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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Heathkit HW-5400 Help


Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-5400
Heathkit HW-5400 Reviews: 20 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $499.95
Description: Synthesized 100watt 80 thru 10m CW/SSB HF
Product is not in production.
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VE2ENB Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2004 13:36 Send this review to a friend
MY BEST WORKHORSE YET.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I BUILT MY HW-5400 IN 1985, TOOK 150 HOURS UNDER MAGNIFYING GLASS, WHAT A CHORE !! BUT NOT IN VAIN BECAUSE I NEVER HAD TO LIFT ITS COVER EVERSINCE.
HOOKED A MIKE TO IT COUPLE TIMES TO CHECK IF SSB WORKS ! AND HAD GOOD RESULTS. I AM CW ONLY AND VERY ACTIVE.
GREAT RIG WITH 250 HZ CW FILTER TO WORK THRU ANY QRN OR QRM. IT WAS THE BEST HEATHKIT DESIGN. IT STILL IS MY MAIN RIG..
TOO BAD HEATHKIT HAD TO CLOSE THE DOORS. THANKS ANYWAY. VE2ENB GIL
 
TF8GX Rating: 5/5 Jan 1, 2004 19:30 Send this review to a friend
Very nice !  Time owned: more than 12 months
Had problem with my NR 1 rig, and i bought 5400 from a friend
( he had it in his unheated garage for 10 years ! )
I sprayed WD-40 on the inside , and used it only on CW , it works great and i never had any problem with it.
Cant tell how it works on SSB, did never buy a mike for it :)

Must have been a super one in the days it was buld !

 
KB0QIL Rating: 4/5 Dec 13, 2003 17:13 Send this review to a friend
excellant ssb/ poor cw  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have 2 5400's. They are really great performing ssb rigs. However they both suffer from off frequency cw operation by several hundred hz. They produce a really clean sound and are very stable. I have performed the realignment procedure, it was long and mostly unnecessary. It gave be an appreciation for the circuit design. The rig uses 3 PLL circuits in an interleaved control pattern. The result is any mixing VCO birdies do not effect the next freq. 50 HZ away. These are really great rigs.
 
KE9NS Rating: 4/5 Nov 9, 2003 00:20 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had a lot of fun putting the HW-5400 together back in '85. I use a D104 mic amp with a Shure 526 mic element, and everyone compliments my great transmit audio. I've installed all modifications found in QST with fantastic results. I've converted the original microcontroller to a 68hc11 processor (just to see if I could do it) to allow out of band reception and external RS-232 control. Great learning radio and very good all around SSB only HF rig. I've owned Yaesu and Kenwood, but always come back to the rig I built and modified. My HW-5400 has never failed since I first built it (18 years)
 
KC5GDL Rating: 4/5 Oct 28, 2003 11:23 Send this review to a friend
Taught me much  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Dad bought this kit (with the optional 1.8 khz filter) for me in 1985 when I was 13 years old to teach me about electronics, and as an incentive for me to learn morse code and get my license! This was a bit much for a kid with no experience or knowledge, but my dad was an electronics engineer and said he would help me with it. There are about 20+ individual pc boards in this rig! My dad did not have much time to help me, and I became very frustrated as problems came up! The folks at Heathkit got pretty frustrated with me too! I remember one technician getting very angry at me on the phone. I never called them after that.

Many of the problems were not my fault or lack of expertise, but design problems of the HW-5400. I once sent the unit back to Heathkit because I could not get a correct reading on the BFO board. Heathkit's fix was to put extended standoffs to relocate the BFO board 1/8 of an inch further away from the chassis! It worked, but how was an 8th grader supposed to figure that one out? There were some other design problems as well.

I completed the kit in less than 2 years, but the receiver seemed "deaf", and my first attempt to transmit into a dummy load resulted in a large puff of smoke from the PA board! (a solder joint had shorted to the chassis.) I repaired the damage, but lost interest in it. I put it all back in the box and it sat for many years. When I was ready to go to college, I sold it to an electronic surplus dealer in Albuquerque, NM. Ironically, I passed my code test and got my licence shortly after that! I talked to the manager at the store a few months later and he said that a ham had bought it and was thrilled, (but didn't have it working yet!) I often wonder if my childhood learning experience is out there on the air somewhere!


To answer ZL1WDC's question about the "chirping" sounds the HW5400 makes when tuning - it is due to the noise the VCO makes when the PLL unlocks and re-locks. It is my understading that all PLL synthesizers make this noise when changing frequency and employ some kind of design for muting the noise. Different designs may be better than others, however. The HW5400 briefly mutes the audio every time a tuning step is made. The "chirp" you hear is noise that didn't get muted.

To sum it up: I can't say how the rig did on the air, but I got an excellent education from it that has paid for itself many times over in the years since.
 
NZ0T Rating: 4/5 Jul 15, 2003 21:30 Send this review to a friend
Nice Rig  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I was given one of these rigs free as it didn't work. I got it working after a fashion but ended up sending it to RTO where it was brought up to factory specs. This is a nice rig - I have been using it at our lake place with a G5RV and get excellent reports. I do wish it had a good crystal CW filter. I work mostly CW and while the stock active filter is not bad it doesn't work as well as a good crystal filter.

A good addition to my modest Heath collection!


 
ZL1WDC Rating: 4/5 Mar 18, 2003 06:53 Send this review to a friend
Good Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased this particular HW-5400 recently from a local Ham dealer in New Zealand for some $440 (US$250) complete with PSU and desk mic in a mint condition. Radios such as these and other 70's & 80's rigs are not really cherished collectables here in NZ like in the USA.
I was surprised at how good the receiver was compared to alot of other older rigs such as the FT901. It has a very good signal to noise ratio that is evident by just listening aswell as being quite sensitive.It is easy to use and despite its ugly appearance, it is well layed out. I noticed that the Synthesiser causes a slight audible chirpy sound when tuning across the band. I am not sure this is normal or not given that it is 20 years old. Obviously this is noise generated by the syn when stepping.If anyone is aware of how this can be minimised or eliminated, i would appreciate an email from you. Nevertheless i am very proud to own this rig as it is definetly a prime example of what Ham Radio is alll about.
 
N9ESH Rating: 5/5 Apr 6, 2002 17:18 Send this review to a friend
An overlooked classic  Time owned: more than 12 months
An absolute kit-builders dream. This is probably Heathís crown jewel of Amateur Radio kits. Went together easily. Built mine in 1985. Still have it and it still works like new. Right now it is my back-up rig. In the future, it will go in the mobile.
Donít need a lot of bells and whistles for mobile.
 
KA6SGT Rating: 4/5 Oct 25, 2000 14:15 Send this review to a friend
Good radio for non-competitive use  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Heathkit HW-5400 is a fairly good radio that requires no tuning when matched to a 50-ohm load. It covers SSB/CW on the standard HF bands (minus 160) plus the WARC-79 bands (12, 17, and 30). I've received good reports on the audio quality and found QSY easy to perform. For most purposes, the HW-5400 is a fine radio. However, being more of a contest operator, the HW-5400 leaves quite a bit to be desired. The unit is prone to overload during pileups making the use of an outboard audio filter a must. There are only two memories on each band (back to the pencil and paper method of noting frequencies). The RIT control is not as accurate as it should be and there is no facility for "spotting" - - both are essential for any DXing or Contesting.

I purchased the HW-5400 along with the matching HW-5400-1 power supply about six months after its release by Heathkit and spent the next three months putting it together. One problem after another prompted me to put it away in a closet after exhausting the kit warranty. It would be eight more years before bringing it out again for RTO electronics to complete and service. I'm glad I did. Kudos to RTO. The only bit of maintenance required on my HW-5400 is occasionally cleaning the contacts of the rotary bands switch wafers. Otherwise, this radio has been a reliable unit since getting it back from service several years ago.

Also thanks to KB9JJA for the picture shown above. (http://members.accessus.net/~dwentz/kb9jja/heathkit/)

 
KA5N Rating: 4/5 May 7, 2000 17:01 Send this review to a friend
Best Solid state Heath HF rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built in 1986 and has been in use ever since.
Not many bells and whistles. Have made several mod including adding a CW filter (same
as for a Kenwood TS-820) on a pcb with trans-
ister amp and latching relays. Improved CW keying waveform and added several mod from
QST's tech topics. I have never had a failure
or problem in 15 years and think it was a good
buy. A used one with problems would not be
a good deal for the inexperienced ham. Some parts would be difficult to replace such as the
display or the microprocessor.
 
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