Featured Product Archive
The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their
uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough
to warrant an appearance.
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I signed up as a "Heath Insider" about a
year ago (in 2015) when news first broke about Heathkit's intention to finally, after a couple
decade hiatus, begin producing built-it-yourself electronics kits again. The
Explorer Jr.™ is a basic capacitor-tuned AM radio kit
that comes complete with everything needed to build it. Why not a digitally tuned
synthesizer with an LCD display? Company president Andy Cromarty promises many more
kits to follow, with all being in the classic Heathkit tradition of high quality
parts and well-written, illustrated, step-by-step instructions. It will be a continuation
of their "You Can Build It. We won't let you fail." motto. Since originally posting
this page in 2015, Heathkit has been making slow but steady progress with expanding
their line of build-it-yourself projects. They also now have a cool T-shirt design
showing an exploded view of their "Most
Reliable Clock™" model GC-1006, with the proclamation "Heathkit's Back.
It's About Time."
An e-mail arrived a few days ago stating the following:
Here's a quick summary of what we've quietly been doing at Heathkit during the
past year: We assembled a terrific team of very talented, hard-working, inventive
people. We acquired another company and merged its management, products, assets,
and operations gracefully into Heath Company. We ensured we own every last bit of
Heathkit intellectual property, to bring you all the manuals, books, vintage designs,
and classic logos you love, unencumbered and in perpetuity. We built a company division
and acquired a line of vintage add-on designs to sustain the vintage products so
important to many Insiders.
That's a lot, but there's more. We've designed
and developed a wide range of entirely new kit products. We authored the manuals
for these kits, complete with the beautiful line art you rely on, preserving and
respecting our iconic historic Heathkit style. We developed many new inventions
and filed patents on them. We relocated Heathkit, and set up a factory, and a warehouse,
and offices, in Santa Cruz, California, near Silicon Valley. We built the back office
infrastructure, vendor and supply chain relationships, systems, procedures, operations
methods, and well-thought-out corporate structure that a manufacturing company needs
to support its customers, to allow us to scale instantly the day we resume major
kit sales. All this effort enables us to introduce a fleet of new kits and helps
ensure Heathkit can grow, prosper, and continue to bring you great new products
for a very long time.
The first new kit out of the gate is an AM radio receiver - the
Explorer Jr™. Its design and assembly is kept simple in
order to serve as an entry level kit for young and old alike. All of the electronic
components are the old fashioned leaded type that you won't need tweezers and an
eye loupe to see and work with - or the steady hands of a surgeon. Even the tuning
capacitor is a parallel plate, air dielectric kind. In anticipation of beginners
(the Explorer Jr. would make a great Christmas present for
a kid) building their first-ever electronics kit, Heathkit includes all the
tools needed for successful completion.
From the Heathkit website:
A Radio Kit Whose Time Has Come.
When Heath started designing & selling do-it-yourself airplane kits shortly
after the Great War, the state-of-the-art in radio was the Tuned Radio Frequency
A TRF radio was a great deal. If you had a great deal of money. A TRF receiver
became a fixture in the homes of families around the world, receiving the news and
music AM broadcasts of the day. A family AM radio was a big investment — $100 to
$625 in 1929 dollars. (With inflation, that's $1,400 to $8,700 in today's dollars.)
Of course, at that price radios also were beautiful. They were made of fine wood,
and designed to last. Radios were a visible and attractive furnishing you could
be proud to have in your living room or parlor.
Heathkit's TRF radio is a great deal. And a great deal of radio. This Explorer
Jr™ radio is modeled on the original TRF designs, but better. You get to build
it yourself. It's safe and simple enough for beginners to assemble and understand.
But it receives AM broadcast stations with performance superior to the vintage radios
BTW, Heathkit has also built a shop on
eBay that offers a
stock of replacement parts for some of the old kits. There is also a website
which contains nearly 700 vintage
If anyone wants to buy me one (or many) of the Heathkit projects, I would be
eternally grateful, and would do a write-up for posting here on RF Cafe ;-)
Posted May 25, 2022
(updated from original post