eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net


Reviews Categories | Transmitters: Vintage amateur | Heathkit DX-20 Help


Reviews Summary for Heathkit DX-20
Heathkit  DX-20 Reviews: 6 Average rating: 3.8/5 MSRP: $35.95 KIT ONLY
Description: CW TRANSMITTER. 80 - 10 METERS, CRYSTAL CONTROLLED, 50 WATT INPUT
Product is not in production.
More info: http://
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Heathkit DX-20.

KB0XR Rating: 3/5 Jul 27, 2013 07:07 Send this review to a friend
Too much for this novic  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this at the local Heath store in Minneapolis after I passed my Novice test (KN0QZK). I had some soldering experience and spent several nights assembling it on the ping pong table in the basement. I managed to wire the power transformer incorrectly resulting in a small fire! A letter to Heath got me a new transformer with no questions asked. Once I completed it, I fired it up with no nothing. I tried troubleshooting it but had no idea what I was doing. My mother drove me to the Heath store where we dropped it off for repairs. The tech called a week later saying it was up and operating after he repaired many many cold solder joints and wiring errors. Money was tight then (1959) but Mom paid the repair bill. I managed two contacts with a neighbor 4 houses away and it quit working again. I stuffed it in the closet and forgot about it. Enlisted in the Navy and went to electronics school(s). Years later my mother tossed it in the trash.
 
NZ5L Rating: 4/5 Jul 26, 2013 13:58 Send this review to a friend
pure nostalgia  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have owned my DX-20 for nearly a year now, and it has helped to recreate my Novice days in the early '60s - as they should have been. With new P/S filter caps, this one sounds even better on the air than the original, and I have gotten adept at tuning it, even with the very bouncy meter. It has a timeless look, still attractive after 60+ years. Mated with a Drake R-4C, it is much easier to make contacts than in 1960 (with a Halli. S-40)although I restrict its use to crystal control. Recommended for anyone who came of age, radio-wise, in the late '50s to early '60s, and wishes to recapture the initial thrill of ham radio communication. Be prepared to scrounge for appropriate crystals.
Will be used on all the SKNs from now until that big hamshack in the sky.
 
K7ZX Rating: 4/5 Sep 10, 2008 23:05 Send this review to a friend
My First Transmitter  Time owned: more than 12 months
Shortly after I received my Novice license in late 1959 at age 13, a box arrived in the mail. My great uncle and elmer, Tommy, W3ERE/W0HLX, had ordered a new DX-20 kit from the Heath Co. and had it sent to me. It would soon compliment the surplus modified BC-454A receiver that Tommy had sent me several months before.

Assembly went very smoothly, a great tribute to Heathkit's excellent instructions and pictorials, and in a few days the shiny new transmitter was ready for service--except that I had no crystals. Pressing the key would peg the Shurite meter, which indicated to some degree that the Class C amplifier (6DQ6) was operating properly. After my two 80 meter crystals arrived KN7KKA was at last on the air.

The DX-20 served me faithfully for the next nine years. I drove it with the VFO from an old TA-12D transmitter. The Pi Network would match almost anything I could plug into the antenna jack!

The only trouble I ever had with the rig was early on when the potted power transformer failed. A hand-written letter to the Heath Co. garnered a prompt reply and a new transformer--on the condition that I send the old unit back.

I actually used the DX-20 very briefly as a mobile transmitter in a VW beetle, employing a dynamotor for the B+. Although I never made any contacts with that setup, the transmitter did work fine.

I sold the DX-20 late in 1968, just before I was married, for much-needed radio parts. I still wonder where it ended up.

 
N2KZ Rating: 4/5 Sep 23, 2006 12:16 Send this review to a friend
QRO for Ten Dollars  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Each year, the South Salem Library holds a remarkable fund-raising fair and book sale at Onatru Farm, a large public park in Eastern Westchester. One of the large barns always houses a wild collection of donated electronics including endless computer gear, stereos, wireless telephones and radios. Here you can always find remarkable and nostalgic gear for a song. This year, my family and I arrived late and most of the remaining items on sale were picked over and commonplace. All except one.

Sitting on a shelf, with its original manual sitting on top of its chassis, was a battered and worn Heathkit DX-20 transmitter. It called out to me: "Karl! Karl! Save me from the crusher!" I just couldn't let it die. The unit was complete, with all its knobs in place. The little front-panel meter, with "Heathkit" painted in script on its face, was in nice shape. The front panel was covered with what looked like fiberglass insulation, and the paint showed signs of water damage. One area resembled rusty teenage acne and the back panel's paint was flaking off with the slightest touch.

Try as I might, I just could not resist. I carried my find out to the check-out table and I asked "How much is it?" The lady volunteer behind the picnic table replied "What is it?" I explained that it was an old Morse code transmitter designed for ham radio operators. Her response: "What do you think it's worth? The library is a good cause!" Even their largest and most desirable items sold for five dollars. I handed her a ten dollar bill. She was thrilled and so was I!

I brought it home and spent the next week looking over the manual and researching my new beastie. The Heathkit DX-20 is part of the second generation of Heathkit amateur radio gear dating back to 1959. It closely resembles the classic original AT-1, a first generation kit which is now a sought-after rare find. The DX-20 was designed to be a beginner's kit for Novice hams to operate and practice their code. It includes three tubes: A 6DQ6 horizontal sweep tube final, a 6CL6 oscillator and a 5U4 rectifier.

A unique port hole on the left side of the chassis is covered with what looks like an adjustment knob. Pull the knob out of the chassis and you reveal an access hole allowing you to change the crystal for frequency selection. I was lucky to have the perfect crystal. It is cut for 3559 kcs, right near the Fists club's frequency of 3558 kcs. Double this frequency and you are at 7118 kcs right in the middle of the 40 meter Novice segment. I was all set for dual-band operation!

On Saturday, I began by cosmetically cleaning the chassis and scubbing all the in-ground dirt off the knobs. Although the outside of the rig was dirty and worn, the inside of the rig looked untouched and well-made. The person who assembled the kit knew how to solder and build a neat kit. I was thankful. I cleaned all the surfaces and tubes. I removed an Ameco low-pass filter mounted on the back panel of the rig. I carefully removed and tested each tube on my military surplus TV-7 tube tester. All three tubes checked fine. Several of the components were stamped with a manufacturing date of 1959. I daintily cleaned all the switches with 100% alcohol on Q-tips. It looked great!
I checked all the switches and everything seemed to work just fine.

I found one problem. One of the 15K ohm 10 watt resistors across the filter capacitors in the power supply built adjacent to the 5U4 rectifier tube tested open. I actually found a brand new 13K 10 watt resistor in one of my junk boxes. This was a sign of divine intervention! This rig was intended to find me as an owner! I tacked in the resistor and connected a light bulb dummy load. A low hum was heard as power was applied to the rig. I tuned the on-board pi-network and all looked good. After a couple of minutes of warm up, I slid a front-panel switch from "tune" to "transmit." I felt like Frankenstein! "It's alive! It's alive!"

I fine-tuned the pi-network and loading control. Oh, boy! Did that light bulb glow nicely. I had full RF output. Another check proved I had no hum and a very nice RF Morse code note. I was in heaven! Is this great or what? Later, I put the rig on the air and worked Moe, W3MT, in Pennsylvania on 80 meters who rated my signal 599. I used my R-390A surplus receiver to hear his replies. It doesn't get any better than this!

Later, I felt a bit of remorse about my new rig. More than likely, the rig was probably used by a young ham for a reasonable amount of time. The power resistor blew and took the transmitter off the air. Without spare parts, or instrumentation to troubleshoot the problem, the rig probably went silent for forty years! It patiently sat in an attic or basement next to an unfinished wall collecting the yellow fiberglass debris. Now, it is my turn to enjoy this gift and see what new happiness it can bring. I can't wait! CQ CQ CQ DE N2KZ...

The Heathkit DX-20 has a wide range antenna-matching network that is designed to load up to nearly anything. The unit truly was created with young Novices in mind. The assembly manual suggests using a random piece of wire as an antenna with as little of the wire's length indoors to prevent losses. My DX-20 works so well it's scary. The rig loads up perfectly to my 80 meter dipole with great efficiency. It is capable of operation on six bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 11 and 10 meters. 11 meters is now unavailable for amateur radio use. It was reallocated to become the Class D Citizen's Band back in 1958.

There are two other things that make this rig "hot." It is designed as an A/C set using the chassis as a ground. Plug the DX-20 into your wall socket the wrong way and the chassis has a lively potential. Don't touch the metal of the rig and anything that resembles a ground, because if you do, you will find yourself on the ground! Also, the transmission key actually directly switches the 6CL6 oscillator tube on and off. Carelessly touch the metal parts of your straight key and you'll understand immediately why keys have insulating black bakelite knobs for the operators to hold. Navy sparkproof keys, with all-insulated contacts, are highly recommended!

I am not used to having such a powerful transmitter with a complete antenna-matching network. My beloved Heathkit HW-16, a horizontal sweep tube transceiver vintage 1967, has only one control for antenna tuning.
With a fully adjustable pi-network and loading control, the DX-20 really loads up with grace and style. Both units produce wonderfully sweet transmissions. They sound like musical notes heard from an old- fashioned piano on the air.

I can only guess what adventures lie ahead for me and my new Heathkit pal. I am a truly proud owner and will try to work the world with my new companion. It's great fun just to transmit: RIG HR IS HEATH DX-20. What a perfect rig for ARRL Straight Key Night on New Year's! I can't wait. Always remember: If it doesn't glow, it doesn't go!
 
KC8JX Rating: 4/5 Dec 31, 2003 22:04 Send this review to a friend
Great little gem of a transmitter  Time owned: more than 12 months
This was also my first ham transmitter. I built it from a kit in late 1960 after taking my novice license test. I made hundreds of contacts with it before selling and acquiring a used Heathkit DX-40 in 1962. I move ahead over 40 years and was able to acquire another DX-20. Though I do not use it as often as I'd like, it is paired with another radio from my novice days, a National NC-125. This transmitter is very elementary; three tubes with a 6DQ6 sweep tube in the final. Loads up to about 50 watts and outputs about 30. Not too bad. Crystal controlled or one can use a vfo using an accessory power source. Primarily a cw transmitter many modified their DX-20's and used outboard AM modulators. This is a little gem in all the radio jewels. I'm sure it gave many hams great contacts. My current one is very special to me as it was given to me by a good friend.
 
K8MRS Rating: 4/5 Jun 4, 2003 12:05 Send this review to a friend
GOOD STARTER TRANSMITTER  Time owned: more than 12 months
THIS WAS MY "FIRST" TRANSMITTER AS A NOVICE IN FALL 1958. REMEMBER BUILDING THIS FINE KIT AS A 14 YEAR OLD JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT. THE ASSEMBLY WAS EASY AND THE HEATH INSTRUCTIONS VERY COMPLETE.
TRANSMITTER WORKED FIRST TIME AND PROVIDED MANY A NICE CONTACT ON THE 7 MHZ. NOVICE CW BAND.
SOLD MY ORIGINAL DX-20 ABOUT 43 YEARS AGO AND MORE RECENTLY WAS ABLE TO LOCATE ANOTHER IN GOOD SHAPE. MANY PLEASANT MEMORIES BOTH BUILDING AND USING. STRAIGHT FORWARD CIRCUIT DESIGN WITH 6DQ6 OUTPUT TUBE STAGE. PRODUCED NICE CLEAN SIGNALS WITHOUT KEY CLICKS OR OTHER NOTICEABLE CHIRP FOUND IN OTHER SIMILAR EQUIPMENTS.
 


If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.