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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: 35 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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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
KA0AAM Rating: 5/5 May 1, 2012 12:11 Send this review to a friend
tough to beat  Time owned: more than 12 months
HW-8 is a tough and capable all transistorized CW Transceiver. I have had mine for close to 30 years, and love it. It is stable with its Crystal Oscillators. Light enough to carry around. Easy to build, and strong as an Ox on everything.

Only thing I did not like about it, was the wiring going across the band selector. But that has not been a problem. The CW filter is a bit narrow, and gives you a kind of hollow ringing sound, but not to be a problem.

I have used it many times during prolonged backpacking trips deep in the Rockies. There is really nothing that can go wrong with this radio.

Mine has no mods at all.
KE7WAV Rating: 5/5 Mar 15, 2010 08:23 Send this review to a friend
Great little QRP  Time owned: months
I had an HW-7 and was just never satisfied with its horrible receiver and lack of an offset. I like QRP and so I decided to buy an HW-8. My Dad had one years ago, and I read the reviews here.
I found one and it has been a joy to operate. just as an example-- last night I had a QSO on 40M with an op 1000+ miles away using the HW-8 on batteries fed into a homebrew dipole up 11 feet. I got a 539-549 back. Not the greatest but still enough that we had a good QSO.
I have had 599 signal reports back as well it just depends on band conditions.
I am not wholly satisfied with the tuning dial, but I plan on adding a mod for that. A great radio all the way! It is not as good as others I have used but still a lot of fun and easy to use!
W4UDX Rating: 5/5 Jul 23, 2009 08:56 Send this review to a friend
A joy to use and modify  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm on my third HW-8. I always look for another when money is tight and my other gear has to go to pay for unexpected expenses. Where else are you going to get a four-band, true VFO controlled transeiver for around $150? You could buy a bunch of MFJ cubs or other DC receiver kits but you will spend more and have less.
I am not a Heathkit purist. I do not consider modified HW-8's to be "molested" if the mods are well done and useful - especially when used portable. I have modified every HW-8 I have owned, and none of the mods were irreversible. I prefer to have dial lamps and S-meters, keyers and calibrators. As long as the mods don't require a bunch of external boxes sitting on top of the rig. I have mixed feelings about adding an internal speaker because that usaully does require serious cabinet cutting and drilling, which almost never looks good. Just use an old self-powered amplified PC speaker, like the old Labtec's I use. I consider a well modified HW-8 to be like a HW-8-Pro :-) and it sure is fun using one while camping running off of the car battery or even lantern batteries!
I plan to create yet another HW-8 website or maybe a user group where pics and mods can be shared.
If a QRP kit company were to recreate an HW-8 clone kit (with a few more modern parts) and price it reasonably they would sell a ton of them!
VK5GI Rating: 5/5 Apr 11, 2009 01:34 Send this review to a friend
THE Benchmark Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my HW-8 off QRZ, took a little while to get to Oz, but boy, was it worth it. This is now the most used rig in the shack, although I have an IC-707, an SW-40+ and a RockMite. These HW-8s are the most modified rigs in radio history, and mine had the audio amp and the SWR metre modifications. The HW-8 is built like a tank, is virtually indestructible and cannot be even remotely compared with the disastrous HW-7 of blessed memory (which I also have, though sitting in the cupboard!). If you are in the market for a simple no-frills rig, then this is the one to buy. They come up frequently on EBay and flea markets so if one comes your way, buy it.
NP4ZB Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2008 18:34 Send this review to a friend
QRP FUN  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well I bought mine from ebay. The radio is in great shape for it's age. I was lucky to buy one without any mods. A real holly grail. I retune the the caps and coils, power out put is about 2.5 watts on all bands. I have had made some great qrp contacts with it no problem at all. Thwe cw tone sounds great I was told. Rate it a 5 because it soild as a rock no drifting. This radio is a keeper. If you are able buy one you can't go wrong with this one. It makes a great radio for base or camping with four bands to choose from. Long live QRP and CW forever.
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