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Who Remembers Heathkit?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Bob Graz, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    How many former Heathkit builders do we have out there? I remember as a kid looking through the catalogue at TV's, stereo's and 100's of kits that you could build.

    I still have a simple Heathkit engine analyzer that I built and used for many years. I also built a number of logic kits as a kid that demonstrated principles of logic/boolean algebra (yes, I grew up to become an EE).

    It was fun putting together the kits and watching everything work. Soldering all the discrete components on to a pin thru hole board, careful not to burn your transistor up as you soldered to the board.

    Anyway, a trip down early electronics memory lane.....
     
  2. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    I never tried to build anything, but I got the catalogs. Cool stuff.

    - Steve
     
  3. David_Moechnig

    David_Moechnig Stunt Coordinator

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    I picked up a pair of Heathkit mono tube pre-amps with the original manuals and everything for $10 for the pair. All the kits were before my time(I'm 23) but I still like building stuff like that and wish there were more things like that to build.
     
  4. Greg Rakaska

    Greg Rakaska Stunt Coordinator

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    My first computer was a Heathkit H89 with Dual Z80 CPUs, 64k RAM, and 320k hard sector diskette (might be wrong on the diskette size).

    I also built some of their test equipment such as the digital multimeter.
     
  5. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

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    I owned a DX-60B 90-watt 80-10 Meter CW/AM transmitter with the matching VFO. Bought it used for $90 and sold it a couple of years later for the same price.
     
  6. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    The first Heathkit I built was the 200 watt/channel AA-1640 stereo power amplifier. I had never built anything electronic before, or, actually, knew much about electronics, and was advised to start with something small, but I plowed ahead with one of their most expensive and complicated kits anyway. I didn't do as neat a job as I'd have liked, but it worked the first time, which surprised me no end.

    I built a few test instruments after the power amp, and they worked also, but sticking parts into circuit boards and soldering them got too tedious after a while and I gave up building kits. Plus, there really wasn't much savings (on the kits I built, at least) to Heathkits over comparable manufactured equipment.

    Eventually, I sold all my Heathkits.
     
  7. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    When I was a kid I helped my dad build a color t.v. and an o-scope. I wish they still had them around so my son and i could do the same. On that note does anyone know of a good basic programmable robotics kit?
     
  8. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    Like many others, I never built anything myself, but dad used to get all the catalogs, and about once a month we would go to the Heath store in downtown Dallas for browsing and such.
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Never purchased a Heathkit (though a former coworker of mine did). But I came very close to purchasing a Dynaco ST-400 amp and PAT-5 preamp (but not in Dynakit form).
     
  10. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I couldn't afford the kits as a kid, but was always drooling over them.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    A friend and I built a receiver (mono) back in the early days of high fidelity in the 50s. We bought a coaxial speaker from a mail-order electronics store and built a bass reflex cabinet in shop (we were in Junior High) to house the speaker.

    We then got a Heathkit stereo pre-amp and used the output to drive the mono amp and amplifier portion of his parent’s console radio/record player, giving us a stereo system (horribly mismatched, of course).

    My friend went on to become an engineer (I wound up in IT). I also built two TVs and a stereo receiver. All fun stuff, but the earlier kits which were tube based (with a few transistors) were a lot more fun than the solid state kits.
     
  12. Rick Wunder

    Rick Wunder Extra

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    I was always fascinated with Heathkit stuff, and I was constantly browsing their catalogs. I either built or participated in building the following, all between 1966 and 1968:

    A color TV (don't remember the model) for our family.
    An AR14 stereo receiver for myself when I was in college.
    An AR15 stereo receiver for my grandmother.

    I really wanted an AR15 for myself, but I couldn't afford the extra money. Since then, the TV and AR14 are long gone, but I got my grandmother's AR15 when she passed away. I still have it my home and although it is not part of my HT, it still works after almost 40 years.
     
  13. Claude M

    Claude M Stunt Coordinator

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    Helped my dad build 2 color TV sets. Both were 25". One had an analog tuner and the 2nd had a digital tuner. Was not easy building the sets. The chassis work was difficult and there were many boards. Thank god the high voltage cage came assembled! Our neighbor had build a tube version while ours were solid state. The adjustments were a pain, and did not hold for very long. The screen would get magnetized and had to be degaussed often or the color purity and convergence would be lost. All in all, you had to love playing with the adjustments (color purity, convergence, degaussing).
     
  14. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I built a 2 meter Xcver when I was in HS....most complicated project until I was a senior EE. At the time it was the cheapest way to get a quality piece of equipment. Soon after that was not the case.
    Too bad, that's the best way to understand something
     
  15. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    From 1980-85 our main TV was a 25-inch Heathkit that my dad put together- the picture tube came in a box and he had to put together all the boards and hook them up to it to get it working. I spent many hours in the garage watching him work on it, getting in just the sound from Battlestar Galactica at first, then a black-and-white picture then finally color. We had it set up in a wood cabinet with a REAL speaker connected to it for sound! The thing was a pain since you had to manually program in all the channels, so I couldn't watch all the weird UHF stations I liked since my dad didn't think they were important enough to prgram in! Then one time there was a power outage when it was tuned to channel 3 (the NBC affiliate) and when the power came back on it zapped channel 3 out of the tuner completely- no more NBC for a couple years (except on the small bedroom set) until dad replaced the tuner so we could watch the Cosby Show on the big screen! We didn't have a VCR, but during those years we rented VCRs and CED videodisc players with movies and always had to watch them on the small set since the Heathkit couldn't tune in channel 3 or 4, and had no direct A/V inputs (an extreme rarity at the time anyway).
    In 1985 I finally bugged my parents enough to break down and get a VCR, and even though the Heathkit could tune in channel 3 again it somehow would not take the VCR signal, so since this thing was such a pain anyways we chucked it and got a 26-inch RCA (a whole inch bigger!) with built-in stereo sound and THREE direct A/V inputs, to go along with our JVC VHS Hi-Fi (talked my dad out of Beta since there were so fewer places to get movies for it).
    I wish they still had stuff like that you could put together just for fun, though since most of these things are made by machines now there's not as much educational value as there used to be- it wouldn't get you a job as a TV builder later in life! I wish you could buy a DVD player kit to put together though, that'd be fun even if it didn't work too well.
     
  16. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    I built a Heathkit FM Tuner in the late 70s. At the time it was rated above many non-kit ones. I remember there was a Heathkit store in Los Angeles. After building the unit it refused to work. Soooooo, I brought it to the store and they went through all the solder points and in about a week fixed it for a cost of about $50 if I remember correctly. I also built a fairly large portable AM-FM radio (which worked fine). It was a lot of fun.
     
  17. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    In 1957 my dad built a Heathkit Hi-Fi system (mono). It consisted of a 30 watt tube amp, pre-amplifier, and FM tuner which he installed in a cabinet he built himself and which also contained a German-built record changer (Dual, I think, or Miracord). The speaker was also a kit from Electro-Voice (I think). Had a huge 12 or 15 inch woofer, midrange speaker, and a little 3" horn tweeter. The speaker cabinet fit in the corner and was about the size of the typical mid-60s console color tv. This thing would really rattle the windows, especially when he played his pipe-organ albums.

    I remember it took him almost an entire winter to solder together all the kits and build the cabinets and such, but he results were truly astounding.
     
  18. Jack Shappa

    Jack Shappa Second Unit

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    My dad and I built a HeathKit electronic organ when I was a kid (Some 25-30 years ago). We played the SHIT out of that thing and its still in his living room to this day and he still plays it!

    - Jack
     
  19. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    Wow, great stories. My father is the best technician I know. I also spent many hours with him growing up watching him rebuild and fix things.

    My uncle gave him a color TV back in early 70's in a box in pieces. My father ordered the schematics for the set and over the course of a month or 2 actually got it working. It was our first color set. Lot's of great father/son stories here.
     
  20. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    Wow, great stories. My father is the best technician I know. I also spent many hours with him growing up watching him rebuild and fix things.

    My uncle gave him a color TV back in early 70's in a box in pieces. My father ordered the schematics for the set and over the course of a month or 2 actually got it working. It was our first color set. Lot's of great father/son stories here.
     

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