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Product Review (continued)

Heath HW-99 Novice CW Transceiver
By Curt Holsopple, K9CH and Edith Holsopple, N1CZC


Fig. 2We found an error in the transmitter's power-amplifier circuit board and the associated voltages on the schematic. The 220-ohm resistor that ended up in the power supply came back to haunt us when we noticed that the transmitter had no output. It turned out that the 220-ohm resistor belonged in the power-amplifier circuit, but the power-supply's 2.2-megohm resistor was there instead. Once we corrected that problem, the transmitter output was fine. Moral: Check the values of the components as you install them, don't depend on the strip packaging of components. Murphy's law applies everywhere!

In troubleshooting the power-amplifier problem, we discovered that the voltages, as indicated on the schematic, were wrong. A quick call to Heath's excellent technical information service confirmed the error. The proper voltages are noted in Fig. 2.

The HW-99 worked perfectly with our old keyer using a relay output, but a newer transistor-output keyer caused the keying circuit to hang up halfway between the transmit and receive modes. The fault is our keyer, not in the HW-99. The manual says to use a contact to ground for transmit--our homemade transistor output keyer was designed for grid-block keying and applied 5 V to the keying line. We will have to add a relay to that keyer to use it with the '99.

Some Modification

We live in an apartment where space is limited. The HW-99 appeals to us because of its small size--therefore we did not buy the matching speaker. Instead, we installed a small 3-inch speaker in the grillwork on the cabinet top. It works and sounds just fine.

Author's HW-99To make the HW-99's key jack compatible with our other ham gear, we used a ¼-inch headphone jack instead of the phono jack furnished by Heath. No modification of the hole is required. Just be sure to connect the wiring to the tip-contact lug, not to the ground lug.

Another HW-99 owner felt that the dial illumination was inadequate, and devised an ingenious solution. He used the reflector from a camera flashcube to focus more light on the dial (see Hints and Kinks, Feb. 1986 QST).

Heathkits have always been fair game for those who would modify their ham gear because the owner can so easily become acquainted with the insides of the radio. Our HW-99 is likely to see two modifications: The 10-meter band is ripe for conversion to the much-missed 20-meter band; another possibility is to do something about the 30-V final output transistor so the rig can operate off a 12-V battery supply.

On-the-air QSOs resulted in good signal reports. Everyone we contacted said the keying sounded fine, with no clicks or chirp. Once the rig has about an hour to stabilize, drift is not a problem. The front-panel controls are easy to use. I have fat fingers, though, and sometimes I turn the volume up while changing the band switch.

As mentioned earlier, the HW-99 needs some kind of antenna matching network and SWR meter to be useful throughout its full range of frequencies. If you don't roam around the bands too much,, however (as in the case of Novices who must stay inside the Novice bands), you can probably fine-tune your antenna for your favorite frequency and do without the matching network and SWR meter.

By the way, Edie and I live two blocks from W1AW. The code-practice and bulletin schedules, sometimes with over 6000 W total being transmitted on several bands, make it a tough situation for many receivers. Not so with the HW-99--we get on the air and enjoy QSOs while the code practice and bulletins are hammering along only a few kilohertz away.

The hams at Heath have made a good move with the HW-99, satisfying those who like the smaller HW-9 QRP rig, but who wish for a bit more output power. Perhaps, someday, there will be a HW-99A with 20 meters and a WARC-band expansion option. Other than that, Edie and I are really enjoying this latest addition to the Heathkit stable of Amateur Radio equipment.

The HW-99 is available from the Heath Company, Benton Harbor, MI 49022, tel 616-982-3411. Price class: HW-99 transceiver, $300; SP-99 station speaker, $30. (Special offer for Novices: Get a $100 gift certificate good on any Heathkit product when you mail Heath Co. a photocopy of your license and the HW-99 registration card.)--Curt Holsopple, K9CH, and Edith Holsopple, N1CZC
This article and photos of the HW-99 were contributed to the museum by the author, Curt Holsopple, K9CH. This article originally appeared in the " Product Review" column (pp. 43) of the March, 1986, issue of QST, the official journal of the American Radio Relay League (Vol. LXX, No. 3). Reprinted with permission of the ARRL from QST magazine. Curt may be reached by e-mail at

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