Does Anyone Remember Heathkit?

This may be dating me and showing what a total electronics geek I am by revealing this, but there are more than a few pieces of Heathkit electronics kits I bought and built when I was in my teens and twenties.

While very few of the younger electronics enthusiasts have likely ever heard of Heathkit, they were a staple of a lot of do-it-yourself fans for almost 60 years. For years ham radio operators bought and built all kinds of Heathkit test equipment (VTVMs, oscilloscopes, signal generators, RF power/SWR meters, LCR meters, grid-dip meters, frequency counters), receivers, transmitters , transceivers (the HW-101 – a multiband HF SSB rig affectionately known as the Hot Watter 101, was the most popular and best selling HF transceiver ever; the HM-2036 – a 2 meter synthesized FM mobile rig, was another popular kit), linear amplifiers (SB-200/201, SB-220/221), and a wide range of power supplies. It was a less expensive way to get new equipment while also having fun building our gear. It also opened up the possibilities of expanding the capabilities of our gear with our own modifications or additions.

Non-hams built TV sets (even color TV sets as early as the late 1960's), stereo receivers/amplifiers, and a host of other electronic doodads that kept them busy in their basements or on their dining room tables as they assembled their kits.

Even though it's been nearly 20 years since Heathkit stopped selling kits to enthusiasts, there are thousands of pieces of Heathkit equipment out there still in use, their familiar green crinkle-finished cases and silk-screened front panels still seen in ham shacks and on electronics workbenches all over North America.

I built more than a few SB-200 and SB-220 amplifiers, helped a friend build his HW-101, and I refurbished/rebuilt more than a few HW-101's and SB-102's, as I did a large number of HW-18's (a crystal controlled 4-channel, 4MHz SSB transceiver used exclusively by the Civil Air Patrol for HF communications until about 2001).

There was a Heathkit store not too far from where I lived during my high school years and it was impossible not to stop in whenever I was near to ogle the variety of kits available. A lot of my spare change over the years went to buying kits from Heathkit.

There will always be fond memories of Heathkit and the wonder and joy it brought to a wide number of fledgling electrical engineers over the years.

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