My Heath stories

Multi-Volti Devices multi-volti at SOFTHOUSE.COM
Sun Mar 15 04:27:29 EST 1998


A couple of rumors/stories/whatevers I picked up in the Heath factory
service dept.

A large projection television kit was apparently stored in a barn for
some time due to difficulty in getting it working. While mouse, uh,
droppings area pretty a common find in equipment from storage, the
technician this time had a rodent leap out at her when she opened up the

I was working on HK-232's that had been supplied with confusingly marked
diodes. 1N4448's were marked with color codes,
yellow-yellow-yellow-grey. If one looked carefully the first yellow band
was wider, indicating the cathode. However, the first mark was on the
radiused end of the diode, so it wasn't clear if it really was wider, or
distorted by the curve of the diode body. A lot of people made the
honest mistake of assuming the grey band was the cathode. Some people
would think ahead and call  Technical Consultation to confirm, and some
would just use an ohmmeter on their own to verify. Well, T.C. sometimes
advised using an ohmmeter to verify proper polarity, as well. Eventually
it became apparent that dmm's from the local neighborhood
"You-need-an-ohmeter? We've-got-them-with
unconventional-polarity-in-ohms mode" store had reversed polarity on
ohms functions, that is, the red lead was actually more negative than
the black, causing reversed polarity identification! I suddenly
remembered how mad I had been when I discovered this about 15 years
earlier with my multi-meter from the same store! Why the @$#*%& did they
still build them that way, I asked!

So, the poor guys who thought they were doing the right thing by
checking polarity (if they had that particular brand of DMM), got burned
by putting all those diodes in backwards. I can't remember if there were
25 or 50, but there were a few guys who assembled everything
beautifully, but for the bassackwards diodes! So, I got an HK-232 in one
day that really gave me a scare. The assembler had put all DIP
components on the top side of the board, but all the axial and radial
discrete components (R, C, D, etc)!!! Well, I guess he realized he
couldn't do it with the IC's. He knew the IC pinouts wouldn't tolerate
inverted installation (maybe he could have bent the leads 180 degrees
backwards first). Let me tell, you that was no small error. I can't
imagine how long it took to do this, because all the silkscreening was
on the top side only.

As soon as I saw this, I ran for my supervisor & asked what the #% I was
supposed to do with it. It didn't work, & I sure didn't want to spend
hours troubleshooting both sides of the board. The advice was, if it's
not those goofy diodes, I was to build a new kit & send it as a
replacement. Too bad if the guy really liked his parts inverted...

I lucked out. All the striped diodes were in backwards. Swapped them and
it came right up.

Saw an SB-200 shipped in packed in a cardboard box that fit like disco
jeans. The chassis was torn from the inertia of the pwr xfmr ripping
loose from being dropped by the delivery guy. Well, the chassis parts
were no longer available. All I could do was strip the chassis down to
the areas that needed body work, and pound it back into shape with a
hammer and some 2x4 pieces as forming jigs, and some back plates to
patch the holes.

Last least until I remember more. I had moved upstairs to
Technical Consultation. There were favorite letters tacked on the wall,
the ones that really made someone's day. A regular phone and mail
contact was the guy who thought the CIA had put listening devices in his
dental fillings, and wanted help building a jamming signal.

My favorite was a teenaged kid who explained his age as well as his
'boneheadedness' in getting rid of some seemingly unneeded parts for a
digital clock, then realizing he needed them for 24 hour mode. He had
attempted to buy them from the neighborhood parts store (can't say
who...might be libelous!) and was IRATE that the "#$#@^head behind the
counter couldn't even read the stripes on a resistor!". His language
choice, not mine.

It was fun, for the most part. I don't think I have to defend Heath's
service record for anyone on this list, but in case you have any doubts,
there were radios that were so bad I wanted to call it quits on
them...they were still charging flat rate repairs, and I had one SB-104A
that just couldn't meet several specs. Once I had a certain amount of
time into it, my boss figured it was worth 'just a little more time,
otherwise we'd lose the time invested if we sent it back 'unrepaired'.
It took me a full week (43 hours), but that wretched thing met all specs
when I was done with it. The guy only got charged the flat rate 4 hour
fee. I sure hope the guy used CW. Sometimes it was frustrating to think
about repairing problems with CW and RTTY, if the guy used SSB only, but
it was supposed to be right before it left the building.

I have called the SB-104 the SOB-104 ever since.


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