W3DX Heathkit Page


Heathkit Page

Devoted to the art of building amateur radio kits

by Robert Capon, W3DX (formerly WA3ULH)

Collector of Unbuilt Heathkits and author of the QST article:

"Build a One Watt  Transmitter in a Kodak Film Box?"

Table of Contents


          I just love to build kits.  I always have.  It's my favorite aspect of amateur radio.  I really enjoy talking to people all over the world on radio equipment that I've built myself.  I've built about a dozen transceiver kits, along with many station accessories and antennas.  That's why I built this web site devoted to the art of building amateur radio kits.

          Because of my interest in building amateur radio kits, I've had a special interest in Heathkit, and have assembled a collection of numerous unassembled Heathkits.  Why the fascination with Heathkit?  I suppose I'm just nostalgic.

          That's one of the key reasons that I've developed this web site.  I wanted to have a way to share photographs of my Heathkit collection, so you can experience opening a Heathkit transceiver, and inspecting its contents.  I also wanted to share some of my favorite Heathkit resources.

          Even though Heath is no longer in the amateur radio kit business, there are a number of excellent companies who offer some top notch kits.  Typically these companies are one person operations that offer just a handful of products; not like the Heath style 100-page catalogs offering kits from a-through-z. These companies can be hard to track down, so this site provides resources to help you get in touch with them, so that perhaps you can discover the joy of kit-building.

          This site also provides a list of articles that I've written relating to amateur radio kit building and projects.  These articles have been published mainly in QST and in 73 Magazine.  I have also written: "Building Your First Transceiver Kit, Ten Tips for the First Time Builder", and the "Itty Bitty Station Lamp" which were created for this web site.

Collection of Unbuilt Heathkits

          My collection of Unbuilt Heathkits centers mainly on amateur radio transceivers and accessories, although I also collect other kits.  My collection now includes numerous kits, including the following transceivers: HW-30 ("Benton Harbor Lunch Box" or "Twoer"), HW-12A, HW-101, HW-8, HW-9, HW-99, HW-2021 and HW-5400.  My amplifiers include the SB-221 and SB-1000.  I have several kits that have become quite rare, including the GC-1A Mohican shortwave receiver (the only one in my collection from Heath's native american series), the AC-1 antenna tuner from 1953 (one of Heathkit's very first amateur kits) and the CA-1 Conelrad alarm, a relic of the Cold War designed to prevent enemy missiles from homing in on your amateur radio transmission!

Articles on Kit Building and Other Projects

          I have written a number of articles on amateur radio kit building and other ham radio projects.  The following is a lit of these articles, which have been mainly published in QST and in 73 Magazine.  Most of these articles were published under my previous call sign, WA3ULH, before I changed my call to W3DX in 1996.  

          The first two articles, "Building Your First Transceiver Kit, Ten Tips for the First Time Builder" and the "Itty Bitty Station Light!" were written for this web site, and have not been published elsewhere.  These articles are linked to the web site.

  • "Building Your First Transceiver Kit, Ten Tips for the First Time Builder"  Select this article to pick up ten tips for building your first kit.

  • "Itty Bitty Station Light"  Select this article to see a miniature trail-friendly lamp to attach to your QRP rig.

  • "What's new in kits?"  73 Magazine, March 1996, pp22.  Reprinted with permission.

  • "Review of KC2 Multi Function Transceiver Accessory." 73 Magazine, March 1997, p33.

  • Compact Loop Antenna Notes  These notes are an addendum to my article in QST cited below.  The notes provide tips and techniques for getting the most out of your loop antenna.

  • "The New Index Laboratories QRP Plus Transceiver".  73 Magazine, March 1996, p44.

  • "Build a Lightweight 20 Meter Vertical."  QST, December 1995, p64.

  • "A Solar-Powered Field Day."  QST, May1995, p60.

  • "Harker's Island on the Air!"  QST, February 1995, p53.

  • "Build an HF Walking Stick Antenna."  QST, December 1994, p72.  (Also published in "The Best of the New Ham Companion").

  • "A Fishing Tackle HF Station To Go!"  QST, November 1994, p67.

  • "Build a One Watt  Transmitter in a Kodak Film Box?"  QST, October 1994, p64.  (Also published in the ARRL's QRP Power and The Best of the New Ham Companion).

  • "Build a 12V Junction Box."  QST, August 1994, p54.  (Also published in the ARRL's 1996 Handbook and The Best of the New Ham Companion).

  • "You Can Build A Compact Loop Antenna for 30 Through 12 Meters."  QST, May 1994, p33.

  • "Working Satellite RS-12, The Ultimate Satellite Primer."  QST, February 1994, p58.  (Winner of the ARRL cover plaque award).

  • "My Recent Experiences with QRP."  RadioFun Magazine, October 1993, p7.

Photos of Unbuilt Heathkits

          Because Heathkit is no longer in business making amateur radio kits, very few people can experience opening a Heathkit transceiver, and inspecting its contents.  So I have taken a series of photographs detailing the contents of the Heathkit HW-8 QRP transceiver from the mid 1970's.  

Photos of Radios and Projects That I Have Built

          I've built about a dozen radios in my ham radio career, as well as many ham radio accessories.  The following are photos of some of my favorite projects.  As you can see, my kits are customized with a number of accessories.  My Wilderness Sierra is customized with the KC2 digital display, a clock, a set of Kent paddles mounted underneath, and an "Itty Bitty Book Light" for use when I'm camping.  

Links to Other Heathkit Resources

          Here are links to some of my favorite Heathkit resources:

Links to My Favorite Amateur Radio Kit Manufacturers and Other Kit Resources

          Here are links to some of my other favorite kit building resources:

  • Norcal QRP Club.  This site is devoted to QRP enthusiasts, and provides wonderful QRP projects, and links to commercial sites and clubs.  A must see.
  • Wilderness Radio.  Makers of the Sierra and Norcal 40, very low current drain trail friendly radios with superlative performance.
  • Elecraft.  Makers of the K-2 QRP rig.
  • Oak Hills Research.  Makers of the OHR-400 four band transceiver along with a robust product line of other QRP transceivers and accessories.
  • S&S Engineering.  Makers of a number of amateur radio transceivers and accessories, including the TAC-1 single band synthesized rigs.
  • Small Wonder Labs.  Makers of a line of amateur radio transceiver kits, including the Green Mountain and White Mountain kits.
  • LDG Electronics.  Makers of the nifty automatic antenna tuner kits.
  • Almost All Digital Electronics.  Makers of several kits, including a digital frequency display kit.  The web site has an extensive library of kit-building web links.
  • Vacuum Tubes Unlimited.  There are numerous suppliers of vacuum tubes on the Internet.  Here's the one that I have used.  To find others, use search engines like Altavista and look up "Vacuum Tubes".
  • NTE.  This site features an on-line semicondutor cross reference database.
  • Transistor Cross Reference Database.  Another excellent semiconductor cross reference tool.
  • N3EYR's Radio Link Page.  A very comprehensive list of amateur radio sources on the Internet.

Accessing the Internet Heathkit List

          An Internet news group of Heathkit enthusiasts has been formed.  The list is an excellent resource for all aspects relating to Heathkit including buying, selling and trading equipment; troubleshooting equipment; Heathkit history; finding manuals; etc.  To join the list, send a message to the following e-mail address: "LISTSERV@LISTSERV.TEMPE.GOV" (do not use quotation marks).  In the subject field and in the text of the e-mail message, send the following command: "SUBSCRIBE HEATH John Q. Doe" (without quotes).  YOU CANNOT SEND E-MAIL TO THE LIST UNTIL YOU JOIN!  

          After you've joined the list, you'll receive an e-mail message explaining how the service works.  The news group also offers a daily digest.  Once you're a member of the news group, you may subscribe to the daily digest by sending an e-mail message to the following e-mail address: "LISTSERV@LISTSERV.TEMPE.GOV".  In the subject field and in the text of the e-mail message, send the following command: "SET HEATH DIGEST".  Again, once you've joined, you'll have e-mail privileges.

20 Meter Swap Net

It has been reported that there is a Heathkit swap net each week on 20 meters.  The net is reported to operate on Sunday, at 14,293 Khz at 2030 UTC.  I have not yet logged into the net, so will post more details as I obtain them.

Copyright 1997, Robert S. Capon, All Rights Reserved