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Reviews For: Heathkit HW-101

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

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Review Summary For : Heathkit HW-101
Reviews: 51MSRP: 399.00
The HW-101 is an HF (80 to 10 meter) amateur band SSB transceiv
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
SM0O Rating: 2023-02-16
Nostalgia with little fuzz but great fun! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The HW101 in my custody today is my third.
I have carefully restored the other two and sold them.
This one is untouched since it was built in 1974 or -75.
A rare find, dirt cheap, complete with Powersupply and the large speaker that can (and soon will) house the very same PSU.
The station works remarkable well on RX and can in some situations give my IC7300 a run for the money.
And oh, got the original mike as well, but that sounds like, well, sh*t to be honest so it will get another mike-capsule and that will cure it.
The output valves are worn, but still outs out 70W pep on my Bird43, so it is OK for now.

The reason I have not done the full mounty on this one yet, is simply because it works so well.
I do have all the tubes for it NOS, so someday...

The other two I restore and sold are still in use and , from what I have heard, performing 100% still.

It´s a easy to work, forgiving for beginners misstunings, tube radio. They are mostly very cheap today, but if you want to learn in detail how all circuits in a radio works, you hit the jackpot.
Every chapter in the manual will teach you all from the basics to the fundamentals and further on.

And the look and smell of tubes glowing in amber is hard to beat....
K4JPN Rating: 2021-08-28
Great Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Built my HW-101 way back in 1976 and used it continuously for the next 26 years till I built my K2. Developed a number of mods for it and have all the service bulletins on my web page.

Email me at QRZ address for mods, and Service Bulletins.

Pictures of my HW-101 at: QRZ page

I saw someone wanted a RIT for it, send me a EMail and I will send the 73 Magazine article for RIT. I put it in and worked great. See the picture of my QRZ page of the two knobs on either side of the S Meter, this is the RIT.

Along the way I picked up the Heath Digital Readout which made it really sweet.

I used a D-104 mic, found that the 6EA8 in the first stage of transmitter audio could be a problem with spurs on 10M and lack of drive. You can swap out the 6EA8 for a 6CQ8 with no rewiring and get plenty of audio drive and eliminate the problem of spurs on 10M.
WA9AFM Rating: 2021-08-27
Classic HeathKit! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
In Spring, 1972, I took a kit version of the 101 to the DEW Line with me. Took about two weeks to build doing it part time. The civilian radar techs cleared a space in the PMEL lab for me; a couple of them were hams, but inactive.

When it came time to align the radio, the lead tech asked if he could do the honors. I agreed and went to lunch. When I came back, I found the 101 hooked to every imaginable piece of HP test gear the lab owned; I thought the rig had cratered.

Several other techs had joined in the project and had the 101 receiver operating a better specs that Heath had designed it for. They also had gotten the carrier suppression a couple of dB further down than spec!!!

They presented me with a outstanding radio (for that day and age)!!

It performed very well over the next 10 months. I made a bunch of friends signing 'portable VE8'.

When I rotated back to the States, I traded the 101 in for a Collins KWM-2A. From time to time, I see a 101 at hamfests. Giving the tuning knob a twist brings back fond memories of Cape Parry (PIN Main), NWT, Canada.
W6SSP Rating: 2021-08-26
Excellent performer even today Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Some things are better than the sum of their parts and that is my opinion of the HW-101. We had one in our
college station in the mid-70's and it just worked
with few problems despite heavy use by many people
over many years.

Just completed the restoration of my second one, the
first being completed 5 or so years ago. It was like
re-discovering an old friend. The receiver is suprisingly
sensitive, doesn't overload as easily as most SS
rigs do and the transmitter is rock solid as is
VFO stability. What more could you ask of a tube
rig designed over 50 years ago?

Well maybe a noise blanker and RIT but this was
a budget radio so that needs to be taken into account.

Restoration starts with re-capping the power supply.
Don't skimp here. There are three or four electrolytics
in the rig itself which should be replaced. Weak tubes
and several out of spec resistors too. Alignment is
very 'grass roots' and going through it, wonder why
other rigs of similar design are so complex! Make sure
the coil shield is in place as it affects alignment and
these are often missing. Easy to make if needed.

The manual is top notch too. Well thought out and more
info included that just about anything other than some
military manuals.

Some will grouse "its an old radio that breaks all the time". Yeah, its old but once you've gone through one
it'll last for MANY years trouble free. That's been my
experience. Add an SB-200 amp and you have a very
respectable station for few greenbacks.
K7LZR Rating: 2017-02-27
Good, basic, functional radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've owned & used 5 of these radios over the years. Most of them needed repairs, and after performing same and using them for awhile, I eventually moved on to newer rigs.

I had one left, and it sat on my repair shelf here for just over 5 years. I finally decided to restore it and try it out. Took about two weeks to find all of the problems - it had many - and acquire needed parts. After finishing, it sits proudly on the operating table here and works very well.

I had forgotten just how well these rigs can perform. My HW-101 puts out 100-125 watts and sounds very nice on SSB with a high impedance ceramic hand microphone. The transmitted CW carrier is also very sharp & clean. The VFO is very stable after a 5-10min. warm up period. The receiver is quite sensitive as well, and it seems to hear most signals as well as my modern radios do.

To compare this to other rigs from its own time, I have also owned/used several Collins KWM-2 and Drake TR-3/4 series radios. I find that a properly built & aligned Heathkit HW-101 performs just as well as any of them for casual operating.

The HW-101 is also very easy to work on with its pc board construction which places most all of the parts on top of the chassis and within easy reach. The KWM-2 & Drake rigs use point-to-point wiring and component density is very high underneath the chassis which can make them hard to repair when needed.

After using many modern radios for years, I find that returning to the HW-101 feels wonderful. Even in this day of digital everything, the HW-101 is still a usable and enjoyable rig.
KI7AQJ Rating: 2016-06-09
Great fun & valve powered to boot! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I can't compare this to a modern transceiver just like I won't compare modern vacuum tubes made in China, Russia, Slovakia, or the Czech Repulic to new old stock vacuum tubes. These used a 6146 as a final RF power tube, and a 6146B should drop right in and Shuguang is making those. Besides the Shuguangs, a pretty good assortment of NOS used valves are still out there, and at decent prices. I have built, rebuilt and modified quite a few Heathkits, going back to when there was a Zenith Heathkit store about a mile from my house. These are just a solid little kit radio! I say little and I own a Yeasu 857 & 897, but I remember old hams that had transmitters the size of a refrigerator. I was building crystal radios as a child, and rebuilding guitar amps as a teenager, and I mean starting at age 13 too. If you follow the instructions, use an antenna tuner, or analyzer, these will work just fine. Grabbing an old one and firing it up expecting it to work, may be a problem. Bring it up on a Variac, and see what happens, read the manual, & work from there, and these are quite serviceable transceivers. If you have the speaker/power supply, BONUS POINTS! Not bad audio, but there are some tubes that can be substituted with or without rewiring sockets that make 10 meters work better and more reliably. I could not legally transmit until fairly recently, but I built a lot of Heathkit stuff for a lot of people, from TVs to clocks, to ham equipment, and I have probably repaired far more than I have built. These are a joy to repair. No microscope, no special SMD tools, just some basic test gear, hand tools, & solder. Follow the instructions, and these can last a very long time, and give quite good service. This stuff is old, so it will drift, but it is still very usable, repairable, and it just works. You can fix it and it will work again, and again. A neat old transceiver for back when electronics still had "user serviceable" parts inside. These were made back when things were made in such a way they could be repaired, and not just thrown away! I don't know how much about electronics you actually learned from building Heathkit stuff, aside from soldering skills, but you learned how to properly operate a valve transmitter with this one, or you wound up having someone like me fix it. Will components go out on these? You bet! Either they are getting old, you are doing something wrong, or both. Make sure you have the manual with this one! Be sure and read it too! Follow the instructions contained therein, and these are darn good little transceiver, especially for the time they were built, and at the price they sold for.
N7BAV Rating: 2016-03-27
Very Dated Design Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My first exposure to the HW-101 was in the 70's when my Elmer Leo, W7TMI (SK) lent me one to get me on the air. I worked over 20 states that year on CW with my Novice license using that radio. More recently I found one at a hamfest and with the help of a friend brought it back to life. I have it side by side with some other vintage equipment that allows me to do A/B comparisons with the flip of an antenna switch. The HW-101 receiver always loses in these contests. I love the old thing just for what it is but it is not a great radio. The design is very dated but easy to work on. Any used solid state radio in working condition is a better choice if you are looking to get into Ham Radio. If you do buy one, remember it will not work without it's own specialized power supply. Don't pay to much, these are not much of a collectors item.
KK4MRN Rating: 2015-03-27
Good HF transceiver that glows Time Owned: more than 12 months.
A ham gave me his old Heathkit HW-101 and HP-23 power supply. It did not work. Some local hams (Elmers) helped me get the receiver working. Then eventually the transmitter. One ham came over to show me how to set it up and make a contact - first contact was a ham in the state of New York on 40 meters. So from Richmond, Virginia to New York is not bad.

If you REALLY want to learn about HF and what it takes to get on the air - this is a radio to learn. I had to learn how to tune the radio for receiving before you do anything else, such as, use the Preselector to peak the noise. The Manual for the HW-101 tells you how to do this in the chapter on Operating. The manual also tells you how to diagnose issues and fix them. This same manual was used by a ham in the past to build the radio - so you KNOW exactly what is in the radio.

I have a Heathkit SA-2040 Antenna Tuner too. So, I learned how to properly tune the radio for low SWR.

This is not something you can get from a book or watching a video online. Well, maybe you can, but there is nothing like getting hands on advice from various Elmers in person showing you how to properly operate a radio.

Sure, the HW-101 does not compare to the bells and whistles in modern solid state radios, but this radio was a great starter rig for me.

Yes, the HW-101 drifts, but you just leave the radio on for awhile to warm up then it is not so bad. Besides, if you get on a rag chew on 80 or 40 meters, most hams won't care that you drift if they know you are using old gear.

Plus, the radio glows in the dark... lights up the room... And has that old tube smell after using it awhile...
N5KPK Rating: 2015-02-24
Love it! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Can it compare to my FT-950? No. But there's something about the tube radios the beckons. I don't know if it's the glow, the smell, or actually having to work to tune it up. I have spent many enjoyable hours with this radio. Mine came from the estate of a SK. I'm the 3rd owner and the two previous owners took very good care of her. Mine came with the manuals and SB-600 pwr supply/speaker. I did do the mod for the headphone jack to allow "modern" headphones to be used. I have had people with $multi-K radios remark how good it sounded and when they ask what I'm running and I tell them, you can hear crickets chirping. No it doesn't have the fancy stuff we're all used to and take for granted and spoiled with. But when it needs work, you will be able to work on it and have the room to do so. Do I still use it? Yes. Will I ever stop using it? I seriously doubt it. If you are new to the hobby and new to HF, get one and keep it at least for a while and learn how a real radio works ;)
WB7QXU Rating: 2013-12-04
Great Transceiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I love to use my Hw-101 it is really fantastic and hears well. Great Audio and Great overall. The Receiver is every bit as sensitive and my Collins and Drakes. It is a Hot Receiver and amazing for a Kit back then and the cost was so much cheaper than more expensive rigs. As far as I am concerned it will hold up to any more expensive rig in its day and even do well with Icom. I also have a SB-102 which is also amazing. This is no slouch but a tough Rig. 6146 are real great finals and it takes a beating and still works.