RAN Technology

The DX-60 Family

Vintage Ham Radio 0 Comments 12/09/2018 

what hath Benton Harbor wrought?

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

When an engineer at Heathkit in 1962 turned his attention to designing a replacement for the somewhat flawed DX-40 novice transmitter, little would he have expected the DX-60 to remain in the Heathkit catalog for 14 years.    From the new solid-state power supply to the streamlined apeperance and dependable performace, the new transmitter was instantly popular with novices who had the built-in controlled carrier modulator and companion HG-10 VFO in their sights.   In my early years as a young ham in the mid-1960s the DX-60 was often heard on AM with a better signal than many expected from a "novice rig".   (However I NEVER heard one being run through a linear amplifier until 40 years later!).    It was just a good transmitter for AM and CW that was soon relegated to a back shelf after a shiny new SSB transceiver arrived in the shack.

The DX-60 was based in large part on the MT-1 Cheyenne mobile transmitter that debuted in 1959.  Same 6146 PA, same controlled carrier modulation, but the internal VFO and external power supply were just the opposite of what was needed in a beginner's transmitter.   Still, it's clear that the Cheyenne and DX-60 carry more of the same Heathkit DNA than the lack of an Indian name would imply.

Others noted the success of the DX-60 and quickly followed suit.   It's likely the Hallicrafters HT-40/SX-140 pair was intended to match the DX-60/HR-10, but the most direct clone of the DX-60 came from Lafayette Radio which was expanding it's line of ham equipment at the time, no doubt in response to the growth spurred by the new Novice class license.   The KT-390 "Starflite" transmitter is a mirror-imaged DX-60 as the side-by-side photo shows.    The Starflite didn't really "match" anything in the Lafayette receiver line, but the KT-200 and KT-320 were popular general coverage receivers that made a good companion.  Both receivers were imported from Trio Electronics (soon to become known as Kenwood) in Japan, both as fully assembled and as "semi-kits" where the major components came pre-mounted.    But the Starflite was a US-based product, no doubt kitted-up by one of the east coast contractors that Lafayette used for it's stereo and hi-fi kits.   Whether it was the dominance of Heathkit or some other factor, the comparably priced Starflite failed to make much of a dent in DX-60 sales and was only on the market for 2  years before being closed out at $59.95.   Quite a few do exist and work well - mine was one of the first to appear on the DX-60 net even though other net member own them, and was instantly dubbed "The Impostor" by long-time net control N8ECR.   Impostor or not, it still makes an occasional appearance!

What other products did the DX-60 inspire?    In my opinion, it was the capstone of a long line of entry-level AM/CW gear that would be replaced by the most popular ham transceiver of all - the HW-100/101...the entry level radio for a whole new generation of hams.


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