Why are hams selling their Heathkit radios?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KR2C, Feb 5, 2020.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the interests of accuracy, let's take a look at the SB-102 schematic, receiver section.

    Starts off with a 6HS6 RF amplifier. The earlier SB-100 and SB-101 used the 6AU6, but in the SB-102 went to 6HS6 for better sensitivity.

    6AU6 first mixer. Conventional design.

    First tunable IF at 8895-8395 kHz

    6EA8 pentode section is second mixer. Conventional design.

    Second IF (fixed) at 3395 kHz

    6EA8 output goes straight to the crystal filter, which is followed by two stages of 6AU6 IF.

    There is a 6AU6 isolation amplifier, but it is used only on transmitting.

    End result: Tuned circuit at signal frequency/RF amplifier/Tuned circuit at signal frequency/First mixer/LC bandpass filter (3 pole)/Second mixer/Crystal filter. Same basic topology as the S-line. Three gain stages ahead of the selectivity.

    The HW-101 is almost identical to the SB-101/102 with the following changes:

    - HW-101 has a VFO built by the user rather than the packaged LMO of the SB series
    - HW-101 uses a less-expensive SSB crystal filter than the SB series. CW filter is the same.
    - HW-101 omits provision for an external VFO.
    - HW-101 metering is simplified
    - HW-101 does not have the SB-series hinged-top cabinet. VOX controls moved to side and made screwdriver-adjust because of this.
    - HW-101 TR relays are not socketed as they are in SB series.
    - HW-101 uses 6HS6 for both RF amplifier and first mixer.

    Basically, the HW-100 is an economy SB-100 and the HW-101 is an economy SB-101.


    None of them were state-of-the-art, even at the time. But they offered very good performance and features at prices more hams could afford; that's what made them popular. Not everyone had the big bucks to shell out for an S-line or a Drake line.

    All can be easily worked on without a lot of tools and test gear. All share a lot of common parts between models. All can be easily modded to improve performance (drop an SB-line SSB filter into an HW-100 or HW-101, for example).

    Unlike some of the "competition", the Heathkits all do a decent job on CW. They all have CW sidetone, all transmit and receive on the same frequency, do not use audio-injection for CW, and all can be fitted with a sharp CW filter in the IF. (The HW-100 and SB-100 require a modification kit to add the necessary switches).

    They all cover every part of all the pre-WARC HF bands (160 is MF) and use real transmitting tubes in the final (6146).

    Let's see what those who talk trash about Heathkit and their designers can design using only parts and tools available in the 1960s, that could sell for anywhere close to the Heathkit price.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    WA1GXC, WD4IGX, WW2PT and 3 others like this.
  2. KN1M

    KN1M Ham Member QRZ Page

  3. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    But do you REALLY want to know?
    AG4RT likes this.
  4. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lets get to the nitty gritty and never mind several paragraphs of your fluff/filler material. OK on the isolation amp, trying to read the schematic on a small laptop aint fun.

    The RX tube choices were poor if signal handling and good AGC were considered important.

    The broadband first IF was STUPID for any radio that suggested good performance. A good sweep test showed how poor the front end selectivity was. Have you ever worked on a 102 or any of that family with a sweeper? I doubt it.

    First sold in 1970 and still no RIT? Couldnt afford the patent license fee? But still you fuss and moan constantly about the decade earlier NCX-3 not having one for a GOOD reason. Its CW offset issue didnt stop it from being a hot seller either so why keep harping about it? It is just so stale. For a first product of its kind from them National did a damn good job and many are still on the air.

    SB's have an overall cheap feeling from dial to circuit board with subsequent failures, it hasnt held up that well which is why so many were and still being parted out.

    I wonder how many owners today even know CW, most are probably reading this:D

    The 6BZ6 was already a very popular tube and had far more gain capability. The much "hotter" 6GM6 was also out for years prior. Both responded well to a good AGC system as would any number of better IF tubes from the 6BA6 and up. Heath spent too much time trying to copy Hallicrafters and their far from ideal receivers. I remember doing a demo for a good friend at his home using a NCX-5 MK2 against his SX-101A. He bought the NCX-5 which heard stations on 20-10 far better and clearer on his TA-33.

    Th SB-102 has more service bulletins than any other radio Im aware of.

    Im far from anti Heath and I still own a fair amount so those claiming that are blowing smoke. For those that own these rigs enjoy them, just dont send any here for service....Im too old for the aggravation:rolleyes:
  5. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep, you are correct, Hey, I'm old and the station has been packed away for a while.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  6. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    It would be interesting to know just how many amateur radios, station accessories, and test equipment, was actually sold by Heathkit. They were, at least I think they were, one of the most successful American amateur radio manufacturers in history in terms of volume of products sold. The quality was good, and they were easy to build and maintain.
    N2EY likes this.
  7. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    So did the R-390A and SX-115. Three out of 4 were not known for the best sensitivity and the 75S3B is suspect as details are missing.

    The 6DC6 was claimed to have been chosen for overload capability but many evaluations, including mine, do not support it. I have used the 6GM6 in 3 out of 4 for a substantial improvement in 10M MDS and the closest Ive been to a 75S3B is at a contest station back when they were fairly new.....and that was on 40M.

  8. W7UUU

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

    Really interesting to read the disdain for Heathkit SB rigs... I absolutely LOVE my SB-301/401/650 setup that I run as separates on CW, and the SB-101/SB-640 mostly on SSB. I love the receive audio, the look, the feel, and yes - the tuning. No RIT? No biggie to me. Of course, on the 301/401 twins it's obviously a non-issue when you run them as separates and not in "transceive" - same with the SB-101 running the 640 but I seldom do that.

    HW-7 was my very first rig - built it when I was only 13 and it worked perfectly first time out! Hardly a "great rig" LOL! But still fun after all these years. I've worked probably 30 states over the years on 1.5 watts - and ONLY as a casual user. Now and again it gets on the air.

    My HW-9 is top notch for an all band (including WARC) QRP 100% analog rig - astounding IMO, all things considered.

    But hey - to each his own.

    No one forces anyone to own anything.

    WA1GXC, WD4IGX, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  9. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would say Hallicrafters, Lafayette, and Allied/Knight are right up there in the ham equipment category.

    The S-38 series was likely a far ahead leader by itself followed by the S-40's and both continued for many more years with cosmetic changes and a new model number.

    KA4DPO likes this.
  10. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some folks dont like Fords either Dave and sometimes Chevy/Ford arguments can lead to fist fights; toss in Dodge these days.


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