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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Heathkit SB-220/SB-221 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit SB-220/SB-221
Heathkit SB-220/SB-221 Reviews: 66 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $350.00 - 550.00
Description: a 2kw pep input amp uses 2 3-500Zs
Product is not in production.
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N0TES Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2014 19:11 Send this review to a friend
Work horse! Great for testing the limits  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have this hooked up to a 220v 30a service outlet and purposely melt down antenna systems with it. It's a wonderful, even artistic, piece of equipment. It is fitting that it be used to create antenna systems by testing their limits. My amp gets to destroy and create new antenna systems for amateur radio operators. How cool is that? Now, imagine the abuse this amp has taken, for the last 7 years. It performs without a glitch even after all of what we use it for. So, I know what I am saying when I tell you, it'll serve you well.
N8WGM Rating: 5/5 Sep 10, 2014 22:43 Send this review to a friend
3-500 powerhouse  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just picked up the Heathkit SB220 and it is one hell of an amplifier. Has most of the Harbach mods and outputs around 1400 watts on 80 meters.

Been getting great signal reports using this amp and a home brewed hex beam. It outputs about 1200 watts on 17 meters and 1300 on 20 meters. I really like the tubes, specifically the Eimac 3-500Z tubes that are the originals for this amp. Even though they are over 30 years old, because they were used lightly for most of their lives, they are still strong after all these years.

The original colors of light green and darker green are kind of ugly and so when this amp came up for sale (Black face plate and light gray case colors) I bought it. The amp has all the mods except for soft start. Probably does not need it as the amp and tubes can handle the current surge easily. I may end up adding it anyways as insurance.

This amplifier deserves the "5" of all the reviews. Probably one of the best amps ever made for the price. If money is no object, then the Alpha's would be the amp to get but for the rest of us, the Heathkit SB220 is an amp that can hold its own against all the others.
N4WGY Rating: 5/5 Jul 11, 2014 17:30 Send this review to a friend
Awesome Big Green Tank  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I am the second owner of my SB-221 w/10 meter mod which was was incredibly well constructed and cared for by the original owner/silent key. Have been using it heavily for about 1 year at time of writing this review. I installed the Harbach Soft Start and Soft Key mods as well as the replacement high voltage capacitor board and diode board. Amplifier is currently wired for 120VAC power and still has the original 1982 vintage Eimac 3-500z tubes. The amp works incredibly well and reliably. Even with 120VAC supply it will easily make 600 to 800 watts with 80 watts drive. Amp is not designed for working WARC bands but it will tune 17 meters beautifully in the 15 meter position and 12m reasonably well in the 10m position. Have worked all over the world and USA with many an excellent signal report. The old tubes are beginning to get soft, especially on 10m and 15m, no fault of the amp there, just 32 year old well worn tubes. Only improvement I would have other than new tubes would be reduction drives for the Tune and Load capacitors to make fine tuning a bit easier.
KA4KOE Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2014 10:01 Send this review to a friend
Old warhorse  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Received a very nice SB220 in a trade. I installed the Harbach metering/rectifier and soft key boards. The amplifier has the original Eimac 3-500Z tubes. With 100W drive, the amp will just make 1200W. However, you should remember that the amp is not duty cycle rated for full power keydown. I typically run mine around 175W carrier when working AM. I drive my SB220 with a Flex 5K. The amp is extremely easy to tune, but gets a little dicey up on 10m, where thee power out-poot drops to about 800W.
PE1PMD Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2013 03:14 Send this review to a friend
Great amp!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Years ago I sold my SB1000, still regret it every day. About half a year ago this SB220 was offered on a used products website in Belgium.
It was a 3 hour drive but worth it. The previous owner had plans to rebuild the amp but never got time for it.
All Harbach kits were with it and also the retrofit fan. A big smile when I drove back home...
First thing was the cabinet; it was painted black so got it cleaned and powercoated in the original color. The parasitic supressors are replaced by retrofits I found on Ebay. The coolers for 3-500z's are now hyper plate caps.
Rectifier board, softstart, capacitors etc. All the mods have been carried out and the amp performs like new. Recently I bought a brand new matched pair of RF-Parts 3-500ZG's but the original Eimac 3-500Z's are still in good condition. Last mod will be installing vacuum relays.
As you can see some time has been spend on this one... Was it worth it?
Absolutely, every minute! If you can find one at a reasonable price, buy it!
K1QN Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2013 06:40 Send this review to a friend
Immortal Classic  Time owned: months
I built it in 1982. It never called for modification or repair. Totally functional, as advertised to this very day (2013).
NN2X Rating: 5/5 May 29, 2013 13:24 Send this review to a friend
Works well  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My Main amplifier (QRO 2500DX), just failed, and had to send back to Factory, I recieved a SB 220 AMP, to hold me over, well to my surprise the old AMP works well..! The AMP generate PEP, 1200 Watts...(20 Meters), not bad..(Old tubes also)

Although not my QRO 2500DX, it does do the job...and can't beat the price, especially considering the watts out..!
K6BF Rating: 5/5 May 2, 2012 08:35 Send this review to a friend
Oldie but goodie  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got this SB-220 from the original builder for about 350.00, I installed my NOS Eimacs from 1987 and was still making pretty good power! I have since re-capped it, added a glitch resistor to the B+ line, replaced the rectifier diodes, added step-start and re-lube the fan,Added QSK Vacuum Relay wow its very quite. It has been in daily use since acquiring without a hiccup, contesting for entire weekends, running rtty contests at 400-500 watts, phone and cw contests at over 1KW no problems. It is a very dependable piece of gear, and regardless of any future amp purchases, this one ain't for sale! For what I have invested, it's probably the best bargain in the shack!!
K1ZJH Rating: 5/5 Mar 27, 2012 09:24 Send this review to a friend
An Old Workhorse  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned my SB-220 since the early 1980s. I bought it used, and only replaced the filter caps when I first received it. I'm still on the set of Eimac tubes that came with it. These amps are real workhorses, but of course they also date back to when the FCC rules stated 1kW CW input power limits. A modern amp using the same tubes will do more power, but it will also run a pair of 3-500Z tubes much harder to do so.

My amp wasn't very pretty to look at, and I doubt than anyone would have bought except to strip for parts, or perhaps for a 6-meter conversion.
After years of neglect and abuse, I decided to go through the amp with the intention of making it good as new. I added 160 meters, and also the WD7S TU-6A input board. These Harbach upgrades were also included: soft key, soft start, replacement meter board and also the filter capacitor bank. While I was at it, I added vacuum relays for full QSK keying, and a vernier dial drive for the plate tank tuning. A replacement backface panel is on order. The grids are now directly grounded, as suggested by W8JI on his webpages. I also replaced the original plate choke with the choke Ameritron uses on their amps. It was worth the work. The amp easily delivers 1kw CW on all bands, including WARC and 160 meters, with reasonable grid current and in the low power position. What a difference! I know a lot of hams feel that doing this much work to an old amp is foolish, but the amp now performs as good as any amp I could hope to own, at least within my budget!

W8GP Rating: 5/5 Feb 18, 2012 19:54 Send this review to a friend
A true timeless classic  Time owned: more than 12 months
Even though I have been a casual Heathkit collector for many years,I had never owned a SB-220 until about 3 years ago.Part of the reason was that I operate 160m and I already had several amps anyway.Well, I finally decided that I needed a '220 for my collection so I started looking for one with the intent of adding 160.After several months of looking for the right one, there was a listing on E-bay for one that already had the 160 conversion.It was a beautiful job, and if you had never seen the internals of a '220, you would think it was designed that way. It still has the original tubes and puts out a maximum of 1100W, with a solid 900 on 160.It tunes easily with no pops or spits and puts up with all my abuse.What more can you say about a product that is still high demand after 40 years?
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