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Author Topic: Heathkit HW-101 lucky find!  (Read 25921 times)

Posts: 5

« on: April 07, 2008, 08:08:04 PM »

   I have a friend that belongs to the local county radio club and got him to take me to the monthly meeting in hopes of getting material to study for my Ham license. While I was there I saw an old neat looking set up on a table in the club house. I thought it was set up and belonged to the club. Near the end of the meeting it turned out that the gear was a gift to the club and would be auctioned off. The gear consisted of:
Heathkit HW_101 Transceiver
Landliner speaker
Shure 520 SL mic
Shure 444 D mic
 Well I won the auction at $40! If that wasn't enough the gentleman that donated the equipment grabbed me on the way out and told me there was an antenna that went with the radio if I wanted it! That turned out to be a Butternut 6 band vertical! I was wondering if there were anymore Heathkit fans here and what they think of this equipment? Thanks!

Posts: 6092


« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2008, 08:44:14 PM »

Keep the Butternut and throw the Heathkit away.  You'll be money, time and effort ahead.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Posts: 5

« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2008, 09:15:32 PM »

    Well.... I was told this kit was put together by an electrical engineer,which I guess beats a 16 yr old kid putting it together while he's wondering if his girl friends coming by! Thanks!

Posts: 1

« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 02:26:18 AM »

Mark may not like the HW-101

i say keep the HW-101 and throw out the butterworth vertical

think its better to run a old not so hot rig
to a great antenna
than run a hot shot $7,000 rig in to a butterworth vertical

in its day the HW-101 was a very popular rig
Heathkit sold over 60,000 HW-101s

your a new op
just geting on the air
pump all the guys at the local club for help and info
the best and most help you can get
is from these guys

not here on the internet
where anybody can post anything

there has to be more than one old time op
in your club
that would just love to help you
get a station on the air

with the right help starting out
your better off with a old pile rig
on your own with a modern wizbang 2k rice box

the HW-101 not a modern a go go digital solid state rig

but its not a total pile of junk that Mark thinks it is

just hook 25 or 30 ft of any old wire
to the antenna connector

you can tune around the ham bands
and listen to whats happening

i still own a HW-101
and yes its not a modern rig
but in the right hands its a very usefull tool

yours truly

Mac dit dit

Posts: 5

« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008, 04:13:30 AM »

Hi Mac,
        Thanks for the encouraging words! Yes everyone at the club was very helpful and yes I noticed at age 52 years I was one of the youngest guys there. I was surprised when no one hardly bid on this setup! I shoot trap at my local Gun Club and I'm usually one of the younger guys there also! Don't know what the younger crowd is doing these days. I'm a Merchant Marine and have to go back to work(4 months) but want to try and get this station up so I can listen anyway. I have a Sony 2010 that I listen to the Hams on each morning in my shop but usually only get a one sided conversation. Was hoping with the Heath and a Butternut to be able to listen better anyway. Being an Engineer I've taken plenty of tests and hope to take my tech and general soon. Thanks!

Posts: 5639

« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008, 06:48:49 AM »

<<I  say keep the HW-101 and throw out the butterworth vertical>>

Your bias is showing.

Keep the Butternut!!!

There's nothing the matter with the Butternut. It is one of the best verticals on the market. Properly installed over about 50, 25' radials, it will be an excellent performer, especially for DX.

The people who routinely bad mouth verticals generally have never installed one over a proper radial field.


Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut

A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.

Posts: 2537

« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2008, 08:00:36 AM »

I vote that you keep the HW 101 and the Butternut. IN ITS DAY,  the HW 101 was a good, low cost, transceiver.  By today's standards the HW 101 leaves a lot to be desired, but it is still a fine entry level rig.  As I read your post, I assume you only want to listen.  Of course the HW 101 is a transceiver, but it will allow you to listen to all the HAM bands (no WARC and no 160 meters and no 5 MHz), with just a long wire.  I think you came out smelling like a rose getting all that gear for $40.  If you want to sell it, I will give you $50 for the Heath stuff and you can keep the Butternut.

Dick AD4U

Posts: 5

« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2008, 08:34:09 AM »

   Thanks Dick for the kind offer but I think I'll keep everything! Yes I made out very well and I even like the retro looks of the Heath just sitting on my desk.The gentleman that had it before said it works very well and all he ever had to do with it was replace one tube so hopefully it's put together well. I have full intentions of getting my Ham license but until then would just like to listen to people talk,always enjoy that while working in my shop. Thanks!

Posts: 5639

« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2008, 11:22:59 AM »


The Butternut is not a "plug and play" antenna, but it isn't that hard to set up, especially for just receiving. If there's no manual with it, you can download one from

Just follow the measurements in the manual for a start. They'll do fine for receiving.


Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut

A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.

Posts: 1109

« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2008, 12:23:47 PM »

Congratulation on winning the HW-101 setup. I
recommend keeping it! Although the HW-101 will not
be as selective as the modern day radios, it will
provide you with many hours of enjoyment and that's
all that really matters!

I'm presently restoring a 1978 HW-101 and HP-23A. I
recommend reading the manual so you can get familiar
with the HW-101 and the HP-23A. The HW-101 manual
has a section in the back that tells you how the
HW-101 works as does the HP-23A manual. I highly
recommend you read both sections thoroughly so you
understand what's going on with both units.

Depending on the year your HW-101 was marketed, the
final tubes may be 6146A's or 6146B's. If they
are 6146A's, don't panic and rush to replace them
with 6146B's. If the "A's" are producing good output
there's no need to replace them with 6146Bs!

I recommend reviewing a few documents. I've provided
the addresses below to access each document.

The first one has a link titled "The 6146 Family
of Tubes". Click on that link and read the document.
Pay close attention to "neutralizing" issues
pertaining to the different versions of the 6146

The second one is the Heathkit HW-101 Technical

Have gun and enjoy your HW-101.


Posts: 185

« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2008, 04:10:09 PM »

Years ago, when my son had his ticket (since lapsed, other major committments) I gave him my old 101. He loved it and it provided him with many hours of enjoyable amateur radio contacts. He passed it on to another French ham who also used it for quite some time. You may want something else later, but for now, enjoy it. For free, take...for cheap, keep.

Posts: 60

« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2008, 06:48:58 PM »

The HW-101 is a VERY good radio.   It doesn't have all the modern features.  It's main short fall is no RIT.

For everything else, it will hold it's own and it can be easily and inexpensively updated.

For CW, if it doesn't have it, you can add the Heathkit  400 Hz crystal filter.  If you want more selectivity on SSB, you can cascade (add) a second 2.1 kHz SSB in series with the first.  This eliminates filter blowby.  I have an SB-303 set up this way and you can hear the difference.

The HW-101 produces CW the right way, not by injecting a audio since wave like Collins did on the KWM-2.  So it's a better CW rig than Collins!

AADE and other vendors make inexpensive digital dials. AADE is the best integrated but any digital read out will improve your rig.  There are some inexpensive ones.

I believe that rig has ALC and two speed AGC.

You should also be able to replace the 6AU6 receiver front end with the more expensive 6HS6 used in the SB-102.  This will give you .35 uV receiver sensitivity and you'll be able to pull in the weak ones.

The 101 is a VERY good transceiver from the tube era.  

Have fun with it.

de ah6gi/4

Posts: 23


« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2008, 07:22:59 AM »

> Heathkit HW_101 Transceiver
> HP 23A PS
> Landliner speaker
> Shure 520 SL mic and Shure 444 D mic
> Well I won the auction at $40!

You did well!
I snagged a similar setup from our club sale. I've had
a lot of fun applying the many audio and stability
mods to it. Every time I've had it on the air, I've
snagged a contact right away. Signal reports
indicate good audio with it.

If you're into 'solder-smoke'... I highly recommend
the Heathkit Shop's HP-23RL update to the power supply:

Also good PDFs to have around (or print out) are the
'collected list of mods':

Hope to see you on the air with it!

Mike Yancey
Dallas, Texas

Posts: 1109

« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2008, 07:23:54 AM »

"You should also be able to replace the 6AU6 receiver
front end with the more expensive 6HS6 used in the
SB-102. This will give you .35 uV receiver sensitivity
and you'll be able to pull in the weak ones."

The HW-101's RF and first mixer's are already 6HS6.
No need to swap them out. However, in a pinch, a
6AU6 can be used as a substitute for a weak 6HS6.

The HW-101's does have an ALC circuit that controls
the overall RF output level of the transmitter but
only in sideband. CW and TUNE modes uses a negative
DC bias voltage obtained from the HP-23 power supply's
-130VDC bias voltage through the front panel's CW gain
control to control the HW-101's output, not the ALC

CW break-in uses grid blocking keying to the sidetone
oscillator amplifier, the first and second IF
amplifiers along with the driver. Relays RL1 and RL2
are energized by the RELAY amplifier by rectifying
the sidetone oscillator signal into a positive
voltage that is applied to the RELAY amplifier's
grid causing it to conduct, energizing relays RL1
and RL2. The sidetone is also fed to the second
audio amplifier stage so it can be heard in the
speaker or headphones. The sidetone does not appear
at the input to the speech amplifier nor is it use to
"modulate" the transmitter in CW mode.

The HW-101 does not have selectable AGC. The
receiver's AGC is produced by rectifying the output
of the second IF amplifier by the dual diode V13A/B.
The AGC hang time is controlled through the RC time
constance components R124/C124 and R117/C110. The AGC
voltage is then fed to the RF and both IF amplifiers
to control the receiver's gain. Manual gain
control is by varying a negative bias voltage through
the front panel's RF gain control. The negative bias
voltage is obtained from the -130VDC bias supply
from the HP-23 through the rear 11 pin socket pin 1.
This voltage is applied just as the AGC voltage is
to the grids of the RF and IF amplifiers.
Rotating the RF gain control counter clockwise
applies a higher negative bias voltage to the
grids of the RF and IF amplifier, lowering the
receiver gain. The opposite occurs by rotating
the RF gain control clockwise.


Posts: 24

« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2008, 10:55:10 AM »


I started out using an HW-101 when I first started in Ham radio (about 1989 or so).  A gentleman from my church, who worked for Heath (we lived in St. Joe, MI), put it together for my father and me.  It was a very nice, solid rig.  

I still have it, and am looking to get it going again, mostly for my father.  I'd like a newer rig to do digital

I say keep it.

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