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Reviews For: Heathkit SB-102

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Heathkit SB-102
Reviews: 35MSRP: 380.00
10-80 tube classic ham transceiver
Product is not in production
More Info: http://
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KG5FTK Rating: 2002-06-18
Piece of junk Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This was the worst piece of ham equipment I ever owned. The dial mechanism was el cheapo crap, the circuit boards were el cheapo material, the receiver sucked, the xmit audio was poor. The only xcvr worse was the HW 100. After I built mine 30 years ago, I sold it about 3 days after I finished it and bought a used 32s1 and 75s1. What a difference and the used Collins pair was not much more than what I paid for that SB102.
K8DE Rating: 2002-06-18
SB-101 Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I had one of these in about 1968-72 or so. Built it myself in high school. Like everybody else, a Collins KWM-2A was what I hoped this would approximate. Its 1khz readout and dial was close, as was its transmit quality. Its receiver and mechanics overall were not. On the other hand, it was abt $360 when the Collins was $1250 (Big money when the minimum wage was $1.25).

One of the issues in this radio as these things age, and it may be part of the peculiar instabilities people mention,is the construction used for the tube sockets.

As was true in the 60's and early 70's, there were radios that were "not quite tube/not quite transistor" circuitry hybrids as well as "not quite the old point to point wiring" vs "not quite the newer printed circuit boards" mechanical hybrids (PCBs being more usually seen in transistorized circuitry).

While the SB100, 101 and 102 were tube radios (with the exception I think of the LMO in the 102), they did come up with the less than great idea of mounting tube sockets on pc boards. On the one hand, it did save a lot of point to point wiring, and some potential errors for kit builders. It also added a durability issue or two. The boards were made of a relatively inexpensive substrate (vs, say a fiberglass substrate). The tube sockets were soldered into the board through holes in the board, much like you would with any other component. Unfortunately, over the years, those connections which are pretty good size, have gone through a lot of expansion/contraction cycles as the tubes throw a lot of heat into the region of the soldered connections. Add to the mix that a lot of new kitbuilders might not have made such great solder joints in the first place. As a result, if you look at any well used 100 series radio, the boards will have gotten pretty dark colored, especially ariund the socket pins, and some of the joints will look funky. Those joints can easily become intermittent and change from conductive to semi-conductive to open with vibration, heat and/or current flow through them. With about 20 tubes, you can figure on abt 160 such opportunities...and that's just with the tube sockets.

I'd never buy one of these without taking it out of the case and carefully examiniing the workmanship -- people were real variable in how they put them together.
NZ5L Rating: 2002-03-28
Poor man's Collins Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Back in the 70's I was bitten by the transceiver bug. They seemed so modern and compact next to the "boat anchors" most hams used. The SB-102 had a Collins type look and feel and that marvelous 1Khz readout. And it was very stable for its time, with good linearity. No one ever complained about the audio (I now think it was slightly under modulated - a VOMAX split-band processor and good desk mic gave considerable improvement on DX). By today's standards it seems primitive, but only 30 years ago, it was a smart looking, good performing basic rig. I was proud of mine, and even bought a second one at a flea market just 15 years ago. The nice big speaker looked and sounded good, and the power supply was very heavy duty. If I saw a good example of one going begging at a hamfest, I just might make some room in my shack for it again.
KC0LND Rating: 2002-03-28
Ok, but has some issues. Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I am writing about an sb 101-102 (modified 101 to be more like a 102)This is an all around good rig,it has a few issues, but works fine.
The rig lacks the stability that I would like, and sometimes goes into an unstable "rage" with bubbly sound, but often works stable, without a hitch. (I think this may be the work of tired tubes) if so, the only thing the rig lacks is rit.
fine for rag chewing, if you have a good way to calibrate it.
KU4AY Rating: 2002-02-17
Good rig for the money Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I give this rig a 5 simply because these things can be had for $100 or so.
I recently tryed to sell mine for $200 (with power supply and phone patch) at A hamfest and got laughed at! I was refered to the guy A few tables down with one for $100.
If you are A contester this is not your rig but, if you are A new ham, simply like rag chewing or don't have the $$ for A better rig then this would make A fine rig.
I did find that my tx power level will drop after A few minuites of opperateing, A muffin fan on top takes care of this.
The best thing, I think is the totally simple circuit layout. I have had no problems with it but if I did it would be no problem to repair.