Thanks to a blog posting over at SWLing.com I just found out Heathkit is back and about to release their first build-it-yourself kit, with the promise of many more to come.
Heathkit, for those who may not be familiar with the name, was a legendary producer of kit radios (and TVs, and even computers) long ago. As great as the kits were, the instruction manuals were like an electronics course in themselves. While I missed out on that experience during my misspent youth, I have often thought I might someday buy an assembled radio from that time and pair it with an original instruction manual and work in reverse. I would disassemble the radio working backward through the manual, and then reassemble it from the beginning.
While I would still love to do this, I am also excited to hear the plans for Heathkit to release products rivaling the kits of yesteryear, with the same attention to detail and the same style of detailed instruction manuals. I certainly hope they do, as they could almost single-handedly bring about a merging of the amateur radio community and the Makers groups. Only time will tell, but if Heathkit finds a real market for kit radios the future of kit building will be bright indeed!
In their description of the radio there is a section I found most intriguing and close to my heart for why radio is such a fascination:
“Sometime in the past 30 years, electronics got so complex and automated that product manufacturers took control away from us, and radio stations became a number. But a radio station is not a number. It is a place, and it has “width.” How wide it is depends on how far away you are from the station, how powerful it is, and how your radio was designed. You’ll learn all this and more about radio every time you use your Explorer. You’ll tune in stations, and tune through them, and learn to do it better and better, and hear more and more of them. The manual teaches you how. Tuning a radio is an achievement, and you will master it and enjoy it. Our grandparents knew something we’ve forgotten: Radio is magic. It’s time to experience the magic.”
If I could have one wish for anyone willing to explore the radio hobby, it would be for them to be touched by the magic of radio. When it really, really touches you it never truly leaves. It may go dormant for a while, sometimes for many, many years, but it always comes back!
Here’s to the magic! 73, Robert