31. Soviet Portables
In my radio collection I have (or had)
quite a few transistor portables
from the Soviet Union (see table right),
mostly taken during my various business trips
to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
They range from very small units, like the Etude 603,
to big shortwave world receivers, like the various VEF jobs.
Though the radios differ significantly from one to the other,
a few peculiarities about this class of portables can be made.
- All of the radios have a numerical type number
with the middle digit a 0
(with an exception for the newest one, the Spidola 232).
- The radios quite often have a genuine leather pouch.
To date the set, look at its inside,
because one may find a date stamp there.
- Transistors are of USSR manufacture and
have type numbers with Cyrillic letters.
- The radios sometimes have flat ferrite antennas
(while western sets mostly have tubular antennas).
See Sokol 403 and Neywa 402 for examples.
- None of my Soviet portables is equiped to receive FM;
exceptionis the Sokol 308 from 1981.
The band definition was different from the international one,
with FM ranging from 66 to 73 MHz.
So to receive stations here, the Soviet radios are useless.
Now the standard 88-108MHz band is used throughout Eastern Europe.
- All radios, even the tiny Etude 603,
have antenna jacks for connecting outdoor aerials.
And, surprisingly, the radios often perform well
with even long aerials.
I have a 20m longwire running over my garden,
and while the Etude 603 already starts to noise heavily
when I keep it near this antenna,
reception of weak stations is greatly improved
when I connect it to the Neywa 402.
Ear phone jacks are quite common, too.
- I found a few noteworthy power supplies.
The Alpinist 405 needs 9V of battery power,
and its battery case is constructed such that
either two flat 4.5V batteries, or 6 C-cells can be used.
The Sokol 403 needs 9V as well (supplied by a P-block),
and has a connector on the back to externally supply 9V.
This radio is supposed to come
with a power cable to feed it from mains,
but this cable has no transformer,
but only a diode and resistors!
- The radios often have Cyrillic imprints,
which I like because they look so exotic.
Some (VEF206 Vega, Etude 603) were produced for export
and have most of the lettering in English.
But others (VEF 202, Rossia 303) have only Cyrillic text,
and the VEF 202 even has many Cyrillic station names on the dial.
A lot from the Baltic states:
Riga, Vilnus, Tallin, but they were produced in the Baltics.
- The selling price of the radio is often
stamped into the back panel, together with the type number.
It has surprised me that in the Soviet Union,
such good shortwave receives as the VEF's were built,
because the government didn't like it
if people would here the broadcasts from western stations.
Transmissions from stations like Voice of America, BBC,
and Deutsche Welle were jammed by special broadband noise transmitters.
But still, using directional antenna's
(loop antenna's with their very deep null in directionality),
the transmissions could be heard.
Marking of parts is a mix of Cyrillic and Latin.
In the Spidola I found capacitors with values in Cyrillic,
but the PCB is printed with Latin R and C
around resistors and capacitors
and Cyrillic D for diodes.
Before the Second World War,
the VEF industry (photo right) in Riga, Latvia,
was a technologically advanced factory;
it was the flagship of Latvian industry,
and the Germans chose this place
as the production site of reel-to-reel tape recorders.
VEF means Valst Elektrotehniska Fabrika
(State Electrotechnical Plant)
and RRR, the birth place of the Selga 405,
means Rigas Radio Rupnica (Riga Radio Plant).
The range of models included one with a geographic dial (left):
rotating discs would arrange the station to be reproduced
to lighten up on a map of Europe.
When the Germans left the place and Russians replaced them,
they used the site for the production
of (mainly) military communication equipment.
To read more, you can
Gerard Tel, September 2014.