vintage Heathkit HW−5400 HF SSB Transceiver kit showed up on eBay. I have been saving
the images of these unbuilt kits in order to preserve the history. The constantly
growing list is at the lower right. The HW−5400 covers the 80− through 10−meter
bands as well as the 10 MHz WWV frequency reference signal and the WARC bands.
A video tour is posted below. A Web search on the Heathkit HW−5400 HF SSB Transceiver
shows mixed reviews. Some people loved it, and others thought it was the worst transceiver
Heathkit ever put out. Of course that's the way it is with most things. In the case
of kits, a lot depends on the skill of the builder, because even the most proficient
operator and assembler of system level parts is not necessarily a great builder
The first instance I could find for HW−5400 HF SSB Transceiver being offered
for sale was in the Winter 1983-84 Heathkit catalog (p93), at a cost of $499.95
($1518.46 in 2023 money per the
BLS). The external power supply costs an extra $1.99.95, and the Frequency Entry
Keypad would set you back an additional $59.95.
From the Winter 1983-84 Heathkit catalog:
The Heathkit HW-5400 Synthesized HF SSB/CW Transceiver is aprice-performance
Now only $499.95
Save $150 more on the world's most fascinating rig and experience performance
others only dream of
PLL-synthesized stability with crystal accuracy
Patented 2-speed tuning knob with 50 Hz resolution
Digital display with direct keypad frequency entry, two memories per band and
The world's first and only kit-form synthesized HF Transceiver:
For every ham who dreams of owning the finest quality, multi-purpose equipment they
can "get their hands on." Heath has created a special new assemble-it-yourself rig.
A long overdue standard of price-performance payback: Heath
breaks the cost barrier to having more sophisticated, dependable talk power and
microtech flexibility for use while at home, in the field or on the road. The compact
HW-5400 Synthesized Transceiver is a marvel of modern kit-form engineering design.
Controlled and monitored by a custom 8-bit microprocessor, it yields quick-change
versatility in adapting to uncertain band conditions. From the moment it arrives,
you start an interfacing experience that will put the original sense of thrill,
skill and adventure back into Amateur Radio.
Three modes, eight bands and plenty of power from HF excitement:
The HW-5400 operates in USB, LSB, and CW on 80-10 meters with automatic sideband
selection. Completely solid-state and broadbanded, it has full break-in (QSK) for
proficient CW ops, sixteen memories, power supply activation at the transceiver
panel, defeatable amplifier relay for quiet keying, maximum shielding on the PA,
reverse and over-voltage protection as well as high VSWR forward power cutback circuitry
for the cool-running finals.
The HW-5400's high-resolution tuning system employs a dual-speed
technique so uniquely practical and efficient, Heath has applied for patent rights.
An infrared optical shaft encoder and two rotation holes control the scan speed.
One uses a capacitive-touch metallic insert so you can rapidly scan a band in 1
kHz increments, while tuning with the other lets you pick out closely-packed calls
for more QSOs over a narrow frequency range at 50 Hz per step.
Beats the QRM every time: A tremendously versatile Split-Memory
Access function lets you review and change the transmit frequency while in receive
without missing a single word or fragment of code from the station in contact.
Total Transceiver status at a glance: Seven mode and function
symbols left of the frequency display inform you of current mode, T/R status, split
operation, split-access memory handling, and whether the transmit frequency is outside
the band edge. They can be set to one of three brightness levels.
Half the controls on most transceivers, twice the performance of many:
The HW-5400 front panel is clean and uncluttered, with all functions marked for
easy operation. Three dual-concentric knobs command every aspect of signal isolation
and maintenance. Essential vox and sidetone controls are located behind the nameplate,
which flips open at your touch.
More microprocessor ingenuity: With the inexpensive HWA-5400-3
Keypad option wired in, you've got extra pushbutton power and signal-capturing advantage.
It allows instantly synthesized direct QSY to any position in the band, and permits
fast DX, contest and net work when using the Split-Memory function. This cursor-controlled,
single-digit, random or sequential access to any frequency and 50 Hz PLL accuracy
improves contact agility.
Matched to this Transceiver, the HWA-5400-1 Power Supply/Speaker/Digital
Clock provides a well-regulated, 13.8 volt source of DC power.
As you build the 5400 kits circuit by circuit, you'll learn
their engineering details with hands-on understanding. The fully illustrated, step-by-step
manual guides you all the way through assembly.
For the price- and quality-conscious ham who wants the greater
pride, knowledge and performance only hand-crafted gear can provide, these kits
offer the highest value fro your hamshack dollar.
With the knowledge you gain to keep it performing at peak efficiency,
the HW-5400 is the only rig to make real the dream of every amateur - a greater,
more worthwhile return in pleasurable, year-to-year results on a premium investment.
The new HW-5400. If you've got the time, this is the Transceiver!
Heathkit HW−5400 HF SSB Transceiver video by Bob Frick
Heathkit products were well known for the completeness of
its instruction manuals, with clearly illustrated instructions. During the writing
and editing process, Heathkit employees were given pre-production kits to take home
and build, while annotating any difficulties or errors encountered. Doing so helped
minimize the situation where the writer inadvertently assumes his own familiarity
with the process is shared by the customer. Having built a few Heathkit products
myself in the 1970s when I did not have a lot of experience with electronics assembly,
I can attest to the user friendliness of the instructions.
still sells many of its vintage manuals for around $15, which is what you would
pay on eBay.
Heath Company (Heathkit) Operations: PO Box 15, Ottsville, PA 18942 R&D/Mfg:
PO Box 3115, Santa Cruz CA 95063 Phone: +1 (831) 480-4368 E-Mail:
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