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Author Topic: speaking of Heathkit building...  (Read 15166 times)
KASSY
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Posts: 167




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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2013, 09:04:45 AM »

The Elecraft experience is not the Heathkit experience.  Having been inside examples of both, I'd say they're in different leagues entirely.

If someone REALLY wants the Heathkit experience, then buy a used Heathkit.  Disassemble it down to bare parts, polish that sheet metal, acid-etch clean the component leads, print out the manual, and build it as if it's a brand-new kit.

I think I saw a QST article...years ago, before I was licensed, maybe ten years ago? about someone who rebuild a DX-100 just like that.

- k
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AA9G
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« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2013, 09:16:54 AM »

Why would the name matter? Are you serious? Open a restaurant, call it, ohhhh let's say "MacDonall's", and then see how long it takes for the McDonald's legal team to descend on you in its entirety. Corporate legal history is filled with examples of companies suing each other over names. Domino Sugar vs Dominos Pizza...Radio Shack vs Auto Shack are two that come to mind. Names are BRANDS and you bet your a$$ss they matter. Very much.
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KASSY
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« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2013, 11:46:01 AM »

Why would the name matter? Are you serious? Open a restaurant, call it, ohhhh let's say "MacDonall's", and then see how long it takes for the McDonald's legal team to descend on you in its entirety. Corporate legal history is filled with examples of companies suing each other over names. Domino Sugar vs Dominos Pizza...Radio Shack vs Auto Shack are two that come to mind. Names are BRANDS and you bet your a$$ss they matter. Very much.

Sure, you'll get sued for using someone else's name.  But - would a new rig be worth more to anybody if its name was Heathkit?  Let's say you could buy a Yaesu FT-450, except that it was a kit named "Heathkit SB-450"?  Would that make it more valuable?  Or, what if the name was Swan?  Or Yugo?  Attaching some of those names would reduce how much a person is willing to pay for an object!  Heathkit is not a name associated with "really good stuff".

To the operator of the company, I do not believe that the name "Heathkit" has any chance of increasing their sales or profitability.  Except for that small part of the market that is 75 or more years old.  Is that enough of a target market to support a whole company?

- k
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AA9G
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« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2013, 01:20:25 PM »

The fact that the name means nothing to you doesn't negate the fact that it means a lot to a ton of other people. I'm no where close to being old but I sure would have loved the chance to build some of that stuff, especially the computer. But it was all over before I was ever in a position to do so. Only fools and the seriously misguided think building kits is (or even should be) primarily a way to save money. Men do woodworking and women knit sweaters now days for the pride and joy of doing it themselves, of learning, of the satisfaction of looking at something well done and knowing THEY did it. Not through some silly notion they are somehow saving money. Whether or not Heathkit was ever the best equipment in any category is entirely immaterial. People have definite emotional attachments to the NAME and that same attachment is what will gain the new owner entre back into kitting. The long term success of any new Heathkit will hinge on how well they execute, yes. But the Heathkit name alone should be enough to get them the chance to succeed or fail.
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KASSY
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« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2013, 02:37:00 PM »

The fact that the name means nothing to you doesn't negate the fact that it means a lot to a ton of other people. I'm no where close to being old but I sure would have loved the chance to build some of that stuff, especially the computer. But it was all over before I was ever in a position to do so. Only fools and the seriously misguided think building kits is (or even should be) primarily a way to save money. Men do woodworking and women knit sweaters now days for the pride and joy of doing it themselves, of learning, of the satisfaction of looking at something well done and knowing THEY did it. Not through some silly notion they are somehow saving money. Whether or not Heathkit was ever the best equipment in any category is entirely immaterial. People have definite emotional attachments to the NAME and that same attachment is what will gain the new owner entre back into kitting. The long term success of any new Heathkit will hinge on how well they execute, yes. But the Heathkit name alone should be enough to get them the chance to succeed or fail.

So, you think the name "Heathkit" will draw the thousands of hams who are today building Hendricks, Weber, Ten-Tec and Elecraft kits away from their favorite brand?

There are LOTS of kit companies in existence today.  Those who want to build kits, are already doing so.  Any new Heathkit MUST appear to be a better value.

- k
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AA9G
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« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2013, 05:34:35 PM »

Heathkit wasn't solely aimed at hams and if you took the survey you can see the new owner isn't solely aimed at hams either. Given what I know about the current state of kitting, yes a resurgent Heathkit has the name recognition and emotional ties that can give it a chance.
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K9MHZ
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« Reply #36 on: June 06, 2013, 11:01:22 AM »

Given what I know about the current state of kitting, yes a resurgent Heathkit has the name recognition and emotional ties that can give it a chance.

So what do you know, anyway?  I thought you posted earlier that you were never even up at the plate when Heath was still around. Interesting that you've got such definite opinions on the matter today.


Heath's stuff was never top-shelf, even in the day.  In fact, some of it was just plain crap....HR-10B receiver, etc.  I built them all, and have very mixed feelings/memories about the company based upon those experiences back then.  The reason they were so successful was marketing and accessibility.  It was in a day before globalization, so Kenwoods and Icoms, while being produced, were comparatively still small in number.  Collins gear was unbelievably expensive, and Drake gear was out of reach for many as well.  Heath had mail-order and shops in most large cities.  You could go in and actually get your hands on the gear they were selling.  If you dug what you saw, they would wheel out a big brown box with your kit inside, and you could be building that afternoon.  It was very, very convenient, and there wasn't much in those price points competing with them.  Still, the hardware was mediocre, and many circuits were clearly designed with economy of parts in mind.  The "I built it myself" was a clever marketing scheme by Heath designed to create more demand in a market that they virtually controlled without peer.  When the Japanese invasion occurred (thank God), Heath was doomed.  No amount of "pride" was going to keep the customers buying Benton Harbor lunch boxes.

The resurgence rumors (and more) are like Elvis sightings.....they occur often and never amount to anything.  If "Heath" (whomever they are now) wants back in the game, they'd do well to produce something of genuine quality like Elecraft does, otherwise the "pride" deal will wear off very quickly like it did back in the day.
         
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AC5UP
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« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2013, 06:16:05 PM »


And speaking of Unbuilt Heathshkit Affectation Disorder, groove to this:   http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=12836697


[ stop reading here for a moment, click the link, then come back for the rest of my dazzling commentary ]



Now, 'fess up. How many of you taking your first glance at this auction had absolutely no clue what a matrix decoder is? What would you do with one today? Why was this worth $64.98 plus shipping to some goober with too much spare cash and a little solder? Hell, for all we know the buyer has no idea what it does and bought it to flip because they know unbuilt Heathshkits can pull serious coin from the obsolete technology deficit crowd on eBay.   (Translation: Old Dudes in Florida)

So....... Have you figured out what it is?

Look at the pics of the parts. Note the jack board with five pair of RCA phono jacks. Big clue it's an audio device. Even bigger clue if you're old enough to remember the first marketing push in the early 70's for Quad Stereo. Four channel SQ surround sound. The great idea that flew like a ruptured duck. The matrix decoder is the piece that splits stereo into Quad. All you'd need to make this play is a turntable, Shibata tipped Audio-Technica cartridge, and a vintage Quad LP like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Plus a four channel amplifier and speakers. (Duh)

$64.98 ?       Yo' Mamma...............................................................   Roll Eyes


BTW:  If you want to bid on something, bid on this: http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=13366483  You'll get more use out of it.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2013, 08:52:21 PM »

5UP:  You're a funny man!  Have you ever heard of the expression, "What's one man's trash is another man's treasure?"

Some friends and I were taking a lunch break at a hamfest.  I happened to notice a beam antenna with the elements all bent to hell floating between the animal pens.  I couldn't see who was carrying it but I made the comment, "That looks like something "George" would buy!"

When the man and the bent to hell beam came out in the open it was indeed "George."  The expression on his face was pure rapture!
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6061




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« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2013, 04:50:42 AM »

...I used an SB-303 (I think it was) receiver, owned by the same ham who owned a similar-vintage (1950s actually), and lower cost, Drake 2B.  The Drake was more stable, had more filter options, rang less on the CW filter, had a functional noise blanker and with an external option, even had a notch filter.......it was better in so many ways....

Sure.  Then there is the comparison between the Japanese 'big three' and the American start-up companies. (Elecraft, Ten-Tec, etc.)  Comparing the Japanese to the American, there are some things better about the Japanese products and some better about the American, but the American made goods cost more!  Why then do some of us still buy the American made goods?  Sorry, but that argument won't hold water--simply because of the fact of personal preferences.

Quote
Because, as I see it, that's the only reason to care - the name.  In any other way, a company named "Heathkit" is simply going to have to offer products that appear to be a better value and/or perform better, than many of the already-extant fine kits on the market.  And there are far more now, I think, than when Heathkit was in its heyday.  They have much stiffer competition today, why would the name give them any advantage?

Not only the name would give them that advantage even though the name Heathkit wasn't the 'top of the heap.'  Other things factor in as well.  There are still enough of us around that know and appreciate quality--something the Japanese found out about when they started out to become an economic power.  The idea of goods being made in America being the best in the world is a concept that is slowly reawakening in our society--at least in some of it.  If the new Heathkit embraces that...

True, there are still those who look to spend the least money we can--look at how the Chinese 'junk' radios are being accepted--but even those people are complaining about how those goods simply do not last.  Compared to that, look at how many Heathkit manufactured goods are still around and kicking.  Let's see if those Chinese made goods last as long.  Wishful thinking--they won't.

If Heathkit is revived and they come out with quality parts, equipment and goods that do last, they'll find a market.  One of the things people who pay a premium price for Elecraft radios say is that they built it themselves.  There are still people who do--and they'll be the ones who help Heathkit come back to life--if they do.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 04:57:37 AM by K1CJS » Logged
AC5UP
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Posts: 3956




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« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2013, 04:38:24 PM »

Check the latest bid on this:  http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=13420461

EICO rules, Heathshkit drools.

Grin
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K1CJS
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« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2013, 05:14:24 AM »

That one is almost a museum piece, it looks to be almost brand new.  Don't forget that there are audiophiles that will pay for the tube type gear with their belief that that gear sounds more 'pure' than transistorized gear.  They'll also pay for the vinyl discs (records) and manual, speed adjustable (not selectable, there is a difference) turntables for the same reason.
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #42 on: June 12, 2013, 10:06:59 AM »

TenTec, at 40+ years, is hardly a startup, just as a side note.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #43 on: June 12, 2013, 11:04:27 AM »

TenTec, at 40+ years, is hardly a startup, just as a side note.

Noted.  Thanks.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2013, 12:17:49 PM »

And speaking of Heathkit building (or in this case, building homebrew projects) ... does anyone know where I can find the "nut holder tool" that came with almost every Heathkit in the 1960s? It's a plastic tube and in my memory it is a dull red color. You stick a 6/32 nut into the end and use it to position the nut in hard-to-reach places, while screwing in the bolt from the other side of the chassis. You can do the same thing with long-nosed pliers but it is much more fiddly, especially when you are trying to "start" on the thread, and sometimes there just isn't enough room to use the pliers. Plus, I'm not 12 years old anymore and my fingers are bigger and clumsier.

Yes, Google is my friend, and a search for "nut holder tool" does indeed bring up thousands of results. But they seem to be for complex, expensive tools used (it seems) mainly in the automotive industry where I can imagine that "starting" nuts in awkward places is a fact of life. The thing I'm looking for must have cost Heath no more than a couple of cents.... I tried McMaster and Grainger but no luck. I tried my local electronics parts store (You-Do-It Electronics, excellent place) but they had never heard of the thing.

In that store, I *did* manage to find another stalwart item that came with my Heathkit tool set in the 1960s -- not sure if it came with the kits themselves, but I think it came with the soldering iron package that my dad bought for me in that suburban Washington DC Heathkit store that he used to take me to. It is a double-ended reamer and scraper: one end is a sharp point, and the other end is a slanted screwdriver shape. It is extremely useful when un-soldering a bad joint or opening up a hole that has been filled with solder. (OTOH it would be perfectly at home on a dentist's tool tray; yuck.)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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