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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Heathkit HW-8 Help

Reviews Summary for Heathkit HW-8
Heathkit HW-8 Reviews: 31 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $150. used
Description: 1970s portable 2-watt direct conversion txcvr for 80/40/20/15m
Product is in production.
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KG4LLQ Rating: 5/5 Oct 20, 2014 17:35 Send this review to a friend
Nostalgically Wonderful Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I reviewed this rig back in 2013. It's now 2014 and I am still amazed at how wonderful this radio is. My HW-8 came with a terrible modification: someone cut out a section of the top-cabinet with the intention of mounting a small speaker. Of course it didn't work-out but the cabinet was damaged, ugly and detracted from it's value. I took the whole outer cabinet to my trusty auto body-shop and it's now like new! The speaker hole was patched with aluminum (same thickness as cabinet) then bondo'd and repainted to original. Re-installing it, I used s/s screws and it looks like brand new! It operates as per specification (after careful alignment) and continues to give me hours and hours of operating fun. I've never lacked for making contacts on either 40, 20 or 15 (no antenna for 80 meters). It's like an old Timex watch ad: It takes a licking & keeps on ticking!
K4TIN Rating: 5/5 Jun 9, 2014 13:11 Send this review to a friend
Dripping With Nostalgia!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought mine in 1979 for about 125 bucks, I think. My Uncle WA6JZG (SK) was a superb craftsman and kitbuilder. So I took him up on his offer to build it, and won't apologize for it.
The radio served me for the last year of my novice license, and enabled me to cut my teeth on QRP. I was astounded to receive an answer from a W5 on my first call on 40. Thence to W0 in Minnesota and Colorado. Later in the week worked W6 on 15 in LA.
The cute little direct conversion receiver required calling on the high side of zero beat; and the manual recommended answering calls--wise advice.
Quite a pleasant sounding radio hooked up to a battery. No, it won't equal a Ten Tec Argonaut but it takes its place in the low power hall of fame.
K4JPN Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2014 14:33 Send this review to a friend
Great Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Picked up a HW-8 back in 1990, did many mods to it including replacing the output toroids on 80 and 40 (they change inductance over the years and reduce the output power).

I used a Oak Hill Research DD-1 for a digital readout and installed a simple interface

I found the audio filter left a lot to be desired, but using my Autek QF-1A filter I had a great receiver.

I worked a lot of DX and almost made WAS with the HW-8. Fun rig to use.
F8WBD Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2014 12:31 Send this review to a friend
QRP rig of choice  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have an HW-8 back in the States, but recently purchased another here on the French side of the pond.

Love it. It is in somewhat better condition than the one I have in the USA. Purchased from a French ham who kept it in pristine condition and did a mod backlighting the frequency dial and meter...which was also modded to be an swr meter.

Running one watt I have had a number of 1,000 MPW QSOs. A few into the USA NE. And, an early morning a few days ago, a confirmed QSO into VK Tasmania. Antenna is a low PAR EF-20.

I operate 20-meters only.

The rig is basically drift-free and reports have have been very positive as to cw quality.

The only minus, so far, is the direct-conversion receiver habit of allowing very strong BC signals to, occasionally, bleed through. This is a well known condition and didn't affect my 5 rating as it was to be expected.

The HW-8 is now my QRP rig of choice.

If you want some thrilling radio experiences, try QRP with, for that matter, any low-tech QRP transceiver.
W7TOP Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2012 18:10 Send this review to a friend
Fun QRP Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Yes it is an older radio, with old technology, but it works great on QRP, and does the job just fine. It is not a KX3 or even close but it does not cost a $1000 either, but for CW and just plain fun, it is fine. Some folks want to modify it, and that works great also, some want more power and that's OK too, if you want to spend more money. But to get a 4 band CW QRP radio that has a decent receiver, and good QRP output, in good condition fully aligned, tested, and in great working order, you can find them for about $250 or less. A great value for the QRP operator, and a lot of fun to boot. I have several and I keep them working as they should. It makes for a great little fun machine.
SM5JAB Rating: 3/5 Oct 18, 2012 05:42 Send this review to a friend
A modifier's delight  Time owned: more than 12 months
My HW-8 was built over a 26 hour period back in the early 80's. It was a xmas present from my dad. Back then I used it not only at home but also portable and in the scouts. It works OK and still does. For its time it was a really good concept.

I still bring it out of the cupboard now and then, but now mostly for experimenting with: The LM2900 IC is a noise generator in a class of its own, and different new low-noise LF-chains have seen the light here. The LM2900 must be eliminated at all costs! With a couple of 5534's and a look at KK7B's articles ( the HW-8 is transformed into a totally incredibly low noise receiver. It really must be heard to be believed! I heartily recommend the HW-8, not least for experimenting with like this. There is plenty of room inside for your own PCBs.

Apart from modifying the receiver it is easy to make it a double-sideband transmitter as well. So now it does 'phone too. Cute!
WA7DUY Rating: 4/5 Oct 5, 2012 22:02 Send this review to a friend
Nice solid qrp rig  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I always wanted an HW8 and then an HW9 when they came out but did not manage to acquire one. I recently bought 2 of them and then a third one (basket case). I find them to be very good radios. They are huge but todays qrp standards but are still a good solid radio with a decent receiver. It is hard to get used to tuning down from the top so that I am on the correct side of the other stations passband. An audio filter is almost a must. I modified mine to use an SO-239 antenna connector, a better audio amplifier, an internal speaker, and different power jacks.

I plan to do some experimenting with my basket case HW8 and add a DDS vfo and a digital frequency counter for the display and get rid of the round dial and variable vfo capacitor.

I really like my HW8's. They are a lot of fun to use.
W9MT Rating: 5/5 Jul 14, 2012 22:46 Send this review to a friend
Good radio for the time...  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Owned a nice example of the HW-8 in the early 1990's. Like most, when I got it, it had no mod's. When I sold it, it had a few good ones.

These included: a switchable 25/100KHz calibrator, pilot light for the meter, meter mod to use the meter for receive signal strength as well as on transmit, and a conversion of the 20m band to 30m. This last mod simply took a hetrodyne crystal swap out and a few padding capacitors on the band coils.

The rig was really good on 30m. I made a lot of nice and enjoyable qso's on that band. 15m was productive with low power too. 20/40/80 were not so good.

When I tired of it, I sold it to a ham work-colleague, who was big into he converted it back.

All in all a nice qrp rig. It will be hard to find a well working unmodified unit these days. But if you do, get Mike Bryce's HW Handbook and bend this easily modifiable rig to your own personality and operational desires.

It was practically made for that.
K4EHB Rating: 5/5 May 31, 2012 10:04 Send this review to a friend
A great radio that looks good  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have several qrp rigs in addition to my main radio. My two main qrp rigs are the ft-817 and the hw-8. When I got the hw-8, I thought the audio sounded a bit crappy and promptly constructed a simple audio transfomer using a 2k to 8 ohm transfomer. It made a big differnce.

For several weeks, I switched between the 817 and the hw-8 and I noticed something interesting in my logs. I was making more contacts on the hw-8 than with the 817.

Now, the hw-8 is not as good as a radio as the 817, so why the improvement? The hw-8 receiver is a lot "wider" than the 817. You hear more signals - well, you hear a lot more signals because the hw-8 uses direct conversion. Because the receiver is wider, it sounds better (need to have someone with a pyscho-acoustic background to explain this) - this means you can put a headset on for a longer period of time without having fatigue.

The hw-8 is a nice radio. I plan to give it to my son (he's 4.5 years now) when he is older.

Negatives: low power, direct conversion, need rca to pl-259 cable, signal meter doesn't tell receive strength.

Positives: nice looking, easy to operate, wide receiver, repairable.
AA7BI Rating: 5/5 May 21, 2012 13:28 Send this review to a friend
QRP & Nostalgia  Time owned: more than 12 months
I completed mine on the 4th of July 1981, about 12 hours after my first child was born. So as you might imagine, this radio means a lot to me in terms of nostalgia.

In terms of modern performance, this radio is overshadowed by recent technical developments. It is a a living dinosaur, but what a dinosaur it is! This radio got me into a lifetime of QRPing. I have also experienced many problems along the way, due largely to it being shipped to me with some incorrect inductor cores at the finals. The tuning capacitor had to be replaced due to it unnervingly having its fins peel off the shaft at the 250 kHz end of the dial. The inductor issue has been sorted out over the years. The headaches and joys are a strange and bitter-sweet combination.

No one would be happy with a radio this primitive today. But hey, I put it together myself and understand it (kinda). I use it 52 weeks of the year and still marvel at it. Uses very little power and runs forever on a small battery. In terms of pure fun, it is hard to beat this one.

My son (a ham at age 6) will inherit this one!

Buy won't regret it!
de AA7BI....Bob
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