Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is Heathkit back?


Heathkit HW8 QRP Transceiver - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user F1jmm

Back in the day, I used to spend hours pouring though the Heathkit catalog wishing for all the kits that would let me build everything from ham radios to stereo components.  Heathkit helped me to learn to solder, understand basic electronics, gain a respect and fascination for physical things and the hidden world inside them.  Heathkit helped feed my interest in ham radio and taught me that people can build cool stuff.  It was the Maker movement back in the 70s, long before 3D printers and Arduinos.  It was a sad day when Heathkit disappeared... or did it?  I lost track of Heathkit in the 80s an then in the 90s they appeared to be some sort of an educational/training company and that carried through to the modern age as chronicled by the wayback machine.

Well, recently I discovered that there is a mysterious website at http://www.heathkit.com.  I heard some rumors last fall, but now the web site simply says, "the news of my death has been greatly exaggerated."  Hidden in the legalistic fine print are two links that you wont find unless you move your mouse over them.  One is the privacy policy.  The other is a FAQ.  The latter link leads you to a page that begins like this:

Q. Is Heathkit back?
A. Yes. We're back.
Q. So are you really going to make Heathkit® kits?
A. Yes.
Q. Wow! That simple? “Yes?”
A. Yes.
This is exciting.  Also hidden in the links is a survey that you can take that gives you some idea of what they have in mind.  They appear to be returning to their roots and will be selling electronic kits, possibly including ham radio gear.  If you follow the survey through, you get a chance to get on a "Heathkit insiders" email list presumably to learn more as the news become available.  They may finally provide a little competition for our friends at Elecraft (who we like very much).