What’s this? Yes, It’s an original Apartheid South African radio! Believe it or not, Dr. Wadley moved to SA after he ran out of Brittish Military contracts to try and start a radio company where labor was not unionized and generally cheaper than in Britain. He wanted to make a civilian version of his patented Wadley loop general coverage receiver design that had no bandswitching and cash in on his patents before they ran out. Enter Barlow’s fiscal backing, and you have the only South African made receiver I have ever encountered.
This is a rare example of a one-of-a-kind build made in SA. It even has the commercial blurb sheet I found stuffed in the back of the unit. Needless to say, Dr. Wadley did not cash in on a long line of successful marketed RX’s to the global community. Nelson Mandella made sure things changed. Still, this one works, including the unique preselector that covers the long wave band all the way to 30 MHz using a single mechanical coil contrivance using a microswitch and a “dancing ferrite slug” that is shuttled across a rather long coil form. This basic receiver dewsign was copied in several designs like the Drake SSR-1, Yaesu FRG-7, evan the National NCX-500 (…a rather excellent RX I have had before), and others, although they had some sort of extensive preselector and bandswitching on the front end.
Wadley tried to keep costs down by puting everything on one circuit board, but he compromised on a few things. One is that in a Wadley loop, the heterodyne 1 MHz comb generator needs to be well-shielded so as not to place birdies every one MHz across the dial. Wadley was well aware of this, and so identified this as a “feature”, being a built in dial calibration standard. Nice, except how many stations are on 1 MHz intervals that you may want to hear? “This is radio statoin WWV, broadcasting on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 MHz.” Hummm…..I guess only listen to 2.5 MHz?
Also, the lone preselector in the front end carries all the weight of supressing images and birdies. One tuned circuit in an unshielded board with a rather optimistic tuning contrivance to cover the entire DC to 30 MHz range means a lot of birdies and images sprout up hither and thither. Wadley tried to hide them by boosting the front end gain, but now you have no dynamic range. Eh. This thing gets clobbered easily, and has a nasty bit of conversion noise. It’s kinda like a shortwave Baofeng RX with an SSB detector instead of FM.
OK, so this receiver is maybe useful for picking up SW broadcasts in the African bush, or maybe as a Tanzanian military unit, but as far as using this unit for any real band scanning is probably not going to bring you great radio joy. The real value is the historic picture this receiver paints. It’s definitely a shelf queen, though. Still owning this is like owning a Spherical Audion, a piece of radio history.