Vintage Collins S-Line

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When I started my ham career in 1958, the Collins S-Line was just being introduced. Wow, what beautiful equipment! What a difference it was from the big black boxes that had dominated ham radio up to that time. In addition to its beautiful and compact design, it could do things that were previously unheard of, like transceiving!! Unfortunately, as a 14-year-old, I could only dream of owning an S-Line. Even most adult hams I knew could not afford the S-Line. There were at least two S-Lines and one KWM-2 in my town at that time and I occasionally had a chance to visit those stations and operate them. This was like going to heaven for me at the time.

In 1975, as a young adult, I finally had a house and the means to build a ham station. I purchased a new Collins 75S-3C and 32S-3A. Finally, I had my own S-Line! At that time, 17 years after its introduction, the S-Line was still considered "the" rig to have.

1975 - Picture of W3YY (then W3GZQ) with S-Line


After several enjoyable years of using the S-Line, new solid-state rigs began to appear with features that were too tempting to pass up. My S-Line was sold, a series of new rigs were purchased over the years, but I always felt a special fondness for my old S-Line. The new rigs were great, but I just never got the same rush from them as I did from my S-Line.

Then, a few years ago, my friend, K5VRX, bought an old S-Line. Then another and another. He became a real Collins collector and after seeing the fun he was having, I caught the fever too. I don't have the space for multiple S-Lines, but I thought it would be fun to have at least one nice S-Line to play with. So this year I started acquiring various pieces of S-Line gear and now have a beautiful round-emblem S-Line consisting of a 75S-3C receiver, 32-S3 transmitter, 312B-4 station console, and my original 312B-3 speaker.

2008 - On the Air Again with an S-Line


An interesting thing happened when I did this. For the first time in decades I got interested in SSB operation and rag chewing again. The Collins gear just seemed to lend itself to casual rag chewing. The sound of S-Line receivers just can't be beat and every time I turn on the 75S-3C it takes me back to a simpler time. Unlike modern receivers with all sorts of filters, passband tuning, memories, noise reduction circuits, etc., the 75S-series receiver has relatively few controls. For the most part, one just uses the beautiful main tuning knob and the audio gain control. There's only one tuning rate and it's perfect. It's an elegant and beautiful piece of equipment.

I'm still a hard core DX'er and part-time contester and use all my modern gear when chasing a new one or contesting, but I'm finding a great deal of pleasure in just casual DXing and rag chewing with my new (old) S-Line.


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