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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF+UHF models) | Heathkit HW-101 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-101
Heathkit  HW-101 Reviews: 49 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $399.00
Description: The HW-101 is an HF (80 to 10 meter) amateur band SSB transceiv
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N6QW Rating: 4/5 May 4, 2012 16:16 Send this review to a friend
A Really Good Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This posting might show as from W6JFR (my former call sign). Since 2009 I have been assigned N6QW

I have always wanted to own a Heathkit HW-101 and recently had the opportunity to purchase one. But my intent was to move from stock and upgrade the radio with a digital dial from Almost All Digital Electronics (AADE) and a VFO frequency stabilizer the X-Lock-3 from Cumbria Designs. I also researched the Internet and found several improvement articles and information on fixing known problems. I made all of those changes.

The HW-101 in its current form is quite a nice radio and having the ability to dial in an exact frequency and have it stay there, puts the HW-101 in the modern transceiver class.

On the air I have received excellent audio reports and comments that the frequency stability is "rock solid". On the bands above 20M the HW-101 could stand to have a littel gain improvement but it does OK.

What I found to be excellent is that the HW-101 is actually a pretty good design and there are lots of spare parts floating around, so maintainability is not to much of an issue. On the negative side access to the RF Driver board from the solder side. That board sits over top of a series of vertical mounted boards that are linked with the bandswitch. So not much room to get a soldering iron into the very tight space.

There are a couple of ouches on the cost of replacement tubes and I am not talking about the finals. The audio tube purchased "used" costs about $25 and "new" was close to $30. The 6HS6's also are costly. So be careful when handling the tubes.

The HW-101 with the modifications and upgrades makes a nice addition to the shack. That said without the modifications and upgrades it may leave an owner wanting for something a little more modern.

An RIT would be a nice modification. I am exploring changing the 15M band selection to 17M. The HW-101 of course does not cover the WARC Bands. Initially I thought there was a problem with the upper three 10M bands until I discovered some prior owner had converted this HW-101 to the CB Bands

Keep in mind the HW-101 is a 40 year old radio and for a few dollars more can be given a new lease on life.

I have made a you tube video of the install of the digital dial which can be seen here

There is a documentation of installing the X-Lock-3 which can be seen here:

Bottom line --a really good radio. The HW-101 can be found for around $100 so it is a bargain.It also has the capability to install a CW filter so that is another plus.

KI4DTB Rating: 5/5 Mar 4, 2012 06:40 Send this review to a friend
sharing of my experiences with an hw-101  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Have been using an HW-101 for several months now, and would like to share my experience with anyone considering buying this rig. For me, the strong points of the 101 are as follows. Good strong recieve, works as good or better than my pro-2. Nice audio on xmt, I get good reports and some compliments using a c model d-104 with original cartridge. If you like to twist knobs the 101 offers a world of excitment. Things that I miss are. No 17 meters and no voice monitor capability on ssb. There is some drift even after warmup, so retuning every 15 or 20 minutes is essential. The narrow 2.1 filter width on ssb is less than optimal and makes tuning by ear very sensitive (ie tiny dial movements make a difference). All of the above said, this is a great boat anchor. Operating mine is like being back in the 50's or 60's, and I have had a lot of fun doing it. Would I buy another one again? In a minute! One final note. The worst aspect of my 101 is that the front end is noisy. I use mine along with a clear speech filter. This makes a HUGE difference, and brings the performance of the 101 up close to modern standards. PS Forgot to mention that the 101 is very easy to work on, but that replacement tubes are sometimes costly and hard to find. Hope you have as much fun with your 101 as I have with mine. 73. Doug KI4DTB
SA3AYF Rating: 4/5 Aug 5, 2011 08:08 Send this review to a friend
Built like a tank, drives like one too...  Time owned: more than 12 months
My dad had one in the early 70:s and when I becam a ham I had to buy one for nostalgic reasons.
Found a radio in near mint for less than $180 and plugged it in with no expectations really.
I normally use my IC-756 Pro and like many others I am used to push a button and just go...

I was really positively suprised !

Audio on recieve is great, sensitivity too and the handling of strong signals versus
weak is actually better than a lot of the solid-state radios in the same price range !

There is some drift in frequency, especially from a "cold" start and it takes some time
to get used to the set-up procedures. Nothing is automatic here and it is a very hands-on
mechanical experience to drive this thing. One thing is for sure, it will definately
outlast all other radios I own by far!

Finally, the vintage feel and the warm glow from the tubes along with the fantastic audio
makes this a very good solid radio, and the small trix and quirks is just part of the experience.
I love it and it will probably outlast me as well...! :-)
VA3AEX Rating: 4/5 Dec 20, 2010 21:41 Send this review to a friend
Fun old rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Picked mine up at a hamfest, and it came with the manual, original receipts, and PS. It needed the electrolytic capacitors and a few tubes replaced, and the relay contacts and switches cleaned. The original builder did a great job as all the wiring and soldering was neatly done.

My experience with the rig is limited to making several phone contacts on each of the following bands: 80M, 40M, 20M, and 15M. On the plus side all the controls are straight forward/self explanatory, and it has good sensitivity. On the negative side, with only two filters to chose from selectivity suffers during crowded band conditions, and the rig drifts for about 20 min. before stabilizing.

I'm giving it a '4' as it is a simple and fun rig, and while it may not compare well against the performance of modern rigs it was a reasonable performer for its time, and the glow and warmth of the tubes give it a lot of character.
N1DZ Rating: 5/5 Dec 17, 2010 20:21 Send this review to a friend
My First HF rig.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built the HW 101 in the early eighties. It was my first HF rig. It is a great radio to modify and experiment with. It is very simple, easy to work on and impossible to destruct. I used the HW101 for over 7 years and it performed great. My HW 101 is now 30 years old and I fire it up once a year during straight key night. It still works well but you cannot compare its performance to any modern rig. Still I am convinced even at 30 years my HW101 will outlast many modern radios as it is a true survivor imposible to kill. Cheers to my old friend the HW 101. I give you a 5 for nostalgia but you are really a 3.
WA7NCL Rating: 3/5 Apr 8, 2009 14:19 Send this review to a friend
Old Old Old  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built the HW-100 and owned its big bro the SB-102. These rigs represent the peak of 1950s technology that you could build yourself in 1970.

You really should operate one once. Then you will see how far we have come in the last 60 years!

Point of reference: HW101 = $400 1970 dollars, which is $1650 now (2009)! I paid $1200 for an IC-7000 recently. Consider an IC 718 at about $700 now. That would be $125 in 1970! Probably what you would have paid for a DX-60.

If you're given one, play with it and have fun, just don't pay much for one.
KZ1X Rating: 5/5 Apr 5, 2009 18:23 Send this review to a friend
30 years and still fun  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built mine 30 years ago. Still use it.

* * *

Heathkit HW-101 Tube Complement

Posted for search engines to find:
HW101 tubes
tube list for HW-101
valves for HW101

* * * *

Many people have Heathkit HW-101 rigs. Nearly 40,000 were sold in the
12+ years they were made available.

The newest of them is now about 25 years old!

Original sets may need to have new tubes put in to restore full operation.

If you are shopping for tubes, here is a handy list. Shown are the tube type and the 'V' reference designator / socket they go in.

The tubes used are as follows, 1 each, unless otherwise noted:

6AU6 (qty. 6 each radio; alt. tube #6136) [V2, V3, V4, V10, V11, V20]

12AT7 (qty. 2 each radio) [V17, V19]

12AU7 (alt. tube #5814) [V16]

0A2 (alt. tube #6626) [V18]

6CL6 [V7]6CB6 [V6]

6EA8 (qty.4 each radio) [V1, V5, V12, V15]

6BN6 [V13]

6GW8 [V14]

6HS6 [often substituted, either or both of V10 and/or V11]

plus the two 6146A final tubes [V8, V9]

Note: my radio instructions say not to use 6146B or 6146W
because they can't be properly neutralized.

I tried a set of 'B' tubes once and, sure enough, I couldn't neutralize them.
You may be able to.

K5LG Rating: 3/5 Jun 3, 2008 08:06 Send this review to a friend
good rig back then  Time owned: more than 12 months
My brother and I built the hw-101 in one weekend , it was a fun rig and I used it a few years. I later found one that was not built in the 90s and built it. Enjoyed them, but am kinda spoiled to the new stuff.
KB1GMX Rating: 4/5 Jul 5, 2007 16:51 Send this review to a friend
Works and all that  Time owned: more than 12 months
Mine is third hand given to me because the prior owner knew I'd clean it up and restore it. I did just that. A few 6EA8s, rebuild the PS, replace a few eletrolytic caps inside and also a few sockets that has lost the spring in the pins. Mine had a
shorting plate load capacitor making it necessary
to disassemble the plate compartment, remove and straighten it out. One tough peice of work was disassembly and cleaning of the VFO tuning mechanics as the feel was bad and twitchy.
Old grease was stiff. Did a full tuneup by the book to insure it was as it sould be. Once it was working I looked up the mods (audio TX and RX and a few others) and applied them. It's a fine radio
and has the 400hz filter as well.

How mine works, after about 15 minutes warm up the stability of the VFO is excellent. I found with a small fan behind it that could be shortend to as little as 5 minutes and the case is generally cooler. The finals are bullet proof and does 100W
without trying hard. sounds good, I get good reports from various endfed wires, tribander, and verticals. Fine old radio and works well.

Gripes, the S-Meter tends to wander off zero despite all the standard fixes applied. Doesn't like 6146Bs (doesn't neutralize correctly on 80m with them). CW keying is horrid slow and all fixes while helpful only make it a better
marginal CW rig.

I gave it a 4 as that says it was a good value for it's day but could have been better in some areas.
Also it's ability to still be working 30 years or so later is a commentary on a good basic design.

NY0K Rating: 4/5 Jul 1, 2007 08:11 Send this review to a friend
Great Starter Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
The secret to how a Hot Water 101 works is the skill behind the builder. I've seen terrible HW's, full of solder blobs and cold joints, and I've seen professional results.

If you're interested in one of these, carefully inspect the assembly work. Look at the electrolytic capacitors -- the original ones may be leaking, and can pop with a loud bang. Make sure the unit dials without binding. The knob belts can crack and break, but replacing them with good o-rings should work fine.

These are excellent for beginning hams, or old-timers looking for some glow-in-the-dark radios. They're tough, forgiving, and are easy to work with. If you need tubes, they are easily found and installed. One of the most common mods is to change the original antenna connection to a PL259-compatable connection.

If you're buying one, make sure the unit comes with the power supply and the cable that goes to the radio. Inspect the power supply with a critical eye.

The unit tunes easily, and has reasonable ears on the receiver. It's not a modern DSP rig, but usually what it hears, it can work. My first contact as KC4UWN was Estonia on 28.400 on a HW-101. I had set everything up, put up a wire antenna, set the rig to that frequency, and turned it on. There was Vello, booming in on 10 meters. Worked him on the first try.
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