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HW8 MODIFICATIONS

Restoring and
Modifying
the HW8
By John Pears, G0FSP*

HIS ARTICLE IS in two parts; firstly,


a short history of the Heathkit company, and the QRP transceivers, the
HW7, HW8 and the HW9, and secondly, the details of the restoration and subsequent modification of one of the family members the HW8. The HW8 is the most popular of
the series, highly prized by the serious QRPer.

THE HEATHKIT COMPANY


THE HEATHKIT COMPANY, based in the
USA, produced 150 Amateur radio products
during the period 1952 to 1991. Unfortunately
they no longer manufacture amateur radio kits,
and now only produce kits for the audio and
home electronics market.
This change in direction brought to an end
an era, where thousands of radio amateurs all
over the world ventured out on to the amateur
bands using Heathkit equipment.
But all is not lost, as many Heathkit items can
still be found at rallies, or advertised in Radcom
and SPRAT (the G-QRP club magazine). A lot
of Heathkit equipment is still used on air to day,
lovingly cared for by their owners All of the
HW QRP radios are now avidly collected,
restored if necessary, and used by the growing
number of QRP operators, because even in this
age of black boxes, a great deal of fun can be
had using this type of equipment, and operating with simple equipment is one of the best
ways to hone your operating skills.

THE HW SERIES
THE HW7, A THREE BAND QRP CW transceiver, was sold from 1972 to 1975 and cost
$79.95 (approximately 50). It covered the
CW portions of the 40, 20 and 15 metre bands,
using a DC receiver, with a sensitivity of better
than 1 micro volt. The crystal controlled Transmitter had a power output of two to three watts,
depending on the band. Power requirements
12-16 VDC, 35 mA on receive, and 450 mA on
transmit.
The HW8, a four band QRP CW transceiver,
see the photograph above, was sold from 1976
to 1983 and cost $139.95 (approximately 90)
. It covered the 80, 40, 20 and 15 metre bands,
using a direct conversion receiver with a sensitivity better than 0.2V. The VFO controlled
transmitter has a power output of 2.5 to 3.5
watts depending on band. Power requirements
are 12-16VDC, 90Ma on receive, and 450mA
on transmit.
* Bramble Corner, East Green, Kelsale, Saxmondum, Suffolk IP17
2PH.

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The four-band HW8 QRP CW transceiver has a direct conversion receiver with a sensitivity better
than 0.2V and a VFO controlled, three watt transmitter.

The HW9, a five/eight band QRP CW transceiver, was sold from 1984 to 1991 and cost
$249.95 (approximately 160). It could, with
the optional WARC band kit, cover all HF
bands from 80 to 10 metres, using a single stage
superhet receiver with a sensitivity of better
than 0.2 micro volts. The VFO controlled transmitter has a power of 4 watts on all bands
except 3 watts on 20 metres. Power requirements 11-16 VDC at 1 amp.

HW8 RESTORATION
I BROUGHT MY HW8 in February of this year,
at the Miami Hamfest, and after removing the
top cover and checking as best I could, looking
for bad workmanship (Heathkit radios were
normally sold as kits, and as you can imagine
some were better constructed than others), modifications, and signs of recent fires or mechanical
damage, I parted with $30 (about 20).
This was a good price for a HW8, but I
suspected, and my suspicions were later proved
correct, that there would be some work to get
this little radio back on air.
There was no handbook with the HW8, and
that would be the first thing I would need to
restore it.
When I got the radio back to the USA holiday home, I connected it to my PSU, watched
for any smoke, and all appeared to be well. But
when connected to the station antenna , on key
up there was no output at all. The full testing
and repairing would have to be carried out
when I got back to the UK, so for the rest of the
holiday the HW8 was put to one side.
I did get a photocopy of the manual when I
was in the USA, but the circuit diagram was

rather difficult to read. When I got home I


obtained an information pack from Cedar
Electronics[1] for the HW8. They are the UK
dealer for Heathkit information and spares and
also provide a repair service.
The information pack contains a very
readable circuit diagram, parts list, operating instructions, and specifications. The
setting up and alignment instructions would
be a useful addition, but for my purposes
this would not pose a problem because they
were in the photocopied manual I had obtained in the USA.
The HW8 was undressed and checked fully
for poor joints etc. It was then connected to a
PSU, a dummy load, power meter, a loud
speaker and a key. I had decided to start on the
transmitter side of things as I knew that I had a
problem of no, or very low output.
There was no power output on any of the
four bands, and using an oscilloscope this was
traced to a wiring fault on the 80 metre band
switch.
I now had about half a watt on all bands,
still low output, but an improvement never
the less. As my scope only has a bandwidth
of 7MHz , I used a diode probe and a digital
meter in conjunction with the transmitter
alignment details, assuming, and hoping
that all that was needed was a good tune up.
The four band heterodyne oscillators and
mixer amplifiers were all working fine, but
the output from the resonance tuned circuits
which drive the PA was low on all four
bands. This was cured by replacing the resonance circuit transistor Q8, and the transmitter burst into life.
RADIO COMMUNICATION January 1997

HW8 MODIFICATIONS
Interior of the HW8 showing the
modifications. On the rear panel, left to
right, Keyer Tone control, Keyer Speed
control, Keyer PCB, Keyer 9V regulated
supply and audio output transformer.
On the left hand side just behind the
front panel is the RIT PCB.

The transmitter resonance


circuits were aligned and I
now had power output of
between 2.0 to 2.5 watts on
all bands. The receiver
was aligned using my
main station transceiver,
an ICOM 735, and the
HW8 was ready for the
bands.
I found two problems
on air; firstly the lack of an
RIT was going to be a problem, and secondly the receiver seemed a bit deaf.
Back to the bench and yet
another wiring fault was located and cleared,
this time a coax connection had been made
in such a way as to short out the receiver RF
input circuits. This was cleared and suddenly the bands were full of signals. At this
point in time I had still not managed to
complete a QSO.
I remembered buying at the last Leicester
rally, The HW8 Handbook by WB8VGE, also
called The Hot Water Handbook; this book is
a collection of modifications for the HW QRP
series. I spent one evening reading the book,
and decided that the HW8 would benefit from
three modifications. As my hand CW is not
particularly good, I also decided to fit a Kanga
Iambic Keyer.
At this point in time it is worth saying a few
words on modification of classic radio equipment, as modifications can devalue the piece of
equipment, and any modification that change
the external appearance should be avoided at
all costs.
The purests point of view is not to modify
at all, and this is a view I opted for when I
restored a B2 set a few years ago. Too many
pieces of classic equipment have in the past
been reduced to a sorry state, with extra holes
drilled in front panels etc.
I decided on three modifications: to add an

K I T

RIT circuit, improve the sensitivity of the


receiver and lastly to alter the audio output
impedance from 1k, to the standard output
of 8.
I also decided to keep all the components
removed during the modifications, in order
that the radio could be returned to its original condition at any time. The page numbers
from the HW8 handbook are shown in brackets.
The RIT modification (page 20) requires a
linear potentiometer to be mounted on the
front panel. This was achieved by removing
the wide/narrow (750Hz @ 6db / 375Hz @
6db) audio filter switch, and permanently connecting in circuit the narrow filter (375Hz).
This provided the mounting hole for the RIT
potentiometer. The RIT circuit was made up
on vero board and fixed near the RIT pot,
using Super Glue. The advantage of modifying the RIT in this way is that you can use the
RIT control to select either the upper, or the
lower side band. This can, on occasions, be
very useful if QRM is only on one side of the
received signal.
The receiver sensitivity modification (page
25) only entails the replacement of the RF
amplifier transistor Q1 with a 2N4416, the
forth pin is left floating.

S E R V I C E S

F O R

Kits as listed below are available. JABs aim is to have kits available off the shelf;
sometimes especially following publication demand is unknown when you are
advised to check availability.
Kit contents vary, the contents are given, ie 1+2 means that PCB parts and PCBs are
supplied. Contents and exclusions are made up from the chart above. Prices shown
is the price you pay except if the order value is under 15.00, then we ask you to add
1.00 towards P&P. Export P&P is at cost. Individual parts are listed in our catalogue
price 1.00.
Contents Codes:- Exclusion Codes:1 = PCB Mounted Parts Only
A = Air Spaced Variable
2 = PCB Only
B = Crystals
3 = Case Mounted Parts
C = Display
4 = Ready Punched Case
Notes
5 = Case Un-Punched
SF = State Frequency or Band
Please enquire about types not listed

And finally the audio modification (page 12) requires the addition of a small audio transformer,
LT700, this was also Super Glued
to the back panel. If you do this
modification be sure that you
connect both sides of the transformer to earth, and that the
side tone connection (BB), is
connected to the high impedance winding of the
transformer. The modifications are shown in photograph (left).
These modifications certainly made the HW8 a far
better radio to use on the
bands, and my first CQ QRP
call on 80 metres was answered at once by Alan,
2E0ANO, with whom I had
a pleasant chat. As I cleared
with Alan, I was called by
Mike, M0AAB, also running
QRP. We chatted for about 30 minutes, and
during the QSO Mike told me that my signal
was a bit chirpy, and I recall the possibility of
this was mentioned in the article on the RIT
modification, and by the addition of a resistor
this problem was overcome.
I also treated myself to a Lake Electronics
noise reduction audio filter NRF2, and found
it very useful for increasing audio selectivity.
The NRF2 is a passive filter which results in
some loss of audio signal strength, but as the
RF and Audio modifications had resulted in a
much higher audio output, this was not a
problem.
So, two wiring faults, one faulty transistor,
and three modifications later, my HW8 has
already provided hours of pleasure in its repair and modification, and will provide in the
future many happy hours of QRP operating.
Next time you see one of the HW series
looking for a new owner, take it home and
give it some TLC.
And finally thanks to Terry, G0TIW, who
lent me his HW7 for photographic purposes.

NOTE
[1] Cedar Electronics, 12 Isbourne Way,
Broadway Road, Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucester GL54 5NS; tel 01242
602402.

R A D C O M
Author
G4PMK
G3BIK
G3TSO
G4SGF
G4ENA
G7IXK
G3ROO
G4ENA

Date
11/89
09/90
04/91
04/92
05/92
11/92
04/93
05/93

G3YMP
G3YMP
G8NKA

09/93
01/94
08/94
11/94

P R O J E C T S

Kit
Spectrum Analyser
AF Oscillator (New)
Freq Display (New)
A Novice ATU (New)
QRP+QSK Tx/Rx
Wobbulator
6m Converter
Direction Finding Kits 160m:
DF Receiver
DF Transmitter
Simple BFO
Yearling Receiver
Ferret Audio Filter
Auto Ni-Cad Charger

Contents
1+3
1+2+3+5
1-C
1+2+3+5
1+2+3+4
1+2+3+4
1+2

Price
65.65
24.65
29.95
24.95
52.60
24.40
11.85

1+2+3
1+2+3
1+2+3+5
1+2+3+4
1+2+3
1+2+3

35.00
25.30
9.95
42.50
27.65
34.50

Notes

ST
SF

Available from: J.A.B. Electronic Components, PO Box 5774, Great Barr, Birmingham B44 8PJ. Tel: 0121-366-6928

RADIO COMMUNICATION January 1997

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