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Title: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 29, 2013, 09:18:06 pm
Just a heads-up. Looks like Heathkit will once again be offering kits early in 2014. I loved their kits (along with Dynaco) back in the 70's and their built big power amps, a guitar amp, VTVM, color organ, graphic equalizer, and a few other gadgets I've long forgotten. I really learned a lot about troubleshooting electronics by having the schematics at hand along with knowing where everything went and how to calibrate it. Here's a link to a discussion by the new Heathkit board of directors: http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled/comments/1tdf45/table_iama_member_of_the_heath_company_heathkit/

I think that building a kit like this goes beyond any savings you might achieve (probably none nowadays). So few young people get the opportunity to know what's under the hood of their smart phone or tablet, and they miss the big thrill when you hit the switch and see something come to life that you soldered together yourself. If Heathkit gets ramped up in 2014, I'm going to be giving their kits as Christmas presents next year to my favorite young techies. I can't wait to see what their first kits are.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: brian maddox on December 29, 2013, 10:04:50 pm
Just a heads-up. Looks like Heathkit will once again be offering kits early in 2014. I loved their kits (along with Dynaco) back in the 70's and their built big power amps, a guitar amp, VTVM, color organ, graphic equalizer, and a few other gadgets I've long forgotten. I really learned a lot about troubleshooting electronics by having the schematics at hand along with knowing where everything went and how to calibrate it. Here's a link to a discussion by the new Heathkit board of directors: http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled/comments/1tdf45/table_iama_member_of_the_heath_company_heathkit/

I think that building a kit like this goes beyond any savings you might achieve (probably none nowadays). So few young people get the opportunity to know what's under the hood of their smart phone or tablet, and they miss the big thrill when you hit the switch and see something come to life that you soldered together yourself. If Heathkit gets ramped up in 2014, I'm going to be giving their kits as Christmas presents next year to my favorite young techies. I can't wait to see what their first kits are.

Dude, I'll get a kit for MYSELF.  Sounds like a lot of fun.  Like playing with an old school erector set. Very cool.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Jonathan Johnson on December 29, 2013, 10:31:16 pm
Looks like Heathkit will once again be offering kits early in 2014.

I think the demise of electronics kits had a twofold cause. First, sometime in the late 80's to early 90's was the incredible price drop of electronics due to overseas manufacturing. That made is so it was considerably more expensive to build your own, and the products became so inexpensive it was cheaper to replace than repair. Secondly, the proliferation of integrated circuits means that repairing most electronic gadgets yourself is nearly impossible, and you can't build something yourself of equivalent functionality due to the difficulty of procuring integrated circuits and programming.

What I think gives the 'rebooted' Heathkit hope is the popularity of the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. With those two kits, techie tinkers are able to build their own modern, programmable devices to do any number of things at a reasonable cost.

Arduino and Raspberry Pi don't directly teach about discrete components, but they provide a platform that can interface with discrete circuits. And to the extent that it will drive young people to learn about circuits, that will be a good thing. I think Heathkit would be smart to make some of their kits as extensions to Arduino & Raspberry Pi, as that will provide the opportunity to learn not only about discrete circuits, but also controlling and monitoring those circuits through logic programming.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 29, 2013, 11:13:03 pm
I hope they do well.  I have one of their antenna tuners at home somewhere. 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on December 29, 2013, 11:33:49 pm
I think the demise of electronics kits had a twofold cause. First, sometime in the late 80's to early 90's was the incredible price drop of electronics due to overseas manufacturing. That made is so it was considerably more expensive to build your own, and the products became so inexpensive it was cheaper to replace than repair. Secondly, the proliferation of integrated circuits means that repairing most electronic gadgets yourself is nearly impossible, and you can't build something yourself of equivalent functionality due to the difficulty of procuring integrated circuits and programming.
A topic I know something about... I ran a kit business from mid '70s to mid '80s.

To refine you theory, it wasn't offshore manufacturing per se that killed the kit business but the increasing use of machine "automated" assembly. IMO the driving force powering the kit business was the compelling economics. By performing the relatively low tech labor of hand assembling the products, you could save hundreds of dollars off the typical retail price. BUT by the "80s machines could assemble the same products so cheaply that the cost advantage between kits and low cost assembled was no longer attractive. The rise of offshore manufacturing was the last nail in the coffin, a final insult. Back then it was made in Japan, but now China is even cheaper. I found myself trying to sell kits that cost more than a brand name assembled product (albeit made in Japan). Even I could read the writing on that wall.

I don't know that the IC were much of an issue. In fact all of my kits used ICs and several showcased specialized IC that facilitated some useful function. 

Quote


What I think gives the 'rebooted' Heathkit hope is the popularity of the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. With those two kits, techie tinkers are able to build their own modern, programmable devices to do any number of things at a reasonable cost.
Modern manufacturing has not stopped advancing for the last few decades, so now it is way past machine insertion, now the components are so small they are hard to see. IIRC there were kit companies near the end of the big kit business days that actually provided assembled and tested PCBs in the kit, and let the kit builder do some final assembly. Perhaps something like that might work, but the compelling cost advantage is gone. 
Quote

Arduino and Raspberry Pi don't directly teach about discrete components, but they provide a platform that can interface with discrete circuits. And to the extent that it will drive young people to learn about circuits, that will be a good thing. I think Heathkit would be smart to make some of their kits as extensions to Arduino & Raspberry Pi, as that will provide the opportunity to learn not only about discrete circuits, but also controlling and monitoring those circuits through logic programming.

We are on the horizon of an exciting time where personal 3d printing means we can relatively easily make odd shaped physical objects. DSP keeps getting cheaper and more powerful. But I still see this as a tiny fraction of the good old days.  Back in it's prime Heathkit was selling something like $100M in kit sales and that was real dollars, not today's.

Heathkit has a brand name that at least the old farts will still recognize and respect. I just don't think there is a compelling economic business model for kits.

Note: There are still niche kit companies selling clones of legacy recording gear, and sundry electronic gadgets. Heathkit could carve out a decent niche in educational markets and the like. I used to sell lots of kits to college engineering students to use in course work.   

I wish them luck...

JR
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 30, 2013, 12:34:54 am
I taught a college studio-maintenance class last year which required that students build something. Many of my class selected Jameco kits such as the stereo headphone amp or color organ with LED lights. Now these weren't really complicated kits, but they had to solder every component onto a circuit board, mount it in some sort of a case, and demonstrate it for class. There was a lot of pride from these students who showed off their builds during final exams.

I'm trying to get funding and permission from the university to build a few singing Tesla coil kits next semester. Of course, this it beginning to get into dangerous territory, so we have to consider student safety above all things. http://onetesla.com/index.php/products/kits/onetesla-singing-10-coil-kit-110.html#.UsEEtPYdBgI

Too much fun.... 8)

 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 30, 2013, 04:01:38 am
Heathkit products were sold in the UK through Maplin Electronics.  A mail order supplier who started with a few shops and now have a shop in most big towns.

I remember them from the 1970s and 1980s but as I was still at school, I didn't have the necessary funds and had to make do with making things with components from discarded TVs and radios.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Jeff Bankston on December 30, 2013, 06:51:57 am
i wish i still had my 1960's Dynaco 60 watt tube mono blocks
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 30, 2013, 08:30:16 am
i wish i still had my 1960's Dynaco 60 watt tube mono blocks

I still have my pair of Dynaco Mark II 60 watt tube mono blocks which I bought back in the late 70's . I didn't build them and there's a sticker that says they were factory built which I'm guessing must be rare. One of them has a bad power supply cap, so they're due for a re-capping and some TLC. But they really did sound great when I had them running in my studio and were a real conversation piece.

Yes, I know that tubes aren't supposed to sound better than transistors, but there's just something magical about listening to vinyl through great tube amps.  ;D
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 30, 2013, 08:36:51 am
Also, I've been toying with the idea of getting my ham radio license and have been casually studying for the test, but need a boost to go do the exam. Perhaps building a Heathkit transceiver would be just the thing to get me off my butt. I still remember my grandmother's neighbor having a "radio shack" with a really cool Heathkit transceiver he built and a big antenna on his roof. He was also building a Heathkit automatic key for Morse code with paddles you could push side-to-side for high speed dots and dashes.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 30, 2013, 11:26:40 am
Also, I've been toying with the idea of getting my ham radio license and have been casually studying for the test

I took and passed the exams back in 1988 but never applied for a licence.  I no longer have the pass certificates and they don't have any records that old.  I wanted to take over my grandfather's call sign when he died a few years ago.

My grandfather was a lifelong short wave radio enthusiast, building his own multi-band superhet with parts he brought back from the army after WWII (I still have the chassis).  He waited until he was 76 to pass the test himself.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Kevin Graf on December 30, 2013, 11:31:04 am
Do Hams build things like transmitters and receivers now. I think that most present day Ham DIY goes into antennas, towers and interference filters.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 30, 2013, 11:39:01 am
Do Hams build things like transmitters and receivers now. I think that most present day Ham DIY goes into antennas, towers and interference filters.

My grandfather built everything he used.  All with valves (tubes).

I can't see the point in buying a factory made box which does everything.  Might as well just use the telephone to speak to people!


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on December 30, 2013, 12:29:05 pm
When I was a young puke I did my share of SWL. I built a Lafayette radio communications receiver from kit, strung up a long antenna, and collected QSL(?)  cards (confirmation from distant stations) from countries all around the world.

I was never disciplined enough to learn morse code and get an amateur license. My dad was a ham when he was single, but had given that up by the time I came along. My adventures in SWL were after he had already passed away (1957). 
 
JR

 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Stephen Swaffer on December 30, 2013, 12:37:26 pm
.My interest in electronics and audio can be traced back to being introduced to Heathkit in high school-still have a shortwave receiver my dad built as a teen-and he helped me repair with an IF transformer salvaged out of an AM/FM receiver.  That has led to becoming an electrician after passing a test for an opening at an industrial facility.  Funny thing was, I took the test in '97 and it would have failed without a good understanding of tube based equipment-and in 12 years in the job, I only ran into 2 pieces of equipment that used tubes (excluding CRTs).  Still the knowledge was far more useful than knowing how to beat the zombies on level 27 of the latest video craze...
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 30, 2013, 05:59:43 pm
Do Hams build things like transmitters and receivers now. I think that most present day Ham DIY goes into antennas, towers and interference filters.

Some do, some don't.  Like with audio sometimes you want a niche bit of gear that isn't available commercially.  There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from building gear and using it.

Can a typical ham design a transceiver that does everything a bells-and-whistles commercial unit does?  No.  Can a competent ham build a unit that does one function better than a commercial trying-to-do-everything-at-once unit?  Yes.



Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Kevin Graf on December 31, 2013, 11:30:44 am
When I was a young puke I did my share of SWL. I built a Lafayette radio communications receiver from kit, strung up a long antenna, and collected QSL(?)  cards (confirmation from distant stations) from countries all around the world.
[................................]
JR

Wow, you built a Lafayette radio kit!   I remember way back in 1958/1959 one of my high school buddies bought a Lafayette AM/FM tuner kit.  It came with a bag of parts, a parts list, a schematic and some poor photographs. Three different guys tried but nobody could make it work.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on December 31, 2013, 11:50:24 am
Wow, you built a Lafayette radio kit!   I remember way back in 1958/1959 one of my high school buddies bought a Lafayette AM/FM tuner kit.  It came with a bag of parts, a parts list, a schematic and some poor photographs. Three different guys tried but nobody could make it work.

As i recall, I may have had some help from an older brother to figure the difficult stuff out, but I don't recall any major problems and it worked well. It was a big dog receiver with several SW bands and features I didn't even use. Of course heath kit was the gold standard for kit instructions. My company kit instructions were adequate but not spectacular, and I offered a flat fee repair service for customers in trouble (worst case was one who soldered the parts to the wrong side of the PCB) ;D

 I was a pretty handy kid and I found myself helping friends get their kits working. I remember as a young puke, too young to have a drivers license, riding around the neighborhood on my bicycle, and helping older kids get their cars started after they worked on them... I was the neighborhood "motor whisperer", I could start anything.... It was generally pretty simple with the old school car motors, is it getting gas? does it have spark?,,, the rest is details. Nowadays there are a whole universe of new reasons for a car to not start.

JR
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 31, 2013, 12:22:17 pm
Of course Heathkit was the gold standard for kit instructions.

One of the reasons I've been looking for a Heathkit transceiver on eBay is that you can still get all the manuals, which included troubleshooting, alignment and calibration instructions. And a good solid tube set can be kept running indefinitely, which is generally not the case of modern electronics with custom LSI chips. Plus, there something really fun about watching the tubes glow in an amplifier or receiver. Call it nostalgia if you will, but I can almost see the electrons flowing through the "valves". And no, I'm not in Colorado smoking that legal weed...  8) 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on December 31, 2013, 01:47:45 pm
My personal bench in the '70s was a product placement ad for Heathkit, but those old soldiers gave up the ghost years ago... For years I used the scope with a replacement trigger level pot rigged up to the front panel, and eventually it was not worth the trouble to keep it running (slow and wouldn't trigger worth a poop). The last time I turned on my distortion analyzer after sitting for years it made a bad smell and died silently. They now reside in a local landfill.  Back in the day, I had a bunch of heathkit gear, and even modified a heathkit SMPTE distortion analyzer (60Hz:7kHz) for 19kHz:20kHz, so I could make the more stressful and revealing HF two tone IMD test, pretty advanced bench test for back in the '70s, now just another option on the modern computer based rig.

JR

PS: I fed the product output of my Heathkit distortion analyzer into an old used (Singer) spectrum analyser I bought for $700 (real dollars) back in the day. The 50 dB dynamic range SA was not great shakes by itself, but it allowed me to extend the dynamic range of the Heathkit tens of dB lower. I could actually see the distortion introduced by the Heathkit electronics, so I ended up running it 10 dB cooler to clean up so I could measure distortion lower than my bench residuals. A little Rube Goldberg but I could make measurements equivalent to bench equipment costing thousands of dollars more.     
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 31, 2013, 01:59:55 pm
Tube transceivers are definitely more fun.  I don't know why, but they just are.  The least fun radio I've owned was a FlexRadio digital beast.  It did everything perfectly but had no soul.

Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 31, 2013, 02:12:06 pm
I was the neighborhood "motor whisperer", I could start anything.... It was generally pretty simple with the old school car motors, is it getting gas? does it have spark?,,

There was a time when I could set ignition timing by ear.  I doubt that I could do it now.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on December 31, 2013, 02:56:11 pm
There was a time when I could set ignition timing by ear.  I doubt that I could do it now.


Steve.
Within reason you can tell from the cranking speed/difficulty if there is too much timing advance. Timing will also affect idle speed, but not always more or smoother = better. I had a full race cam so idle was always loping. i had one old hot rod where I connected the choke cable to my distributor so I could retard it for easier cranking, then dial the advance back in to make horsepower at elevated RPM.

=======

OK here's a story about timing by ear. I used to brag about being able to start anything that could be started (i.e. ran in the past and wasn't broken). I was working nights pumping gas at a local gas station and have some interesting stories about troubleshooting repairs that came back with mistakes made by the day crew, but that's another (much longer) story. To keep this focussed, a friend who worked days in the same gas station and was not the sharpest stick in the bunch, had paid to have his car tuned up by the day mechanic, and they couldn't get it running again after a full tune-up. It had been sitting unstarted for a couple weeks, and I said "I can start that car"  8) 8) 8). It was a slow night so we used the station tow truck to push it up to 15-20 MPH or so to jump start it. This pretty much always works if there is gas and spark...  After pushing it about a mile down the road with it coughing and sputtering and doing everything but starting, I called an audible on the side of the road and asked for 1/2"-9/16" wrench. I unbolted the distributor and popped it over one tooth on the camshaft.  Presto it started right up with the key, and we drove it back to the station. To this day we never figured out how the distributor wound up one tooth off. The mechanic who did the tune-up swears he didn't unbolt the distributor, so my only guess is that it was only sort of running before the tune-up with the distributor pushed as far as it would go, with the points gapped crazy... With the points set properly it couldn't pull in the timing far enough to start. This should have been pretty obvious with a timing light, but generally they don't check timing with a light until it is actually running. So lesson learned is don't ASSume anything, check everything.

My reputation survived, and grew even stronger that night (I was already a legend in my own mind). 

JR 

PS That isn't even my best car whispering story... related to that gig.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 31, 2013, 04:08:34 pm
Tube transceivers are definitely more fun.  I don't know why, but they just are.  The least fun radio I've owned was a FlexRadio digital beast.  It did everything perfectly but had no soul.

I really miss the Hallicrafters S85 I had as a tweener. Once I got into a band at age 15 I traded it for some JBL speakers so I could play louder.  :-[

Since 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the ARRL, I'm sure there's going to be some hot ham-fest action this summer and some real deals. Plus this would be a great time to finish up getting my ham license. Now if Heathkit would only offer an ARRL Centennial transceiver kit.  ;D

Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 31, 2013, 07:09:33 pm
I found this in the spring, so here's the hidden magic link to Heathkit's online survey, which still seems to be active. So go ahead and vote for what you want them to offer as a kit in the future. Hey, if you don't ask, you don't get. http://heathkit.com/survey/index.php/278489/lang-en (http://heathkit.com/survey/index.php/278489/lang-en)
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: George Friedman-Jimenez on December 31, 2013, 09:23:30 pm
Wow this thread is a real blast from the past. I got my novice license (WN2UNQ) when I was in 6th grade but never had enough money to buy a transmitter and never went on the air. The novice license only allowed you to transmit in Morse code, not spoken word. I never had the practice needed to up my code speed from the 5 wpm novice level to the higher speed (I think 12 wpm) needed for a General license and the novice was a 1 time deal with no renewal after the year is up so I never did become an active ham. I think they dropped the morse code requirement about 25 years later but I never went back to it. I did build a few kits, starting with a germanium diode receiver, a real low end Lafayette regenerative SW receiver, a few diy circuits from books and magazines with parts from Lafayette and Federated. I can remember saving up my allowance and bugging my parents to drive me to Lafayette electronics to buy some resistors and capacitors. Years later I built a Dynaco kit 35 watt stereo amp with a quasi-quadrophonic option. I used that thing for years as my main home stereo amp until the pots and switches were all crackly and unreliable and I actually had a job and could afford a new one. Those were fun days, no money but lots of time on my hands.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Jeff Bankston on December 31, 2013, 10:30:53 pm
alright , how about a D&A Maverick 250 or Phantom tube kicker.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on January 01, 2014, 12:00:54 am
Somewhere in my dad's basement is my old Eico capacitor tester with a magic eye tube instead of a mechanical meter. I really loved the magic eye which almost looked alive. An old ham guy gave it to me when I was maybe 12 years old to fuel my imagination. Once I figured out what capacitors and resistors did, things got really crazy and I started building my own audio stuff. Of course I had no money for new parts, and professional kits were an impossible dream. But I could go to the landfill (we called it the dump in those days) and scavenge tubes and transformers from old television and radios. Of course, this meant I was building and playing with live circuits that had hundreds of volts. I'm still amazed that I lived through those days since my dad was a history teacher who had no idea that what I was building in my bedroom could have killed me. Guess I've got to go dig in the basement to see if I can find that capacitor tester now.

Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on January 01, 2014, 03:56:57 am
Of course, this meant I was building and playing with live circuits that had hundreds of volts. I'm still amazed that I lived through those days

At fourteen, I had built my own guitar amplifier with a 6V6 output stage in an old TV cabinet with grey foam as speaker cloth.  I regularly took this to school and no one ever questioned it on grounds of safety or suggested it should be tested.

Luckily no one looked inside as it looked a bit of a mess.  I couldn't afford or find a chassis and everything was screwed to a piece of wood.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Tim McCulloch on January 01, 2014, 11:56:17 am
At fourteen, I had built my own guitar amplifier with a 6V6 output stage in an old TV cabinet with grey foam as speaker cloth.  I regularly took this to school and no one ever questioned it on grounds of safety or suggested it should be tested.

Luckily no one looked inside as it looked a bit of a mess.  I couldn'y afford or find a chassis and everything was screwed to a piece of wood.


Steve.

EAW builds passive filter networks that way... on scrap wood... or at least they have done so in the past.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Jeff Bankston on January 01, 2014, 03:23:36 pm
EAW builds passive filter networks that way... on scrap wood... or at least they have done so in the past.
AR use to build the speaker crossovers on a piece of thin press board. i had a pair of AR-5 speakers and still have my AR-58 cabinets and mid drivers and x-over parts. the coils are hand wound and its a sloppy job.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Lyle Williams on January 01, 2014, 03:45:07 pm
There are lots of different styles of low-volume or noncommercial construction that don't involve printed circuit boards.

Two that I use for one-off circuits are:

Dead bug:  glue all the multipin components to a square of scrap board with their legs pointing in the air (hence the name dead bug).  Solder resistors and point-to-point wires as required to complete the circuit.

Manhattan style:  take a sheet of copper clad board material and use it as the groundplane.  Glue on tiny squares of circuit board anywhere you need non-grounded connections.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Mike Sokol on January 01, 2014, 04:47:45 pm
There are lots of different styles of low-volume or noncommercial construction that don't involve printed circuit boards.

Don't forget Altoids boxes:

Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Stephen Swaffer on January 03, 2014, 10:03:34 am
For those impatient types out there there are  few unbuilt Heathkits on Ebay-seeing the prices its no wonder Heathkit is planning to start making them!
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on January 03, 2014, 10:15:50 am
i had a pair of AR-5 speakers

I have a set of AR-3a speakers which the previous owner left in a house my mother bought a few years ago.  They sound great.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 03, 2014, 10:26:52 am
I've got one AR-4 sitting in my kitchen. Several decades ago I set up my parents with a nice hifi system using a pair of these with a decent Jap receiver, turntable, etc. Their house got robbed and the dumbass crook only took one of the speakers. So I ended up with the orphan AR-4 and don't have the heart to throw it away.

JR 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: frank kayser on January 03, 2014, 02:15:05 pm
Ah yes, Dynaco.  They used to be a very hot ticket in stereo pre-amps.  My dad taught me to solder when I was in Jr high school (grade 7 or 8 ).  In 11th grade, my friend and I were all about stereo - speakers, amps, blah blah.  He decided he would buy a Dynaco pre-amp for me to build.  Toughest thing I had built.  Looking back, it was a great kit with great instructions.  As I remember, specs were very close to McIntosh.  Probably got that wrong, but...

Heathkit fuzz pedal?  Great die-cast case with wrinkle finish.  Problem was it did not provide a volume boost with fuzz (then only used for lead riffs), but rather the volume was cut significantly.

How about H89 computer?  All in one, 48k ram, 2ghz 8080 processor, 90k single sided hard-sectored disks, green on black 80x24 screen communicating with the CPU at a blinding 9600 baud! All that for a measly $2,500! Add $200 for the extra 16k ram.  Couldn't afford the $300 for the soft-sectored controller. The terminal board and the CPU board came assembled.  You built the power supply, all the high voltage supply for the CRT - basically everything in the hard-foamed molded case.  I chose C/PM over HDOS.  Wee ha.

Immediately I had a problem with the thing just resetting itself randomly.  Heathkit got it at least three times, checking the power supply (good we had a store nearby). They'd put a test pattern on it and leave it sit, waiting for a fault. Weeks at a time.  None there.  Get it home, and within 5 minutes, bang.

Must be the house power.  Bought an expensive power strip.  Nope.  Fought with the power company - finally they came out and put a "dot recorder" on my power panel - measured voltage every five seconds or so, and had a pen and graph paper where the pen would drop and make a dot on the paper.  To them, voltage was fine.  Nearly a straight line.  Of course they then said their grid was not designed for clean power for computers.  Try an isolation transformer.  More big money (for me) - well over $100 anyway.  Zip.  Still a problem.  Back to Heathkit.  No ideas.  I started thinking... C/PM loaded at a different address than HDOS - which was what they were testing with.  Memory?  Heck with it. This called for the shotgun approach.  I got some contact cleaner, pulled each chip on the motherboard one-by-one, CPU, memory, every single chip, dipped the legs into the cleaner, and reseated the chips.  No more problems!!

I let the techs at Heathkit know how I solved the problem, and suggested they change their testing protocol.  Tech was moving on!  Hot-rodded it with 19.2k baud comm between CPU board, and got a kit for a plug-in 4mhz Z80 processor, and two half-height floppys.  Still have it.  Couldn't part with it.  I shudder to think how much I've spent on computers over the years...

frank

 
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on January 03, 2014, 02:18:56 pm
I've got one AR-4 sitting in my kitchen.

My memory is not what it used to be.  I just had a look at my speakers and they're AR-4Ax, not AR-3x!


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 03, 2014, 02:34:57 pm
I see your H89 and raise you to my old H-11. The H-11 was heatkit's version of a DEC LSI-11/2 crude early 16b (mini?) computer. It even had a paper tape reader option. I bought the dual 8" floppy drive and that cost more by itself than your whole computer. I bought a memory PCB from a 3 rd party company and paid about $1k for a full load 32k of ram. IIRC the computer could only use about 28K of that ram. The other 4k addresses were used for other CPU management.

I doubt anybody reading this has a cell phone limited to only 32k of memory. :-)

The complete system cost me between $6k and $7k. Most of it was kit... the memory card and dual floppy was the only part pre-assembled. I recall having to repair the monitor once when the darlington power transistor in the flyback circuit released smoke... Since heathkit was backordered weeks on a repair part , I ended up rolling my own darlington from two normal transistors. Fun and games...but I wasn't going to go without my computer for weeks. 

I finally carted this out the the curb about a year ago. There were collectors interested in the old iron, but none interested in paying what it would cost to ship, and some of the components were fragile so not easy to pack and ship safely.

 JR
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 03, 2014, 02:35:50 pm
My memory is not what it used to be.  I just had a look at my speakers and they're AR-4Ax, not AR-3x!


Steve.

Now we know where 3 of them are... :-)

JR
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on January 03, 2014, 02:52:30 pm
Yes.  My two are about 3,500 miles away from your one.


Steve.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: brian maddox on January 04, 2014, 12:54:29 am
Yes.  My two are about 3,500 miles away from your one.


Steve.

I see a long distance LCR SYSTEM in the making.
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 04, 2014, 09:05:00 am
More like a rear surround** channel... But there may be an echo from the delay.

JR

**Surrounding the planet..
Title: Re: Heathkit rebooted
Post by: Steve M Smith on January 04, 2014, 12:57:44 pm
More like a rear surround** channel... But there may be an echo from the delay.

If there is someone in Japan with one, we could assist with the quadrophonic sound thread!


Steve.