The ICF-5900W comes in a similar high shape as the Captain 55 and the
Captain 77, in contrast to these radios, the ICF-5900W cabinet houses
a complete double conversion receiver with a completely different circuitry.
The Sony ICF-5900W has a similar exteral appearence as the Sony "Captain"
receivers, it measures 22 x 23 x 10 cm and has a weight of 2,2 kg, so it's slightly
more voluminous then the "little sisters".
The receiver can be powered from three 1,5V UM-1 batteries or from an external
AC-456C mains power supply.
The frontpanel layout is slightly unconventional, but similar to the Captain 77:
In the middle of the upper part of the front panel, You find a vertically moved
film dial, the receiver covers three shortwave bands, and in these, the dial
marks with 25 kHz spacing are not only simple dial marks but You need them to
calibrate the finte tuning / interpolation dial.
The main tuning knob is the one located at the right of the frequeny dial. The big
knob below the dial is the fine tuning knob, with the linear +/- 125 kHz interpolation
dial; the bandswitch is located just at the right hand.
At the left of the frequency dial, You find the switch for the 250 kHz crystal marker,
below the signal strength meter that also can be switched to act as battery strength
At the left hand, You find the separate controls for bass and treble and the
volume control, nect to it the main switch, the attenuator switch DX and local
and the BFO switch.
The telescopic antenna pops out of the cabinet when the antenna release lever
is pushed, pull it completely out. As an alternative, You can connect a long wire
antenna and earth to the screw terminals at the back of the receiver.
Use the POWER switch to turn on the receiver and set the volume control until a
slight hiss can be heard from the speaker. The sensitivity switch should be in the
DX position and the BFO switched off. Use the bandswitch to select SW1 for the
49 m broadcast band und use the main tuning knob to search for stations in the 49
To tune in to a station on a known frequency, You set the main tuning control to
the next calibration mark, activate the crystal marker and tune for zero beat,
then set the difference from the desired frequency to the calibration markt frequency
on the interpolation dial. For example to tune in to the signal of Radio Deutsche Welle
from Cologne on 6075 kHz, set the BAND SPREAD DIAL to zero, activate the crystal marker
and tune to zero beat, i.e. until the whistle in the region of the 6 kHz calibration mark
has disappeared. Then turn the BAND SPREAD DIAL knob slowly in the middle between
the 70 and 80 kHz mark, now You should hear the signal coming from Germany.
In the same way, You have to tune for some frequencies downwards from the calibration
mark and substract the kHz from the calibration mark frequency. E.g. to tune in to
6220 kHz, use the main tuning knob to set the receiver to 6.25 MHz and tune for zero
beat with the crystal marker activated, then turn the BANDSPREAD DIAL to - 30 kHz
and You will ariive at 6250 - 30 kHZ = 6220 kHz. For 15565 kHz, locate the 15,5 MHz
calibration mark and tune to + 65 kHz on the bandspread / interpolation dial - now,
15500 kHz would be tuned with the BANDSPREAD DIAL knob in zero position.
The tuning procedure is slightly complicated with the ICF-5900W, but it's not
too difficult to learn. Remember that when the ICF-5900W was new, it's frequency
accuracy was excellent compared to many other receivers in it's price range where
You just could guess the frequency, only the Barlow Wadley XCR-30 and
maybe the Panasonic RF-2200 had a useful frequency
The ICF-5900W will keep it's place in my collection as a milestone on the way to
a small travel shortwave radio. It's technical concept is outdated, but it's still
a pleasent set to listen to FM and mediumwaves and maybe a shortwave signal from
time to time. To take on trips abroad, I would recommend a PLL synthesized radio
as the ICF-7600D and it's successors which made tuning
to a station on a known frequency extremely easy and offered far better performance.
© Martin Bösch, 26.3.2009 / transl. 14.11.2010