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Sony Corporation, Tokyo

ICF-5800 L / Captain 77

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ICF - 5500 / Captain 55
ICF - 5800 / Captain 77
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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 receivers. 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,

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


Selectivity -6 dB/ -60 dB


RF Gain, S Meter, sleep timer


The Sony ICF-5800 / Captain 77 is one of the typical multi band receivers with a somewhat "Army look" of the seventies, it's the "older brother" of the simpler ICF-5500 / Captain 55.
With it's 20,2 x 22 x 7,8 cm, the Captain 77 is quite a large and heavy radio compared to other travel radios nowadays, when it was new, the radio powered by four UM-2 / "baby cell" batteries was still an example of a easily portable travel radio.

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 left top part of it, You find a big rotary control to adjust the volume, two smaller controls for bass and treble and two switches, one for dial illumination and the other one acting as main ON/OFF switch.
The analog film dial is moved vertically in the dial window behind the dial pointer line. The active band segment is indicated by a mechanical indicator, the big tuning knob just below can be set for slow and fast tuning speed.

In the right upper corner of the front panel, You find the analog signal strength meter, just below two switches to activate AFC in the FM band and the DX/LOCAL switch on AM and the rotary band selector.
A tiny window for the mechanic sleep timer is found in the right upper corner of the speaker grill.

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.
The control for the sleep timer and the earphone storage compartment are found at the right small face of the radio.
On the left, You find several connectors: a 6V 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 77 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, 1.11.2010