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The Drake SW8 is a portable communications receiver covering 100 to 30000 kHz in AM, USB and LSB modes. Quality reception of the AM broadcast band and all of shortwave is assured. Drake elected to include the FM broadcast band in the SW8 (87 -108 MHz). The extra heavy, forward facing speaker, along with a tone control, combine to offer pleasing fidelity. As a bonus, the VHF aeronautical band is also featured (118 - 137 MHz). Enjoy listening to commercial aircraft over-head, or even control tower transmissions if you live near an airport.

The impressive backlit LCD panel provides all the operational data you need to navigate this impressive receiver. Frequency display resolution is to 100 Hz on AM, shortwave and aircraft bands. The SW8 is a full fledged communications receiver, but it is also a true portable. The full size front handle makes it easy to carry. Please note that this handle can be conveniently removed by the user for stationary operation. The SW8 holds six D cells, and a pivot point 41 inch telescopic whip extends from the front for fully independent field operation. A 1/8th inch headphone jack is provided. Tuning is easy via keypad entry, manual tuning or memories.

For the shortwave and medium wave broadcast bands, a selectable sideband synchronous detector (SYNC) improves reception by reducing distortion due to fading signals. Other aids include: slow or fast AGC, RF attenuator and tone controls. Three IF bandwidths are supplied (6,4 and 2.3 kHz). Two independent clocks provide dual time zone selection and a 2 event timer turns the radio on at a prescribed time. Seventy non-volatile memories store: frequency, mode, bandwidth, AGC setting, RF attenuator and synchronous detector on/off. Memory channels may be accessed manually or through "time scan" with each channel monitored for 5 seconds. Keypad entry provides instant access to any frequency.

The rear panel of the radio includes a PL259-type antenna jack or wire inputs for shortwave. Spring terminals are also provided for an external FM/AIR antenna. Record output, and external speaker (4 - 8 ohm) jacks are also featured.

General characteristics

HAM bands
160m  80m  60m  40m  30m (WARC)  20m  17m (WARC)  15m  12m (WARC)  11m (CB)  10m  2000m 
Frequency stability
± 10 ppm. 0° to 50° C.
Tuning steps
70 channels in 1 bank(s)


0.1-30 / 87-108 / 118-137 MHz
AM   AM-sync   W-FM   USB   LSB  
SSB (10 dB S/N): < 0.5µV 0.5-30 MHz
AM (10 dB S/N): < 2.0µV 0.5-30 MHz
FM (20 dB S/N): < 4.0µV 87-108 MHz
FM (20 dB S/N): < 4.0µV 118-137 MHz
AM: 6.0 kHz @ -6dB
AM: 4.0 kHz @ -6dB
LSB/USB: 2.3 kHz @ -6dB
Receiver system
Double conversion superheterodyne
Image rejection
> 60 dB .5-30 MHz> 50 dB 87-108 MHz> 60 dB 118-137 MHz
Audio output
2 Watts, 4 Ohms. < 5% distortion


SO-239 + Clamps / screws
50 / 300 / 500Ω


Power requirements
7-10V DC external or 6×LR20 internal
Current drain RX
1 A max


Dimensions (w×h×d)
292 × 133 × 330 mm (11.50 × 5.24 × 12.99 in)
4.50 kg (9.9 lbs)
Form factor
Base Station
Between 1994 and 2000 in Ohio, U.S.A.

Other features

Amateur / Ham radio operators
Features + options
RigReference ID

Manuals, diagrams and brochures

Drake SW-8 HF Comms Reciever Manual PDF - 495.9 kB, submitted by Berend
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New and second-hand prices

Estimating the value of a rig can be challenging. We collect prices paid by real hams over the years to help you estimate the value of a used Drake SW8. Just bought or sold this model? Let us know what you traded it for and help other ham operators!

Based on historic data, today's second-hand price of the Drake SW8 is around:

  • USD 61.00 ~ USD 95.00

Price History Chart

These estimates are based on the following prices:

Year Historic price Condition Submitted by
2013 USD 299.95 Used / Good universal-radio
2010 USD 380.00 Used / Mint eBay

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