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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: 32 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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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.
N2OLP Rating: 5/5 Jun 16, 2006 08:04 Send this review to a friend
Great little rig.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
It was my first rig as well, getting it around 1979-1980 also while waiting for my Novice license to arrive. I literally used thin magnet wire taped to the ceiling of my second floor apartment, bent every which way to get a low SWR and then began to work whoever would answer me. My next radio was a Century 21 and was certainly better by far, but still, for being a rig that you can build, the HW-8 is tops.
KA4DQJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 6, 2005 16:45 Send this review to a friend
Memories  Time owned: more than 12 months
The HW-8 was my first ham radio. I built it in the summer of '78 while waiting for my Novice license to arrive.

By the time the license finally arrived in September, I was already set up with the HW-8 feeding a single band dipole up at 30 feet. The first ham contact of my life was on the little HW-8 with KA6APE that day.

That was 27 years ago. I eventually went on to bigger and better things, but wish that all things in life brought as much excitement as that little rig.
N7EKX Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2005 01:42 Send this review to a friend
23 Years of Fun  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased and built this kit in 1982, shortly before it was replaced by the more modern HW-9. The direct conversion receiver certainly won't please everybody (with double-sideband reception, a pretty obsolete design), but this rig was never meant to be state-of-the-art, even in 1978. It was designed to be a quick, cheap way for hams to enjoy the thrill of QRP, and for that mission, it was (and still is) enormously successful. The only tricky part of construction for me was the push-button bandswitch, which seemed overly crammed with wiring, but even that worked OK the first time. Over the past 23 years the rig has never missed a beat, and it's hard to describe the thrill of working DXCC with 2 watts output, something most hams can't relate to. Of course the design is dated, the audio filter is a joke, and those funky green headphones make you scream, but who cares? When you work rare DX with this thing, all is forgiven!!
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