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.

    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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/18/2019 

Spectral Purity using Epson Programmable Oscillators

Do harmonics matter if there's no way for them to be heard?
Category: Crystal Replacement
 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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/12/2019 

The Foxhole Radio

aka "Razor Blade and Safety Pin Radio"...from the Boy's Fun Book
Category: Vintage Radio
 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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/08/2019 
   As anyone who likes building radios knows, it's getting harder and harder to buy RF components.   One of the last casualties was the 3-section pi-wound RF chokes made by Hammond, a company that has done more than most to support the vintage radio and audio hobbies.    The Toko variable inductors long favored by QRP enthuisiasts have become all but unavailable, and vari...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/02/2019 
   The following obituary appeared in the Freeport Journal-Standard on Febr. 9, 2019.      I attended a lecture by Mr. Anderson in the late 1990s after moving to Freeport and working for Honeywell where despite being a supplier to DEC, few realized the local connection existed to the founder of what once was the second-largest computer company in the world.   Mr. Anderso...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/09/2019 

The Case of the Phantom Voltage

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Category: Technical
A Heathkit HW-12 gave me a troubleshooting challenge the likes of which I've not seen before - or even heard of!A few days ago the transmitter wouldn't produce output, and in checking voltages and I measured -75 volts on the ALC line which should be -20.   But it corrected itself and I figured it must have been a solder splash or something that cleared by itself.  That theor...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/08/2019 

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 

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