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Sony Corporation, Tokyo

ICF-5500 M / Captain 55

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ICF - 5500 / Captain 55
ICF - 5800 / Captain 77
ICF - 5900
ICF - 6500
ICF - 6700
ICF - 6800
CRF - 160
CRF - 220
CRF - 230
CRF - 5090 /
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CRF - 320
CRF - 1
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überarbeitet am 23.10.2010

In the seventies, Sony presented several shortwave travel radios with a "military" style appearence and a typical square cabinet, the ICF-5500M / Captain 55 as well as it's bigger brother ICF-5800 / Captain 77 were both single conversion analog receivrs. The ICF-5900W had a similarly shaped cabinet but a completely different circuitry and was a double conversion superhet with a crystal marker and a linear interpolation dial.
Some shortwave portables produced by Panasonic and later from other "no name" far east manufacturers had a similar external appearence.

Single conversion, I.F. 455 kHz

Analog dial,

MW, 1,6 - 4,5 and 4,5 - 12 MHz, FM broadcast band


Selectivity -6 dB/ -60 dB


RF Gain, S Meter


In the seventies, several multi band receivers with a somewhat "Army look" had their appearence, on of them was Sony's ICF-5500 / Captain 55.
With it's 18 x 21 x 6,5 cm, the Captain 55 is quite a large and heavy radio compared to other travel radios nowadays, when it was new, the radio powered by three UM-2 / "baby cell" batteries was an example of a easily portable travel receiver.

As found in other early Sony radios, the layout of the front panel controls is somewhat extraordinary: The speaker grill is located in the bottom part of the front panel, in the top part, You find a sliding control to adjust the volume, two rotary controls for bass and treble and two switches for loudness and dial illumination in the left upper corner.
A film dial is moved vertically in the dial window behind the dial pointer line at the right. Just below the analog frequency dial, You find the analog signal strength meter, at the left a tiny window for the mechanic sleep timer.

At the top face of the receiver, You find the telescopic antenna that pops out of the cabinet when You press the antenna release button. Next to it the main ON/OFF switch, the control for the 60 minutes sleep timer and two switches to set the meter to indicate signal strength and battery power and as AFC (FM) and DX/LOCAL switch on AM.
The tuning knob, the rotary band switch and the earphone storage compartment lid are found at the right small face of the radio.
On the left, You find several connectors: a 4,5 V DC input socket for an external power supply, the jacks for headphones, cassette recorder, line in and for an external MPX stereo decoder an on the rear screw connectors for an external antenna and earth.

The Captain 55 designed as a travel portable is nowadays too bulky to be taken on airplane trips, but it still finds good use as a home radio in the kitchen or workshop or in a holiday appartment. FM and mediumwave performance is good, shortwave reception is mediocre: You can of course listen to strong signals on the shortwave bands but the dial marks are too coarse to identify a frequency correctly or to tune in to a station on a certain known frequency and to be more or less sure, You monitor the correct frequency, if the signal is strong enough. There is no BFO to monitor CW or single sideband amateur radio communications.

© Martin Bösch, 26.3.2009