Band Conditions

16 September 2018

Wyoming Ham Convention and Field Radios

Yesterday was the Wyoming Ham Convention in Rock Springs. Being that it was "local" (two hour drive), I opted to visit it instead of the Bozeman, MT hamfest which was a little less than 6 hours away and therefore really an overnight trip.

There were three tables selling used gear, and a few vendors including Tac-Comm whose excellent Tactical Radio Carriers are used by many graduates of the Sparks31 classes. Not much in the way of components or inexpensive fiddly bits those of us who roll our own radios look for. One seller did have an item that after the usual ritual haggling found its way home with me.
The item in question being a late 1970s to early 1980s vintage Heathkit HW-8 QRP HF Transceiver. It's CW only on 80,40,20, and 15 meters, and puts out a couple of watts. The quintessential old-skool QRP rig. Solid state components with thru-hole PCB construction. Hams used to build these from kits, and when something breaks, it's simple and easy to repair with test equipment and tools every ham should have in their shack.

It pulls less than a half an amp on transmit, less than a tenth of an amp on receive, which means you can run this thing all day on a $20 7AH SLAB you can pick up at Home Depot or any other hardware store.  Add a Harbor Freight Solar Panel, and you're now off the grid. With a simple dipole antenna you and your buddy across town can practice CW with each other on the old 80 and 40 meter Novice sub-bands.

The HW-8 is a good example of what you should be looking for in a decent field radio. It's simple, no frills, fairly compact, uses common solid state parts, easy to work on, and easy to run off-grid. They average about $125 on Ebay, but you might find one for less at a hamfest. The sellers asking $200+ for them are overpricing them in my opinion, since you can buy a new MTR-3B for around $300.

1 comment:

  1. I've had two since the 80's. In the mid-late 80's, I mounted one inside a large ammo box along with external jacks, switches, a gel cell for power, an antenna tuner and a key. It was a self-contained field radio, and was great fun!