Radio Archeology – The Heathkit Broadcast Band Receiver Model BR-2
Allied Radio and Kits of the Era
When I was a kid my father would take me to the Allied Radio store at 100 North Western Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. This was a huge warehouse-like building with all sorts of wonderous electronic gear. At home I would page through the Allied Radio Catalog; I knew everything in the catalog better than the sales people at the store.
Allied Radio sold radios from Hallicrafters, National, Johnson-Viking, Globe, Ameco, and a bunch more (see). They also sold kits. I built a few kits when I was a kid and it was a great adventure to go to Allied on Western avenue which was about 10 miles from my home. (see link below to a great collection of Radio Shack catalogs going back to 1939)
But I missed the whole Heathkit era. I wonder where I was? So, anytime I can get my hands on an old Heathkit – at the right price – I usually want to add it to my collection of antique radios.
Heathkit BR-2 (1951 – 1957 )
I recently purchased a working, and in excellent condition, Heathkit BR-2 Broadcast Band Receiver. This radio was produced between 1951 and 1957. So, this BR-2 is a survivor of 50+ years. The radio was all original and included the original Heathkit assembly manual along with all the inserts.
The great thing about buying antique broadcast receivers is that you can use them everyday. None of my radios sit on the shelf (or floor) for very long. They all get rotated into service on a regular basis. My oldest radio is currently an Atwater-Kent from the early 1920’s.
All American Five (AA5)
The Heathkit BR-2 is a very basic 5-tube Superheterodyne. Or, generically, the “All American Five” (AA5). The AA5 was the basis of almost every broadcast radio no matter what the manufacturer during the 1930’s-1960’s
The Heathkit BR-2 is a little unique in that it had a couple of different build options. A single RCA jack in the back could be wired for radio tuner output into an external amplifier. Or, it could be wired as a phonograph input to use the radios amplifier as an output device. It also has a switched 110v receptacle in the back. When an external device, such as an amplifier, was plugged in, it would be powered when the radio was turned on.
The Famous Heathkit Manuals
The Heathkit build manual is the standard style allowing just about anyone to build this radio – as long a you knew some basic soldering techniques. In general, no knowledge of electronics was required. I was able to get all the inserts with the manual which also included a pink slip of paper warning you not to use acid core solder.
Manual inserts also included three larger-than-life parts layout diagrams – impossible to make a mistake.
Below are a few pictures. The radio is all orignal. Plays great. All stations can be tuned end-to-end across the band. Alignment seems good. The slide rule dial is on frequency. No slippage of the tuning dial. Cabinet in great shape. The speaker grill could use a replacement as well as a few capacitors. Not bad for a 50+ year survivor. (Click on any image to enlarge)
Collecting Heathkit Models SB-101,102 & HW-100,101
Boat Anchor(read: valuable radio artifacts) Manual Archive
Heathkit BR-2 Schematic
Heathkit Non-Ham Receiver Matrix
Kits from the era
Vintage Radio Schematics and more
Radio Shack history – catalogs and TV commercials going back to 1939/1976