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Old 13-10-2011, 10:06   #1
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Does Anyone Remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the Late 70s ?

This was mentioned on another thread by me, and I was surprised nobody could remember the 1st 100 watt fully solid state (finals were solid state) HF SSB HAM transceiver that in the mid to late 70's was the "must have" for cruisers. Ran on 12 volts, great receiver and full 100 watts no matter how bad your antenna was. And that was a major problem, unlike modern radios that will back the output power down to save the finals from the heat of a mismatched antenna, this one would go full steam ahead till the finals died.

Somebody just has to remember the Atlas 210 ???
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Old 13-10-2011, 11:22   #2
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Re: Does anyone remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the late 70's?

Sure, I remember both the Atlas 210x and the Atlas 215x transceivers. I've had both on board Feeling Good and installed another one on a Hunter. Great radios. Used to find them for about $75 to $100 bucks at ham swap meets. Always used a manual tuner to match these radios to a grounded backstay antenna. Also, always added the receiver incremental tuning (RIT) modification. They worked very well as an on board ham radio.

Although the Atlas transceivers were great radios they lacked a general coverage receiver. Thus, I ended up replacing my last Atlas with an ICOM 751A. BTW, 751A was another great radio.

Now, Feeling Good sports both an ICOM M710, and an ICOM 703. The 703 can be used with or without a HLA-150 linear amplifier. Thus, I have two 150 watt transceivers and a backup 10 watt transceiver. The neat thing with the 703 is that it will work fine with a nearly dead battery. Also, instead of the manual antenna tuner, I have switch over to using an automatic antenna tuner. However, the new tuner still feeds the same old grounded backstay antenna.

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Old 13-10-2011, 11:37   #3
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Re: Does anyone remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the late 70's?

I've got an Atlas 215 sitting in the basement. It's the same radio as the 210 but with an extra lower frequency band capability, IIRC. My parents bought it for us before we kicked off for the Marquesas in '76. Couldn't get a match with the backstay antenna through the manual Dentron Super Tuner so had no radio for the trip south. Don't remember the no cutback 'feature' of the Atlas but didn't try and transmit much with the very high SWR readings so had no problems with the finals before the tuner fix. It was still working fine when I took if off the boat after two years and many thousands of miles. Looking at it now, it would be a miracle if it still works after sitting in the basment all these years.

Just happened to run across a couple cruising on a huge Samson Ferro Cement boat in the Marquesas. He was a brilliant young electrical engineer who I think had designed the digital display for the Atlas radios. He dug into the tuner, cut some coils, added electrical components and had the radio up and running in no time. Radio was reported to have the best signal out of French Polynesia. Had a daily contact with a ham out of Malibu or somewhere in LA. He was nice enough to do phone patches so we could talk with our parents occasionally. Had one contact with a couple of good old boys from somewhere down south running mobile rigs in their trucks. At first, they thought I was putting them on when I told them I was on a boat in the South Pacific. The concept of cruising in a sailboat was totally beyond their comprehension.

I've got a learning disability when it comes to code and couldn't get beyond the 5 wpm or whatever a novice license required despite months of practice. Only planned on using the radio in an emergency in any case. Once we got the radio up, found out there were a bunch of ham radio equipped boats with more getting on line all the time. Most of them were running as pirates and they convinced me to make up a Costa Rican call sign to join a French Polynesia MM net that was running at the time. Kept trying to get my code speed up, without success, after we got back. Finally gave up on getting my General Class license. Forgot about Ham radio till I got back into sailing a few years ago. Heard that code was no longer a requirement for a General License, took the test and now I'm legal.

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Old 13-10-2011, 12:16   #4
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Re: Does anyone remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the late 70's?

Very familiar with the 210X and the 215X. Had and used both for years. Still have a 215X in my shack.

Used them on chartered sailboats, too, for DX contacts. Took the Atlas with big alligator clips on the power cord, and a tuned 20-meter single-band vertical dipole with me. Could be up on the air 10 minutes after stepping aboard. Great signal.

Wrote an article for QST on MM operation aboard sailboats, featuring the Atlas and a dipole. Had many, many TransAtlantic contacts, as well as phone patches to home from the Caribbean.

Visited the manufacturing facility in CA in 1967, and bought a bunch of them for government use overseas.

The Atlas was a wonderful innovative design. The finals were a problem...pretty easy to burn out if you didn't watch the SWR. And, while the receiver was very sensitive, the AGC circuit was lousy. You had to watch the RF gain control carefully.

Still, for it's time, an incredible little radio. Started a whole new generation of SSB radios!

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Old 13-10-2011, 12:31   #5
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Re: Does anyone remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the late 70's?

I'm sure glad to hear all this. On the other thread I was feeling like a old fart with NOBODY having the faintest idea about the Atlas radio. I think it was great they finally dropped the code requirement (yes, I'm part of the minority who have held a General for ages but was still for the dropping of the code). Of course now days I'm all solid state HF thru UHF all in one transceiver and even a solid state no tune amp. Next time out I'm considering a tri-band, 3 element yagi with rotator on top of the mast unless someone can convince me 30 lbs at the top of the mast isn't a good idea.
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Old 18-01-2016, 11:39   #6
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Re: Does Anyone Remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the Late 70s ?

Just stumbled upon this old thread and yes, I had an Atlas 215 on my Hunter. In fact, I think it is the one Nordic Sailor referred to in his post above! We were both liveaboards at Peninsula Marina in Redwood City, if he is who I think he is. He helped me find the Atlas and did the install. Eventually, I moved on to a Furuno 1502 (great transceiver) but that Atlas got me started. Love to reconnect with Nordic Sailor.
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Old 19-01-2016, 09:38   #7
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Re: Does Anyone Remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the Late 70s ?

Yes, I also remember the Atlas 210x and 215x, fondly...

Worked on a boat in PR with a 210x, years ago...



And, a friend used one mobile in his old station wagon with a big whip on it and a tuner screwed to the tailgate (no BS, it looked hideous, but it worked!)...

Also, had another friend who couldn't afford another radio, and he installed a Tempo One under his dashboard of his car...and while the first ham station I used (before I got my license) was a old Collins KWM-1....and then a couple years later a Kenwood TS-520....(I think everyone used a TS-520 at some point in their ham career!)



Fair winds..

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Old 19-01-2016, 09:48   #8
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Re: Does Anyone Remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the Late 70s ?

I never had an Atlas 210, but one of my friends did his circumnavigation with an Atlas 210 as his HF radio. He was very frugal, and the price was right on his budget.
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Old 19-01-2016, 10:18   #9
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Re: Does Anyone Remember the Atlas 210 HAM SSB from the Late 70s ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
I never had an Atlas 210, but one of my friends did his circumnavigation with an Atlas 210 as his HF radio. He was very frugal, and the price was right on his budget.
Thanks for necro-bumping the thread. I had the Swan equipment that was the (distant ancestor) tube type forebear of the Atlas line. I think Herb was involved in three different companies (Swan, Atlas, and Cubic). I could be wrong about that, but if you take the cover off of an Atlas I believe that it's similar to the others in terms of the mechanical tuning gear.

But wow, you can't get them for 75 clams anymore. Going for 200+ on Ebay these days, as is the Swan MX100. Recently saw a Cubic fetching $800. All worth the money, simply for nostalgia. Only the Cubic is any good for CW (no QSK break-in on the others) - so it's only the Cubic I'd pick up maybe if I saw a deal. I have an old Ten Tec Omni A (from the same era, roughly, and still use it! Fantastic QSK!)
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