Heathkit HG-10 VFO off by 2 Mhz higher on 80 meters

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by K1OIK, Jun 10, 2018.

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  1. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Most Novices were younger kids in those days... and, the license at first was good only for one year, non renewable. It was a leap of faith to buy a more expensive rig in the hopes of getting a General or Conditional Class license. A Novice could upgrade to Technician, but then he lost all HF privileges.

    And Jim, one day I'll dig out my MicaMold transmitter whenever I have a chance to start restoration. It is one Rara Avis.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I dug out my copy of the Raymond Moore transmitter reference compilation, and found no less than 38 different models of crystal controlled A1 (Morse) kit and assembled transmitters aimed at the Novice market.

    This is certainly an indication of the size of the market.

    I have no data about the drop-out rate for Novices during the "boom-years", but a reasonable assumption would be at least 30-40%, which would create a quite substantial second-hand market with low prices for one-year used Novice gear, as it would be likely that a drop-out would try to recuperate at least some of the investment.

    This would stake the odds against pure home-brewing even higher.

    As a comparison, the 1960s three-year drop-out rate for the renewable Novice (class C) licences here was in the order of 15 %.

    The absence of store-bought gear here made the Novices to learn more electronics, so they would be able to build their own transmitters.

    Building the transmitter, and in some cases also a receiver, commonly were parts of the club-run licence training courses.

    The comparatively lower drop-out rates could probably be explained by a somewhat harder test, a minimum age requirement and generally being better prepared.

    Also, the procedure tended to find those with a genuine interest in amateur radio.

    N2EY likes this.
  3. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not sure if you're replying to me....but...

    The above argues for getting a basic Novice rig that would have resale value and would permit getting on the air fast.

    Personal example: My first transmitter was a 6V6GT oscillator for 80 meters, built on the chassis of an NRI VTVM, powered by a Philco TV set power supply. Cost me almost nothing; put out 7 watts on a good day, judging by the fact that it would light a 7-1/2 watt Christmas tree bulb to full brilliance.

    Next transmitter was a used Heathkit DX-20 bought from John Kakstys, W2FNT, for $20 plus shipping. He was in Linden NJ, I was just outside Philadelphia, so the shipping was $1.35 (I checked the 1968 Allied catalog, which lists postage costs by zone, and the shipping weight of a DX-20). The rig was clean, complete, and worked perfectly. Put out more than 30 watts (lit a 40 watt bulb to almost full brilliance).

    $21.35 worth of parts and shipping would not buy the parts to build an equivalent transmitter. Sure, old TVs were a gold mine, but old TVs don't have panel meters, Miniductor, rotary switches, aluminum chassis, variable capacitors, RF chokes, UHF connectors, etc.

    And I didn't have the know-how back then to design a higher-power rig from the parts I had.

    (If I knew then what I learned later....)

    And here's the Big Thing:

    I used that DX-20 for a time, then traded it for a Johnson Adventurer. Even swap. Over time I acquired enough parts and know-how to build a 150 watt rig, and sold the Adventurer for $20. So, the whole experience cost me....$1.35 in postage. A bit of money then, but not as much as spending lots more on parts....

    Ah, the XTR-1. It wasn't really a Novice transmitter; it predates the Novice license! First appeared in 1948, and by 1949 it was being sold at a very low price. By the time the Novice license came along in 1951, the XTR-1 was yesterday's news.

    Lots of info at:


    The XTR-1 is a really neat rig IMHO. Very simple mechanical design, MOPA circuit, bandswitching, pi-network output (in 1948!). There is just one mystery: the oscillator plate inductor is a shielded unit that is bandswitched along with the final, but there are no indications as to its value. My guess is that it is broadly resonant on each band, and so low Q that neutralization is avoided.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  4. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, there were about 60,000 US hams on VJ Day, and that number grew to over 250,000 by 1965. The Novice was a big part of that.

    There were also Novices who got Technicians and got on VHF/UHF (the Technician of those times had no HF at all). So their HF gear would be up for sale.

    Perhaps the most important factor was the 3 year term and renewability of the Class C. Your Novices were not under the time pressure of American Novices. Many stories of "dropouts" that I have read say things such as "....and then I learned to drive and discovered girls, so my radio time was limited....." or "and then school needed most of my time, because I wanted to get into college, and so my radio time was limited....." and such. With a longer term, renewable Novice licenses, those and similar stories would not have ended with "and so when my Novice license ran out, I sold my gear....."

    One more factor to consider.....

    There is a hypothesis which states that learning Morse Code at slow speeds (5 wpm) can cause some people to develop bad habits which have to be unlearned to go faster. The hypothesis is that at 5 wpm many people can "count the dits" and such - but that such methods stop working around 10 wpm. And since the General and Conditional tests were 13 wpm, at least some folks "hit the wall" at 10 wpm or so....

    Don't know if I agree, but - interesting idea.

    Good history!

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    One more point.....

    One of the major costs of being an American Novice before 1972 was.....crystals. Because the Novice bands were not harmonically related, you needed a different crystal for each frequency and band. At $2.95 new, or about $1 used, they weren't cheap. Most Novices who upgraded soon got VFOs. The Novice crystals usually wound up in a drawer somewhere, forgotten.

    One would think that someone would have set up an exchange/borrow/donate program for Novice crystals. I know of only two examples, one in Dayton Ohio in 1954, and one in San Diego in 1972. They were both club-based, rather than being national.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  6. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    All very interesting, thank you for the comments.

    Yes, clearly you had a much higher percentage of Amateur stations than here in Britain . . . so I get why so many kits and cheap rigs were available. (I've been unable to find statistics for numbers of British Licences)

    Very few of those American rigs made their way over here . . I don't think there would have been much interest in Crystal-controlled rigs, as Crystals were quite expensive!

    Most people who built Homebrew transmitters used parts they got almost for free, at Club Junk sales, scrap valve broadcast radios, as well as big bags of components at Rallies. So they cost very little.

    Once SSB became the norm, I can see why Heathkits rigs were popular in the USA . . . but despite Heathkit having a branch in England, they were still pretty expensive over here. (which is why they are pretty rare)

    The main point I was originally observing was all the Crystal-controlled transmitters for sale in the USA (due to your Novice licence) . . . whereas all the Homebrew or commercial transmitters over here had VFOs.

    If you were a new licencee in Britain, and didn't want to make a homebrew "starter rig", you'd buy something like this: (a very compact 10 watt rig that had proper high-level AM modulation, that came out in 1964)


    Roger G3YRO
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  7. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The "plateau" at 10 WPM was quoted by my Morse instructor at Army signals school as being one of the primary reasons why progress sometimes was so slow for the recruits who had taken the "short-cut" of trying to learning Morse by counting dots and dashes.

    I had to abandon this entirely when I learned Morse on my own to reach 12 WPM, after which practice really made a difference. I copied 16 WPM reliably when entering signals school.

    There were such programmes, but for some reasons they did not attract so much attention.

    Another aspect was that there were no "Novice band segments" here, so 80 m crystals were usable also on 40 and 15 m. You only had to select their frequencies with some care.

  8. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Very cool transmitter! Amazing [for us US hams] to see 160m be the low band on what we would consider a "Novice Rig"!

    I didn't even think about 160 until this century :)

  9. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This was the "order of the day".

    Many used a 10 W transmitter kit from a small company in Western Sweden, and others cannibalised old broadcast sets for the power transformer, tuning capacitor and the AF output tube.

    I first started out on VHF/UHF, but my first HF "class C" transmitter became a 6AG7 crystal oscillator.
    It delivered about 4 W on 80 and 40 m, but had not so very likeable keying characteristics.

    This was remedied by adding a grid-block keyed
    QE 04/10 output stage with a pi-network. The transmitter lives on to this day, but with an 807 output tube and a different power supply.

    Codar made a lot of low-power gear in the 60s and for £15 10s it was quite a value for money for an assembled "top band" and 80 m transmitter. I cannot however recall seeing them marketed outside the UK.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  10. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Before WW2, 160 was a very popular band for US beginners. Many AM BC radios covered the band, or could be "coaxed" to do so by a "slight realignment". Transmitters could be very simple and self-controlled oscillators could be quite stable. There were times when the low end of the band was 1715 kc. and the high end 2050 kc. (not sure of the details of exactly when). The only issue was the size of the antenna, but an end fed wire 100 feet or longer could do OK for local/regional stuff.

    There's a Taylor tube ad from the 1930s that tells how a ham in 9 land worked all 48 states in a 'phone contest - on 160! (I think it was ARRL SS). His final had....Taylor tubes.

    All pre-WW2 US hams had full privileges on 160, regardless of license class, which made it a popular 'phone band for Class B and C licensees. The only other band they had 'phone privileges on was 10 meters, which was a whole 'nother story.

    After the war, US hams didn't get 160 back because of the original LORAN system, which had been deployed during the war and worked so well that the decision was made not to shut it off when the shooting stopped. After a time, we got 160 back in bits and pieces, with all sorts of restrictions of power, frequency, and time of day. Those restrictions changed over time, sometimes being eased, sometimes getting more restrictive. There was a point in the late 1950s when parts of CONUS had no 160 at all.

    Only when the orginal LORAN system began to be old hat did things really loosen up, and we eventually got all of 160 back. But it took decades.

    This is why 160 doesn't have subbands-by-mode in the USA. Before WW2, the band had subbands-by-mode. It's also why 160 was not affected by incentive licensing.

    All this caused many - but not all! - US rigmakers to not include 160 in their post-WW2 designs. Compactness was another reason. Also the amazing sunspot counts of Cycle 19, and the then-new 15 meter band. Novices got a nice slice of 15 to encourage activity on the band.

    But some never let the flag fall nor the flame go out. One 160 stalwart was W1BB, Stew Perry, who kept beating the drum for 160 activity - and DX! - all through the worst of times there.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    W7UUU likes this.

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