About Heathkit, DX-60, HR-10 and perhaps more

Before getting into the actual restoration it might be prudent to revisit the company Heathkit and the products that are the objects of this restoration project. This is no attempt at competing with the enormous amount of information available on the net. Rather it will attempt to put the project in context.

Heathkit was one of the most well known makers of electronic kits. Their kits covered a very wide range of devices, both in complexity and application area. There were burglar alarms, automotive equipment, audio equipment, ultrasonic cleaners, clocks, remote control, computers, robotics and many many others.

Heathkit products were known for high kit quality, completeness of product, excellent documentation and good customer support. Where other kits often lacked the casing, Heathkit products came with stylish encapsulation, complete to the last screw. They had the slogan “we won’t let you fail”. Judging by chats I have had with a former employee, they actually meant it.

Among the more extensive product areas were test instruments and amateur radio equipment. The low cost and reasonable quality of the SB-line got them the nickname “poor mans Collins”. The HW-101 affectionately nick named “Hot Water 101” may have been one of the best selling rigs in amateur radio history. Millions were sold an built. Many still in operation. Another was the HW-8 that has its own book. It’s claimed to be the most popular QRP transceiver ever produced in kit form. It also happens to be the first radio I ever built.

Heathkit also bravely introduced the all solid state broadbanded SB-104 when the competition were still offering hybrids. It was not without problems and amateur kit builders were not all ready for this highly complex kit. I later built the much improved SB-104A, but that is a story for another time.

In Norway Heathkit was represented by Hauer Radio. Their price list was scary reading. We had to pay almost twice what the US guys could.

The “money saving kit form” slogan throughout their catalogs got more hollow by the years. Cheap high quality ready made equipment form Japan with more bells and whistles signaled the demise of kit building and the slow decline of Heathkit. They left the kit building business in 1992. Their educational branch kept on for years.

The brand name and trade marks have been bought by a small company offering a few overpriced kits. Anyone looking for the old Heathkit will be disappointed.

DX-60

From 1962 the DX-60 must have been tempting to American Novice hams. At the time Novice licensees were limited to crystal control and a maximum of 75W. This transmitter saved cost by not including the VFO that a Novice could not use anyway. Another cost saving was to have only one final tube, not two as was common at the time. There was still enough power for the maximum legal limit.

Once the Novice upgraded the DX-60 was ready for an external VFO and/or an external microphone for AM phone operation. AM was done inexpensively with controlled carrier screen grid modulation. This isn’t the optimum way to do AM, but it saves costs and gives ok results. Besides, the move away from AM to SSB was already happening at the time so the amateur interested in phone operation would soon upgrade to a new rig with SSB anyway.

In Norway there was never a crystal mandate so LA4FK most likely never used a crystal in this DX-60. He built a VFO that is part of my restoration project.

Newer versions, DX-60A and DX-60B were mostly cosmetic and cost saving changes. The original, which is the one I have, is the best looking one with the recessed meter in square frame.

The DX-60B lasted until 1976 which is a remarkable life time for a product with little changes. This speaks of success.

HR-10

Cost saving was also the key to success for the HR-10, the receiver companion to DX-60. An example is the IF filter that has not 8, not 6, not 4 but only two crystals. There is no provision for extra IF filters, so you have to live with that one for AM, CW and SSB.

Speaker is not included but there are sockets for both speaker and head phone.

Even the crystal calibrator is an option. Unfortunately I do not have one.

Interestingly, the Local Oscillator (LO) uses frequency doubling for the 15 and 10 meter bands. That is probably partly to blame for its reputation as insensitive on these bands. Also something that could be looked into for improvement.

The HR-10 was offered from 1961 and as HR-10B until 1975. Only the paint changed to wrinkle during that time. This goes to show that Heathkit did something right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.