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 commonplace today, but in the 70’s the modular layout devised by Herb Johnson in the Atlas 210x would have been nothing short of revolutionary, as radio equipment of the day often had bundles of wires soldered onto circuit boards, which made servicing a 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 rig too for radio engineering students (including yours truly) whose bread and butter would depend on electronics knowhow.

Modular design made everything neat and tidy, 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 was the sheer clarity of this little rig’s receiver, with good QRM and QRN rejection, especially on 80 metres. 

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 a little more like this!


Overall, given the grand age of the 210x, it was a joy to operate. 

My only qualm was the imprecise tuning mechanism, consisting of a radio drive cord, which I have to say did belonged in a bygone age!

The Atlas 210x audio board – a work of art


I was 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 overcome QRM for the benefit of receiving stations.

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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