by Spitfire, 441
This is my first review of the few classic radios in my possession. To start things off I thought a little background is in order. Now that our local Classic Radio Roundup has been in action for about a year, and Sandbagger started the ball rolling, I felt I should review my classics. I think it is a great idea to give these radios a review on how they stand up 30 plus years after they were manufactured. So for those who are hopelessly nostalgic or anyone considering jumping onto the classic radio bandwagon they might have some insight as to which radio might be considered for their entry into classic radios.
My Regency CR-123B is one of those radios that came to me slightly by accident. I say that because I was unaware even of its existence. Ebay is a great place to see many radios of old or new and to learn what is out there. Up until we got Classic Radio Roundup started I was not as much into radios for the radios as I was just to talk to folks. Back when these radios were new I was just a youngster with very limited income, as most youths are short of cash. At that time I had a radio that worked and that was good enough for me. Now I have a little more disposable income than in days gone by. More importantly, I now have the desire to play with these rigs that I didnít even know existed.
One of the first Classic rigs to find its way to my home was the Regency CR-142, which Iíll review later. I acquired the CR-123B because it looked, in appearance identical to the CR-142 but with SSB capability. Not sure of the date of manufacture but I believe it to be in the 1974 area. One interesting thing about this radio's history is I believe it to have had commercial usage in its past. There is a sticker on top of it that says: "Property of Burns Security Services 1975-76". I can just imagine the importance those rent-a-cops felt using a SSB rig in 1975.
I was looking to get my first SSB capable classic when I found the CR-123B. I thought it cool to have Regency twins to grace my classic radio shelf. Since I got this radio I have used it only a few times because I knew it needed a tune up on receive. In my opinion a radio needs to hear well first and worry about transmit later. I knew that the receiver was weak as compared to other rigs on the shelf. So I have recently got a copy of Samís photofacts for the radio, which I think is an essential piece of documentation for any rig in my possession. I am not a radio technician with any formal training but I am an avid hobbyist. Also please note my test bench is limited in equipment but I have the minimum tools to get the job done. So with my Samís in hand I set out to tune up the CR-123B. After some careful tuning, I think the rig stands up well. However, the process of tuning up this rig was not at easy as I thought, when I first set to do the task. When dealing with 30 plus year old electronics some pitfalls and road blocks should be expected. In the course of aligning the radio the disk type variable resistors were really giving me trouble. The things were falling apart in my hands. Talk about frustration. One of them was lying in pieces even when I first opened up the rig. This may explain some of the ĎSí meter deficiencies. Power was going out on my watt meter, but not showing much on the radio's meter. Whenever attempting a classic rig tune up, it is a good idea to have a well stocked spare parts bin. Flea markets are a good source of parts. Whenever I see a $1 radio, Iíll buy it just for the parts. I had to replace no less than 4 of those disk type VRís just to get to the tune up point. After that surgery was completed I was going through the I.F. cans and ran into another problem. Partially because the damn plastic tune up tools I have from Rat Shack are not always the right size required to do the job. So after modifying one of these to fit, and pushing a little too hard, the slug went completely to the bottom of the core. It would not catch the threads enabling me to back it out. So I had to desolder the can, remove it from the board, pull the slug out the bottom end and rethread it into the top. I soldered the can back in place and gently started to turn the slug in until I got my maximum reading for the tune up. From that point things went well.
Prior to tuning up this radio it has been on air. So for the transmit side of things, nothing was required to be done. I checked output power and modulation, and all seemed to be to specification. Locals on the air gave it good reports on SSB. I have also worked a DX station in Illinois on channel 16 lsb. So I already knew the rig was a talker. As for AM, I got fair reports. Some like it, while others say itís a little flat in audio. Part of that could be due to the hand held D104M6B microphone. Since I plan on using the rig mostly on SSB anyway, this is not a big issue. One other nice thing about this rig is that the clarifier works on TX and RX. Now after the tune up of the receiver it seems to perform very well.
Here are the test bench numbers as found by me, not the manufacturers claims:
AM Sensitivity : <.2 uV for 10db S+N/N
SSB Sensitivity: .14 uV for 10db S+N/N
Adjacent channel rejection: better than 50 db @ 10 khz
AM Power: 3.25 watts.
SSB Power: 8 watts PEP
AM Modulation: 100+%,
This is a pleasant rig to operate. It has a nice big ĎSí meter, with separate scales for AM and SSB power output, as well as separate scales for AM and SSB receive. It also has a scale for modulation, selected by an R.F./MOD switch. Also rounding out the functions are an ANL, R.F. and Mic Gain controls as well as the PA function, although I never understood why you would need PA on a base radio. However the rig can be run off of 12v DC as well as standard AC power. The radio is a little too big to run mobile though, unless you are in a 1969 Chevy Impala or a big RV. Another item on this rig to take note of is its three pin microphone connector. With only 3 wires, it's a sure sign of a real relay doing the TX/RX switching. No diodes here. So that is why I use the hand held mike on it for now, as it is currently one of two rigs I have with that configuration. The other being a Pearce Simpson Bearcat 23, also to be reviewed at a later date after I get a Samís for it. I have not yet got around to making an adapter to use my 4 pin Cobra-wired D104ís. I will eventually get around to making an adapter as I have for my other non-Cobra wired radios.
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