ITT Mackay 3020A

Here's a receiver any good Radio Officer will love!

This receiver was very common on merchant ships in the US fleet in the 1980s and 1990s. It is designed to be ultra simple to operate. You'd look up the frequency of the shore station you wanted to send traffic to, dial up that frequency, hit the BFO switch and the 400 Hz filter switch and there they'd be; sending their CQ Wheel.

The spartan front panel design is all about simplicity and efficiency. It's quick and easy. Exactly as it should be.

One of these receivers would be sitting on 500 KHz monitoring the international distress and calling frequency. Another, identical receiver would be used for HF CW work. Here's what they looked like in a typical shipboard installation of that era:

WFJN - The Radio Shack aboard the M/V Falcon Champion circa 1987

This is the radio shack aboard the M/V Falcon Champion in 1987. We were operating in the Mediterranean moving vast quantities of JP8 jet fuel around for the DOD.

In the left-most rack you see the 3020A that is used for HF CW/SSB work. Above it in the rack are the HF Exciter and the Mackay controller for the Harris RF-601 HF Automatic Antenna Coupler. Moving to the right we see the final amp for the HF rig with a Sunair GSB-900DX transceiver (the back up HF rig) below it. The next rack to the right houses the Medium Wave Transmitter, antenna switch and the Radio Clock. In the right-most rack we find the battery charger, the backup M/W rig and the second 3020A receiver. This receiver is parked on 500 KHz. In front of the 3020A is the IBM Selectric mill used for typing up the official log.

I've received a few questions regarding what went into a log while operating as a Radio Officer aboard ship. Here's an example:

Log entries, WFJN

Log entries, WFJN

You may have noticed the Noon Position and wondered where in the world that was. Well, here ya go -- looks like we were just north of Kriti:

Noon Position, WFJN

Of course, these were rack mounted rigs although Mackay did offer the 3020A in a desktop case for Land Lubbers. Here's mine:

Mackay Marine 3020A Front View

Mackay Marine 3020A Close Up

Mackay Marine 3020A Left Side

Mackay Marine 3020A Right Side

Mackay Marine 3020A Manual

Mackay Marine 3020A Manual With Schematic

Mackay Marine 3020A Receiver and Manual

Truly wonderful CW receivers. There were only two shortcomings:

Fortunately, both problems are easy to fix.

But, that's it! There was nothing else about these receivers to complain about.

This one is NOT for sale. It's simply too pristine and I can't possibly give it up. I do have another as a spare and I also have one of the 3021 models with a tuning knob. But, at the moment, neither of them is for sale either. Eventually, maybe. But not now..

Receivers. Did I ever tell you I love 'em? Well, I do. Especially this one..