favorite novice transmitter for about $100 these days...

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by K9UR, Oct 23, 2021.

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  1. K9UR

    K9UR Subscriber QRZ Page

    For a winter project, I'm debating an old style novice station. I have a drake 2B, a johnson matchbox (including the t/r relay) and a straight key ...and so i thought hey...all i need is a novice transmitter.

    What's your favorite choice for under $100 (average) ?

    Heathkit DX60B?
    Drake 2NT?
    Hallicrafters HT-40 ?
    Knightkit T-60 ?
    Eico 723 ?

    I'm looking for simplicity and reliability. This will be a crystal controlled situation unless i deccide to buy one of the DDS VFO solutions later. It should run on CW (*AM a bonus, no need for SSB)...should have a built in power supply and not exceed the old novice limit of 75W input.
    K1LKP, N8ZL and K0UO like this.
  2. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You can spend more on crystals than for the radio, IF you can find a source for the appropriate crystal!
    W1BR and KP4SX like this.
  3. N2DTS

    N2DTS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Heathkit MT-1 Cheyenne, cw and AM, built in vfo and T/R relay, power it with the typical Heathkit supply.
    Very nice vfo.
    N2EY likes this.
  4. K1APJ

    K1APJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    IMHO, the 2-NT is the one that needs the "fewest excuses," although the fixed loading forces you to use an external antenna tuner if your antenna is not close to 50 ohms. It is also reasonably easy on crystals. The internal sidetone and antenna relay greatly simplify the station hookup. Highly reliable with no real trouble spots, other than normal part aging.

    I have a weak spot for the DX-60, I really like it, but the function switch is likely to need attention, and it is harder on crystals than the 2-NT. HT-40 is a close runner-up.

    I had a hard time getting truly satisfactory results with the 723 or the T-60.
    KA9P likes this.
  5. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Avoid the Knighkit T-150.
    N2EY likes this.
  6. AD5HR

    AD5HR Ham Member QRZ Page

    WRL Globe Chief 90!

    Pair of 807s at only 400 some volts, about as simple as it gets.
    Modded mine for VFO (Collins 310C), and built a modulator
    using a pair of 807s in AB1 from a 1948 Radio Handbook.
    Talked all over Texas with that rig. Even does 160 M.

    Have fun,
    K1LKP likes this.
  7. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm done with xtals. I had my "going back" event 10-15 years ago and it didn't make me feel good :)
    WD0BCT likes this.
  8. KA9P

    KA9P Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It’s hard not to say the 2NT for operating convenience but don’t see clean ones for $100 too often. Any crystal controlled Johnson probably ok, if you found a Ranger for 100 bucks it would save you the trouble of buying the vfo you’ll wish you had later. But any of the kits can be crapshoots. If you have a friend with a junk box, maybe consider building one of the more robust classic ARRL Handbook transmitters with a 1625 or 6146 final.
  9. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    The "Cadillac" of the Novice rigs was certainly the Drake 2NT. But a decent one will set you back more like $200 these days. I have a soft spot for the Eico 723 since that was my Novice transmitter, but I still hate that bouncy moving-vane meter. The Heath DX-60 series are great rigs, but watch out for the fried Function switch. I'd stay away from DX-20/35/40 because of their famously weak power transformers and plate current meter movements. Johnson Adventurer, Globe Scout/Chief/680, Knight T-60, Eico 720 are good choices if you can find one at a decent price. Any of the kit-built rigs could be a box of trouble due to poor construction and sometimes low-grade components. I tear them all the way back down to "kit form" and totally rebuild them. I have fun doing the work and the resulting rig works like it should. Another option is to build a rig. There must be a hundred viable designs out there to work with.

    It seems like the old Novice rigs have almost a "cult" following these days, and the prices seem overinflated to me. Just my humble opinion.

    As others have stated, running with crystals is rather limiting, and they are expensive to buy when you can find them.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd think those rigs will cost more than $100 each today, in proper working condx. Especially the 2-NT; I don't think I've ever seen a "working" one sell for less than $200, and they can bring more than that.

    To avoid having to completely disassemble and re-wire one of the kit rigs, I'd want to see it first (under the chassis) before wasting my time.

    Sure agree about the VFO: Xtals cost too much today to be a reasonable investment, unless one is very lucky and can find an estate sale where a lot of them are available (all on useful ham band frequencies) at a low cost point. VFO is cheaper.

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