My Drake Receiver
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
Second if -50 khz tunable L/C
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
If rejection-More than 60 db
Superior cross modulation and
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.
100 khz blocking-133dB
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
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
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
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
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 !
My next radio page is here