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These hugely heavy and incredibly sensitive sets were, rumour has it, produced for Lend-Lease agreements with England for service in World War II. They are quite common in the UK but scarce in the US. There appear to be two 'flavours' of AR88 - the 'D' version has a frequency coverage as per above whilst the 'LF' version goes down all the way to 75kHz.

The receiver consists of two RF stages, a mixer, local oscillator, three IF stages, a detector, noise limiter, BFO, AF amplifier, output stage and power supply system. The IF amplifiers incorporate variable selectivity and a crystal filter. The sets are normally housed in steel cases but can be rack mounted.

The receivers are designed for coupling to a 200 ohm transmission line, except on low frequency general broadcast bands. For these and general use a single wire 25 to 50 ft. long can be used.

General characteristics

HAM bands
Frequency stability
Tuning steps


73-550 kHz / 1.48-30.5 MHz in six bands
AM   CW  
For 20dB S/N: 8µV at 1MHz, 4.5µV at 4.3MHz, 7µV at 16MHz, 7µV at 28MHz
5 Settings: -3dB bandwidths 15kHz, 9kHz, 3.4kHz, 1.6kHz, 400Hz
Receiver system
Single conversion, 14 valves
735 kHz
Image rejection
120dB at 1MHz 60dB at 16MHz 46dB at 28MHz
Audio output
2.5 W (2.5 ohm external speaker or 600 ohm headphone)




Power requirements
100-260 VAC mains or 6V DC vibrator pack
Current drain RX


Between 1941 and 1945 in USA
Dimensions (w×h×d)
488 × 280 × 488 mm (19.21 × 11.02 × 19.21 in)
45.00 kg (99.3 lbs)
Form factor
Base Station

Other features

Amateur / Ham radio operators
Features + options
Optional S-meter

Manuals, diagrams and brochures

RCA AR-88LF Instructions submitted by RigReference
RCA AR-88LF Schematic diagram submitted by RigReference
Upload relevant documents

Reviews & stories

Great vintage receiver

RCA AR88LF, Desktop Shortwave receiver

Great vintage HF/SW receiver 0-30 Mhz (no SSB)
Bought one not sure if it is the AR88LF version OR the later CR91?
Going by the schematics (Audio Transformer part ) it is a CR91 but by other schematics it a AR88LF?
No name plate and no indication what version it is no serial number nothing..bit confused about this.
Bought as NOT working and took the change ,tracked fault down to a shorting out Capacitor to Ground
HV rail was shorting completely to Ground no wonder it did not work.
Replace faulty capacitor and WOW i turned it on and what a sound, great reception on all bands
Repair costs 15 Euro (3 Caps) not a bad buy after all.
This receiver is 60 Years old and still performing great
A good look over the capacitors showing leaking caps (Vintage Bathtub caps ) and these where all replaced with modern ones (High Voltage) maybe in the future I put them back in the original metal bathtub enclosures?
Checking the old removed Caps and they where not that much off there original value! After 60 years!
Having nice working receiver now and should check all resistor values and if needed replace them
Probably get even a nicer working receiver if a do a full alignment on it but looking at the service manual this alignment is not for the Beginner and happy enough with the performance
Lots of info on the receiver on the internet and schematics/ user manual wildly available
Get a Forklift to move the AR88 must be 50KG’s!
Any AR88 coming up for sale have to be in the near area , postage be impossible and will cost you a fortune.
Also be aware working on Valve receiver when turned on, measured DC voltage up to 450-500 Volt and can be VERY dangerous

Buy one if you get one offered and get your long wire antenna and you be very happy about this receiver
Price ? all depend in what state it is and working or not working
Had to replace the main power on/off switch already (common problem with these receivers) and this takes already the original vintage look away

Written by aharink on Nov 29, 2013

Build quality
User friendliness
Value for money
Good condition in 2013
EUR 60.00

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 RCA AR88LF. 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 RCA AR88LF is around:

  • EUR 43.00 ~ EUR 19.00

These estimates are based on the following prices: (see all 3 prices)

Year Historic price Condition Submitted by
2013 EUR 60.00 Used / Good aharink
2010 EUR 50.00 Used / Fair elmer
2010 EUR 50.00 Used / Okay elmer

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