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Thread: Heathkit is back!

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Cool Heathkit is back!

    The name behind some pretty cool and educational electronic kits from many years ago is back. I've built a few Heathkit devices and they were great learning experiences which left me with some good and modestly priced instruments when I was done. I hope they'll be able to regain their footing and become a major player again.


  2. #2
    Flashaholic russthetoolman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    awesome, I have two of the portable depth flashers, I like them way better than the new lcd depth finders

  3. #3

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    My dad got a heathkit stereo back in the 70s... solid state 50 watts rms and it still works. he bought a tv set that was ultrasonic remote controlled and when I decided to get a tv set I got a heathkit 19 inch remote tv that lasted 15 years before the remote receiver went out on it so you couldn't use a remote with it. I sold it for $10 as my mom won an rca tv I used instead after she passed away. Somehow I don't think they are going to offer zenith tv sets or stereos again.
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  4. #4
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    I built their color bar generator and a transistorized VOM (a big deal in the days of VTVMs). They both still work. I remember that the color bar generator used Motorola RTL logic that ran on 3.6 volts. It was one of the first commercially available digital logic families. As I recall the workhorse chip in that unit was the MC789P counter.

    I think that Heathkit is following on the coat-tails of the growing interest in the "Maker" community and stores like Sparkfun.com and Makershed.com. Good for them!

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* BVH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Man, a blast from the past! I still have and occasionally use the dwell/volt meter I built back in the early 70's.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Ya they have been a good company.Building a hw-101 tranciever and a sb-301 reciever plus a sb-104 transmitter talken to the world over ooorah cq all over again

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    I don't know guys, I just checked out their site....

    From someone who has built and worked on more than a few of their products (light dimmer, HW101, OScope, SB104, wattmeters, dummy loads), I am somewhat disappointed. Let's hope their current selection is just a start and will be expanding.

    Also, why are they offering plain-jane 40 Mhz oscopes for $700? Anyone that's been a serious hobbyist knows that you go out and buy a good scope front-end with some buffering and use a PC for all of the grunt work... I was hoping to see them offer a USB-based 'scope and then follow it up with a USB analyzer. PC-based peripherals is the direction where the low-end/hobbyist world went. Heathkit needs to be doing this as well, for a bunch of reasons.

    I look forward to seeing them succeed, but fear that they'll have to do better than their current offerings, otherwise, they won't. And hopefully they'll give this a chance to succeed and not quit if they don't see an ROI after 6 months. It takes time to "get the word out" and build a product line, and take feedback from users as what needs improving and new product offerings.

    Take advantage of the PC as a general computing platform and provide specialty front-end modules to enhance. Who doesn't own a PC at this point?

    They need to sponsor some open-source software projects also. Pay some people to go out and write some software for some new module that they will offer, get people excited to go out and buy and build the kits, download the software and have fun, that's what Heathkit used to be all about.
    Last edited by Closet_Flashaholic; 08-31-2011 at 10:34 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Cool! I had some Heathkit stereo speakers back in the late 70's early 80's. First electronics project I ever built. I suppose that is one of the reasons I enjoy modding flashlights. My neighbor had a Heathkit television it took seven years to build. The picture was awesome but I don't think I could have the patience for a project that lengthy and involved. Thanks for for info PhotonWrangler!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quest4fire View Post
    Cool! I had some Heathkit stereo speakers back in the late 70's early 80's. First electronics project I ever built. I suppose that is one of the reasons I enjoy modding flashlights. My neighbor had a Heathkit television it took seven years to build. The picture was awesome but I don't think I could have the patience for a project that lengthy and involved. Thanks for for info PhotonWrangler!
    Your neighbor must have been rather slow at building stuff. My dad bought a heathkit tv set in the 70s and he and I built it in a few weeks or so. It had an ultrasonic remote control with a motorized channel changer and volume control. We had to send in for a replacement picture tube about a month later as one of the guns was defective in it. My dad bought a heathkit 50 watt stereo (solid state) a few years later and it still works today. It took a few weeks to assemble too.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Your neighbor must have been rather slow at building stuff.
    Yeah, he had several interests/hobbies so it was not the only demand on his time. The TV was one of those big console jobs. He also built a stereo, ham radio equipment and some hand held things. I know people who built houses themselves and it didn't take seven years!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quest4fire View Post
    Yeah, he had several interests/hobbies so it was not the only demand on his time. The TV was one of those big console jobs. He also built a stereo, ham radio equipment and some hand held things. I know people who built houses themselves and it didn't take seven years!
    The TV my dad and I built was a 25 or 26 inch and it had several cabinet choices including a console. The TV did have a lot of components on the main board as it was solid state. I later bought a heathkit tv that was a zenith system 3 chassis and assembled it. There was only one thing you had to really build and it was a board to align the picture tube guns everything else was modular. I think for the most part that is why heathkit lost a lot of its luster as it used to be about the same price (or even slightly cheaper) to build a heathkit than buy a comparable item. When things got too modular then it wasn't as much building rather than assembling them. My "heathkits" was building a PC from parts and installing software from the OS up.
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  12. #12
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Well, that didn't last long. Heathkit is closing up shop again. They put out a call for kits and there just wasn't much of a response.

    RIP Heathkit (again). It was fun while it lasted.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Well Heathkit was there, then they were gone, then they were back, then they were gone again.

    Now they're back again. Third time's a charm?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    I wouldn't hold my breath as it doesn't look like much to speak of you can find more kits on Ebay from China than on their site.
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  15. #15
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    They can't afford to ride on the coat-tails of the Heathkit name anymore; they need to bring something new to the table. Unfortunately for them, the makerspace world already has some well established players selling the latest devices and kits now (Sparkfun, Adafruit, Seeed Studio for instance). These guys inhabit the segment of the hobbyist community that Heathkit used to dominate, and it's going to be a tough road to catch up with them. I would like to see them give it a try, of course. They need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    I had some old HK ham radio gear from back in the day. I didn't build them, I just acquired them. I ended up giving them away. They were older than me. Neat part was that whom ever built them had signed their name in pencil on the bottom of the cases. Wish he had put a call sign or something other than a signature that I could not make out. I bet he/she? would have been proud to know the gear was still working and usable 40 plus years later. I am only guess the builder had passed by now. Seems most of the Ham crowd is a bit older.
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  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Thank you for posting this.


    ( Several times now, I see . . . . )



    Heathkit will always have a soft spot in my heart !


    Just hope they don't SCREW IT UP ! ! !



    _

  18. #18
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    They're trying to sell their single offering, a TRF radio kit, for $150. Really? Sure it's a nice case, and the no-solder approach might entice some youngsters who aren't comfortable with a soldering iron yet, but a TRF receiver just isn't that good. Their web page for the kit states that it has "performance superior to the vintage radios of 1930." That's a pretty weak claim. Why not at least a superhet radio for that price, or even an FM radio? A TRF AM radio is going to work terribly in a modern home that's full of microcontrollers and electronic lamps, all radiating lots of RFI.

    They need to do much better than this if they're hoping to recapture the market they're looking for. I really want to see them succeed this time.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    I'm still running a Heathkit Wiper Delay in my old CJ7 to this day. The knob has been broken off a few times but other than that it just keeps on working.
    #75

  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Nice, jdboy. Yeah they put out some quality stuff in their heyday.

    One thing that used to bug me though was their house numbering on the semiconductors. If I recall correctly a lot of their part numbers looked like 441-xxx, and it was hard to find cross references to industry standard JEDEC part numbers. It was a cheesy attempt to force their customers to buy replacement parts from them. In doing this, they missed an opportunity to familarize their customers with industry standards.

    That's really my only complaint. In general I've had good experiences with their products.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Heathkit is back!

    Back in the days you could buy a Heathkit "Computer" based on the PDP-11 LSI. it was expensive as heck.

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