Why are hams selling their Heathkit radios?

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

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  1. AB8MA

    AB8MA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is one of those pictures there has got to be a story behind. :)
  2. AG4RT

    AG4RT Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Something more than a guy selling mics off his tailgate at a hamfest?
  3. KE0ZU

    KE0ZU Ham Member QRZ Page

    :eek:BURTON, you've gone "a bridge too far". Heathkits? NEVER!!

    Those belong with "good" transmitters like Johnsons and Collins. Good Grief;)
  4. W1TRY

    W1TRY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'll keep my Heathkits as long as I can still ride my bike down to the Rexall Drug store to test my tubes and buy replacements. Oh wait...nevermind.
    KC2XU, WJ4U, K1OIK and 1 other person like this.
  5. KD8TUT

    KD8TUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The one on the left with the black base might as well have been mine back in the 70s.
    K1OIK likes this.
  6. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    With all due respect, your previous post made it very clear:

    KE0ZU: I could never understand the attraction. Grief Kit, and all the other kit peddler's stuff, was the electroincs equivalent of attempting to make a Silk purse out of a Sow's ear. Strictly speculation on my part, but I suspect having used it once, the truth becomes self evident, and they're just hoping to get their money back.

    1957 was 63 years ago. The DX-35 wasn't exactly the best amateur radio kit Heath ever made...

    They learned a lot in subsequent years.

    Most rigmakers have put out bad designs. Take the National NCX-3 and its successor the 200......

    Anybody can have an opinion. But not all opinions are equally valid. An opinion formed on the basis of much relevant experience is more valid than one based on little or none.

    I mean, if your last Heathkit experience was a DX-35 in 1957, then you've missed the entire SB line, the HW-16, the HW-101, and much much more.


    Two big attractions of kit gear (in the past):

    1) Low price for what you got. An SB-101 cost about a third of what a KWM-2 cost, and did CW better than a KWM-2. An SB-301/401 combo with options cost less than a bare-bones R-4C. Think about what the median income was back in the 1950s-60s and you'll see that saving hundreds of dollars was a very big deal.

    2) You could work on a Heathkit yourself without a lot of test gear, and Heathkit was eager to sell you replacement parts by mail. Manuals contained full instructions on alignment, voltage and resistance measurements, etc. All it takes to give that SB-101 a full alignment is a key, mic, speaker, plastic alignment tool, VTVM, 50 ohm dummy load, and a way to check that the 100 kHz calibrator is dead-on 100 kHz.

    (Back before the Internet, information wasn't as easily accessible as today. Your local library probably didn't have things like service manuals for ham gear nor TMs for military surplus stuff. If you wanted tube data beyond the single line descriptions in the ARRL Handbook, you bought a Tube Manual. Etc.)

    If you think kits were an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, I can just imagine what you think of this:


    Only the solder, crystals and 88 mH toroids were bought. The chassis, panel, brackets, etc. were formed from sheet aluminum. The various parts came from TV sets, AM BC radios, ARC-5 surplus, and....a plastic cereal bowl. Even the wire was used. The reason for the terminal strip with jumpers and the terminal board with resistors was to permit the use of odd-voltage series-string TV tubes like 3BZ6 and 7AU7, as well as their "normal" counterparts.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
    AG4RT, KD8TUT and WN1MB like this.
  7. K1OIK

    K1OIK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Grief kit, what company are you referring to? I have had only one amateur company give me grief and it one that was formed after 2000.
    W1TRY likes this.
  8. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    The noise figure is determined by the RF stages ahead of it and as a plain pentagrid mixer it isnt that bad even on 10M when designed well.
    Obviously you have never used one or you would have realized that the RX was very sensitive plus the AGC is one of the best of the era including a full size boat anchor
  9. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Heath SB series filled a notch; cheap, reasonably easy to build with out a high level of skills. But it sure wasnt a leading edge design nor even close to a S Line clone.

    The SB-102 RX, as an example, was a poor design using a 6HS6 sharp cutoff pentode as RF amp and then a 6AU6 mixer followed by another as an Isolation Amplifier and to add insult to injury two more as IF amps. All sharp cut off pentodes and an AGC that was anything but smooth....slam bang. They must have hired engineering/tech rejects.

    So we have all the front end RF signals, minus a pair of wimpy single tuned circuits, 500 kHz ++ wide hitting the crystal filter like a sledge hammer and then that combined distortion all going thru a marginal 500 kHz broadband LC filter, another mixer and out to the detectors, etc.

    A real kluge if Ive ever seen one. No wonder they are not selling as new hams find out how bad they really are and $700 IC-7300's a far better choice. Maybe on real poor antennas they are useable.

    Ive worked on many of the SB series, wouldnt touch a HW series, and own a SB-102 with PS that was given to me by a disgusted owner decades ago. Yes it was built and aligned properly. Turns out it wasnt even good enough to be used with VHF transverters so has been on a shelf since in case I need parts from it.

  10. WA2CWA

    WA2CWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably not a wild and crazy story - he's got a bunch of CB's at the other end of the pickup. :)
    N2EY likes this.

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