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.


The Solvay Conference, 1927

The Smartest Photograph Ever Take
Category: Historic
The Solvay Conference, founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912, was considered a turning point in the world of physics. Located in Brussels, the conferences were devoted to outstanding preeminent open problems in both physics and chemistry. The most famous conference was the October 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, where the world’s most...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/27/2018 
   Put yourself in 1963...A stamp was a nickel, bread was 22 cents a loaf, and you could buy 3 gallons of gas for a buck.   The average wage in the US was $84 a week.  If you were a ham, you might have been able to build and trade your way up to a really nice AM/CW station - maybe a Valiant or DX-100 transmitter with an NC-300 or HQ-170 receiver - a huge improvement over the S-38 you s...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/17/2018 

Astro...Don Stoner's legacy

How many of these rare transceivers have you seen?
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
A recent post on the Cubic-Astro mail reflector noted the similarities between the rare CIR Astro 200 and the much more common Cubic Astro 150 transceivers.   And therein lies an  interesting story...I have done a little research on the CIR Astro 200, and the commenter was right - it is the progenitor of the Astro line we are much more familiar with as a result of Swan (already owne...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/09/2018 
   Epson programmable oscillators are a good substitute for quartz crystals in many applications, but they're a bit different to use.   First, they are active devices that require DC power, typically 5 volts at 45mA.    Second, like all ICs they are easily damaged by static and voltages that exceed the design limits.   Finally they are in DIP packates that are i...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/08/2018 

Programmable Oscillators - the modern day "rock"

Cheaper and more accurate and stable than the old type
Category: Crystal Replacement
With the demise of  International Crystal in 2018, hams and experimenters lost the last US-based source of affordable one-off custom crystals.  (And the definition of "affordable" ended up over $30 each).     Sure there are some offshore sources but the reality is, manufacturing one crystal to a specific frequency is not simple or inexpensive, and all crysta...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/06/2018 

"A Pair of 6V6s"

What more does one need to hear good audio?
Category: Vintage Audio
The first audio amplififer I made (that worked) used a single 6V6 to amplify the output of a regenerative receiver.    Ever since they've been my idea of what a good audio tube should be and with a big speaker mounted on a piece of plywood, a 6V6 will produce "room filling volume" as the magazine articles fo the day said.   But as my music tastes grew acousti...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/03/2018 
   My primary aim when desiging the VERSA-TR was low power transmitters, and to protect the receiver from potentially damaging voltages when transmitting. 100 watts into 50 ohms is a +50dBm signal.  I'd measured the attenuation at the receiver connector in the labe at -60 to -70 dB (depending on frequency), which means that should result in -10 to -20dB at the receiver, which should be ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/29/2018 

VERSA-TR Panadaptor Video

Use the VERSA-TR to improve your SDR panadaptor
Category: VERSA-TR Information
An inexpensive SDR like my RANVerter Pi Plus can add a panoramic spectrum and waterfall display to almost any vintage (or modern) radio.    The ability to use the SDR as a 2nd receiver that can be tuned to a different frequency or mode from the main transceiver is a real plus, but annoying feedback and delayed audio will be normally heard through the PC speakers in the transmit mode...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/27/2018 
   The muting relay on the VERSA-TR can be used to control other devices when RF is present.   An example would be an "On The Air" sign, or to key an amplifier.    One specially-wired cable is required - note that no connection is made to the sleeve, which is usually the ground connection on a TRS plug.  A normally-open set of relay contacts exists between the ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/13/2018 

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