Unboxing a 41 year old ham radio

Figure 1: Unboxing another Alda 103

Another Alda?  I’ll admit to having an affinity for them.  The one I already have is the 80-40-15 tribander (the 103A) – and the one I’m unboxing is the 80-40-20 tribander (the 103).  The package came in a solid little Home Depot box, and no shaking or rattling could be heard during a shake-test next to my ear.  The question on my mind?  Would I hear more from the speaker of the actual 103 when I finished opening the package and plugging the little gem-from-the-past into my supply?

Figure 2: Unboxing another Alda 103

Holding the cutter at a slant, just to be safe.

Figure 3: Unboxing another Alda 103

The seller had meticulously cut a section of foam board that was snug in the box.  Good sign.

Figure 4: Unboxing another Alda 103

The seller had included the elusive hard-to-find original Alda medium impedance, high output microphone.  More good news.

Figure 5: Unboxing another Alda 103

The seller had surrounded the unit with carefully sized and cut pieces of foam board.

Figure 6: Unboxing another Alda 103

Alas – the item of our anticipations comes out of the box.


Figure 7: Unboxing another Alda 103

Looking pretty, I found the old radio displayed a 9/10 – 10/10 appearance.   I plugged it into a 13.8V DC supply, added a 20 meter dipole to the tuner, and switched the tuner into the dummy load.   The first time up, the receiver took just a few seconds to generate some 14 MHz static.  Apparently, the caps had been sitting for awhile.  Subsequent starts were instantaneous.  Great news!

Plugging a CW key into the jack, I set the drive to the level I knew (from the other radio I have) – should produce about half power.  The wattmeter climbed up to ninety watts as I pressed the key.  Turning the knob slowly, the power surged to 150 watts, and then to 190 watts on twenty meters!  The output transistors must be in tip-top shape!  I switched to 3.9 MHz and the wattmeter added another few watts to top out at an even 200.  The power on forty meters was just a little lower.  The signal looked and sounded great on a monitor.  All in all, I was off to a great start.

I was a little overly-exited (like boy on Christmas) as I plugged the old mike into the socket, and threw the tuner switch to 14 MHz and the radio to 14.200 MHz.  “Cq, Cq, this is WB8LZR, Whiskey Bravo Eight Lima Zulu Radio.  Anybody copy?  On the first shot, I was greeted with the normal static background of the twenty meter phone band.  I had the drive set for a little over half power (I like to run the old girls conservatively).   Once more, “Cq, Cq, this is WB8LZR.”  W9UD came back to me from Illinois, with a 5×7 report.  “If you’d tell me you were running a xxx (brand new radio), I’d not know the difference,” he quipped.  Alright!  I told him he was 5×8 in central North Carolina.  He was running a kilowatt.  I think his three element Yagi helped my end of the connection, but we were off to a good start.

Exactly two Cqs later I snagged Eddie (K4JP) in Venice Florida.  We exchanged 5×7 reports.  He as running one and a half kilowatts out of an Alpha amp.  Again, he had the antennas to pull my signal up.  We had a great chat.  Who says the bottom of the sunspot cycle is here?