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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In the early days of aviation radio, transmissions originated from the ground using the longwave transmitter also used for homing,  and pilots acknowledged by wagging their wings.  It didn't take long to realize the benefits of having transmitting capability onboard the plane as well, and the first generation of aircraft radio used the low HF band.    Given today's...  READ MORE
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    In his book "In Touch with Leo", the success and growing backlog of CB-100 orders is what drove Leo to his banker, Lou Ross, who asked him why he didn't anticipate the number of orders and required capital.  Leo responded "Lou, never on God's green earth could I have believed such an influx of orders!".    More funding was needed than the bank ...  READ MORE
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Spectral Purity using Epson Programmable Oscillators

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 In the 5 or so years I've been using the Epson oscillators I've looked at the spectral output many times.   Without a doubt the harmonic output from the Epson oscillator is high as would be expected  from a square wave device.   The question to me has always been "does it matter"?PLL controlled digital oscillators have long been used as LOs in recei...  READ MORE
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The Foxhole Radio

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 When I was a kid, my dad gave me a thin hardcover book called "Boys Fun Book - Things to Make and Do".   It was printed during WWII on very thin paper as a wartime conservation measure, but was chock-full of interesting projects, ranging from hobbies and magic tricks to sports, puzzles, camping...and the chapter I was drawn to:  "Unusual Radios You Can Build You...  READ MORE
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