The 500H – Colors They Should Have Made

Right from the beginning of the Royal 500s, Zenith made their flagship set in Maroon (and of course Black). However, for some reason, when they introduced the 500H in 1961, they stopped making Maroon. Many of us collectors have wondered why?

I became curious to know what a 500H in Maroon would look like. So I did some experiments with less-than-perfect Ivory H’s. Using regular fabric dye, I was able to produce a 500H in a deep Maroon color.  The pictures are below.


Then to take it a step further, I made a two-tone set similar to the two-tone Royal 500E that Zenith made some of just a couple of years earlier.

These are novelty sets and not factory produced, but I wonder why not?  Your comments are welcomed.

Thanks and enjoy!  Gary


5 thoughts on “The 500H – Colors They Should Have Made”

  1. Hi Gary,
    I’m still looking for a 56 or 57 maroon 5oo, not hand wired in mint condition. The radio must play loud and clrar without any issues. Please let me know when you find one. I already have a new carry case in the box for it.

    Thanks, Bob

  2. Hello, Gary! I love the Royal 500H — though it is not the absolute end-all and be-all of transistor radios. Certain things it does excellently, even superbly; but some others…perhaps…not so much. Tracking on the tuning condenser can be less than ideal, and dial calibration is almost comical. You HAVE to love tbe sheer BEAUTY of these — especially in the black/gold version. Sensitivity is almost up there with the best larger portables, despite the snallish ferrite antenna. But the exceptional gain accomplishing that does come with a compromise: these radios, once conponents begin to age and drift off-value, can go into oscillation and other unpleasant “artifacts” (not true of the less and more standard design Royal 400). Unable to incorporate a three-gang tuning-condenser, the set has no tuned R.F. stage (though it does have an R.F. amplifier); as such, it is given to I.F. “images” which might appear just where you do not want them. To be fair, they are less pronounced than on many radios lacking T.R.F. stages — and, unlike many Japanese pocket radios, the Royal 500H does not show up with shortwave “birdies” all over the place. The selectivity is slightly better than the first generation General Electric “Superadio”, though not as good as certain Nordmende and Telefunken large multiband portables — the 500H comes in about on a par with the 3000 series Transoceanic Zenith. But there is a thing this Royal 500H does better than anything else but one of those toy “BOY’S RADIO” pocket sets (if you are away from local stations; for if not, then forget the toy radio!). And that one thing owes to the exceptional audio-articulation with the 500H: if you attempt to DX the “local” [“graveyard”] channels [1230, 1240, 1340, 1400, 1450, 1490] at night, virtually all radios will give you an unintelligible jumble; however, the 500H will allow you to pick-out individual stations in the mess, with enough programme-content to verify reception. Also, if you have a strong station, with something else co-channelling in underneath it, the Royal 500H will do wonders on helping you to identify that much weaksr signal! I confess, my 500H is not “factory”. As it came originally, I found the sound to be extended at both frequency-ends — but at the same tine a bit “slender” and “hooded” in colouration. The lack of “weight” is solved by removing the 50mf. C-2 electrolytic, and installing a 1,000mf. electrolytic condenser in its place. Both the speaker and the transformers, as well as the audio transistors, are fully capably of the extra bass response: the Royal 500H became much warmer and richer and authoritative at the low end, without adding any distortion. But now, that “hooded” quality in the trebel seemed more pronounced. At the lower end of the chassis, there was a .22 tubular condenssr (in my case, yellow-bodied) bridged across the audio output, to get rid of the 10kcs. “Whine” from adjacent channels in the audio. I removed that condenssr, and the “hooded” quality vanished, opening-up F.M.-like high audio frequencies which were never allowed in the 1960s on the Medium Wave broadcast band, but are now. It’s fun to turn this radio on in front of other people and watch the jaw-dropped expressions of disbelief at the SOUND! I have other radios which do one or more things better — but the venerable Royal 500H is my “go-to” favourite! One last caveat for those who like to re-align their radios: the Royal 500H appears to have 5 tuned I.F. transformers — and indeed, all five will peak together at 455kcs. (or, another I.F. frequency, if you prefer one). But the result is likely to be a slightly “ragged” audio-quality and the set threatening to go into oscillation below 650kcs. — obviously, NOT what you wanted! The problem is, the transformer closest to the oscillator is a tuned bleed-off to ground, to remove any 455 kcs. information radiating from the I.F. section into the antenna, and then being re-amplified by the R.F. transistor — effectiveky creating a feed-back loop. So, when aligning a 500H, tune that first I.F. -looking transformer for MINIMUM 455kcs. performance, and just the other four for maximum. THAT should clean thing up a bit, wot! (counter-intuitive, I know — but, TRUST me). Better yet, look at the schematc.???? Ingenius folks at Zenith, “back in the day”! Thanks, Harrison.

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