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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Heathkit HW-101 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-101
Heathkit  HW-101 Reviews: 50 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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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.
AA5TE Rating: 5/5 Oct 20, 2006 09:54 Send this review to a friend
Great starter rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
As others have said, its a great starter rig. Easy to work on (with the manual, of course), easy to tune, and tough as nails. A good deal if you can get one for around $150 or less.

This was my first rig as well, had it for over 10 years and never had to change any tubes after the first year. I think it had about 110W out on 80M, about 80W out on 10M. The 400Hz CW filter was excellent.

It is also easily modifiable to add AGC control, sidetone control, a 20kHz RIT control, and other goodies.
N4MWY Rating: 5/5 Aug 25, 2006 17:27 Send this review to a friend
thought it was a great rig when I was a novice operator  Time owned: more than 12 months

It was the first hf rig I ever had.

Bought it used at a hamfest and it was reasonably priced.

Made qsos on it for a while and got good signal reports. Later I sold it.

It would still make a great starter rig.

You won't find any bells or whistles on it but it was simple to operate compared to more modern rigs. You will not find any DSP, adjustable filters on the third intermediate frequency or other knobs or buttons that complicate the process.

Easy to work on.

W7EKB Rating: 5/5 Jul 31, 2006 16:45 Send this review to a friend
Excellent rig!  Time owned: more than 12 months
My first Heathkit transceiver was an SB-100 which I bought from a local school teacher in about 1960 or so. Over the span of a year or so, I upgraded it to what I term an SB-101.5, adding all the updates that Heathkit did to it to make it an SB-101, then some other features. I used it for a couple of years as the driver for a modified BC-610 linear amp to provide 'phone patches via AFMARS to Vietnam and other SEA. I used an external heterodyne oscillator module and the appropriate crystals to operate in the 500 Khz segments above and below the 20 meter band. The SB-101.5 was an excellent rig.
Recently, I bought a basket-case HW-101 from a friend on the internet. I cleaned it up externally, then did a complete electronic restoration and upgrade. This HW-101 has become my main station SSB transceiver. Audio, both transmitting and receiving, is excellent. Power output is around 100 watts on all bands except 10 meters, where it is about 80 watts. The rig is most forgiving of high SWR and other common faults. Tubes are easily found, if, in fact, you ever need any. I replaced V-1, a 6EA8 with a 6GH8A, which really improved the mic gain. I use a Turner Plus 3 microphone with it. I have only two complaints about the rig, and both are easily fixed if I would only take the time: 1) the pitch of the CW sidetone, and thus the off-set, is 1 Khz, which, for me, is much too high. and 2) the Jackson ball drives in my HW-101 are worn out and cause "rough" tuning. Stability from dead cold to warm up is about 100 Hz. After the rig is well warmed up, there is no noticeable drift. I bought the rig for about $50.00, the power supply for around $40.00, and have rebuilt both. In my experience, the HW/SB transceivers are extremely reliable, well thought-out rigs. I certainly could not buy a new transceiver for anywhere near this price. Besides, I find the teeny-tiny readouts and the teeny-tiny knobs difficult for my old body to handle. I use an external frequency counter with my Heathkit rigs and have had no trouble setting my desired operating frequency within the readout limits of my counter. For anyone on a limited budget, the HW-101 or its more expensive cousin, the SB-101 or 102 are impossible to beat.
WB8TNJ Rating: 5/5 Jan 6, 2006 23:16 Send this review to a friend
Great inexpensive rig!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
The HW-101, Heathkit's "tank" transceiver. In kit form, they were easy to build and you actually learned something while building them. I've built 2 over the years and owned 3, the 3rd one I still have. As a primary or backup rig, you can't beat them. Don't try to compare them with todays rice boxes, there's no comparison. With the 400hz CW filter, it will do very well in the crowded bands of today. Like any old transceiver, you will have to work on it from time to time. The HW-101 requires you to actually peak and dip the plate current, not like today's "appliance operator" radios! If you are considering buying an HW-101 make sure you get the manual. If you have an HW-101 but not the manual, buy one because you'll need it when working on them. For the price, usually around $150 without the p/s or slightly over $200 with the power supply, you can't beat them. I repair them, along with many other old boat anchor rigs and they're a lot of fun to work on.

(ex WB8TNJ)
WA0TTN Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2005 15:17 Send this review to a friend
A great starter radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got mine new around 1978 or so. I was an electronics technician at the time, so I had professional tools and test equipment to build and test it with. I spent a few hours after work each night for a week carefully crafting it and it worked the very first time I powered it up. I had admired this radio for years, and it gave me great service for years afterwards until I went inactive around 1984. I became active again a few years ago, but now have modern solid state gear. I got nostalgic and set the thing up last night and am surprised that it still works, not even any smoke!

I intend to use it occasionally and going back to it after all these years reminded me of what a fantastic radio it was for the money back in those days. It is simple in construction and operation, and as others have mentioned, those dual 6146B's could really take a beating. I remember one time when I had mismatched my antenna and seeing the plates of the tubes glowing orange, but they still worked just fine after that.

I sure did admire the radio when I was a kid and the only way I will ever part with this one is if I can find some aspiring newcomer who needs to borrow a radio from an old Elmer like me. In the meantime, I'll keep the filaments warm and give the old gal a good dusting off more often.
N2WJW Rating: 4/5 Nov 19, 2005 20:53 Send this review to a friend
Nice toy  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Got my first HW-101 about a year ago from a ham that re-built it and left it in very nice condition. The rig has a very nice and sensitive receiver but wide without a filter and kicks about 100 watts of power, got to like it so much I got myself a second '101 as a parts rig, wound up fixing it and now it works great.
These are great radios for the ham that is not scared of going under the hood, because at one point or another you will have to go inside and do some tweaking, and the tubes are not hard to get.
This rig cant be compared to newer rigs but at around $100 for the radio without the PS and good performance for its age makes it in my opinion a good toy to play with.
N2DM Rating: 4/5 Nov 16, 2005 11:12 Send this review to a friend
Good, solid performer.  Time owned: more than 12 months
In 1976, purchased and built the HW-101 kit. Didn't work at first, passed all the resistance measurements in the manual. Took it to Heathkit store in Buffalo and they found I had received defective 6au6 tubes. They gave me replacements and we were off and running. Was main rig until 1981 when I got a Kenwood. Still have the HW-101 today, works as good as it did in 76 and it can be fixed by an old guy with failing vision (me). This will be the last item to go before they plant me. Just used it in the 2005 November SS, CW contest. Good solid, user friendly rig. 73, Dale.
KC8MWG Rating: 4/5 Sep 9, 2004 17:47 Send this review to a friend
Decent transceiver, though quirky...  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
My HW101 was given to me by my elmer as an incentive to upgrade from Tech to General (worked, too...). He, in turn, was the third owner of the rig, but never had it on the air himself (too many more modern ones to use). The original owner built it in 1975, and it has the crystal filter option. We took it to RTO Electronics in Benton Harbor to have it gone over and fixed. Guys, this is a great place to get your Heathkit equipment fixed. Ron Oxley was one of the techs at Heathkit who would finish assembling kits for guys who got stymied in either building their stuff or getting it to work right. E-mail him at
The radio is a little drifty, and as the 6146 tubes were never replaced (too pricey at the time the radio was given to me), I think they're getting a bit flakey. When I first put the rig on the air it put out 100 watts plus. It seems to be down to about 80 watts now. Thankfully, my elmer (KB8KNM) said he has a set of unused 6146 tubes around doing nothing. Got a great deal on the mic, too (an Astatic D104/TUG8, vintage, pristine condition, for about $40). My only gripe is that some time before KB8KNM got it, someone replaced the original speaker in the 120V power supply with an 8-ohm car speaker that has such a high input wattage requirement that I need to turn up the audio gain full blast to listen to it most of the time (I mostly use headphones), and the grille cloth was replaced with a garish red flannel stuff (which I will replace, eventually...). Eventually, I'm sure I'll have more modern HF rigs, but the HW101 will always be special to me.
KC0NPF Rating: 4/5 Sep 8, 2004 21:29 Send this review to a friend
Nice rig for it's time  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Obviously the VFO drifts alot, the dial doesn't ever stay calibrated (tune one way, then the other way and you have to recalibrate, it slips on my rig). The Tx audio was fine but required far more drive than the TenTec Omni-D which I now run. Transmitter section was just about bullet proof, as my first rig, it was subject to longer than 'normal' tune times, high swr and probably a bad dipole too. Reciever was ok, but since it was my first rig, i haven't had much to compare it to. Tuning the finals wasn't a problem, never had trouble with output power, the amazing part was it's still ALL original tubes (except for the mic preamp, which we thought was the cause of the abnormally high drive level, it wasn't.) If that were replaced, it would then be all original. The CW filter was used for PSK31, but I don't work much CW. I do enjoy a few more filter options in my tentec (1.8khz ssb for example). For it's time, it's a fine rig, sure it has it's faults but almost every rig does.

There's my long delayed reveiw,

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