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Zenith Radio Corp , Chicago, IL

Trans Oceanic H500

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überarbeitet am 3.11.2010

Ten years after Zenith had their earliest "Trans Oceanic" on the shelves, the multi band superhet H500 equipped with miniature tubes came on the market. This receiver is the most common type among all "Trans Oceanic" receivers, the production reached a number of 245'000 sets. It is the classic shortwave travel radio of the fifties and is found in many collections.
The possibility to be powered from battery or mains, the three different antennas included the shortwave "wave magnet" and the four tone switches called "radio organ" are features which all aerlier "T/O" radios had in common.

Single conversion,

Analog dial , 2-4 / 4-8 MHz, 31, 25, 19, 16 m band




batteries or mains powered (117 V or switchable 117/220 V)

The H500 is a quite heavy hollow state multiband radio, the set looks like a black suitcase with a carrying handle, it's dimensions are 43 x 28 x 20 cm.
The receiver can be powered from batteries (which are not available anymore, You would need a anode / B+ high tension battery) or mains. Be very careful before powering up Your recently acquired H500: the U.S. version can only be operated from 117 V (mains voltage found in the U.S.), the international version can be operated from 110 or 220 V AC, a voltage dropping resistor is used.

A metal lock at the front unlocks the big lid of the receiver, under the lid, You find the detachable "Wave Magnet".

The speaker grille takes the left third of the front panel.
On the right third of the frontpanel, You find the pushbuttons to select the different bands, the receiver covers mediumwaves (BC stands for Broadcast Band), the tropical bands in the 2-4 and 4-8 shortwave ranges and the 31, 25, 19 and 16 m broadcast bands. You find the necessary informations, which shortwave band to use at which time of day, printed on the dial.
In the middle of the frontpanel, You find the round frequency dial. The arrangement of the different bands seems a little bit confusing to me: the broadcast bands are marked red in the 2-4 and 4-8 MHz shortwave bands, the markings for the 16 m band are found between the 2-4 MHz (120-80 m) and the 19 m band dials, the mediumwave frequencies have to be red from the U shaped dial below the 25 m band dial... the longwave band never found use as a broadcast band in the U.S., so the longwave band is omitted in the H500.
The two knobs below the round dial are the volume control and the tuning knob. Four small res sliding switches TREBLE - VOICE - ALTO - BASS are used as tone control, this arrangement called "Radio Organ" can be found on all classic Zenith Trans Oceanic receivers.

The operation scheme of the H500 receiver is not complicated, once You made the first step and have powered it up with the correct voltage. As this "Trans Oceanic" is a "grandfather" among the travel shortwave radios, I recommend You to power it from a regulated power supply where You can slowly increase the power over some hours to avoid damages to the capacitors after having checked the radio for faulty capacitors.
The volume control acts as main switch, use the band selector pushbuttons to select the desired shortwave band and look for the corresponding band on the round dial. The dial marks are very coarse, so You have to search for the station and to identify it by the language and a spoken identification or interval signal. The H500 has no BFO for CW and single sideband reception, all these features have been found in commercial communication receivers only in the fifties, when the Trans Oceanic has been constructed.

In summary: the Zenith Trans Oceanic H500 as an absolute classic hollow state travel shortwave receiver with a receiver design dating from the fourties. It has been produced in quite large numbers and is a very niece piece in every colletion of shortwave radios. Of course, it's not the type of radio, You would take with You when travelling abroad, today. Even if You still can catch some overseas signals on the shortwave bands, they will remain the same as in the fifties, there are much better solid state travel radios available today.

At this place, I want to send all my thanks to Roy Johnson, who gave me his "family treasure" which became the first "T/O" in my collection.

weitere Lektüre:
d: Zenith Trans-Oceanic H500 im
e: The Zenith Trans-Oceanic - the Royalty of Radios, Bryant and Cones, Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

© Martin Bösch 3.2.2009