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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Heathkit HW-16 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-16
Heathkit HW-16 Reviews: 38 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $50-100 on E-Bay
Description: A golden oldie-Get the VFO too!
Product is not in production.
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WA7NCL Rating: 4/5 Apr 23, 2009 15:34 Send this review to a friend
good in its time  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had one as a novice in the early 70's.

It had a good RX. Filter was set up for CW only so selectivity was great. It covered the CW portion of the bands so tuning was good with plenty of bandspread. The price was good for a novice and it was a kit, so you learned by building it.

It also had some not so good things. No SSB RX due to the CW filter only. The side tone was disgusting. The neon relaxation oscillator was horrid. It did not have a loading control in the pi network so impedance matching was limited to 50 ohms.

For modern use there are also several things not so good about it. The compactron tv sweep tube in the final must be hard to find now. It was Xtal controlled so you need a VFO for modern use.

It might be interesting for a new ham, but only if it could be had for less than $50. I wouldn't pay $100 for it. On the whole its the sort of thing I'd expect to see given away to a good home.

I would never consider one for my primary rig in the 21st century.
W8ZNX Rating: 5/5 Apr 19, 2009 13:00 Send this review to a friend
runs and runs  Time owned: more than 12 months
after a few years
had to re post yup it still works

this is one of the most for the least
radios ive ever had

its one great simple runner

mac dit dit
KL7AJ Rating: 5/5 Oct 13, 2008 13:56 Send this review to a friend
Warts and all  Time owned: more than 12 months
One of my elmers had this rig, sans VFO, when I was first licensed. Put a lot of hours on the thing back in 1972, till I got my own station.

I now have my own HW-16 and HG-10 VFO as an integral part of the "vintage corner" of my shack. I don't know how many novices got on the air because of this rig, but it has to be countless.

Like any CW rig of this style, the way to operate it is with the audio gain way up high and just enough R.F. gain to do the trick. The break-in on this rig when operated like this is silky good as anything out there, even by today's standards.

It should be required by law that every ham operate this rig once in his life.

W5JH Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2008 13:46 Send this review to a friend
Great Old CW Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Like a lot of other hams, I owned one of these radios when I was a novice (about 1970). I bought it used from a local ham. It was the first time I had used a transceiver. My previous radio was a SX-99 and a Globe Scout Deluxe. I fell in love with this radio. I sold the radio somewhere along the way and have regretted it. A couple of years ago a member of the local radio club was selling 2 of these units for a very fair price. He said one was working and the other one had "major problems." I grab them both thinking I would find the time to rebuild them and use them again. Well it took a couple of years but I finally found time. My friend was correct. One was working and the other one....well it needs some work. I obtained a re-cap kit from Tom at I recapped the one working and it works very well. There is a simple mod to improve receiver sensitivity which I made and the receiver hears about as good as any of my other radios. Recently, I purchased 2 more HW-16s. I gave the 1st one to a friend who loves the thing. I have rebuilt one of the other radios I recently purchased. I use it with HG-10B VFO and it is performing very well and is a pleasure to operate. I am still working on the other two left to be fixed. I am not sure what I will do with these radios once they are working but I really enjoy fixing them and then operating them. The QSK works better than any I have ever heard. The double conversion receiver (someone below mentioned it is single conversion but that is wrong) works extremely well for such a simple design. I truly believe that this radio represents one of Heathkit's "finest hours." Find a Hw-16, rebuild it, use it. You will be a happy camper.
K5LG Rating: 4/5 Jun 3, 2008 08:12 Send this review to a friend
fun little rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
had the rig in the late 70s. was fun to op cw and gud qsk. also had the vfo with rig. a fun rig
AE4GM Rating: 5/5 Nov 28, 2007 07:02 Send this review to a friend
HW-16 praise  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my first rig, the HW-16, in 1985. It was, and still is, a fantastic rig. I am only interested in CW. Tried other modes. Not interested. After a while my rig began to smoke from ancient electrolytic capacitors. My #1 Elmer ,Carl K4ME, gave me a parts list of replacement equivalents and then installed them for me. Back on the air!! Eventually I got an HG-10 VFO (was using crystals) to chase CQ's. I used that rig for about 10 years before getting a solid state TenTec Triton 4. After many years in storage I found a relic CAQZ "flameproof" straight key while cleaing out my late dad's attic. The key plug fit the HW-16 and works great. At first the rig took a while to get going. After a thorough cleaning, sanding rust off the base plate and painting it (bad storage arrangement), it is back on the air and doing great. I am still amazed at the sensitivity of the receiver. The HG-10 is still with its original paint job and looks super. However, the exterior condition of the HW-16 was pretty awful when I got it through a high school radio club. I painted it black and re-lettered the front panel with gold transfer lettering. Sorry to change it but you had to be there. Anyway, the HW-16 is a fantastic rig and deserves honor in the vintage rig department. 73's. Brock AE4GM
KC8JRV Rating: 4/5 Aug 27, 2007 13:56 Send this review to a friend
Initial problem with dial  Time owned: more than 12 months
Now that I think back to the assembly of the HW-16, I recall that the lamination of the tuning dial was poor on my first dialface, resulting in a "hitch" when rotating the dial. It would tend to "hang up" at that point.
My father and I wrote to Heath, describing the problem, and without problem, we received another in less than two weeks. (We lived on the other side of Michigan!)
However, installing the replacement proved to be a challenge, as the unit had to be dis-mantled, and unbolted to allow the plastic dial to be bolted back onto the faceplate. However, with small fingers and much determination, I succeeded, and I suspect my original dial face still sets in a drawer someplace in my father's house, awaiting rediscovery when it is sold off.

Did anyone else have difficulty with this? In know that the VFO that was the companion piece more than occassionally had fracture problems with the lucite band tunning roll bar. Can anyone confirm this, or if there were replacements ready available?

Just wondering!
KW4J Rating: 5/5 May 22, 2007 06:00 Send this review to a friend
I wish that I still had it!  Time owned: more than 12 months
It was my first rig in 1969 and I worked hundreds of QSO's on it. It never gave me a moment's worth of trouble except for losing a TR switch one time. I worked almost every state and many DX contacts over the two years that I was a novice. Too bad that I traded it when I wanted a two meter rig for my Tech Class ticket. (In those days a Tech did not have any HF cw privledges.)
KA0BTD Rating: 5/5 May 22, 2007 05:49 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful for CW  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've used a lot of rigs over the past 30 years. Many of them were large all-mode HF transceivers. Some of them were small QRP CW-only transceivers with direct-conversion receivers.

The HW-16 hits a very sweet spot between the two extremes. The receiver is a single-signal superhet which is way better than a direct-conversion receiver. At the same time the bandwidth is a very good match to CW operations and - I'm going to say this - it sounds so clean and transparent, unlike the really sharp-skirted CW filters found on the high-end equipment.

The transmitter is a bit simplistic but with an external VFO or not-chirpy oscillator it can pump out a lot more power than the little QRP boxes. Very non-problematic for loading up to my antennas.

And the QSK (full break-in) is so, so, so well done. It really feels like (although it isn't true) I can hear the band while my key is down. The simplicity and transparency of the single-signal superhet with no AGC contributes greatly to this effect.

A few minuses that don't affect me much because I don't use it there: doesn't do 20M from the factory (although mods are outhere). A bit unsensitive on 15M. But in the past few years, where I've been concentrating on 80M and especially 40M, these are not issues.

Overall, a true joy to use, and I will prefer this rig to the other fancier rigs I have for another good chunk of a century :-).
KC8JRV Rating: 4/5 May 4, 2007 22:30 Send this review to a friend
Strange Memories...  Time owned: more than 12 months
As my first and only CW unit from 1974, I listened with Sony padded headphones to the wine of the 80 meter band nights, straining to copy CW. I will never forget the lonely empty sound of the whine, and it chills me to think of it. As a novice, I could have used some help to determine how and when to attempt 80 meters, 40 meters, 15 meters and what to expect when listening. I bought a Heathkit VFO to broaden my abilities to make contacts, but sadly, it was sold off by my late father. The buyer smoked it on first usage, BECAUSE IT WAS WIRED FOR THE HW-16 ONLY!... I now remember the warning in the instructions! Why aren't they all wired the same 8 pin connector for power? Can they be rewired?

I'd like to hunt up an ol' VFO to try again with my kid, but don't know what model # I would need or how to determine if it was for an HW-16. Can you help advise me?

As a nice rig, the HW-16 is fondly remembered. I showed it once to my local Ham club and they about fell off the chair that the unit was CLEAN as a whistle... used sparingly in 1974 and stored for almost 30 years in a brown bag since then. Wish I had used it more..but I went off to college....
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