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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: 71 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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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?
W4WEA Rating: 5/5 Sep 20, 2011 07:18 Send this review to a friend
Built like a tank  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked mine up on ebay. As I have done with every amp ive bought on ebay, as I was going over it with the schematic, I come to realize the input and tank circuitry had been cut out and it was now a monoband 11M amp. I did rewind the output 80/20 coil and rewound the 15 and 40 meter input coils, but found replacement input and tank circuitry and did nearly all of the recommended mods including directly grounding the grids its now doing a smooth 1400+ on 80M and 1K+ on 10M with the original tubes on ssb and around 1K on CW mode. Its heavy and built like a tank but it seems its going to be in my shack a long time. Cant beat the price in money spent per watt.
N6WIN Rating: 5/5 Mar 15, 2011 22:49 Send this review to a friend
Excellent value  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a SB-220 and SB-221 used. Both built in the early 1980's. Who knows what happened with them before I got them. I know I put them through the test of full time contesting. 1300w on 80m down to 800w on 10m (17m/12m use also).

These get hot, noisy, and things arc. They continue to work for me with minimal repair cost/labor.

Gave one as a present to my dad who enjoys rag chewing. He loves having 500-800 watts (can do 1000w) on 120v without a special or second power circuit in his shack. We use it to tune his 40m dipole for 15m operation, same for 75m to 80m.

I am keeping one as a backup to my Acom 2000A. I don't expect to need it, but it may come in handy for portable ops or SO2R.
WB8YQJ Rating: 5/5 Feb 11, 2011 20:03 Send this review to a friend
STILL VIABLE in 2011  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The SB221 is the later model SB220 offered only without 10 meters due to FCC restrictions. However there was a conversion kit for 10m available from HEATH. If you dont have an SB221, here are the bullet points. The filter capacitors by now are ready to be replaced with Harbach's offering. On a weak 100V AC line (like mine) voltage drops can limit your output to 500 watts even with good tubes. The stock amp keying circuit can ruin your modern solid state radio, get the Harbach "soft key". The amp itself is a gem, but is built very very lightly. This makes it easy to service on a tabletop, it's compact, etc. but it is mostly a thin aluminum cabinet and chassis bolted to a big honking heavy transformer in the middle. Even if the transformer is removed (as mine was) to UPS ship, the main unit can be damaged - the bandswitch is ceramic and that will crack in a heartbeat if the (band select) knob is not removed before packing. New front panels and knobs are available for SB221, the panels are black or original. I never considered for an instant buying a new "mighty fine" amp even though their service would seem beneficial and the price is in the ballpark of what you would pay for a 30 year old SB221. Having this classic amp inspires confidence, it's fun to use, and with all the third party products available for it, I've never looked back.
W4MCX Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2011 10:19 Send this review to a friend
the one and only  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have had it 3 years. puts out 600w with unknown date of tubes and 120v hookup...runs 2400v w/600ma, so I guess my efficiency is was demolished when I found it and had a blast rebuilding it to original specs...always wish I had more and new tubes, so don't heave em' me...only other amp to consider is AL-811a for the cheaper tubes it uses...
W3NA Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2010 17:14 Send this review to a friend
An Icon  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my 1977 vintage SB-220 for 12 or 15 years. With my modest antennas, my SB-220 has been my secret weapon for earning 5BDXCC and DXCC Honor Roll. I bought it used at the old Hosstraders NH Hamfest, discovered a cracked band switch and super glued it back together. Eventually I replaced the noisy fan with Harbach's replacement. I bought a new Capacitor Pack, but never got around to replacing the original. I have cleaned the antenna rely contacts a couple times. Still puts out about 900 W CW with tubes that may even be the originals. I have mis-tuned, over-driven, fed into wrong antennas, into no antenna, driven on the wrong bands, many times over the years, and made practically every other mistake possible using an amplifier at least once. The ham I bought it from used it for contesting. Even with all that history, my SB-220 has never let me down. I purchased a younger "Legal Limit" amplifier, thinking I would sell my SB-220, but so far I have not been able to let it go. The folks at Heath hit a home run with the SB-220 line of amplifiers. They were a bargain in the day, and an even better bargain now.
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