If you are an older shortwave listener, you probably owned one of the wonderful R8 series radios, including the Drake R8B table top receiver.
You may remember R. L. Drake Company as one of the great American radio manufacturers of the 20th century. Lots of us grew up dreaming of owning the Drake Twins during the 1970’s. These were lower cost competitors to the Collins S-Line.
But I remember Drake as a maker of great SWL receivers. My first Drake was the SPR-4 in 1975. Then, starting in 1991, Drake turned its attention to the growing shortwave premium market with the original R8. If you were around then, you make have owned one of these or its later R8A models.
By 1998, I had developed my Ergo Radio Software and was selling it through Universal Radio. My Ergo 3 (version 3) supported mainly AOR AR730 and NRD-535D. So, I thought I should focus development on including all of the top premium gear sold by Universal and highly rated in Passport to World Band Radio. This led to my acquisition of the Drake R8B in 1998, shown above.
Drake was kind enough to give me a developer’s discount, and soon the Drake R8B table top receiver was added to my growing collection. Again, this was an up-conversion 45 MHz first IF radio. But you may remember that Drake loved low frequency L/C tuned second IF at 50 kHz.
Performance was great, but my only complaint was the rather spongy controls on the front panel, and the flimsy tuning knob. These nits aside, all was good. You can see a demonstration here.
Drake R8B Table Top Performer
One feature I really enjoyed on this radio was sideband selectable synchronous detection, which really helped capture signals on crowded HF and MF bands. Programming PC control of the Drake R8B table top (and its relatives) was solid but challenging. I discovered the RS-232 protocols were a combination of ASCII, BCD and Binary commands. But at least they were well documented.
Another nice feature was my ability to switch between two antennas. And, as with all Drake gear, the audio quality was great, not quite up to the AR7030, but close.