A site of endless curiosity

Radio Archeology – The Heathkit Broadcast Band Receiver Model BR-2

with 3 comments

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.

The Goods

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) 


Long Live The All American Five. Or, Recovering a Piece of Radio History

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

Old Heathkit Catalogs

Vintage Radio Schematics and more

Radio Shack history – catalogs and TV commercials going back to 1939/1976

Atwater-Kent radios

Written by frrl

September 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

3 Responses

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  1. While cleaning out parent’s house, came across an assembled Heathkit BR-2 so was pleased to find your website. Is there somewhere that I can get an approximate value for this piece? Any assist would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. FRANK

    Frank Zawacki

    September 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    • You can always check on e-bay.

      You can see what things sold for here –

      I paid $45 for the radio in working condition which included the assembly manual and all the full size inserts.

      In 1951 the BR-2 sold for $17.50. (see the catalog link above)

      If a family member built that BR-2 (50 years ago) you might consider keeping it. The radio is very simple in design, uses common components still available, and would probably work for another 50 years to come.

      And, AM radio broadcasts still exist.


      October 1, 2010 at 4:49 am

      • Thanks, frrl! As suggested, I believe the BR-2 was built by an uncle who was taking electronics courses back then. Probably has not been turned on in 40+ years if I had to guess.

        Frank Zawacki

        October 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

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