Back from the “Dead”!

Well, I had some time with the holidays here (yeah, I really am supposed to be retired) and finally got around to working on some “kinda new” items – well, new to me anyway!  I’ve been busy in the Dog House!

PART 1 – I got a Heathkit HW-8 QRP CW transceiver a few months back (yeah, like in March at Orlando Hamcation……) for real cheap. Got it for $120 and it was in cosmetically good shape, probably an 8/10. Fella said it worked fine – but I figured it would need work; they always do. I also got the HWA-7-1 AC Power Supply; an Oak Hill WM-1 QRP Watt Meter in pristine shape; and a like new MFJ-4070 Electronic Keyer too!  Whadda deal! The Watt Meter still sells for $150, and the Keyer lists on MFJ at $100!  Plus I got the radio and PS……Wow!

The HW-8’s serial number is 00611, so it’s probably one the earlier model production units. It’s been sitting in The Dog House (shack) ever since, waiting for me to fire it up.  The HWA-7-1 Power Supply is in excellent shape, cosmetically and electronically.  I’m thinking, like a lot of folks, this fella probably got the radio and accessories from someone thinking QRP radios are no different than those 100W commercial rigs – then found out these radios (especially these old ones) are not for “appliance operators” or folks used to putting out 100W and a beam.  Working QRP is really a skill and can be frustrating to someone who “jumps in” without the mindset of, “I’m gonna’ hear stations and they are probably not gonna’ hear me” a lot of times.  2W output is really some low power!  BUT I LOVE THIS STUFF (I’ve also been around a while……and do QRP because I love the challenge).

The Heathkit HW-8 Serial # 00611  –  just worked KD2OMV in N Y – 2W out

So yesterday (Monday afternoon) I put it on the bench – and I was right – It did need work. It had an added an S-meter circuit and LED lighting, but it didn’t hear well – actually didn’t hear signals on any band – and only had just over a watt output on 80/40/20. I couldn’t find the transmit signal on my calibrated receiver, so I knew it was way out of whack. I removed the LED strip, and after a full alignment, and it was back to specs. Just over 2W out on 80/40/20, and almost 1.5W on 15M. I put it on the air  on 20M and worked KD2OMV in NY with a 349 RST. Eureka, it’s alive!  The receiver seems pretty good and all works as it should.

PART 2 – A few weeks back, while at the Silver Springs Hamfest tailgate area, Nikki KM4SBQ and I were walking around looking at the “stuff” and I spotted another HW-8. This one, was not looking so good. The top cover was all scratched up and it looked like it had been re-painted (and a real bad job of it too).  The back panel was slightly bent, it was missing one of the band switch buttons and also missing some screws. The controls were tight. Cosmetically a 5/10.  I figured I could use a parts radio. When I asked what he wanted for it, he said make an offer. I told him I’d give him $20. He kinda balked, and said the radio worked. I told him, “Thanks, but I was just looking for a parts radio” and started to walk away. He replied, “I’ll take it”. I gave him the $20 and took the radio. Nikki laughed and couldn’t believe he parted for it for the $20. I told her it probably didn’t work, but there was at least that much in value for the parts I could glean out of it.

The “innards” of the Heathkit HW-8 Serial # 01623 – Wowee, it’s really clean and well built!

I put this on one the bench yesterday too……and it did work, just like he said. It hissed in the headphones when I turned it on. It was just so far out of alignment, I had to go through it three times before I got it into specs. Also had to clean and lube the switches and controls, but they cleaned right up. I was quite surprised when I took off the cover – this one inside was cleaner and it actually puts out a bit more power (almost 2.5W on 80/40/20, same 1.5W on 15M).  The receiver also seemed a bit quieter. I fired it up on 20M and worked VA4SMC in Winnipeg and got a 559 RST. Eureka, this one is alive too! This one has serial number 01623, a newer, later production model.  There were several earlier Service Bulletins put out by Heath, and they incorporated these updates/upgrades/corrections into current production models as the radio continued to sell.  I’m thinking that this one has some of those improvements over the earlier radio.

A few months back (August) I ordered some “updates” for the HW-8 from KC9ON, 3rd Planet Solar https://kc9on.com/product-category/qrp-accessory-kits/. John provides small board kits for the HW-7/8 that can really upgrade the performance. I purchased the QSK solid state T/R switch ($8); the LM386 Audio Amp Board ($8); and the Reverse Polarity Board ($6). I built all three boards yesterday afternoon.   I also acquired an MFP102 FET Transistor ($1.50) for the receiver front end amp and some 20pf caps ($1.90 for all 20!) for the receiver front end filters that will increase sensitivity and peak the front end better; and I also found an NTE488 Power Transistor ($7) to replace the final amplifier (a direct replacement that will increase 80/40/20M to 3.5 to 4W, and 2.5W on 15M). Over the next few days I’ll be installing these in the Part 2 #01623 newer radio, along with dial/meter lighting and a few other modifications.  Each install will be followed by an alignment.  I will do before and after recordings of levels on the VTVM and watt meter scales to see the improvements. Should be interesting!

BUT WAIT…..PART 3!!!  (There’s always more to the story, Paul Harvey!)

Earlier today, I received an e-mail from the HW-8 “groups.io” server site – a fella was selling an HW-7 already cleaned up and parted out.  The printed circuit board is almost complete – but the remaining parts and hardware are already removed and separated.  You would have to “rebuild the radio” – but all the parts were there.  INCLUDING A FULL SET OF BAND SWITCH BUTTONS!  Plus, the heterodyne, mixer coils, and other hard to find electronic components and parts and hardware are shared with the HW-8.  HE WANTED $20!!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  It’s on it’s way to me USPS Priority mail! 

It’s been lucky for me!  Looks like I’ll have an excellent condition, stock built working HW-8…….and an HW-“Super 8” radio to add to the barn. Plus a stock of replacement parts for the bench.

Stay tuned for more……and….HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

2 thoughts on “Back from the “Dead”!

  1. Nice Steve, that takes me back some years. I don’t have the number of my HW8, unfortunately it was destroyed in a fire. It sounds like you have a new interest that will capture you for some time. Fortunately, there is a lot of information out there on Heathkit products. I just suddenly thought about the fact I have a new in the shipping box tuner that I have never assembled. Enjoy the journey and keep us informed. Happy New Year, de Barry, ab4ql

    • Thanks Barry…..yeah, I had one of these back in the late 70’s, but sold it later when I got married. Since I do all the portable QRP stuff now, it makes sense to have one again. Nice to have a distraction with all the COVID restrictions around.
      73, and HNY!!!

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