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Heathkit DIY Kits Are Coming Back

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the golden-age-returns dept.

Hardware Hacking 197

donberryman writes "IEEE Times reports that Heathkit, the fabled electronics kits company, is going back into that business after a two-decade hiatus. The Heathkit website says that they will be releasing Garage Parking Assistant kit (GPA-100) in late September followed by a Wireless Swimming Pool Monitor kit. Amateur radio kits may be coming by the end of the year." I hope for real this time — I never saw for sale the HERO kit they promised a few years ago.

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Thanks Slashdot (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343524)

For reminding me I'm old today.

(I think its great they're coming back... but gone for 20 years?! Ugh. I made a lot of them when I was young!)

Re:Thanks Slashdot (2)

GregC63 (1564363) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343794)

YES! I loved HeatKit! My dad and myself would work on those kits when I was young.

Glad to see they're making a comeback. Get Kids interested in electronics and a great way for them and their fathers (and possibly mothers) to bond. Something we are sorely missing these days.

Re:Thanks Slashdot (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343972)

I hope they start putting out high quality tube amplifier kits again!!!

They made some old kits that had quite good quality for audio....many still sell on eBay....

That would be cool..build your own audio or even guitar tube amp!!!!!!!!!

Re:Thanks Slashdot (2)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345270)

If you want a tube amp kit, you don't have to wait for Heathkit to get around to it. Check out Paia's web site [paia.com] (no, I do not have any association with the company...other than lusting after the FatMan analog synth and a few other kits).

Re:Thanks Slashdot (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343918)

Not only did I make a few of them, I am still using some of them, particularly some of the test equipment -- a transistor/FET checker, a few other things. And I still have a working two-channel digital scope that takes a waveform sample and provides it to a host computer; I bought it, built it, created Amiga drivers for it and used it for quite a while.

You know what I'd like to see? That new el-cheapo $25/$35 PC board working with some Heathkit designs for measuring house AC power consumption, maybe some water detectors, things like that. Perhaps an alarm system interface. Fun!

Re:Thanks Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344288)

Funny you should mention that, my dad has both the oscilloscope and waveform generator kits which he built back in the late 70s or early 80s. After a hiatus while he was working in the tech industry, they've since been recommissioned into service as test gear for tube amp repair, which is making him steady if not spectacular income.

Re:Thanks Slashdot (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344092)

They're soliciting ideas for new kits. Personally, I want to see the old kits come back, preferably as unchanged as is practical. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I thought they did a dandy job.

Re:Thanks Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37345182)

I don't know, do you really want a generation raised on relatively sturdy USB sticks and SD cards to be messing around with 5.25" floppies on the H-80?

Re:Thanks Slashdot (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344390)

I certainly remember Heathkit. I'd go through their
catalog as others did Sears'.

I always looked seriously at building a T.V. or an
oscilloscope but knew it was beyond me or they just
wouldn't work when finished (too many components).

I did purchase and assemble a working single
vacuum tube amplifier.

Wow (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343528)

I was too young for these when they went out of business, but now I want some! This would be a great substitute for home chemistry kits which are now "too dangerous" for kids. A great tool for getting kids interested in science.

Re:Wow (1)

wiggles (30088) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343668)

Just wait until people realize how many heavy metals and toxic chemicals are used in electronics components.

Re:Wow (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343676)

SHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Re:Wow (2)

cruff (171569) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343894)

And sometimes dangerous voltages too. I put together a Heathkit oscilloscope without any problem, it just took a while. The only problem was that the designers had chosen some transistors with marginal specifications for the high voltage supply (only about 3KV) and the transistors kept failing even though everything was adjusted to the specifications by the Heathkit service center itself!

They should issue a do it yourself laser-based fusion reactor kit! Plenty of danger in all areas!

Re:Wow (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344284)

Those 20 ton stainless steel containment domes are going to be hell on shipping charges. And the DIY route is going to be hard as well. Scavenging every piece of metal in a 10 mile radius and welding it together is going to piss off my neighbors a bit.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344298)

What, a Farnsworth fusor? Folks build those all the time.

http://hackaday.com/2007/03/18/make-your-own-fusion-reactor/

Re:Wow (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344660)

Did you miss the "laser-based" part? Apparently you did.

Re:Wow (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344246)

Don't worry: They can just update to the "Heathkit: 21st century skills" collection, where you learn the art and science of hiring Chinese subcontractors to assemble the kit, and the CAD skills necessary to design a case with your branding and logo to contain the finished product.

Re:Wow (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344492)

Too late they already have. The consumer protection bill from a few years ago that banned lead in children's toys ended up causing all sorts of problems for the youth ATV and dirt bike producers because of the lead acid batteries in them. There was a story in the local paper about this when it went into effect as Minnesota is home to Arctic Cat [wikipedia.org] , and Polaris [wikipedia.org] which made vehicles that were caught by this ban.

Re:Wow (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345226)

And then shrug, and fire up the soldering iron anyway.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344254)

I was too young for these when they went out of business, but now I want some!

I was old enough to want them before they stopped making them, but too young to be able to afford them. Now that I have disposable income, look out, shelves! Prepare to be filled with half-finished projects.

Heathkit - good quality (4, Informative)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343530)

I still have a Heathkit multimeter that I built in the late 80's. Still works like a charm. I think I also have an LED clock sitting in a box in a closet somewhere.
I built a lot of their kits as a kid, from shortwave radios to speakerphones. My dad was a ham radio operator and he got me hooked on them. I'd love to see them make a comeback in this arena.

Re:Heathkit - good quality (1)

oh-dark-thirty (1648133) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343804)

Oh, the nostalgia. I also built quite a few kits, including a Dolby ProLogic decoder that's still in use today...

Re:Heathkit - good quality (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343842)

thats what i want to see is a good AM/SSB 100Khz to 30Mhz) superhetrodyne shortwave receiver,

and a retro style multi-band tube type regenerative receiver (500khz to 10.01Mhz) like the old days http://www.ohio.edu/people/postr/bapix/GR81.htm [ohio.edu]

if they do that i will buy one of each.

Re:Heathkit - good quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343908)

Yes it would love more kits on the market.

Especially nowadays with modern soldering equipment, test equipment, and other tools readily available it's so much easier and your work comes out a lot nicer than the old days.

Re:Heathkit - good quality (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344024)

Put together? Hell, I have bought equipment at flea markets that was actually an old heathkit someone put together. In fact, just the other day I was rearranging stuff in my basement and found the old HeathKit capacitance meter that I got at the MIT Flea like 15 years ago. It was probably older than I am now, back when I bought it, but, last time I pulled needed it.... it worked just fine (once it warmed up....ahhh....tubes)

Actually.... just found one on EBAY.... http://www.ebay.com/itm/Heathkit-IT-22-Antique-Capacitance-Meter-/150647200398 [ebay.com]

They call it antique but.. the one I have makes this one look like the new updated model (it probably is)

Re:Heathkit - good quality (1)

linuxgurugamer (917289) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345212)

LOL. I could have written this message; multimeter works, father was ham radio operator, etc. I built a lot of the kits, wouldn't mind trying them again.

I'll get in line (1)

AzariahK (1990690) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343652)

This could be great. My first SW radio was their HR-10B ham band receiver. It stayed alive from 1970 through 2008. If they put out a good general communications receiver, I'd be first in line. I don't suppose we'll see any more of the old crinkly green paint finishes, though, alas.

Re:I'll get in line (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345178)

Check with a few Heathkit collector sites. Some repro paints are available on Ebay.

Me lubs Old School industrial paint colors....

helo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343654)

I WANT A AIDS KIT

Re:helo (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344150)

I think you should get a TicKit
to ConnectiKit
and eat some BrisKit
then get a joint and SmoKit
before getting an AIDsKit
from HeathKit

green housing (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343712)

You know, I think there could be a good emerging market for DIY home control stuff...

Re:green housing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344950)

Exactly what I was thinking about. the "green" stuff on their site is of little real value. A home thermostat with WiFi connection, though, would be at the top of my to-buy list. Same for WiFi connected door locks (without the monthly subscription required by Schlage).

Just old enough to remember.... (1)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343714)

I had to go and look at the wikipedia site for Heathkit, as the name sounded familiar but I couldn't place anything. Once I brought the pictures up though, memories of my dads work shop came flooding back to me and I recognized several of the kits that my dad had in there. He was an radio/electronics guy in the Coast Guard and a ham radio operator. If nothing else, thanks for some dredging up some fond memories of my father. :o)

Garage parking assistant? (0)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343736)

Isn't that the guy who duplicates your house key and passes it to his buddy who burgles your house while you're in the restaurant?

rj

Re:Garage parking assistant? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344966)

That's why you keep your car keys separate (or detachable).

There are other great kit/parts companies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343758)

Have a look for Velleman and Sparkfun if you wish to tinker.

Will they have PCs? (1)

Walter White (1573805) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343826)

My first PC was a Heathkit H8. I remember soldering lots and lots of DIP sockets to the boards and putting the case, PSU and terminal together. The terminal, an H/Z-19, had a more powerful processor than the CPU itself. I also remember keying in programs through the front panel to test it out before I attached the floppy drive so I could boot CP/M.

Are they making kits in Benton Harbor? That town could sure use the help.

Re:Will they have PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344502)

Are they making kits in Benton Harbor? That town could sure use the help.

It sure could, but I doubt that it'd get any from making radio kits that would end up costing twice what an iPod does.

Re:Will they have PCs? (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344548)

Heh, I learned AutoCad in the highschool drafting shop on a Heathkit Z80 PC. Later in 19th grade I sourced some superconducting material for a friends' Physics paper. Had no idea they only went OOB in 1991!

Z-19 FTW indeed (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344852)

A Z-19 and a US Robotics modem got me through graduate school in the early 1980's. Wrote most of my dissertation at home (in troff, yet).

I never had to modify the Z-19, but the Z80 processor would have been a piece of cake to hack if necessary.

Well it will give the nerds something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343896)

to do Friday nights while people with lives are out living it up.

Re:Well it will give the nerds something (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344886)

By 'living it up" I presume you mean taking a break from job hunting.

Or do you mean clocking in at the gas station? .... scooping out the floaters in the fry machine?

who is their market, any more? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343906)

Are there any Americans left who can soldier, or know the difference between a capacitor and their ass, or can tell you the first damn thing about analog circuits? Don't we all just push buttons with our thumbs on cell phones imported from Asia now?

It seems like the only technically inclined Americans any more are all over 50 or so. The younger crowd knows how to *use* technology, but they don't understand it for shit. This I can tell by talking to young people about their cell phones. They are "magic devices" to them.

Heathkit - they were a product of the times. Sad to say, I can't really imagine them selling more than a few kits to the geezer/nostalgia crowd these days. The younger folks don't want to *understand*. They just want to blindly buy and use.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344020)

Get off my lawn!

Re:who is their market, any more? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344170)

Are there any Americans left who can soldier, or know the difference between a capacitor and their ass, or can tell you the first damn thing about analog circuits? Don't we all just push buttons with our thumbs on cell phones imported from Asia now?

It seems like the only technically inclined Americans any more are all over 50 or so. The younger crowd knows how to *use* technology, but they don't understand it for shit. This I can tell by talking to young people about their cell phones. They are "magic devices" to them.

Heathkit - they were a product of the times. Sad to say, I can't really imagine them selling more than a few kits to the geezer/nostalgia crowd these days. The younger folks don't want to *understand*. They just want to blindly buy and use.

Check out any number of hackerspaces across the United States - electronics is not just for the over 50 crowd. Examples:

Noisebridge
LVL1
NY Resist (sp??)

I belong to LVL1 in Louisville, Kentucky and we have several high school age kids (boys and girls) who are very active in our group.

Re:who is their market, any more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344232)

Maybe, but if so that is an EXTREME niche. While it's never been everybody, in the 60's it was a much higher percentage of the population who could/would/wanted to do things like this.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344178)

I'm 22... I like knowing how things work, too, you know. Was watching a thing on the History Channel last night, tracing from the telegraph to the internet, and I started asking questions (like how twisted pairs of wires reduce interference, things like that).

However, lots of older people are the same way -- "I only care about the computer at all because I need it" is a common refrain, trust me. Younger people just aren't encouraged to actually investigate any more :\

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

chronoglass (1353185) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345142)

i watched that, pretty interesting, minus the cisco product placement.
their bit on tesla before that was pretty neat too.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344206)

It doesn't take understanding to put resister A in hole A. Yes, you have to be able to read resister codes, but otherwise you just need to follow instructions. You only need to understand when things aren't working right, and that is how you end up learning new things.

Built kits in a class in highschool around 16 years ago, soldering ain't hard.

Re:who is their market, any more? (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344214)

Are there any Americans left who can soldier...

Yes, quite a few actually. For the last decade we've been exporting them to the Middle East.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344218)

That's why Heathkit is a good idea. If nothing else, it lets kids learn about electronics via practical examples. There a few other electronic kits out there, but Heathkit was always the gold standard.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344400)

Yes, we technically minded under-50s are around.

Perhaps if this stuff didn't get more and more pigeonholed as "geek stuff" and relegated to more and more niche classes for smart kids in middle and high school... You know, because it's not politically correct to teach kids hard stuff that the entire class isn't going to get. None of this stuff is on the (massively flawed in execution) state exams, so it's not going to get the school's attention if they aren't learning it. I'd even like to see more basic electronics and mechanics demos for younger kids!

You could say the same thing about electronics, mechanics (like car engines), physics, programming, etc... There are all these kids who want to be businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, and teachers... what about scientists and engineers?

It sure would be great if the elder generations took the initiative to pass it on to the younger generations :)

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

mla_anderson (578539) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344404)

I'm under 50, maybe only a decade under, but still. I can solder, but pitches less than 0.5mm are rough. Caps are easy to distinguish from my ass, they're usually a whole lot smaller. I've done AM radio transmitters on a bread board, ultrasonic vision systems, audio amplifiers, and antennas and that was just for fun. For work I've done source/measure units (SMU) that can source DC to an accuracy of microvolts and resolution of 100s of picovolts and measure to an accuracy of femtoamps and a resolution of attoamps, I'll bet you've never worried about the DC resistance of solder mask. I've also done analog to 2.1G and digital to 3Gbps (comes out to about 10G edges). Everything I've designed has been wholly built in the US. Much of what I've designed has been exported to Asia, primarily Taiwan and China. (Sorry getting off-topic there)

My boys want to spend their days pulling things apart to figure out how they work and what they can do with them. My daughter wants to know the why, but could care less what she can do with the knowledge (she's the typical physicist).

Yes there are a lot of plugged in and tuned out kids (aka anyone younger than me) who have no interest in how things work, but the majority I've interacted with are still truly curious. A lot of twenty-somethings I've talked with are curious about their technological world, even if they don't understand it. We're not sunk yet.

Re:who is their market, any more? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345290)

Young people (mostly) didn't know shit about tech back in The Day either, nor did many older folks.

Don't confuse the masses with techies. They have always been different. People were often able to fix shit which failed often (by playing swaptronics with tubes in the tube tester at the hardware store), but that was more necessity than anything else. If you didn't know how to troubleshoot a points ignition, you got to pay someone to un-fuck your car, lawn mower, etc, on a frequent basis.

There are plenty of young techies today too. I've met many of them in the Air Force and when I worked vo-tech. The SOCIAL aspect has moved to the internet, which I regard as a vast improvement.

Good stuff (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343916)

My Heathkit IT-3117 vacuum tube tester still works great. When the tubes in my TV set need checking, I don't have to make a trip to Radio Shack.

Now get off my lawn, kid!

Re:Good stuff (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344326)

My Heathkit IT-3117 vacuum tube tester still works great. When the tubes in my TV set need checking, I don't have to make a trip to Radio Shack.

My TV set is about 1 inch thick... how do they fit the tubes in there?

Re:Good stuff (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344778)

They own a steam roller. How else would you do it?

Re:Good stuff (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344344)

I remember seeing vacuum tube testers at the grocery store. They even sold replacement tubes.

Re:Good stuff (1)

batquux (323697) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344550)

That's good. You'd be in for quite a ride if you took your tubes to Radio Shack.

Misread as "Healthkit"... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37343920)

And was hoping I could do a DIY tonsillectomy, since I don't have health insurance at my W2 contract McJob.

Re:Misread as "Healthkit"... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344740)

...since I don't have health insurance at my W2 contract McJob.

Then, you're doing it wrong.

I hope you've incorporated yourself first...doing an S Corp is the way I went and I'd recommend it for the great payroll tax savings you can get that way.

Also, set yourself up a HSA (Health Savings Account) which is a great way to save money for routine care ALL pre-tax. Combine this with a reasonable high deductible health insurance account, only for emergencies (you know, like in the old days when it was all called "major medical")...and you're good to go.

I had to come off my last gig and take one that is currently W2...I fought and tried for 1099, but they already had too many on the contract and required more to be 'direct' W2's to them, man...I miss the deductions...freedom from having to fucking 'earn' vacation and sick hours.....

PDP11 (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343932)

I always wanted to make the PDP11 kit, but could not afford it! Maybe I can now!

Re:PDP11 (2)

Temkin (112574) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344072)

I got the opportunity to buy one back in the 80's, and couldn't pass it up. But I hate to disappoint you, it was just a linear power supply and a Q-bus backplane kit. The PDP-11/03 board, memory card, and serial interface were all straight from the DEC plant.

That said... It ate TRS-80 model 1's for breakfast! :)

Re:PDP11 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344172)

I built the H-11 and had many good years with it. I still have it.

I have a hard time getting excited about Heathkits today because of the greedy manual Nazis. I should be able to go online and find a schematic for an IB-1103, but all the pages from people that are demanding $19.99 for a Xeroxed copy of the manual puts a bitter spin on it.

If Heathkit comes back, I hope they kill the aftermarket manual scalpers by posting their kit documentation online.

Re:PDP11 (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344362)

I always wanted to make the PDP11 kit, but could not afford it! Maybe I can now!

I bet I still have the old Star Trek game on paper tape! Man, that really chewed through the tractor feed paper on those DEC terminals...

Re:PDP11 (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344396)

There's a PDP11 emulator on the Android Market for $4.

Re:PDP11 (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345184)

I wonder if you can boot Unix on it?

I still have the "Ancient Unix" from SCO/Caldera -- just before Ransom Love left, and they turned evil.

What Memories! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344038)

GREAT memories of my best friend and me wiring a Heathkit Apache TX-1 amateur radio transmitter in the late 1950's. A wonderful experience, and led to me getting my ham licence, which I still hold. (And we wired one of the rectifiers in backwards, so I never WILL forget the smell of burned-out selenium!)

Like the comeback of Commodore 64 & Amiga? (2)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344058)

...numerous exploits by various idiot companies that have no or little relation to the time-honored companies of christmas past.

Wanna bet?

Re:Like the comeback of Commodore 64 & Amiga? (2)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345280)

Nope, because even crappy kits would be better then no-kits, whereas the Commodore and Amiga "come backs" didn't fill any gaps. I find it an indictment of Australian culture (and most other Western countries aren't that much different) that the main source of basic kits like crystal radios is dodgy Chinese copies with incomprehensible instructions.

These kinds of kits is how you get kids interested in engineering, and how you educate others on basic principles of the technology we rely on.

It is lucky DIY was only mostly dead for twenty years, because the effects if the gap had of been larger would have been the final blow in Western economies competing with Chinese ones.

70cm Ham Radio needed (1)

fhknack (104003) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344068)

Sweet! For the two-and-a-half years since I earned my Ham license, I have been singularly unable to find a kit for making a transmitter I could use. I can re-learn to read circuit diagrams, etc., but designing and building a radio from scratch is too far beyond my current skills.

Re:70cm Ham Radio needed (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344490)

You'd have better luck on the MW bands, but that of course requires a General or better ticket. From what I understand, designing transmitters (or receivers) for multi-hundred MHz frequencies is substantially more difficult as the tolerances are much lower than required for anything between 0.1-30MHz.

Re:70cm Ham Radio needed (1)

mla_anderson (578539) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344544)

You'd have better luck on the MW bands, but that of course requires a General or better ticket.

But a General isn't that hard to get any more. There's no code requirement, so it can be done with memorization.

Re:70cm Ham Radio needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344684)

Tech has CW privileges on 80,40,15 and 10 M as well as SSB on 10. Has for 4 years now, you guys are a notch behind the times. That said, general is really easy to get now.

Re:70cm Ham Radio needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344656)

No General ticket needed. Build a CW rig, learn the code, and you can operate on the lower bands. Or you could build a 10m SSB rig. --... ...--

Prepare yourself (1)

RhadamanthosIsChaos (857646) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344216)

I know what the submitter means... I'm holding out for a HERO too.

Re:Prepare yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344292)

http://www.heathkit.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34&Itemid=45

But, will it make Louis happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344296)

PILLS HERE? O:

After all, Louis needs his pills. (L4D reference)

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344386)

Bring back the H8!

Component cost (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344394)

TFA talked about the proliferation of cheap components post WWII that really made the kits practical from a cost perspective. With modern manufacturing technology all geared towards surface mount mass production, I wonder how easy it will be to find cheap components to use in the kits. Small surface mount parts are fine for manufacturing but it takes a lot more dexterity to solder them correctly than it does with the old through-hole technology. There's no way I want to even think about attaching a BGA socket on a board by hand.

Still, I would have a hard time believing that there is no demand for the through-hole components any more. Someone who knows more than I do should be able to tell me whether or not those are still available at a reasonable price these days.

Re:Component cost (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344654)

With the heathkit stuff, one could build products equal or better to store-bought assembled stuff because so much of retail products were still assembled by humans and the components were manufactured with that assumption. So you would pay a little more for components, but you would save by doing the labor yourself. And it was fun.

Even when it came to PCB, etching yourself was not a huge problem. Try doing that now. For instance, by the late 80's with surface mount technology, who could do that without machines. Assembling now is pretty much swapping cards. There is no labor savings in that.

The value now is probably in having firmware that can be customized to specific tasks.

Re:Component cost (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344714)

There's no way I want to even think about attaching a BGA socket on a board by hand.

Still, I would have a hard time believing that there is no demand for the through-hole components any more.

Perhaps that is part of the business plan. First kit you need to build is the "Chip Shooter" kit. Next, the "Stencil Solder" kit. Finally, the "Reflow Oven" is added to your list of projects. After that, the rest of the projects are cake!

Re:Component cost (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344786)

I recently read somewhere (maybe at Sparkfun?) that a $30 hotplate from Target actually works better than a $3,000 reflow oven for small SMT jobs!

Re:Component cost (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344974)

Now, why'd you go and say that? I want those kits now!

Re:Component cost (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345092)

Well, that would make it an interesting project if you had to build the tools first. And that's probably not an unreasonable idea for Heathkit to look into given their target market...

Re:Component cost (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344724)

Depends on the component. Passives are still widely available in thru-hole versions. Some semiconductors are as well (e.g. there's still a pretty reasonable selection of transistors, op amps, discrete logic), but obviously anything with a lot of pins is surface-mount only.

I've recently been playing around with some of Microchip's PIC microcontrollers. Their low pin count (up to 28 pins) 8- and 16-bit devices are still available in through-hole DIP packages, so amazingly enough those old solderless breadboards from the '70s are still good for something!

Re:Component cost (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344782)

They are still available. They generally cost 3-5 times as much as the SMT equivalents, but that doesn't make them expensive. Paying 5 cents for an axial resistor versus 1 cent for an 0402, or $3 for a DIP instead of $1 for the same chip in a BGA isn't going to break the bank for a hobbyist. The price differences are actually more significant for the big companies that sell a million widgets, where shaving a dollar of the BOM means a sizable boost to the bottom line.

Re:Component cost (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345052)

That sounds entirely reasonable for cost. I last bought a resistor back in 2004 and had a difficult time finding one that wasn't through mail order. The sales monkey at Radio Shack didn't even know what one was. I half expected that no one made them any more. But I suppose they will never completely die out. It's good to hear that they're not prohibitively expensive.

I grew up on these back in the 60s (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344444)

Great stuff. Hopefully, they will not be using Chinese parts. I would pay more to get Western parts.

Does this make the old ones valuable? (1)

business_kid (973043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344470)

My Signal Generator is a Heath Kit. It does 30khz to 100 Mhz with attenuation for testing signal stages of radios/tvs. You can have pure sine wave, or 3khz AM modulation. Pots on everything are still functional.
I have used it for testing FM stages, and MW stages. It still does 100Mhz, despite the fact that it runs 2 x ECC 83 thermionic valves. Obviously an excellent (if extremely old) design. Will this make it valuable?

Damn kids today... (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344506)

...don't even know how to use a soldering iron. What's this world coming to? ;-)

People used to actually fix failed electronics back in the 60s...

Heh... I still fix failed electronics today! Just this past weekend I repaired my daughter's failed video card by replacing all of the crummy leaking and exploded electrolytic capacitors in the VRM circuit. I refuse to pitch an otherwise perfectly good card into the landfill just because a half-dozen 50 cent capacitors have decided to commit suicide.

Re:Damn kids today... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344664)

Sadly you can't do much more than that these days. BGAs and COBs are great for making tiny, low cost electronics, but they're almost impossible to tinker with.

Re:Damn kids today... (1)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344942)

I hear ya... I was almost embarassed that my son thought I was amazing because I knew how to boost my wife's car. "You can DO that? Wow!"

(and this from a kid that knows I'm already a Mr. Fixit type guy around the house)

Re:Damn kids today... (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345248)

I have one of the Dell laptops with Nvidia video that gave Nvidia/Dell/HP and others a black eye a few years ago. My system worked fine up until towards the end of this February, when it coughed up the scrambled video that indicated that it had succomed to the failure that Nvidia was succesfully class-action-suited over. I lucked out as the deadline for filing for the repair/replacement (Dell=repair/HP=replace of the whole laptop) was the middle of March. I filed and got my system (that I'm writing this on) fixed and alls well.. A friend whose Dell/Nvidia laptop was working fine up until a month ago, died with the same squirrely video. Of course, since the
arbitrary deadline had passed, Nvidia/Dell magically gets to avoid the cost of fixing this (and I bet a LOT of additional) failures. Since the problem is essentially some cold solder joints on the Nvidia graphics chip, we read some discussion online about reflowing the solder on these cold joints, and with the help of a heatgun got the
system working again normally. Of course there's no way to tell how long this will last, but he was planning on replacing the laptop in the next year or so..

Cool but, Swimming Pool is huge liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344630)

Kits are cool, and welcome back Heatkit, but... to Management

A kit build safety system is a huge potential liability. Like kill your venture kind liability.

See Burt Rutan and homebuilt things that occasionally explode or cause fatalities (or failed to prevent)

 

I really liked them when I was a kid! (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344900)

Back in the early 50's (Korean war) I built my first kit (crystal set), and more in the following years, AM/FM/SW radio, reel to reel tape recorder, Morse HAM unit, I loved them!

I did "American Basic Science Club" in the 1960s (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344914)

They advertised [samstoybox.com] in the back of comic books. A couple dollars a month got a incremental kit every month for a year. The bulk of it was an electronic subsystem progressing through amplifiers until built a whole ham radio. I remember a dry ice cloud chamber too. Good enough to help me get into M.I.T.

I am jealous of what kids got today. All the science kits have been dumbed down for safety reasons, I'd be hacking together computers and software. Which I do now.

I'd sure like a good scope. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345072)

The Heathkit oscilloscopes were of very good quality. These days you can spend a fortune on a digital scope, but many of them are only good for digital signals, and many don't go over a few Mhz.

Benton Harbor Lunch Box (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345108)

Does anyone (besides me, obviously) remember the Benton Harbor Lunch Box? That's an example of good, efficient design! Not too many parts, and it was adequate to the task.

I worked at one of the stores! (1)

soloesp (716527) | more than 3 years ago | (#37345272)

Not only did I build quite a few of just about everything, I worked at the store in Omaha until I graduated from high school. What an education! Still have my H89/H77 combination. Booted it up a couple years ago. Still runs. Amazing!
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