My Drake Receiver Page

Drake R4A Info
The Drake was made in 1967 for use by the ham radio operators and it as well is a very well built piece of equipment. It has among the features these nice touches such as four filters: 4.8 khz, 2.4 khz,1.2 khz, and .4 khz.Other really good tools for diggin out those weak Indonesian stations are a nice passband tuning,2 stage agc: slow fast and off, notch filter,built in noise blanker and a kickass preselector(which by the way if properly tuned will just about kill any signal a few khz away from the one you are hearing).

Drake R-4A Specs
Here are some other specifications on this fine radio for those who are technically inclined
First if 5645 khz crystal lattice filter
Second if -50 khz tunable L/C filter
Sensitivity-Less than .5uv for 10 db signal to noise ratio
Modes of operation-SS,CW,RTTY,AM
AGC slow rating at .75 seconds
AGC fast rating at .025 seconds with les than 100 microsecond charge
Image rejection -more than 60 db
If rejection-More than 60 db
Superior cross modulation and overload characteristics
Stabilty-Less than 100 hz after after warmup and less than 100 hz for %10 line voltage change
Selectivity switching independant of detector and agc switching
10 accessory crystal sockets for any range between 1.5 mhz and 30 mhz-5.5-6.0 mhz not recommended.
Calibration accuracy better than 1 khz when calibrated at nearest 100 khz point
Continously tuning passband above and below the bfo frequency
Dynamic range according to a technician at R.L. Drake was estimated to be at least -90 DB if not more
Sherwood Engineering has done several tests with the R-4C but none that I know of with the A or B models but I figure the R-4A to be similar in performance with a few differences

Sherwood R-4C stock Test Results
These are the test results from Sherwood on the R-4C Stock without the Sherwood modifications.
Noise floor--139dBm
AGC threshhold-0.7
100 khz blocking-133dB
Sensitivity- 0.15uV
Local oscillator noise spacing-130dBc
Front end selectivity- A- Preselector
Filter Ultimate Rejection-70dB
Dynamic Range Wide Spaced-85dB
Wide spacing at-20 khz
Dynamic range at Narrow Spacing-58 dB
Narrow spacing at-2 khz

All in all in the late 1960's it was a premier receiver and still today can pretty much hold it's own against the newer radios from what I have been told talking to other SWL'ers in IRC when we all have our radios fired up and searching for those elusive stations. List price in 1967 was $475 or so.My manual had 1967-$399 marked in pencil so maybe they had a sale ?
In my opinion the R-4A is one hell of a receiver but then back in the 60's the ham stations weren't all running with 1.5 kilowatts and so the receive section had to stand up to some tough signal conditions. In the experiences I have had with it before my Motorola R-390 puked a furball on me ,and fell over the Drake didn't miss a whole lot the R-390 heard. Just a bit less sensitive and a wee bit noisier.

How I found it-A true story!!
I rescued my R-4A from a guy who was into cb radio and thought he had a transmitter and figured if he plugged a microphone up to the headphone jack and twirled the dial someone would hear him. NO I AM NOT KIDDING !!! I am dead serious.He wanted $150 or more for it because none of his buddies could hear him on it and he thought it just needed a final output tube which he seemed to not be able to find. While he said all this I was trying really hard not to laugh and I really had a hard time keeping a straight face the whole time especially after I saw which Drake it was he had not to mention the front of the radio said R-4A Reciever.And believe it or not he had the original manual with it.

So  after talking him down from 150 or so to 90 bucks I walked away with it and hoped and prayed it wouldn't blow up when I plugged it in.Took it home hooked it up to an eighty foot dipole on the roof and heard a ham operator on the 20 meter band talking from White Lion River, South Africa ! So after that and 60 bucks for some swbc band crystals from HY-Q Intl in Erlanger Kentucky I am now doin more than my fair share of DX'ing .

All I can say is that it is truly amazing that after all these years it has held up to the test of time. This is a testament to the Drake reputation of their quality control department. If you can find one of these I highly recommend getting it.

A Drake Service  Story
A brief example-I had a slight problem with one ssb mode being more stronger than the other and a couple of other things so I called RL Drake at the factory and the service technician there by the name of Tony I believe walked me through the alignment of the Passband tuning system and listened to it going through the various pitching noises on the phone as it was being adjusted.I couldn't believe it .
Not only did he walk me through the alignment without acting nasty about it and saying" I can't help you it needs to be shipped somewhere to be repaired" he actually knew the receiver like it was sitting in front of him right down to what were the differences between the manuals instructions and the actual instructions on alignment. and which production run it was(last one before b model came out)
All this at a time when he was on his way out the door too. NOW that is what I call service. If I ever get enough money to spend on another radio it will be most assuredly another Drake

Drake Crystal Tip
If you have any older modems,controller cards or pc's laying around you can salvage  some crystals to use in the Drake R-4 series.I learned this, and went searching through my junk pile of old 14.4 modems and 1 meg video cards that were trashed ,and came up with 4 crystals that are usable for various parts of the shortwave bands..Out of three modems ,I found crystals for the 29 mhz ham band,the 90 meter SWBC band ,and a band segment between 8900 and 9450 khz.I also found a couple, that if I get wired up, may also give me part of the AM MW band. Look around you might be surprised what you can find in the junk drawers ! Thanks to tip from Jim N0OCT to clueing me in on this .
Well now you know a little bit about the radio I use a lot ,so if you want to learn more about some of the others I have just  follow the links .
Thanks for looking around and come back soon  !

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