Friday, August 18, 2017

Electronic Make Over

One of the great aspects of the radio hobby is the ability to preserve history by restoring "antique" radio gear, in particular communications gear of the past. Having been the hobby for well over 50 years I have seen, owned, traded, and  restored a ton (literally) of radio gear. Over the years I have developed an affection (my wife, Pat, KB3MCT, calls it an obsessive addiction) for specific gear.

Some of my favorites are the Hallicrafters twins: SX-117/HT-45 RX/TX, Ten-Tec PM series and the analog Argonaut series (505, 509, 515), Heathkit HW-101, SB-series (SB-302/402 RX/TX & SB-102 XCVR), HW-7 & 8 QRP rigs, HW-19, 29, 39 Benton Harbor "Lunchboxes", Drake 2B RX, TR-4, R-4/T-4 RX/TX, and finally the Icom "bookshelf" VHF rigs (202, 215, 402 & 502 transceivers). Don't get me started on the CB rigs or the military comm gear I love!

Unfortunately I do not have the space to restore and display a lot of gear. However, I still love to restore gear, the smaller the better! With that being said my latest efforts are to restore a Heathkit HW-30 2 Meter AM (QRP) rig from the 1960s. I grew up in eastern Washington (state) and we had a local TV station on channel 2. Therefore, not wanting to cause any TVI with a 6M rig I chose the HW-30 as my first VHF rig. It was a great little kit and it followed me to college where it occupied a position of honor in my dorm room. There were a bunch of us in the electronics engineering program that got on 2M AM for a couple of years. Ah, yes, the "bad old days"!! Actually the were pretty darn good days, looking back on things.

On the Yahoo Heathkit Group I came across Emil, WD4SCZ, who wanted to sell a working HW-30 without a case for $15. In the end I traded him an autographed copy of my QRP book for the rig and reimbursed him for the shipping. When the FedEx truck dropped off the box, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my "new" rig had been recapped and came furnished with a crystal for the low end of 2M.

The "Lunchbox's" front panel had been hacked. Somewhere along the line a previous owner had added a crystal socket and DPDT toggle switch to change between the internal stock crystal socket and the front panel mounted crystal socket, making QSYing fairly easy. There is also a hole in the front panel for modification that was apparently removed in the past. Overall cosmetic condition was fair to good. All the original knobs were pristine and front panel finish and lettering was great. The chassis needed some cleaning and the front panel needed replacing to bring the rig back to where I wanted it. Where to get a "clean" front panel and a case.

The case was easy. Terry, N3GTE, came up with a case for a Heathkit CB-1, which is basically the same cabinet used for the entire "Lunchbox" line. It arrived a day before the radio, so I was ready to put the two together. The fit was great! The front panel poses a problem. Not many unmodified/clean "Lunchbox" front panels exist. The obvious solution is to find a HW-30 that has a good front panel and cannibalize it.

I have my eye on a couple of HW "Lunchbox" rigs on e-bay and etsy. Prices are a bit high for what the rigs are, but the law of supply and demand dictates price. My ultimate goal is to get all four "Lunchboxes" restored and on the air. An additional spin-off goal is to stir some interest within the local ham clubs to get folks on VHF AM and have some fun while experiencing the halcyon days of 1960s ham radio.

As the restoration progresses I will be posting progress along with pictures on this blog.

In the mean time, stay tuned.

Vy 73 and good DX!
Rich K7SZ    

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