Manufactured by National Panasonic.
As a late successor of the RF-B45 or the RF-B60, Panasonic released the RF-B55 around 1999. The shortwave travel receiver is equipped with a PLL synthesizer and covers the shortwave range from 1711 - 29999 kHz.
- 150 x 93 x 33 mm, weight 0.33 kg
Panasonic launched the RF-B55 in 1999 as a late successor of the RF-B45 or 60. Until today, it is the last world receiver from Panasonic covering the whole shortwave range - and in fact it was probably made by Sangean and not a genuine Panasonic development.
The PLL synthesized single conversion receiver is powered by three UM-3 / AA batteries or a centre - negative 4.5 V mains adapter; it has a keypad for direct frequency input, 18 frequency memories each for VHF and shortwave and a clock with timer functions.
With its dimensions of 150 x 93 x 33 mm and a weight of 334 g, the travel receiver is about the size of a paperback book. Similar to the small Sony travel radios, the RF-B55 also has a fold-out support on the back, which allows operation in a slightly tilted position. The telescopic antenna is equipped with a ball joint and can easily be adjusted to a vertical position.
The left half of the front panel is occupied by the loudspeaker with its diameter of 6 cm.
On the right side the numeric keypad for direct frequency entry, the main switch marked in red, the key to activate fine tuning and the UP / DOWN tuning keys are located. The LCD panel displays the frequency, in the medium and long wave ranges it can be set to the channel spacing of 9 kHz common in Europe or 10 kHz, which is common in the USA. On shortwave, the tuning increment is 5 kHz; if the FINE TUNING key is pressed, it is reduced to 1 kHz. The display indicates also the shortwave broadcast band in metres, the memory channel number, symbols for the two available time zones and empty battery warning.
To tune in a station on a known frequency, first press the FREQ key, then enter the frequency directly with the number keys (for VHF, the decimal point must be used), a second press on ENTER lets the receiver jump to the desired frequency.
Pressing the SW/METER button twice followed by the corresponding numbered button makes the receiver jump to the lower limit of the shortwave radio band indicated in grey-blue letters. When the receiver is set to a certain frequency, it can be stored in one of the 18 frequency memories by pressing the M key. The next unused channel number is always used. When the channel number is flashing, pressing the ENTER key stores the frequency. After nine frequency memory channels have been filled, the receiver jumps to the second „page“ with another nine memory channels, which is indicated in the display by P2 followed by the memory channel number.
If all memory channels have been filled in this way, an existing entry can be overwritten by a long press on the M key followed by the key with the corresponding memory channel number. To recall a stored frequency, the corresponding frequency band must be set, the number key recalls the memory content. To call up the memory channels 10 - 18 in the VHF and shortwave ranges, use the P1/P2 key.
By pressing the large TUNING UP / DOWN keys, the receiver is tuned up or down in 5 kHz steps. For tuning with the finer steps of 1 kHz, press the FINE Tuning button. If the TUNING UP / DOWN buttons are pressed and held down, a frequency scan is started, it will stop at the next signal with an adequate signal strength. In the FM, medium wave and longwave ranges, a band scan can be activated with the ATS function; the strongest local stations are then automatically stored in memory locations 1 - 9.
Additional controls are located on the right face of the receiver: The volume control and the LOCK button to lock all keys from unintentional operation when the radio is in the luggage. On the left face, there is an antenna socket, the stereo/mono switch which is only effective on FM and acts as an attenuator in the AM bands in the LOCAL position, as well as the sockets for the earphones and the centre-negative 4.5 V power supply.
As far as I know, the RF-B55 was the last „real“ world receiver produced by Panasonic. The reception quality is good and the unit has all the features expected of a good shortwave travel radio - but CW / SSB reception is not possible.
If the capability of CW or amateur radio reception is needed, a Panasonic RF-B65 or a Sony receiver from the 7600 series would be a better choice. With the built-in quartz clock with alarm function, the sufficient number of station memories and the quite simple operation, the RF-B55 is a very useful travel companion. If you find a set for a good price, it is worth buying. I bought my set some years ago at an electronics discount shop in London at a very good price…
Superhet with PLL frequency synthesis.
The set is equipped with semiconductors.