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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Heathkit HW-100 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-100
Heathkit HW-100 Reviews: 15 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: Heath HF radio
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W2PA Rating: 3/5 Sep 10, 2002 22:25 Send this review to a friend
Basic transceiver that can be had for a song  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ok, I had to chime in on the "Hot Water" 100 since I built one in 1970. My first sideband rig and first transceiver, I used it as my main rig for 10 years or so, in DXing, contests, traffic handling - very actively - and I still have it today (how can I sell something I built with my own two hands at age 15?).

As a transciever of that era, the rig is a good sideband rig, a usable CW rig and can take abuse (believe it or not). You can make it better on CW by adding the CW filter, but it'll take some doing since the hardware to mount it and switch it in and out is not there - it was added on the '101. You can do it by picking up a junker '101 or SB-series transceiver. Even with the filter though, it'll never be as good as separates of that time period (such as the Drake line). Like any Heathkit, the performance and quality of the rig is dependent on how much care went into building it. When aligned properly it's a reasonably sensitive receiver and a transmitter with good audio quality and CW keying. It's basically an SB-101 without the 1-kHz readout dial drive and fewer options and extra features. You can get them in good shape very cheaply and get on the air - but not the WARC bands. No RIT, or other receiver features that have become standard either.

The dial mechanism on the 100 is unique. It's a really funky plastic planetary gear arrangement where the knob, which snaps onto the collar, pinches down on a flexible cup-shaped gear that meshes with one in the mount and turns the shaft. It's fairly flimsy and prone to backlash. Within a year of building mine, I got fed up and replaced the whole main tuning knob assembly with the Swan dial drive and knob set (you could order them direct from Swan back then). I remember that several hams had done this - that's how I got the idea - and you see them once in a while on eBay. If you do, grab it since it'll probably be a collector's item, not to mention the fact that it's a better dial drive than in the HW-101, where Heath fixed the problem by replacing that plastic thing with a real ball bearing drive mechanism.

Another thing to watch for on these rigs is the O-rings that link the front panel controls to tuning capacitors in the preselector and final amplifier. They often dry out, crack, and break. There are several places to get replacements though -not a big deal.

One big plus on these rigs is that they're very easy to work on. Everything is in the open and easy to get to. And despite the statements here about tube sockets on the PC boards (all true), mine has taken a lot of punishment over the years and is still working with its original parts. Not bad.

I gave it a 3, grading on a curve (so to speak), because it's relative to other transceivers of its time. In comparison, a TR-4 would be a 5 and an Eico 753 would be a 1. I suppose an SB-102 would then be a 4. Taking price into account would raise its score considerably.
N5UV Rating: 4/5 Sep 7, 2002 23:44 Send this review to a friend
Started as hand-down, crafted into a gem!  Time owned: more than 12 months
As I said in my SB-102 review, a Heathkit is only as good as the ham who built it. I got an HW-100 for free from a gal in Denton,TX who's dad wanted to unload it. It came with a home-brew supply, which you had to be careful with because it had a fuse breaker, and not the button-release breaker as on the original power supply. In fact, I blew the finals up once because the supply fuse didn't blow fast enough. That being said, and knowing that the S-meter worked when it felt like it, this radio has been the most "honest" and reliable piece of equipment in my shack once I started taking care of it. It's been my CW radio forever, since it has a built in filter. Also, it will do a true 100w. of CW power no problem. However, don't dare peak it past 100w. You'll trip the breaker VERY easily. The receiver does drift a bit, but not any worse than any other radio from that time period. Finding the original 2-prong mic plug was a trip even Ulysses would have hated, but I did find one with a matching set power supply at Ross Ave. The SB-102 was "thrown" in, but I really just needed the PS and mic. Now, my masterpiece is complete, free for me to use for CW conversations. But then again, it was a free unit... I couldn't sell this for anything above $100. Antique collectors need not apply for this one.
K6SDW Rating: 2/5 May 8, 2001 19:05 Send this review to a friend
Medicore  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built mine from new kit in 1970. It was definitely a step up from a Layfette general coverage receiver and knight T60 transmitter. Receiver sensitivity was medicroe, selectivity poor (and I'm being kind) and drifted, but then so did my Swan 500. Transmitter never put out 100 watts as claimed by Heathkit and as another ham noted, audio output was always on the low side.

The one good thing I can say about the HW100/1 and Heathkit in general, their rigs were generally a bit cheaper than preassembled units and you could always count on getting a lot of experience doing electronics repair because sooner rather than later something was going to fail on the unit!

K8DXX Rating: 3/5 Jan 7, 2000 21:28 Send this review to a friend
HW 100 OK Much Better Cost Little More  Time owned: unknown months
I built an HW100 in 1968 and have been tempted to buy another, but not because my experience was totally positive. My HW100 required alignment every few months. Audio reports were "weak," whether using the Heath/Turner mobile mic or a Shure 444. The radio does have a filter (contrary to the previous review); a four pole job is used to remove the unwanted sideband. However, it, combined with a fairly bland receiver never left me feeling very satisfied with the radio.

In 1980, I purchased a Kenwood TS180 (with all the optional filters). The difference was amazing. Forty was usable during the evening. I didn't have to shout into the mic to be heard. I have seen TS180s with power supplies on the web for $350. Its little brother, the TS120 goes for as low as $250.

As a nostalgia piece, an HW100 is great. As a first radio, $100 is about all I'd pay when much better, more enjoyable/reliable radios are around for a few hundred more. I'd hate to see a new ham become disinterested because his rig couldn't meet minimum standards for performance or reliability.
W2GND Rating: 4/5 Nov 16, 1999 12:56 Send this review to a friend
Excellent "beginer's" rig  Time owned: unknown months
I purchase my used HW100 in 1978 when I was a Novice. After correcting many "bugs" (caused by cold solder connections), the rig has performed flawlessly for the past twenty years (I have replaced three vaccum tubes). In November 1998, I purchased my first "new" rig and placed my HW100 into semi-retirement (Hi,Hi). Even though the rig is thirty years old, it still performs to specification according to manual. Power output is 100 watts or more even on 10 meters. Comments on the audio included "very crisp and clean"... The problems? There are no filters of any type for SSB or CW. (These were added later in the HW101)

If you find this rig (with power supply and microphone) at a hamfest for $200 to $250 and it appears to be in good condition, it might just be what you need to get your feet wet on the HF bands
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