A Heathkit Moment

Wilson Lamb infomet at EMBARQMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 4 08:53:06 EST 2010

Occasionally there is such a good outcome we need to share.
I gave my son a well used SB-101 when he was in school in the late 80s.  It 
was handled fairly roughly in transport and used sporadically until he 
graduated in 1990, when it was put away.  It was moved several times as he 
started a family, moved, started a business, moved, etc.  For the last few 
years it sat on a bench in his office, waiting to get back on the air.

Well, a couple weeks ago he dragged it down here to my house, put it on the 
bench in my shop, and turned it on.  I was busy operating in the CX contest, 
so didn't pay any attention.  After a while, he said "It's not smoking and I 
hear a little static."  How's that for sophisticated work by a genuine EE? 
Anyhow, he didn't come back to work on it and it sat there staring at me. 
So last night I brought it up slowly on a Variac and saw the HV doing fine. 
I eased it up to 100V, wiggled all the tubes, execriced all the switches, 
and spun the dial...more sophisticated technique.  It was on the dummy load, 
but I did get noise from the wiggling, so was encouraged.

All the orings were rotten and fallen off, so I put it in tune and turned 
the driver caps by hand while watching the plate current.  What ho!  I got 
plate current, so switched the meter to grid, got nothing, wiggled switch a 
few more times, had grid current!  Then I dipped the plate and went back to 

Then I turned on the calibrator and what ho again, I heard the calibrator at 
3500!  The frequency was a whole KHz off!  That after about 20 yr of rest!

So then I had to get the antenna on as quickly as possible.  As soon as I 
touched the line to the connector, the spkr exploded with noise and CW, so I 
had to turn the volume way down.  Tuning showed me gobs of signals, with 
very good S/N ratio.  I immediately talked to someone 250 miles away and a 
few minutes later Maine, from here in central NC!  The ME station said I was 
599+25!  Not bad for 80W out!

Further tuning showed many stations, very low noise, and a good sounding 
tone.  Even the CW filter, which I forgot it had, works fine.

So there you go.  I've had my share of Heath experience...dicey switches, 
drifty resistors, and corroded sockets, but this one is a real winner.  It 
has a lot of tubes and components, but all seems to be well so far.  I'll 
get the kid to help run a voltage check, but I don't expect to find much.

As I've said many times, I'd rather listen to a Heath than a KWM-2 or S-Line 
receiver.  This one is no exception.  Hopefully he will throw up a wire and 
get on a little.  Who knows, I may pick up another 101, after I fiinish the 
10 or so projects already hanging around here.

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