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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Heathkit SB-102 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit SB-102
Heathkit SB-102 Reviews: 32 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $380.00
Description: 10-80 tube classic ham transceiver
Product is not in production.
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KQ6IG Rating: 2/5 Jul 4, 2009 21:53 Send this review to a friend
Not Very Good  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The SB-102 is not a very good radio. Some compromise is necessary with Heathkit to keep the cost low. But, they cut too far with the 102. The electrical design is barely adequate - yet far below that of most transceivers of the time. The highest quality electrical component is the VFO, which came preassembled. Drift is not noticeable. However, a schematic is not offered in the manuel for the VFO. The mechanical design/construction of the 102 is appalling. Most alarming is the friction drive VFO "mechanism". It's understandable why so many slip and otherwise fail. If you are looking to purchase a 102 for purely nostalgic reasons, you may be fine. However, if like myself, you are looking for high quality, high performance vintage gear that will continue to operate trouble free, you will be disappointed with the Heathkit SB-102.
W8ASA Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2006 19:15 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Rig!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I still have the SB-102 that I built in 1969, and it still works perfectly. I have only replaced one tube over the years. The kit went together without a hitch. I built the transceiver, the power supply, the speaker, and the station console at the same time, and all still work per the specs. I never got the CW filter for it, so for CW I use my new Kenwood TS-570S(G), my first new rig since the SB-102. Quite a change after all these years.
N1MG Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2006 17:07 Send this review to a friend
The dream rig for an early 70's novice  Time owned: more than 12 months
Great value, solid rig. Picked up one used in 1980 and still have it.
NE0P Rating: 3/5 Jan 13, 2006 09:07 Send this review to a friend
Seemed OK  Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked up one of these at a hamfest with the PS and CW filter for $150. This was about 12 years ago and I used it on and off for 5 years or so. It was a back up rig, and to use on 15 meters as my Kenwood Twins didn't work on that band for some reason. Overall, it was a decent radio. It got me a couple of new countries (KP1, TI9). Mine always had low receive audio, and never did figure out what the problem was. Overall, it is a pretty decent radio for starting out if you dont need the WARC bands and don't mind tuning up. It seemed to have a pretty decent receiver on it, and the CW filter was pretty effective at eliminating QRM although 270hz is a little narrower than I like.
VE3CUI Rating: 1/5 Jan 13, 2006 04:17 Send this review to a friend
The "Heathkit From Hell"!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought one used back in the early 80's --- I "hot rodded" it by adding RIT, and a 250-Hz CW filter, & it worked FB as a back-up rig & Field Day station for years...

One day, though, the RF output dropped off ever so slowly, along with the sensitivity...within 5 minutes, it was through! Deaf AND speechless. Try as I might for the longest time, I could NOT bring this thing back to life, even after outright replacing circuit boards! (the "shot-gun" approach to trouble-shooting).

I ultimately gave up on the %$#@^&* thing, & parted it out..

During the course of dismantling this Heathkit-From-Hell, it dawned on me how CHEAP Heath had made things after the generation that gave birth to the much-earlier SB-400: gone were ceramic crystal sockets (crystals in the '102 were soldered directly to the boards). There was no parasitic suppression in the '102 driver tube. The boards were flimsy.

In short, I feel quality was compromised for the sake of cost.

Now, I like the Heath marque, make no mistake about it (I absolutely LOVE my SB-301) --- but nothing pleased me more than the day that the last piece of that horrendous SB-102 passed out through my door!
WB0UGO Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2005 16:45 Send this review to a friend
Favorite Heathkit  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was just glancing through the reviews and noticed that this rig did not have a very good overall rating. I have two along with the SB101, which does not have the solid state VFO and different tubes in the final receiver stages. These rigs are excellent. The 102 has a very nice receiver and the transmit audio is good. When I set it side by side with my Collins KWM2 thats been totally redone and meets or exceeds all specs the SB102 is as good or better. I think that says a lot. I use a 33 year old 102 and SB220 often on the Heathkit net every sunday at 14.292 20:20 GMT. They work great. I just love the receive audio on this rig. Its clear and punchy. Overall, the SB102 is my favorite Heathkit along with the Heath SS9000 out of 150 pieces in my collection. 73's Steve
K1DWZ Rating: 5/5 Mar 30, 2005 05:31 Send this review to a friend
Nice  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is the third or fourth Heathkit that I built. Received the kit in March 1971, finished building it in December 1971. Worked the first time I applied power.(gulp) Was the latest and greatest technology at the time.( a poor man's Collins ) Besides SSB I used it for SSTV a lot at 100% duty cycle without a hitch. I still have it and it still has all of its original tubes and still works great. I also installed the cw filter.
KY4Z Rating: 4/5 Sep 2, 2004 14:53 Send this review to a friend
5-band HF workhorse  Time owned: more than 12 months
The SB-102 was my second HF rig, and the one I owned had been well built and it operated as specified. Equipped with the CW filter, it wasn't a bad rig for CW. I used a matching HD-1410 Heathkit keyer, which performed well. I had the matching speaker (which housed the power supply) and the matching VFO.

The rig seemed to put out quite a bit of heat; of course it didn't help that my second-story shack didn't have air conditioning. I worked dozens of countries with my "Benton Harbor S Line."

The heat did cause a few problems with the rubber belts used to connect the tuning shafts to the shaft of the variable caps. The rubber turned brittle over time and eventually broke. I used Superglue to repair the o-rings in a pinch (usually while chasing DX in the wee hours Zulu). I bought replacements at a local auto parts place that sold rubber o-rings. Worked fine. I later purchased an SB-101 and someone had replaced the rubber belts with a dial cord arrangement that probably lasted longer than the original belts.

A decent rig that was fairly stable once it warmed up. The 102's solid state VFO improved the SB transceiver's reputation for stability.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy one in known good condition, they're not a bad rig to use if you don't mind time-warping back to 30-year-old technology. I think if you judge it against similar offerings of that period, you'll find it wasn't so bad a rig.
WB8RKQ Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2004 13:36 Send this review to a friend
cool radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
this was my first heathkit transciver i loved it i was only 16 yrs old got it new from heathkit it was a great looking radio i think it is still the best looking ham radio ever it looks beter then a collins i is a work horse radio to it has big nobs love it it is a mans radio it is fun to tune and to operate they are a great value rig you can get them cheep on ebay and allways if they dont work that good send them into R.T.O. and they will go throu the radio and fix it up for around 120 bucks now this a great deal to have a radio sent in and fixed and went all throu i think so you cant go even thinking of buying one my self just to bring back memorys hihi.well 73 all
K8WV Rating: 5/5 Apr 29, 2003 23:17 Send this review to a friend
Well worth it!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built my 102 in early 1972 while I was in the service. I took my time and it went together perfectly. I did have one occasion to return it to Heath and when it came back they included a note congratulating me on the construction. (I had worked as an electronics tech while in college, and had previously built an SB-303.)

When properly built these were excellent radios for the day. They used the same solid state LMO as the SB-303 and the two could be connected, although the 303 served more as a remote "VFO." The 303 and 102 would not be on the same frequency using the 303 LMO to control the 102, and the 102 would not control the 303. But I could and did use the 303 to control the 102, and could work split. They made a very nice pair, and I miss them. (Ok, having a 102 AND a 303 was probably overkill.)

I replaced the pair with an Icom 740 and don't regret it at all. I suspect if I had a 102 now it wouldn't be a great as I remember it. But it was certainly worthy at the time, and a very good deal if you had the time to build them properly.

For the going price, if you are inclined to do a rebuild, I think it would make a very nice project.
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