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Author Topic: Is there a good tube type SSB receiver or transceiver kit comercially available?  (Read 1133 times)
KD0ZGW
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Posts: 988




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« on: May 21, 2019, 01:55:08 PM »

Still consider myself a rookie.  I've learned a lot and still find myself on a steep learning curve which is fine and a big part of why I like the hobby.

I learn best by building things.  Looking for a kit to build.  I can solder and read a print but I haven't actually built
anything since I was a kid, long, long, ago.

I've looked at the BitX kits and they look excellent and have great reviews but I'd like to build a tube based device just because I'm old.

thx to anyone taking the time to offer advice.

KD0ZGW
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KX4QP
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 04:16:10 PM »

The only tube type transceiver kit I've seen (and I've been looking, off and on, for months) is the "Electronic tube three lamp QRP station" kit, available from AliExpress and Newegg (I'd recommend paying the higher NewEgg price, as you can then deal with an American contact if there are problems).  We've got a thread going about this kit over in the QRP section; one poster has it partially built, the other two of us who bought kits have received them (I haven't even opened the box yet, but there's a 3-day weekend coming up).  Delivery time from China ran around three weeks, very typical of "China direct" shopping.

It's a battery powered two-tube regen receiver with a crystal controlled one-tube transmitter and, if built per the schematic, will have +90V on the key contacts (is that nostalgic enough?).  At this voltage it ought to put out around a watt, which (on 40m CW) is enough to work a continent with a good antenna.  The instructions are a little sketchy, and are in Chinese (there's a translation link in the QRP thread).  This is not Heathkit, this is "box of parts and schematic" kit building -- which is how most novices around 1950-1955 would have built their stations.  I'm looking forward to getting some building time.
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KD0ZGW
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2019, 06:46:03 PM »

KX4QP - thx for link.  I will look into it.
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KE4OH
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Posts: 221




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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2019, 05:11:02 AM »

A trick you might not have thought about: Buy an old tube rig and "re-kit" the thing. Seriously. Doing this is fairly common.

Gently take the thing apart. Replace all electrolytic and wax paper tubular capacitors. Replace way-any out-of-spec resistors. Clean the chassis. Put it back together. This method works best with a rig that was originally a kit, since the build and alignment instructions are available and explicit. Heathkits are real good candidates for this treatment.
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73 de Steve KE4OH
KX4QP
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2019, 04:10:47 PM »

A trick you might not have thought about: Buy an old tube rig and "re-kit" the thing.

This ought to be a good option.  There are Heathkit SB and HW series transceivers on eBay any given day for reasonable money (not what I call cheap, but a lot less than a new SDR transceiver), and the full original instructions are readily available as well, cheap if not free.  These are "real" radios, CW or SSB on 80/40/20/15/10 bands, VFO tuning, a limited pi-network antenna matcher built in, and nominally 100W output.  They don't, as far as I know, use any exotic or hard to replace tubes, they use what was common and inexpensive in the 1960s.  As a bonus, the external power supply means you can ensure the power is good before you hook up 800V to your tube plates.

Go at it like an ordinary kit builder, and you'll wind up with a good used radio that you know inside and out.  Apply a little obsession, and you can get a unit that looks exactly like you just finished building from a new kit, ca. 1968.
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KE4OH
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2019, 06:27:50 AM »

They don't, as far as I know, use any exotic or hard to replace tubes, they use what was common and inexpensive in the 1960s.

Right! The Heath HW- and SB- lines have only a very few tubes that are a little expensive to replace. But they are very available. What a lot of folks don't understand is that tube failure is fairly rare. They do go bad, but it doesn't happen that often. There is *no* reason at all to buy a new set of tubes when re-furbishing or re-kitting an old rig. Only replace any tubes known or suspected to be bad. The vast majority of old tubes in an old rig will outlive the owner.
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73 de Steve KE4OH
G3RZP
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Posts: 1165




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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2019, 02:50:38 PM »

Go back to the ARRL handbooks of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
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KC1GCG
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2019, 09:50:21 PM »

Ah alas don't we miss the Heathkit days..... As mentioned and what I do to feed that bug is pick up old rigs, even Hali SW recievers and rework them. Also picked up a Heathkit Maurader recently for $60 and that will be my winter project.
Gotta keep sniffing solder ..... It is life:)
Best regards k1jrf,
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K0UA
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2019, 06:12:33 AM »

Ah alas don't we miss the Heathkit days..... As mentioned and what I do to feed that bug is pick up old rigs, even Hali SW recievers and rework them. Also picked up a Heathkit Maurader recently for $60 and that will be my winter project.
Gotta keep sniffing solder ..... It is life:)
Best regards k1jrf,

In the last couple of years even though I am getting along in years, I decided to get into working on SMD (Surface Mount Devices) rigs. Yes replacing those pesky little components like 100 leg CPU chips and other tiny components in modern rigs.  Far more fulfilling than messing around with ancient technology like tubes. One does need to be careful not to sneeze when placing some of the smaller ones less they go flying across the room never to be seen again.  Yes a long long time ago when I wore a young mans clothes I too worked on my share of things with tubes in them.  BUT I decided to "keep up" as I grew old instead of reminisce.  If it doesn't have a CPU in it, I am not much interested.  Smiley  Each to their own.  73  James K0UA.  (old curmudgeon but still learning)
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VA3VF
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2019, 06:20:07 AM »

I've looked at the BitX kits and they look excellent and have great reviews but I'd like to build a tube based device just because I'm old.
https://www.thenewameco.com/
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K6BSU
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2019, 04:41:16 PM »

I would not recommend stripping a radio down to parts and re-building. Consider those with discrete parts on a giant PC board.  Unsoldering parts often results in lifted or broken traces.  You could make a big mess of a PC board in a hurry.
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