Hallicrafters SW-500 reviews

Pretty Good Radio:


I got this radio from a Ham Fest this year for 50 dollars (Canadian). It looked really nice and I thought, why not try it?

I brought it home, plugged it in, then began receiving local AM broadcast stations very well. Let's just say that when you connect it to an external antenna, the local AM station signals are really superb. However the built-in antenna works well too for local AM broadcasts.

Shortwave on the other hand is okay, but not excellent. I had a really hard time finding WWV on 10 MHz initially. So far have not picked it up on 15 or 20 MHz. Sensitivity is actually pretty good (on this radio), but selectivity is like it picks up all the QRM (man made noise) in your neighbourhood. Which obviously does not help when trying to hear distant shortwave broadcasts.

One thing I'd like to note is that back in the 1960's, people did not have quite so many devices as we all do now. The big ones being computers, cell phones, and TV's. Basically saying that the designers likely did not predict that people would have all these devices creating that much noise.
More modern rigs such as the Icom IC-718 have large selectivity in mind and even lots of filter options and settings. Designers now need to consider the noisy environments people live in. That being said, the designers of the Hallicrafters SW-500 radio should have made a better circuit design for this radio.

One safety concern is the fact that if you plug it into your AC outlet the wrong way (with the non-polarized plug), you run the risk of electric shock (causing death) since the metal case becomes "hot". A radio built like this in today's market would really be considered a piece of junk ready to kill you!

To conclude, this is a great starter radio for the shortwave enthusiast who's good at fixing and maintaining electronics. Don't forget that it contains Vacuum Tubes (valves), and the tubes are becoming harder to find as they get used up. Tip: Avoid spending a lot of money on buying this radio, people trick you into thinking it's a good radio, but it isn't worth the extra cost.

All the best!


Build quality
User friendliness
Value for money
Mint condition in 2023

Review the Hallicrafters SW-500