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Author Topic: Any present day Heathkit equivalents?  (Read 7749 times)
KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« on: January 05, 2012, 10:50:34 AM »

As I've posted here recently, I've had my General class license for a while now but no radio.  Too many reasons to list and it doesn't matter now anyway, but I'm looking for my first DX transceiver.  As I poke around looking for information on what to buy, I keep coming back to the idea of a kit to better understand what is going on.   When I browse through eBay I see old, already assembled Heathkit transceivers commanding a fairly heady price. 

Is there a modern equivalent to the old Heathkit transceivers that I can build and learn from?  I've Googled around but the few things I've found are typically CW-only things that are QRP, which I've been read and been told on this site forums is not the best idea for a very first project and radio.  Any ideas?

Thanks and 73,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ
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KA4POL
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Posts: 1996




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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 11:02:05 AM »

Ham radio is about experimenting to any concern. It is also about development of new techniques. You can find kits with simple radio circuits. But nowadays there is Software Designed Radio (SDR) which also can be found in kits. It is certainly very interesting to study the techniques of days gone by but I'd rather recommend looking into the future and considering SDR.
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 11:27:11 AM »

Hmm..maybe.  Do you have specific suggestions, particularly on the kit side?  Other than the Softrock SDR's I see nothing below $800.  It's much more than I can afford right now and I seriously doubt the resale value of something like this vs. an old TenTec or Kenwood.

Thanks and 73,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13287




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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 01:10:24 PM »

The Elecraft K2 isn't a bad place to start, because you can built it in increments:
start with the basic CW rig and get it working, add the SSB option, then add the
100 watt amplifier, etc.  But it isn't cheap, and I don't know if the instructions
really give you enough of a sense of how it works internally.

That's actually a common problem - even the Heathkit rigs were often more focused
on the assembly steps rather than understanding how the radio actually operated.
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K3WEC
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Posts: 260




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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 05:08:12 PM »

I have a Softrock Ensemble RX on the way.   I'll let you know how it goes from a build standpoint.   Looking forward to it.
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2012, 06:43:15 PM »

Great, I'm interested in these also.
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ONAIR
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Posts: 1744




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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2012, 06:50:31 PM »

As I've posted here recently, I've had my General class license for a while now but no radio.  Too many reasons to list and it doesn't matter now anyway, but I'm looking for my first DX transceiver.  As I poke around looking for information on what to buy, I keep coming back to the idea of a kit to better understand what is going on.   When I browse through eBay I see old, already assembled Heathkit transceivers commanding a fairly heady price. 

Is there a modern equivalent to the old Heathkit transceivers that I can build and learn from?  I've Googled around but the few things I've found are typically CW-only things that are QRP, which I've been read and been told on this site forums is not the best idea for a very first project and radio.  Any ideas?

Thanks and 73,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ
   I wish!  Those old Heathkits were relatively inexpensive and loads of fun to build.  It was a thrill to get them on the air after putting them together all by yourself!  I heard that they might be coming back, so my fingers are crossed!  Smiley 
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KG4RUL
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Posts: 2727


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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 08:39:46 PM »

The DZKits Sienna transceiver sure looks a lot like a Heathkit but, it is a little rich for my budget
http://dzkit.com/highlights.htm
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 02:00:45 AM »

Just about any HF rig is better than no HF rig.

With a HF rig you can build wire antennas. Trying to figure out how antennas and feed lines work is a good place to start learning more about your hobby.

When I built some HeathKits, I was very focused on getting the right components in the right place and then making excellent solder joints.

In the end I was most concerned that she didn't go up in smoke when i was done.

You can pick up any old ARRL HandBook from the 40s and 50s to start learning about how very simple circuits work.

73
Bob
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 05:06:35 AM »

Got it, looking for a good used rig to start off with and maybe a small CW kit as well.  Thanks for the ideas!
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WD4HXG
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Posts: 184




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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 07:38:49 PM »

Some ops have been resorting to disassembling an existing
Heathkit, checking the parts and then re-assembling the
kit. This may be a way to get one that has never worked
on the air. There were a lot of Heath's built that never
functioned properly.

The last Heath I built was the SB-303 and I had a blast.
It was what I considered to be my first real receiver. I had
others previously but the tuning was magic when compared
to S-40's etc.

Good Luck in your search.

Chuck WD4HXG
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2012, 08:47:45 PM »

Robert:  I can understand where you're coming from but I really think you're taking the wrong track.

You have your ticket but no radio.  IMHO, the name of the game is to get a rig and get on the air.  Then, find things to build and or modify to learn more about the hobby.  In the meantime you'll be enjoying the basic purpose of getting your license.

As for not having much money, I can also understand where you're coming from there too.  This has been my biggest problem for 55 years!

I'd like to suggest you get involved with a local ham club and try to find a used rig for an acceptable price and this way you can let the seller show you that it does work.  If you buy one off eBay there's an 80% chance you'll get burned.

There isn't anything wrong with buying old used gear, even a Heathkit.  But it should work or your ham career will get off to a very rocky start which is something to be avoided.

Good luck!

Al
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K8AC
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Posts: 1475




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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2012, 12:40:14 PM »

Quote
Is there a modern equivalent to the old Heathkit transceivers that I can build and learn from?

Those who built Heathkits didn't necessarily learn anything from doing so.  It was always a good exercise in soldering and following directions, but often not much else.  While I don't recommend it as a first project, I think the Elecraft K2 is a good modern kit project.  The K2 is a component-level build, rather than a screwdriver assembly like the K3.  You can build the low power basic rig to start with, and add the 100 amp later.  The K2 is a very solid high-performance rig, just missing some of the bells and whistles of the larger gear, such as a large informative display.  I don't recommend it as a first project, because lacking refined solder skills, one could do a lot of damage quickly.
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AD6KA
Member

Posts: 2237




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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2012, 11:53:10 PM »

Robert:  IMHO, the name of the game is to get a rig and get on the air.  Then, find things to build and or modify to learn more about the hobby.  In the meantime you'll be enjoying the basic purpose of getting your license.

I agree with this %100. I don't want to see a generation
of appliance operators, but DAMMIT, you get out there
and have fun AND study to build your own gear.
Ken  AD6KA
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KG4RUL
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Posts: 2727


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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2012, 05:36:12 AM »

Quote
Is there a modern equivalent to the old Heathkit transceivers that I can build and learn from?

Those who built Heathkits didn't necessarily learn anything from doing so.  It was always a good exercise in soldering and following directions, but often not much else.  While I don't recommend it as a first project, I think the Elecraft K2 is a good modern kit project.  The K2 is a component-level build, rather than a screwdriver assembly like the K3.  You can build the low power basic rig to start with, and add the 100 amp later.  The K2 is a very solid high-performance rig, just missing some of the bells and whistles of the larger gear, such as a large informative display.  I don't recommend it as a first project, because lacking refined solder skills, one could do a lot of damage quickly.

I have to disagree.  Heathkit manuals came with schematics, block diagrams and explanations of the circuitry and, depending on the kit, various measurements and adjustments were made during the building process.  If you didn't bother to take advantage of any of these facets of the build then, yes, you CHOSE to learn nothing.

Take a kit like the automatic speed control for a vehicle.  Not only did you have to build the device but, you had to learn enough about the vehicle and installation techniques, to successfully install.  The TV kits provided you with a device that you could service yourself.  The organ kits involved electronics and a lot of mechanical assembly.  Test instrumentation assembly was rife with learning opportunities.

Hey, life is what YOU make of it!
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