The Mackay stacked with a Watkins-Johnson 8718A and the ill-fated, white face
Racal 6790/GM, which became a black face about a week later (see link above
or in the text below). This was during a comparison test I was playing with (and
having a lot of fun) to see who scored best in AM broadcast DXing and LF
beacon (NDB) searching. The short answer: Racal by a slight nudge and the
W-J and Mackay a close second in ultimate capture, but the W-J a bit ahead
due to its extra filter flexibility.
ITT/Mackay Marine Type 3030A
modified & personalized for my pleasure ...
Here's my old Mackay Marine (ITT), model 3030A. It's really a darn good radio in all the general virtues; very stable, very high dynamic range, very quiet
noise floor, very sensitive ... enough "very's" ? Okay, but it's built like a rock and designed for long-term service on the high seas, rock'n and bump'n
around a radio room rife with salt air. For the most part, I'd say, "Nice job, ITT guys." Okay, so it has a moving iron meter that needs to be degaussed on
occasion and it really could use a filter somewhere between the 2 and 8 KHz range, but that's of lesser consequence. By-the-way, who in their right mind
would put a moving iron meter in a radio designed for use inside an iron ship. The whole thing is one big floating magnet. I was tempted to stick in a
moving coil meter, but resisted the urge - it wasn't easy fighting that thought. Caveat: Okay, I'm already in a lot of trouble with the pure-at-heart collectors who
think I commit heresy every time I modify this or that piece of equipment. Frankly, I don't care. As a communications product design engineer for almost a
half-century, I can state, categorically, that engineers' idyllic designs are always compromised by corporate management, production costs, contractual specifications,
etc, etc. The result: virtually every piece of equipment can me improved, in some regard, with after market designs and modifications. You should see some of the
unhappy e-mails I received when I created a personalized Racal 6790/GM. Look here. But I have to thank the other 98% of my readers who complimented me.
Thanks folks, it's really appreciated.
Here's the front aluminum panel removed from the sub-panel. It's in
decent shape for a 20+ year-old radio. But, like the Racal, it's white.
Maybe it's a purely personal thing with me, but staring at black
nomenclature on a white background is just very eye fatiguing.
Separating the front panel from the sub-panel was a chore above
and beyond just removing the controls and a few bolts. The Mackay
guys decided to use a very tenacious double-sided tape that
apparently uses an acrylic adhesive of Herculean strength. I had to
fabricate a knife tool from a piece of steel shim stock and slice my
way through the "welded" assembly. Ultimately there was no damage
to the panel and no blood drips anywhere, so I guess I "done well."
I stuck the panel on a flat bed scanner, one side at a time. Above is what the graphic looked like. Then I clicked the <negative> button in my graphics program (ACDSee) and got the
I did a copy & paste of the images
into my publishing program
(Pagemaker) and stretched the
graphic out to its real life dimensions
of 5 1/4" by 19" (3 RU).
Then it was time to print the graphic
to check hole alignment and any
Here's the high-resolution printing of
the two halves of the decal graphic.
It's in two pieces because the paper
is only 11 inches long.
My mods to the Mackay graphics are
borders around the meter, speaker
and frequency display, and hash
marks around the four controls so
that you have some reference to
where the knob pointer is pointing,
and repositioning the name and
model number nomenclature.
You will need a light table or similar
light source to look through the decal
and see if everything lines up with
with the panel cutouts.
Finally, it's time to laminate both
sides of the paper with heavy, clear
(self stick) acetate. Then glue the
whole mess to the panel. I use thin
acrylic double sided tape (like
Mackay did), in strategic areas
around the borders of the panel and
It's very important to be absolutely
sure all alignments are perfect, lest
your errors will haunt you the rest of
Finally, I used a #11 scapel blade to
cut away the decal at the various
It's time to relax and enjoy the radio.
I'll eventually post the technical mods, but am still playing with various devices and circuit changes - most of which are to the front end that will
add more static discharge (antenna) protection, increase sensitivity by a few dB, and lower the overall headend noise - which is pretty low
already ... oh yeah, and re-degauss that stupid meter again.
Bear in mind, that there really is no dire need to modify anything in the radio's circuitry. I just think that some of the newer solid state devices can
offer a lower noise floor and some of the capacitors are getting a bit old. Actual circuit (schematic) changes will probably be minimal, if I decide to
make any at all.
Hat tip to Randy, bigapple59b a great eBay seller for finding this radio for me. I don't know him personally, but can vouch for this truly excellent
More on that later.
Thanks for looking.
The meter lamp was a white
incandescent tube. I installed 8 red
Being a light source, it didn't
photograph well, but in person, it's
nice and easy on the eyes, without
glare and just plain easier to read.
Note that I also added hash marks
for the controls. Just an added
touch so that the index mark on
the knob has something to point to.
There are also trim borders added
to the frequency display, meter
and loudspeaker openings to give
a more finished appearance.
The vinyl acetate overlay makes it
easy to clean finger prints, dirt and