So, today I finally sat down to see if the SW-3 is actually functional. The first order of business is to come up with 2.5 volts at 4 amps for powering the valve/tube filaments. I found a Triad transformer that provides 2.5 volts at 6 amps. I decided to try just using AC on the filaments even though it is likely to introduce some hum into the receiver. For now, I just lashed up the filament supply with a power cord and fuse.
For now, I am just clip leading the filament transformer to the power cord on the receiver. Sure as shooting, the valves/tubes all lit up as they should. The AC voltage drops to about 2.25 volts and is drawing just short of 4 amps. How did these guys ever run these puppies on batteries? Must have gone thru them like no tomorrow.
So, with all the valves/tubes lit up, it is time to deal with the audio output. Looking at the bottom of the receiver, I see that the B+ goes directly to one side of the audio output and the other goes to the plate of the audio amplifier. Bloody lovely... 135 volts across the headset... Looking at the valve/tube data sheet it looks like the output impedance will be on the order of 20K ohms. Obviously this 1930 receiver expects a magnetic, high impedance headset. One of my Bogen audio transformers to the rescue. I wired up one of them to the audio output and put a 3.5mm audio jack on the secondary to allow using a powered computer speaker.
Now for the B+ supply. I am using my Heathkit lab supply to provide 135 volts regulated. For now, just clip leading it in place.
So, I cranked up the high voltage supply a little at a time. I didn't want to have any 80 year old capacitors explode if I could help it. After an hour or so, I had the B+ up to 135 volts and no magic smoke was released into the atmosphere.
So, with everything up to temperature and up to voltage, I started trying to figure out how to tune this little gem.
The main tuning dial is very smooth with no backlash and very little yellowing of the plastics and dial card. Amazingly, the main dial also has the ability to change the turning rate from about 18 to 1 to about 4 to 1. Those guys at National did a nice job on this rig back in 1930. The dial left of the main dial is the antenna coupling. It operates very smoothly to peak the signal without introducing any frequency change. The horizontal dial below the main dial is an RF gain control. The regeneration control is the one to the right of the main tuning dial.
As is the case with most regens, they can be very sensitive. While it is tempting to turn the RF gain all the way up and crank the regen control all the way up, it is counter productive and counter intuitive. In this case, you want to peak the antenna coupling for maximum noise and then advance the regen only as far as necessary to obtain a rushing sound in the speaker. This indicates the regenerative detector has started oscillating. Strong signals will overload the receiver and really complicate trying to tune things in, so back off the RF gain nearly all the way and only turn it up sufficiently to be able to hear the signal you wish to hear. With the antenna coupler peaked, you now back off the regen until just before it starts oscillating if you want to tune an AM station or just after it starts oscillating if you want to tune a CW or SSB signal. This is the point of maximum sensitivity. Back off the RF gain until the signal is clear and free of distortion. I don't seem to have any AC hum issues, even though the filaments are running on AC. Sweet!
So, tuning around the band, it appears that the tuning coil I have covers about 5 to 9 Mhz. I was able to hear WWV at the bottom of the dial, a couple of numbers stations, an upper sideband (USB) weather station (National Weather Service - Miami FL), CW and LSB signals on 40 metres, CBCS in Vancouver BC, etc. Nice little receiver! Next, I need to package up the power supply bits and audio output transformer into a tidy external package.