I realized tonight while in QSO with Norm NZ5L, that when December 2008 rolls around later this year, that I will have been licensed for 30 years! Wow - how time flies! I have been KA2DOH, N2ELW and have now settled in on my 8th year as W2LJ.
Norm has been licensed a long time, too. He was using separates, a Heath DX60 transmitter and a National NC270 receiver; and he was pushing a mighty 65 Watts my way into NJ. We got to reminiscing about the Good Ol' Days and we both agreed that today's new Hams will never know the enjoyment of the experience of building a Heathkit.
Now THAT was an era! And I came in on the tail end of it; so I'm very fortunate to have had the experience. My very first receiver that I used as a Novice was an HR-1680 that I built myself. Other Ham Radio Heathkits that I have built included the HW-8 QRP rig (of course), the SB-104A (which had a 1 Watt QRP setting - are we seeing a trend develop here?), the electronic keyer with the built in paddles, as well as various accessories (Cantenna, anyone?) and other pieces of gear that I can't even remember now. I had built most of the go-along accessories for the SB-104A and had the entire console going on my desk at one point. I wish I still had the photos, let alone the gear itself.
My entire sound system in my late teens and early twenties was all Heathkit. Pre-amp, power amp, graphic equalizer, noise reduction unit. The only items of my stereo that were not Heath were my turntable, the FM tuner, and the speakers (DCM Time Windows). The pre-amp even had the "pre-pre-amp" because the turntable used a moving coil cartridge which required it. I was an official member of the Heathkit "Master Builders Club". I regret that I never got around to building a TV.
And the glory of it all; was that EVERY item worked the first time! Ah yes, I have melted a lot of solder these past 30 years (I have some scars on my hands to prove it!). I'm happy to say that I enjoyed every minute of it.
73 de Larry W2LJ