Other Heathkit Sites
Heathkit on Social Networks
Troubleshooting and Repair
Fixing It Yourself
Sales and Service
The Heath Company used to manufacture electronic products in kit form that anybody could successfully build. If you followed the instructions, had some basic tools and assembly skills, then it was likely your kit would work properly when it was time to plug it in and use it--whether it was a VTVM or a television set. With each kit, Heath Company not only provided assembly instructions, but also listed the tools you'd need. They also provided a short training guide on soldering skills and how to use the tools to assemble the kit.
I set up this series of Web pages because I have good memories of the place. It was a time when the late David Nurse (President of Heath Company) could walk into the factory and greet assembly workers by name. Even though Heath had stores and outlets around the world, it was a mom-and-pop organization. Customers knew they were part of the family. Many sent feedback on how much they enjoyed building a particular kit and contributed suggestions for new products.
Does that sound kinda goody-two-shoes? Well, on a day-to-day basis, it was a job. Some people couldn't get along with others. Some customers you couldn't please no matter what you did. But for the most part, it was a fair time.
"We Won't Let You Fail"It was a commitment to Heathkit customers that their project would succeed. It was printed in nearly every manual and advertisement from the company.
"The World's Largest Manufacturer of Electronic Kits"That slogan used to be painted on the west wall of the Heath plant when the company was located in St. Joseph, Michigan. Across the parking lot from the building was Lakeshore Drive and Lake Michigan. The sign was highly visible from the road. In the summer, many customers who were vacationing in the area would see it and make it a point to visit the company that sent them "their" kit. Weekly group tours of the plant were free.
"We manufacture our products by the thousands, but sell them one at a time."That was a favorite quote of Bill Johnson's, former president of Heath Company. I'm not sure if I recalled it properly. If anyone can provide more information, please email me.
I ramble a lot here. All facts are drawn from memory unless I quote documents stating otherwise.
CompanyAlthough Heath Company no longer manufactures kits, it still maintains its educational product line—which has been around almost as long as its kits. To see what they have to offer, visit http://www.heathkit.com/.
Heath ClubsPast and present organizations associated with Heath and some stories associated with them.
Bjorn Heyning's Heath StoriesA history of the Heath Company collected by the late Bjorn Heyning. It contains his memories and many other Heath employees. (Used with permission of the Heyning family.)
Stories of Heath ProductsMiscellaneous stories that I remember; others were told to me.
Here are links to Web pages created by other people for Heath products. These cover a variety of subjects which sometimes overlap with other sections on this page. For example, if you're looking for service information, you should check both here and the links listed in Troubleshooting and Repair.
- Heathkit Company's Home Page. Yes, they're still out there. They got out of the kit business in the early 90s and focused on educational products for the next couple of decades. However, as of August, 2011, they've gone back to selling kits. See their web page for details.
- The Heath Virtual Museum! Many fine pictures of Heath products, and more.
- Ken Kaplan's Heathkit Product Matrix. This page provides all kinds of data on a huge number of Heathkits. If you're looking for information on an obscure kit, you've a good chance of finding it here. This is the matrix that was originally created by Dale Wentz, KB9JJA. He has now turned it over to Ken, KB7RGG, for maintenance and further development.
- The Hero Web Source of D. Savage has information on the Hero, Hero Jr., and Hero 2000 robots. Plus, it provides links to many other sites devoted to Heathkit robots. (See also Troubleshooting and Repair, below, for other robot sources.)
- Dan Cradler had a web site devoted to Heathkit vacuum tube high-fidelity amplifiers. It had schematics and photos of early Heath audio equipment. In addition, there were instructions for joining a mailing list for people interested in Heath tube amplifiers. Unfortunately, his web site has been down for several years. However, here is an archived copy of it on the Wayback Machine that still contains some of his information.
- Jim McClanahan has a nostalgia page for the SW-717.
- Woody's Homage to Heathkit. Though Brian Woodbury's main interest is CB Radio, he's also a Ham operator and has this page dedicated to Heath Catalog pictures of "Big Green."
- The W3DX Heathkit Page was a place that not only had Heath information, but also links to companies currently manufacturing electronics kits. Unfortunately, it's been off the web for about a decade. However, here is an archived copy of it on the Wayback Machine that still contains some of his information.
- Jack Rubin's Society of Eight-Bit Heathkit Computerists page is dedicated to Heath Company's early 8-bit computers—such as the H8. Though still under construction, it does have a mailing list you can subscribe to.
- Dave Wallace's Web site has tons of information on the Heath H8 computer; including an H8 emulator! The more I read this page, the more I'm convinced that he never sleeps and has cloned several copies of himself.
- Don Peterson sells add-ons for the ID-4001 Weather Computer and the GC-1000 Most Accurate Clock on his Data Professionals Heathkit Page. In addition, his Web page provides troubleshooting information, manuals sales, a "blue book" of kit resale prices, and parts cross-references—among other things. In 2008 he purchased the kit manual copyrights from Heath Company and is now the source distributor of legal copies of those manuals. Please see his page for prices and stock.
Here are articles, books, and magazines concerning Heath Company.
- Heath Nostalgia by Terry Perdue. Terry is a former Heath engineer and designed many fine products while there. Some of his stories overlap with Bjorn Heyning's, but that reinforces both. I purchased the book and have found that it's worth the read if you're like me and are interested in the people who made and maintained the Heath tradition. You can order a copy by sending $15 via snail-mail toTerry Perdue (K8TP)and request that you want a copy of Heath Nostalgia.
18617 - 65th Court NE
Kenmore, WA 98028
- Heathkit The Early Years by Terry Perdue. This is a CD with lots of information about the early history of Heath Company (mostly prior to 1970). It consists of several Microsoft Word-compatible documents, 1000+ pictures (JPEGs), and an engrossing thirty-minute talk (.wav file) by the late Gene Fiebich, Director of Engineering at Heath. If you're a fan of Heath Company history--and/or a Heath employee (former or current)--I think you'll like this disk. The price is $24.95, which includes shipping. For more information about the disk, see http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/cd/3846.html.
- The CMU Robotics FAQ answers the question "Whatever happened to Heathkit Hero Robots?".
- So Long, Heathkit by Frank Beacham will give you an idea of why Heath Company and their customer's got along so well. Frank originally had posted this on his web site (http://www.frankbeacham.com/), but later removed it. Since then, he's given me permission to publish it here.
- The Kit Builders Journal, published by Heath Company and edited by Rick Simpson.
- Heath Stories by Bjorn Heyning. Personal memories of Heath Company by Bjorn and other contributers from its early days on up the mid '80s.
- Electronic Troubleshooting: A Manual for Engineers and Technicians by Clyde N. Herrick contains a large number of examples using Heathkit products. It's out of print, but you might find a copy in stores or Web sites dealing in used books. It was printed in 1974 by Reston Publishing Company, Inc., a Printice-Hall Company. ISBN 0-87909-249-1.
- Heathkit: A Guide to the Amateur Radio Products by Chuck Penson, WA7ZZE. Published by CQ Communications. For more information, refer to this review from Antique Radio Classified.
- The H89 Worm by Bill Wilkinson. Something I'd written for the Blossomland HUG newsletter. It describes a memory test for a problem unique to the Zilog Z80 processor. (Non-proportional spacing courtesy of WordStar® on CP/M:-)
- Improve Your ID-4801's Personality by Bill Wilkinson. I wrote this for Heath Company's The Kit Builders Journal in 1986. It shows how to increase the 16K limit of the EPROM programmer to 32K without having to modify the internal circuits and thus voiding the warranty.
- Something COMmon About MS-DOS and CP/M by Bill Wilkinson. I wrote this for National HUG in 1986. It shows you how to create a binary executable that will run on both CP/M and MS-DOS without modification.
- Terry Miller Shannon's tribute to his Father, Paul Harvey, and Heathkit.
- Z-100 Lifeline is a Web-based magazine by Steven Vagts devoted to the venerable H/Z-100 computer. Heath Company introduced this machine in 1985 slightly after IBM announced the PC. The H/Z-100 was a technically superior machine, but IBM at the time was the hardware equivalent of Microsoft here in 2003. Anyway, if you have an H/Z-100, or are generally interested in early computers, you'll find this site to have a lot of useful information.
Below are some of the many groups dedicated to Heath products. If you have technical questions, or wish to buy or sell a Heathkit, you may want to check with them. Many of the people are quite knowledgeable and are willing to help.
- Heathkit on Yahoo! Groups is one of the oldest and largest of groups dedicated to Heath products. They promote discussions on the entire product line, encourage buying and selling of Heathkit items, and provide answers to problems with Heath equipment.
- Heathkit Audio on Yahoo! Groups. Their purpose is to promote discussion about Heathkit audio items and parts, buying and selling, and provide answers to questions.
- Heathkit HW-9 Users Group on Yahoo! Groups. This is a specialty group dedicated to the enjoyment, restoration, and operation of the HW-9 QRP amateur transceiver.
- Heathkit Clocks on Yahoo! Groups. This specialty group was formed to share information on Heath electronic clocks; including adjustments, parts sources, and technical information.
- Heathkit Products on Facebook. This is an appreciation group for old Heathkit equipment and kits.
- Heathkit SS-9000 on Yahoo! Groups. This is a specialty group for people who own (or are interested in) the Heath SS-9000 HF amateur transceiver. Discussions include restoring the unit to original spcifications and/or modifying them to make use of the latest technology.
- SEBHC on Google Groups. The Society of Eight-Bit Heath Computerists covers all the pre-PC computers, such as the H8/H89 series, ET-3400, H-11, and H-100 series. They discuss restoring and repairing these systems, plus modifying them to bring them into the 21st century.
- SEBHC on Facebook.
Here are some links to Web sites that provide information useful for repairing Heathkits. This includes information for do-it-yourselfers (Fixing It Yourself) and for people who would rather have someone else repair their Heathkit (Sales and Service). You should check both areas, as some of the subjects overlap.
Besides the following links, you should also check Other Heathkit Sites, as some of the pages listed there may also contain service-related information.
If you know of any new locations (or if any of these are out of date), please let me know.
These are some sources of information you can check out if you do your own repairs. It's by no means complete; searching the Web will turn up many more.
GeneralThe Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ contains lots of service information on a wide variety of products. It isn't specifically for Heath products, but some of the general information and sources can be helpful.
My Troubleshooting Information:
Ham RadioEd Mosher (email: email@example.com) was one of the "Hams at Heath" and worked as a Service Technician, Technical Consultant, and Service Supervisor for the Ham product line. He has indicated that he's willing to offer advice on Ham radio questions submitted to the above email address.
Heathkit Shop by Mike, WB8VGE, provides troubleshooting tips and links to parts sources for Heath Ham radio products.
Manuals and PartsThe Heathkit Company, Inc. still sells some manuals for older Heathkits. Follow the link back to their Web page, click on their Support link, and scroll down for ordering instructions.Herb Johnson sells manuals and parts for the H/Z-100 computer on his Heath Zenith Z-100 computers page. He also buys and sells complete H/Z-100s and other products based on the S100 bus. Note that this is the original H/Z-100 series computer—not the IBM PC clones that came later (such as the H/Z-150).Jerry Russell's Transistor Cross-Reference database isn't specifically for Heath transistors, but may help you find a substitute for that obsolete part.
RobotsThe HERO-1.com site provides maintenance and programming information on the first Hero Robot, the ET-19. In addition, they have stories, links, and other information related to Heath robots.
Here are some Web pages that provide sales and service for Heath products. Note that a lot of the Web pages I've linked to throughout this document have a lot of overlapping information on goods and services. If you don't find what you're looking for in this section, you should also check Other Heathkit Sites and Fixing It Yourself, above.
GeneralSpectrum Electronics, Inc. provides service on many Heathkit products. In addition, they sell surplus Heathkits and some Heath parts. See their Web page for current catalog and contact information.
Ham RadioHarbach Electronics provides replacement parts and repair information for some Heath Amateur Radio products.RTO Electronics specializes in repairing Heath Amateur gear, plus selling reconditioned Heath Ham radio products and accessories. It was founded by Ron Oxley, who worked as a Ham Tech for Heath during the '70s and '80s.
RobotsThe Robot Workshop repairs Heath Robots and offers spare parts, upgrades, and manuals for them. Among other things, they offer a recompiled ROM for the Hero Jr. Robot (RT-1) that corrects for the Y2K bug. For more information, contact Robert Doerr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weather StationsForecast Technologies provides sales and service for the ID-5001 Advanced Weather Computer. They will also consider trade-ins if you want to upgrade an ID-4001 Weather Station to the 5001.Dan Hanson of Thunderhead Technologies provides software and hardware add-ons for the ID-5001 Advanced Weather Computer. (Note: They do not provide service, however.)See also the entry on Don Peterson in the Other Heathkit Sites section for information on the ID-4001 Weather Station.