also covers Collins Radio's early use of permeability tuning. The Model 70E-8 permeability tuned oscillator (PTO) is described in detail as part of the "Post-War Equipment Section." Improved versions of the PTO were incorporated into production as new models of equipment were introduced. The Collins units are noted for their accuracy and stability. (The subject of permeability tuning and its application to broadcast receivers has received extensive coverage in A.R.C. (See March, August, September 1994, and April 1996).
The book is organized along equipment lines rather than chronologically or by model number. Except for accessories, two pages are devoted to each model, including at least one illustration. In some instances, a second photograph is provided to help the reader identify equipment features or variants. Equipment descriptions are concise but informative. Specifications of mechanical and electrical characteristics are provided in a standardized format -- or at least to the degree that differences in models will permit.
Because of the book's pocket size, the photographs are somewhat smaller than those usually found in many equipment guides. But they are crisp and clear, and size does not diminish their usefulness.
Unless you have an intimate knowledge of Collins model numbers and equipment types, locating some models in the book is not a simple task. Except for the S-Line, models in a particular series are scattered over several sections. For example, the 75A-1 appears in the postwar section, the 75A-2 and -3 appear in the A-Line section and the 75A-4 is part of the SSB era section. An index of model numbers and page numbers would be a boon to the uninitiated.
If you have a desire to learn more about Collins Radio, the book contains a useful bibliography.
The production quality of the book is extremely good, reflecting the fact that the author is a professional graphic designer and operator of a graphic design and production studio.
The Pocket Guide to Collins Amateur Radio Equipment 1946 to 1980 is published by Trinity Graphics Systems, 54021/2 Morningside Avenue, Dallas, TX 75206, in a convenient 3 1/2" x 7" pocket-size. Consisting of 108 pages and printed on heavy stock, the book is spiral bound for convenience, and its covers are laminated for durability. Copies may be ordered from the publisher, A.R.C., and other A.R.C. advertisers. The price is $19.95, plus $3 shipping. Be sure to check with the suppliers for ordering and shipping information.
(Ray Bintliff, 2 Powder Horn Ln., Acton, MA 01720)