Heathkit to get back in the Ham Radio Market?
http://www.heathkit.com/index.php?op...123&Itemid=237 This teaser on their web page is interesting. I was told the other day that heath may start selling QRP radios in kit form.
I heard about this last year and I hope it's true. At one point they were asking for inputs as to what kind of kits they should market. I suggested something along the line of a Kenwood 830s with all solid state main circuitry but tube finals. A kind of updated HW-101, SB-101. So I guess we'll see. So supposedly they are planning an HF rig of some kind. Now wether it be a QRP rig or a 100 Watter who knows. But i would like to see it happen.
While I'd welcome a return by Heath in full force, I doubt that will be a reality. I doubt they would be able to come up with a kit for a sophisticated transceiver (for example) that would be size or price competitive with a radios such as the FT-857 or 897.
HeathKit got it's start in the late 1940's (after WW II) by using military surplus components (at a few pennies, at most, on the dollar) to produce an affordable oscilloscope, in kit version. It expanded from there; often by finding deeply discounted components from military or commercial surplus. By the 1970's/1980's many of the surplus sources were exhausted, so they had to resort to higher priced components, even if they DID purchase in large lots. With the inflow of equipment from overseas, particularly YaeComWood, they became less competitive.
HeathKit always had manuals that usually had pretty good construction instructions, but also included a fairly extensive description or the circuit operation, whether it was Amateur equipment, consumer electronics (such as TV's and HiFi Stereo equipment; even some auto electronics) or other gadgets. (Darkroom timer, clocks.)
I'm not sure they would be able to provide the same level of quality in the cutthroat business world we have today. Anything less would be a disservice to their customers.
Time will tell, and I wish them (and all of us!) well and good luck in their endeavour.
Considering the difficulty in finding SoftRock kits Heathkit might be smart to form partnerships
with hams who have popular products for which they can't keep up with the demand.
I'm sure all of the legacy kit design talent is long gone, now if they decided to fund smaller efforts as ZJH suggests, that might be a different matter. If you had a parent compant that hams could use for initial funding, shared advertising/marketing and supply chain managment... franchising in a sense, I think you'd see a lot more kit efforts out there.
In addition to ham stuff, theres a small but reasonable margin for tube audio fool stuff, robotics kits and a handful of others (minibikes?). Pretty much the same markets heath covered 40 years ago.
We have to remember that HeathKit produced more than just Amateur Radio products; they had many consumer electronic kits, from simple light dimmers to (Zenith) TV kits. So don't expect major Amateur products from the beginning. Their original appeal was a quality product, that cost less than the commercial equivalent. It would (will?) take a LONG time to be able to produce a transceiver that's the equivalent of an IC-706 or FT897. (Then again, Elecraft has done well with their products....) It will take time to see what HeathKit can eventually provide. I'd put my bets (if I had any money) on station accessories that aren't easily available on the regular market, or that offer higher quality than current offerings. A WWVB (or GPS) synced clock, which I believe was one of their offerings from a Galaxy far, far away, might be a good offering, with local and UTC time. With a GPS sync, it could have battery backup and display Lat/LON and Maidenhead Grid Square for contest rovers. (Now, THERE"S an idea!)