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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Heathkit SB 230 Help


Reviews Summary for Heathkit SB 230
Heathkit SB 230 Reviews: 14 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $349.95
Description: 600 Watt Amp with one 8873 Tube ( no Blower ! )
Product is not in production.
More info: http://
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VA1DER Rating: 5/5 Nov 12, 2016 21:54 Send this review to a friend
Beautiful engineering  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This amplifier is a recent acquisition for me - a surprise gift from a friend who wanted me to have the last piece to complete my SB-104A set. While I was shocked and very grateful, I actually had somewhat mixed feelings at first since I already have a (much beloved) Heathkit SB-200. My first real project as an amateur was to refit that with a custom built power board that solidified the HV rail enough to give it a solid 800 watts output. It was going to be a bit of a tough sell to get me to feel for the SB-230 the way I do about me SB-200. But boy did it, and how.

First of all, what a fantastic design. The resistor network on input is a great, elegant design. And that conduction cooled 8873. I had seen pictures of the SB-230 internals before, but opening up mine I was struck by how small that tube really is. How did we let that little gem ever go away? It gives a fantastic, solid-state feel to the whole thing. Lastly, though it's a small thing, I like exciter setting that lets me keep the unit powered up easily switch it out when I don't want the power. The beryllium oxide thermal conductor is much maligned, but in ceramic form it is exceedingly safe. Safe enough that in ceramic form it's not considered hazardous waste. You'd have to crack it, then purposefully grind the two halves together to generate fine dust before it would be toxic.

Second of all, performance. All I have to compare it to is my SB-200, but it compares very well. As mentioned, my SB-200 nets me a 800 watts with its improved power supply board. I was surprised when the SB-230 measured in at a good 900 watts with its original power supply. Linearity is very good as measured on my trapezoid scope. Key down time is less, but I'm not using it for CW so that's not really an issue. The silent running is quit a bit nicer than I had originally thought. Kind of like heated seats - seems like an unnecessary extravagance until the first time you try it.

All in all, I have to say I'm right impressed. I intend to use it until the 8873 gives up and then revert back to my SB-200 until I can refit it with a Russian tube. I have already planned my conversion to use a GS-90B instead of a GI-7B. The GS-90B is designed for linear amplifiers, and is conduction cooled. No way I'm giving up the wonderful solid-state-like fanless operation. Meanwhile, I have the incredible gift of an SB-230 with a working 8873.
 
YV3EDO Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2013 06:32 Send this review to a friend
Superb!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this piece of collection 2 years ago... I was full of dust. I cleaned up completely.
When power up, It did glow nice red color in meter.
I tuned on 40mts and it put nice 650 Watts with only 90W coming out from my TS-450S.
Pros :
- No blower noise
- Nice design
- Not heavy
- Easy to use
Cons:
- Lack of production of 8873 tube
- BeO is very poinsonous

Highly recomended if you find one with tube working.
 
K5LXY Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2012 22:27 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought one 2 years ago for $400 and have had a blast with this amp. Has the original tube and if it lasts another 2 years will feel it was money well spent. Love how it won't XMT unless it's warmed up. Love how it requires little tuning, just rotate the dials to band selection and you are just a tweak away from resonance. Love how it produces NO noise. 500 solid watts running on a dedicated 120 VAC circuit has allowed me to bust many pile ups. As a Ham always looking for something better, but for the price I paid and the signal/audio reports I get why bother?
 
N4JHY Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2012 11:24 Send this review to a friend
COOL 750 WATT AMP  Time owned: more than 12 months
Two years ago I purchased a nice condition SB230 with a known dud output tube with the intent to do a GI7b conversion.
I looked at all the conversion as seen on the web, and went with my own design, taking some from each. The project turned out to be more than I bargained for, but I pressed on and am very happy with the amplifier.
Working with the meter/function switch was a bit of a bear. I actually removed it and pre-harnessed it prior to re-installing it.
I also etched my own circuit boards for the power supply caps and the meter shunts/soft key circuits and sandwiched them to keep things compact.
With 100 watts PEP drive I see 700 watts on 75, 750+ watts on 40,20,and 15, and 600 on 10.
All this with a $20 tube, the GI7b. I usually use 80 watts to drive this amp and see 600 watts PEP out on 75 and 40 where I primarily use this amp.
I run it on 120 VAC, and it runs cool and stable.
I run the SB230 when I don't need power of my Alpha 76PA or heat of my Drake L-4b.
Looks nice too! Made in America, by an American!!
 
VK4VDX Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2011 20:54 Send this review to a friend
Collectors piece!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This amplifier has got my respect, after all this time, 30+ years and still the original 8873 tube. I did buy the Amplifier from a technician with new caps installed, over 3 years ago with 6 month warranty. This is a Collectors piece but more relayable than some of the newer Amplifiers out there, but remember "you have to use it before you lose it" and even if you just turn the power on.
If you have a SB-230 for sale I would be interested !!!!!
 
ZS6DJD Rating: 5/5 Jun 3, 2011 09:49 Send this review to a friend
A real jewel  Time owned: more than 12 months
Sadly it looks like I will be saying bye bye to an old friend. The best looking linear ever made. I rate this linear a 5 after three years with the SB 230 and many hours of fun woking thousands of stations and operating two special event stations I am thiking of retiring this jewel. The 8873 valve is no longer available. Any SB 230 with a mod in my opinion is not an SB 230. It was designed to work with out fan cooling and thats the way it should stay. I count it as an honor to have used the 230 zs6djd
 
PA3GOS Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2008 15:41 Send this review to a friend
Super amp!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own my SB-230 for over a year now. It came to me by plane in a suitcase which was in the baggage compartment. The tube was not removed.

I am extremely satisfied with it's performance. Did a few mods. Replaced the filter caps, some other ceramic caps, I also replaced the grid-bypass caps by high-voltage ceramic caps.

Doing this I removed the tube as well to clean the gridstrap, no problem at all after 30 years or more. Still the original tube too. A very important safety precaution is a glitch resistor to prevent the tube from damage (limiting current) if an internal arc might occur.

I also changed the ten meter tap on the coil one winding and a half (more induction) now I get close to 800 Watts PEP on all bands. This was measured with an Array Solutions Power Master.

I (unfortunately) don't own one myself but my own meter (also with homemade, not a kit, true PEP monitor) is calibrated with that Array Solutions Power Master too now.

In the future I will convert my SB-230 to a GI7B tube. Already have the parts at hand. I am a bit reluctant to do so because the present tube perfoms very well.

Overall a great looking amplifier performing as it should. It helps me getting good reports and keeps the time I need to bust a pile up short. Usually one call. And no, my antenna is just a tribander at 7 meters over ground. (Time for a tower and an Optibeam....)

If you can get one with a good tube or know how to convert: go for it if you don't need 1500 to 3500 Watts. I thank my good friend for bringing me this gift.
 
K1DA Rating: 3/5 Sep 14, 2007 07:50 Send this review to a friend
Good amp (thanks again EMAC for ending tube production)  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ok you folks who still own them, two things you should know: 1. the grid connector ring tarnishes due to heat and the resulting bad connection causes VHF parasitics 2. A tube which has been installed for a while will TAKE THE CENTER OF THE SOCKET WITH IT when you try to pull it to clean the grid strap. Be very carful
of the fact that the socket is loosely riveted to a subframe in the PA compartment. It is not real fun to change a riveted socket. If you have trouple with power supply electrolytics it is often the first sign of the parasitic developing.
(the loose mounted socket is to insure the tube pulls into proper contact with the Be block and
heatsink) Otherwise I wish I had mine back...
quiet, low drive, and otherwise easy to work on. I ran a half speed muffin fan on the sink and it never got more than a little warm. Now I think DEOXIT on the grid ring and tube pins would probably solve both problems. Anyone want to sell one?
 
WA2JJH Rating: 5/5 Aug 31, 2003 13:31 Send this review to a friend
Nice design  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built mine frm a kit 20 years ago. I am so sorry I SOLD IT! Tune up a breeze. Wired for 110VAC

Solid 500W CW OUTPUT. Because of the berrylium oxide/aluminum heat sink design, only 30 seconds of keydown.

Berrylium oxide is an ultra toxic ceramic. Maybe the reason why I sold the amp was fear of the oxide block chipping.

In the manual, there is a whole disposal protocol in case the block chips!!!

However it was a solid performer. Using a whole stack of resistors to equal 50 ohms on the input was brilliant! No input matching coils and caps to deal with.

It looks nice too! EBAY price is about $300-400.
However every amp I bought on ebay arrived D.O.A!
HF amps do not ship well. Buying amps from a local ham is the way to go.

AGAIN SORRY I SOLD IT! It is so much better than a DENTRON GLA-1000.
 
KC8HXO Rating: 4/5 Jul 17, 2003 21:06 Send this review to a friend
Great IF the tube lives!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
My experience with the SB-230 was all positive. Never gave a lick of problem, and ran about 600-700W key down! Neat Convection cooled design eliminated the fan altogether. ONLY reason it is a 4 , is the near impossibility of finding the 8873 tube, should it ever fail. I got scared, and sold mine... I bet it's still running!!!
 
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