NovaTech Action!! Portable Police Receiver

This page came about as a result of a fruitless search on the internet for information for a NovaTech Action!! radio. I've found few references to this radio on the web, even usenet didn't turn up too much. There is a company in the States called Novatech Instruments but they have only been around since 1989 and as far as I can tell have no relationship to the manufacturer of this set.  It is possible that they were distributed by Radio Shack in the US during the late sixties.

I got one on Ebay some time ago not really knowing exactly what it was that I was purchasing. The auction stated that it was a broadcast receiver with DF capabilities. That's what I was looking for and so I bid on it. When the radio arrived I found I had won a little more than I'd bargained for.


It's called a police receiver but I believe that it's a hangover from the days when police messages were broadcast out to patrol cars ( Calling all cars ..) on a band just above the current AM broadcast band.  If you're lucky, the most you may hear now are low power community radio stations in your area.

The Action!! is a 5 band with DF capabilities on three HF bands as well as standard receive capabilities on two VHF bands. 

The front panel is very busy with a number of controls either side of the tuning dial and speaker.

To the left we have volume, squelch and DF level. To the right we have tuning, VHF band switch, HF band switch. Also on the front panel is a 3.5mm and 6.5mm headphone socket.

The left side of the radio has the AM/FM detector switch* and external DC input while the right side had a recessed RCA style connector which is used for an external VHF antenna.

The tuning dial also incorporates a small meter to be used during DF operation.

The top of the radio supports the DF antenna coil assembly and dial light switch. It also has a left and right bearing scale marked from 0 to 900 . The antenna coil assembly has a morse code scale plus a set of flip up range finder sights to allow for accurate sighting of landmarks etc. The antenna assembly also has a standard 4mm banana socket at at each end for the connection of two telescoping antennas.


Frequency Range Reception Mode DF Capability
Beacon 190KHz to 400KHz AM Yes
Broadcast 550KHz to 1600KHz AM Yes
Marine 1600KHz to 4500KHz AM Yes
VHF Lo 70MHz to 85MHz AM*/FM No
VHF Hi 150MHz to 175MHz FM*/AM No

* AM/FM detector activated independently of band selection by switch on side of radio.


Using the radio is fairly simple once you get the hang of the controls and understand how they interact with each other.

Switch the VHF band switch to either low or high and select adjust the AM/FM detector switch as required. The squelch can also be operated to cut background noise.

Squelch should be off and DF Level should be set to radio. Set VHF band switch to off and select Beacon/Broadcast/Marine as required.

Set as per HF operation. Tune station for maximum strength then adjust the DF level control until the meter needle is directly over the DF level mark. Rotate the antenna assembly for minimum reading on the meter. The antenna assembly will now be pointing directly at the transmitter.


VHF performance is quite good and I have used it to listen to the ABC audio at the low end of the VHF-lo band. On the VHF-hi band there are community radio stations, marine traffic and the 2M amateur band to listen to. It should be noted that many modern handheld radio scanners will tune these bands and will do a better job than the NovaTech.

Broadcast is where the radio really shines. It would have to be one of the cleanest and most sensitive radios I have ever used. Try as I might I could not find any evidence of image frequencies. As far as sensitivity goes it was easily able to find and bring in at good volume 1332KHz 3SH which is my standard test station when checking out a new receiver. If you are looking for a broadcast band DX receiver you could do a lot worse than the NovaTech ACTION!!.

The low frequency beacon band was equally as good with none of the garbage and ghost stations normally associated with tuning the long wave band.

I think it's a great radio and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Last modified Sunday March 11, 2007