*EDITORIAL* Drop the Anchor

In radio comms, a “boat anchor” is a term of endearment used to describe an old piece of equipment that weighs so much it could be used as an anchor.

It’s a metaphor which commonly refers to large, heavy radio gear of earlier decades; equipment that employed tubes and valves to function — olden day rigs without the fancy bells and whistles of modern day “throw away” ones.

Occasionally, a “boat anchor” refers to something in the hobby too that’s either obsolete, useless and/or cumbersome.

These days, however, use of the term in a disparaging way is uncommon.

For me, the charm of a “Boat Anchor” is that it’s very simple and basic to operate. 

For starters, they don’t have menus and sub-menus. 

They don’t have 20 different options to adjust your speech, tone or power.

They don’t have the ability to run 20 different modes of voice like the modern day radios do.

They don’t have LED’s or LCD’s that burn out or go blank for some unknown reason.

They don’t have fragile finals that blow instantly if something goes wrong.

They don’t have the ability to cover all your ham bands from HF to UHF either which gives you the impression they’re sacrificing something along the way.

What they do have though is the ability to sound just as pleasant as any modern day radio out there on the airwaves.

The cost of these “Boat Anchors” is very reasonable too and, for me, the joy of using a radio from yesteryear is beyond one’s imagination.

One gets a sense of being ‘grounded’ and feeling ‘connected with the past’ when operating one.

Famous boat anchors include:

  • Heathkit SB- 102
  • Sommerkamp FT-250
  • Collins KWM-1
  • Kenwood TS-515
  • Drake TR-4C
  • Heathkit HW-101
  • Trio (Kenwood) 9R-59D
  • Kenwood TS-700
  • Kenwood Trio TS-510
  • Kenwood TS-520
  • Kenwood TS-820
  • Yaesu FT101ZD
  • Yaesu FT-902DM
  • And many more!