Heathkit HW-16 first steps?

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by NG9F, Sep 3, 2019.

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  1. NG9F

    NG9F Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I found an HW-16 on Facebook; it was listed by a ham's widow. It is in mint condition and has the original box. The top and bottoms covers have never been attached and I don't have the screws for it. The manual has his checkmarks beside the list of parts. I don't know if it was completed and didn't work or what. His widow had no idea.

    What would be my first step here- maybe replacing the electrolytic capacitors with new ones? How do I know what size screws to use for the covers?

    I didn't want to plug it in- I mean, it might work fine but thought better to ask here about logical first steps. It's safe to assume the electrolytic capacitors are all bad, correct? I see Hayseed Hamfest has a kit of caps and resistors for this rig. Should I get that and replace those parts?

    Any other suggestions are most welcome!
  2. W7UUU

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

    Wow what a cool find!

    Yes I would definitely replace those capacitors… Hayseed Hamfest sells a complete capacitor kit for that radio for around $40

    Just be really careful not to get all ham-fisted in doing the replacement… The very old band switch wafers are right in the area you’re going to need to work to replace the filter capacitors… You do not want to break any of those wafers on the band switch or you will have a very difficult repair ahead of you!

    One of the most important parts in that radio is the single PNP transistor… Q1. This transistor controls the transmit receive switching (true QSK) and if it’s bad ( they most often are after all these years) The radio will perform very poorly.

    Before I would do anything, I would go through it step-by-step and make sure all components are installed properly, there are no cold solder joints, and that everything appears to be in place in order early. Never assume a Heathkit ever worked in th first place!! I have repaired several that never possibly could have worked because they were wired wrong yet passed on owner after owner with no one ever actually fixing them .

    The HW-16 is a deceptively simple combination transmitter and receiver ( it is not a transceiver! None of the circuitry is shared between both functions… It is simply a transmitter and receiver in the same box )

    But when working perfectly… It’s a wonderful radio and I was able to achieve worked all states using mine in just over a year back around 2014 ... Of course we had sun spots then and I will admit that mine was converted to 20 m in the 15 m position…

    Good luck in your restoration and getting it back on the air… One of the coolest radios ever designed for what it is!

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
    K8AI, W5BIB, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  3. NG9F

    NG9F Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the info Dave!!! OK, I will go through the manual and check the assembly. It's funny that you mentioned cold solder joints because I spotted one right off the bat. Is it fairly likely that the tubes are still good?
  4. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Go thru the manual step by step and 'rebuild' it accordingly. Check the caps and resistors as you go. My HW16 find was somebody's disaster that was thrown into a closet when it didn't work.
    The screws and tubes are the least of your concerns! :rolleyes:
    NG9F likes this.
  5. W7UUU

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

    The likelihood of bad tubes would be my last concern - unless physically broken. Sure - I'd pop them in my B&K 747 tester - but tube failures are one of the last things to concern me in a rig like this.

    Just take it slow - test stuff (resistors can go VERY high in value!! In fact, in my own HW-16 project one 47k resistor measured 270,000 Ohms!!!) Your problems are likely to be SMALL stuff - resistors, capacitors, ground connections that have gone loose, or downright WRONG connections from the initial assembly... you have no way of knowing it ever even worked!!!

    N2EY and NG9F like this.
  6. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The first steps are, yes, replacing the electrolytics, no ifs-ands-or-buts. Then check the resistors. Don't plug it in before replacing those capacitors. And also you should replace the original power cord with a modern three conductor cord.

    As for the covers, the instruction manual specifies the hardware, 1/4-inch sheet metal screws for the bottom, and machine screws for the cover.

    The tubes? If any are bad, all are easy to find. I was at the Huntsville Hamfest a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd pick up a spare 6GE5 sweep tube final. Cost me 2 bucks.

    Of course, examine the rig carefully (and tighten any loose hardware, especially on grounds), but chances are you won't have to do any rebuilding. It's pretty easy to tell from the get-go: if the soldering looks pretty good, you should be good after taking are of the caps and maybe some resistors. Only other thing? These are old rigs and some may have had various mods installed, good and bad. I had to remove some of that to get mine working. For example, a relay had been added to the normal (grid block) keying circuit to protect modern keyers. Alas, the relay didn't work. I chose to put the radio back to its original condition.

    I just finished putting one back in service and am having a ball with it. :)

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
    WA7PRC, N5OLA, NG9F and 1 other person like this.
  7. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    One of my favorites. Built the original kit back in the late 60s. Have 5 or 6 now in various states from parts radios to completely restored and available mods performed. The advice posted so far is very good. Do some searches and you will find a number of mods for the rig. I would not perform any mods until after the rig is up and running as it should. Use a very mild cleaner on the front panel or you could remove or greatly reduce the brilliance of the lettering.
    W4NNF, NG9F and W7UUU like this.
  8. KE4OH

    KE4OH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think an HW-16 is one of the very best choices for a first boatanchor. Nice find!

    Do what Dave W7UUU said. Replace the electrolytic caps before turning it on. Go over each and every step in the manual. There is a high probability that the builder made mistakes.

    Buy a proper set of PLASTIC alignment tools, unless you still have the original Heathkit tool that came with the kit. Do *NOT* use a metal hex wrench to align the set. You WILL break an adjustment slug if you do.

    You can get this thing working. And once you do, it will be a very usable rig.

    Keep us informed on how it goes. Ask questions if you aren't sure about something. We want to help! We love to see boatanchors come back from the dead.

    73 de Steve KE4OH
  9. W7ANM

    W7ANM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very nice! These are really pretty good rigs with surprising ability to enjoy CW with. Fun to operate. You will be glad you fixed it up...


    K3XR likes this.
  10. W9WQA

    W9WQA Ham Member QRZ Page

    caps?, not me. ive had OLD stuff work fine. before tearing into it id check it out. maybe bring ac up slow at first. too much worrying going on here...

    "new" caps may be old

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