ATLAS 210x – A super little transceiver thanks to genius – Herb Johnson, W6QKI

By Dorian Stonehouse

With the Atlas 210x kindly donated by tech GURU: Bernard Garland

MODULAR construction of transceivers is nothing new today, but we tend to forget that in the 70’s the modular layout gracing the Atlas 210x would have been revolutionary, as radio equipment of that time often had truncated wires soldered onto circuit boards, making servicing a rig a veritable nightmare!

The Atlas 210x:  a sound little transceiver

if ever there was Capt!

This Atlas 210x had been to the African savanna, so was a bit battle-scarred

It must have been a great little practice transceiver too for those budding radio engineers – students of the 70’s, whose bread and butter depended on transmitter/receiver knowhow; not forgetting aspiring radio amateurs (such as yours truly), who often worked in the electronic trades.

Modular design made everything look so neat, so it’s not hard to see why it caught on

The futuristically uncluttered underbelly of the Atlas 210x, showing the VFO cover plate and neatly dressed cable runs

What surprised me when I gave the Atlas 210x a go is the sheer clarity of this little rig’s receiver:  commonplace was sharp-edged reception, with S9 signals on the 80 metre band, and with very little QRM (interference) from adjacent stations too! 

A neat little RF module of the Atlas 210x, with copper clad PCB, ensuring good earthing where it is needed the most

The Atlas 210x IF board – simple but effective

If only life could be more like this!


This excellent receiver capability coupled with a good static noise reduction (QRN), made it a joy to operate – and yes, we are talking about the same rig!

The Atlas 210x audio board – a work of art

One of the features of this little transceiver is that it boasts really beefy RF power transistors that are fired up on the ham bands.  I was really impressed to see the RF power meter registering well over 100 watts on side-band, even on the higher frequencies. This was a boon when operating mobile, as I was able to cut through the noise floor, especially when communicating (having a QSO) with stations on 80 metres.

The RF output stage is very easy to access by unscrewing two screws and hinging the panel down to reveal the circuit

It’s only my view

The Atlas 210x is a fantastic little transceiver, which in the ideal World, would have progressed to a new generation of Atlas modular radios, incorporating digital signal processing (dsp) and many other marvellous refinements that are today commonplace. 

Sadly, for Herb and many investors, those eagerly anticipated (and promised) new generation of radios never came to pass. 

They do say, however, that every cloud has a silver lining; and as with many great inventors and innovators, their contribution to science and technology often goes unrecognised in their own lifetimes, and often for years thereafter.  Could this apply to Herb Johnson W6QKI, who, in the foreseeable future might be rightly recognised as one of the founding fathers of the modern modular transmitter receiver?

Time will tell…


A few more pictures of the Atlas 210x for visitors to enjoy:



Dear Visitors

I do hope that you enjoyed this feature on the Atlas 210x.  Should you have any questions about my Atlas transceiver, just drop me a line and I will do my best to answer you.

In the meantime, please may I impose upon your generosity by asking you to cut and paste  on to your social media pages, so that your family and friends can visit the web site and possibly contribute to it their scientific knowledge, ideas and stories.

I thank you



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