the Hallicrafters Co., Chicago

S - 53 A

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überarbeitet am 19.10.2010

The S-53 is a simple single conversion shortwave receiver in the low price range, it covers medium waves, three shortwave bands and the 6 m VHF band very new in those years. Shortly after, the FCC decided to assign the 3 m band from 88 - 108 MHz to FM broadcasts. Today, the 6 m band around 50 MHz has gained popularity as a newly assigned amateur radio band.
S - 53
Single conversion, 550 kHz - 32 MHz, 48 - 55 MHz; IF 2075 kHz
8 tubes (5Y3, 6K6, 6SC7, 6H6, 6BA6 x 2, 6C4, 6BA6), 120V
S - 53 U identical set, Universal transformer 120 or 240 V
S - 53 A
Single conversion, 540 kHz - 31 MHz, 48 - 55 MHz; IF 455 kHz,
120V, Miniature IF transformers
S - 53 AU identical set, Universal transformer 120 or 240 V


Single conversion, IF 455 kHz

Analog dial

AM, CW with BFO

RF-Gain, Bandspread tuning

The S - 53A is a compact shortwave receiver with the size of a small home set. In contrast to the typical post - war radios, it does not come with a wooden but with a rugged metal cabinet. Like with other Hallicrafters sets, it has a hinged lid giving You access to the chassis. The receiver measures 327 x 178 x 197 mm and has a weight of 8,2 kg.

The mains switch is combined with the AF gain or volume control. In the bottom row of controls, You find from the left the STANDBY / RECEIVE switch, in standby operation, the tube heaters are switched on for immediate operation. Just at the right, You find the bandswitch, the band ranges are 540 kHz - 1,6 MHz mediumwaves, 2,5 - 6,3 MHz, 6,3 - 16 MHz and 14 - 30 MHz shortwaves and 48 - 54,4 MHz according to the 6 m VHF band. The next switch acitvates the BFO for CW reception, then the RF gain control called SENSITIVITY. Next to the Noise blanker switch, You find the volume control and the two positions tone control.
In contrast to older Hallicrafters receivers, the dial is rectangular and linear. Im the higher frequency regions, the bands are very crowded, the dial marks give not very accurate informations. In the mediumwave band, dial accuracy is a bit better. The right tuning knob is acting directly to the main dial, it has to be tuned very carefully. The left tuning knob activates the bandspread tuning, it allows to tune in exactly to a desired signal and to tune up or down for the next 5 or 10 kHz channels. This knob is also used as main tuning knob in the 6 m VHF band. As the receiver has no crystal calibrator, finding a desired stations signal is quite a question of luck, or of listening carefully to the interval signals.

Use an external antenna not too long, to avoid overloading, and You will habe no problems to tune in to several international shortwave services. You can easily listen to the BBC London, Deutsche Welle or Radio Vienna, but the receiver's selectivity is not good enough te separate two adjacent 5 kHz channels.
As the S - 53A is a single conversion design, You can encount "ghost signals" 900 kHz below the reception frequency, intermodulation products from very strong signals can cause confusion in tropical bands and can cover faint signals.
The S - 53A is not a DXing machine, but this receiver with it's classical design offers pleasant reception of the BBC or of local mediumwave band stations, You feel like 50 years ago, when You open the lid and watch the tubes glowing - A real radio glows in the dark!

© Martin Boesch