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Who here built a Heathkit R/C radio?

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Who here built a Heathkit R/C radio?

Old 10-23-2015, 11:34 AM
  #1  
jaymen
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Default Who here built a Heathkit R/C radio?

Would love to hear from any of you guys who built a radio kit, like the ones offered from Ace R/C or Heathkit, and your experiences with it, and if you were able to successfully fly it. I myself built quite a few Ace systems, equipment and servos, along with the Royal Tech R/C stuff too.

Jay
Old 10-23-2015, 12:33 PM
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My Dad did the building I did the using. His first 4 or 5 channel Heathkit had maybe a 300 foot range, we actually had a fly away because of it.

Got the plane back, luckily, opened up the reciever, and found he'd soldered a wire from one board to the the other in the wrong place. After that it worked like it should have. The oddest thing was that it worked at all with the wire in the wrong hole.
Old 10-23-2015, 02:08 PM
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049flyer
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Hi Jay! Gene from Tyler, Texas here! You fixed up my Ace Pulse system. Works great! So here is a story for you.

My dad was stationed in Izmir, Turkey in 1972-1974, the country was under Martial Law at the time. There were armed soldiers on most street corners and all privately owned transmitters including radio control transmitters, were illegal.

I was about 17 at the time and had been flying control line for years when we moved to Turkey. I was determined to fly RC no matter what! Importing a radio from the states was impossible as it would probably be confiscated. Radios were REAL expensive at that time, I couldn't risk a year or two of meager wages delivering newspapers, plus it probably wouldn't have done my Dad's career any good to have a package seized at the customs office! There must be another way!

About that time, one of the magazines ran a series on a homebrew 2 channel radio that was also available as a kit, The Ace Digital Commander. I ordered the kit and waited about 4 weeks, and received a box with a mess of components and building instructions which duplicated the magazine instructions.

I grabbed my Dad's soldering iron and set about building my new radio. Some weeks later I finished soldering and fired her up for the first time. The bad news, nothing worked. The good news, no smoke!

Fortunately, I had met a fellow modeler, a Turkish man who owned a stereo shop. In those days Turkey had an import duty of over 100%, so anyone that wanted an IMPORTED stereo had to pay more that twice the retail price. My Turkish shop owner built stereos from scratch WITHOUT circuit boards. Just one component soldered to another and another and another. The stereo cases were handmade from wood and sometimes sheet aluminum and often covered with vinyl. All dials, switch labeling etc were hand made from scratch.

My Turkish friend worked on my radio for a week or so and was able to get it working and tuned but unfortunately I had ruined one of the servos. I was restricted to single channel flying which I attempted with a Sterling Minnie Mambo.

If anyone is still following along with my saga let me know and I will relate the outlaw flight of the Mambo in Izmir, Turkey!

Last edited by 049flyer; 10-23-2015 at 09:08 PM.
Old 10-23-2015, 02:42 PM
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My dad built two of the original spam can versions. One for him and one for me. It was the first truly reliable radio I ever had.
I had a Digitrio and a Citizenship prior to the Heathkit, they weren't reliable for me.
I built a Heathkit spam can radio for a friend and that too worked first shot.
My dad later built the transmitter with the removable frequency module again it worked great.

Paul
Old 10-23-2015, 03:45 PM
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I started flying RC with a Kraft - ACE single channel tone transmitter kit (vacuum tube with the HI-LO power switch) back in 1963. Never had a problem with it, still have it, and it still works just fine. Did replace some capacitors and the wires a few years back.

In the 1970's, I built and flew four (maybe five) Heathkits - one four channel and the others were eight channel. I thought they were great radios and never a range or other problems, perhaps because they were basically a Kraft design. Just had to know how to follow directions, which were also great, and solder correctly. Some patience helped too. As I recall, you didn't really save much money (if any) building a Heathkit. But it just seemed to be part of the hobby that added to the satisfaction of successfully completing the first flight of an airplane you just spent 50 hours building.

Through the 1980's and early 90's I built at least a half dozen ACE R/C's - ACE Commanders, Silver Sevens, and the Micropro 8000. All excellent kits and again, don't recall ever a problem in the air. I liked these things so much I bought more than I could ever use. Still have an unbuilt kits I purchased from ACE way back then - a Commander on 72MHz, and an SS and an MP8000 both on six meters.

Tom
Old 10-23-2015, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by 049flyer View Post
...

If anyone is still following along with my saga let me know and I will relate the outlaw flight of the Mambo in Izmir, Turkey!
Please, tell us more.

I have a Mighty Mambo that I plan to fly with my Heathkit radio and Merco 61. The frequency of the radio is not a legal one, so, my flight will be illegal also, unless I convert it to 2.4 GHz (as I plan to).

Sincerely, Richard
Old 10-23-2015, 04:46 PM
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I used to build the Heathkits that were displayed in the stores, or for customers who wanted a Heathkit item but did not want to build it. I think I built about everything in the catalog before Heathit/Zenith finally disappeared.
I was 12 years old when I was doing this...it was always funny to see people's reactions.
I built and flew 53MHz Heathkit RC systems for years and never had an issue...of course if I did, I knew who to blame!
Old 10-23-2015, 07:44 PM
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As previously mentioned I was an American 17 year old control line flyer living in Izmir, Turkey in 1973 where RC flying was strictly forbidden by the martial law military government. With the help of a Turkish modeler/stereo builder who had fixed my 2 channel radio which I had poorly assembled from a kit, I had a working radio and one servo.

I had never before seen a radio controlled plane up close, only pictures in magazines and an occasional "drive by" of a model field once or twice with my father when we lived "stateside". There were no RC models in Turkey and there were no RC modelers or fields, I was on my own.

Not to be discouraged, in anticipation of my Turkish friend's success in correcting my radio assembly mistakes, I mail ordered a Sterling Minnie Mambo kit and set to building it. I was a fair builder and the directions were pretty clear and soon enough I was the proud owner of a Sterling Minnie Mambo covered with WAY too heavy Super Coverite and painted with even heavier Turkish automotive lacquer applied lovingly with a brush. It was beautiful but very heavy.

The Minnie Mambo is designed to fly with a Cox .049 engine, but as a control line flyer I was certain that there was no way a little .049 would fly an RC plane like my Mambo. Heck the .049 models I flew on control lines had wingspans of 18 inches or so and weighed 5 to 10 oz. My Mambo weighed at least double this amount and looked 3 times larger. I wanted my Mambo to perform! No way this little engine was going to do what I wanted.

Fortunately my Turkish friend had a Cox .09 and was willing to let me use it as he had only seen an RC plane once before when he visited Germany. He was as keen to see this thing fly as I was.

Without any experience or help, we installed the repaired radio and single servo as best we could figure from studying our magazines. So with the Cox .09 mounted on my shiny blue and white Minnie Mambo, we considered our options for flying fields. As we were bent on breaking the law in the pursuit of RC we required a field obscure and remote enough to allow a flight or two before the police or military figured out what we were up to.

As luck would have it my Turkish friend had recently attended an "open house" function at a Turkish Air Force base about 45 minutes away. Perhaps we could fly there! Telephones were rare in Turkey then, so we decided to just drive out and take a chance.

It was a cool winter day in the low 40's when we loaded up the Mambo in a yellow Murat 124, which was a cheap fiberglass Turkish copy of a Fiat 124 sedan, which itself was a copy of a Toyota Corolla. We set off for the air base along with a couple of other Turkish friends crammed in for company.

As luck would have it, the commander of the airbase was excited at the prospect of promoting aviation to his fellow Turks through model aviation. He was indeed receptive to letting us fly on the property and in fact was almost as excited as we were to see the thing fly "ALL BY RADIO CONTROL" WOW!

Plane assembled, dry batteries installed in the transmitter and receiver, radio on and range check complete, we were ready to start the engine. I should take this moment to explain that none of us had EVER seen a single channel plane fly. Single channel means that the only control you have is rudder, the engine runs FULL BLAST until out of fuel. But many years later, having now flown them myself, I should tell you that they are normally VERY under powered by today's standards. The idea is a hand launch followed by a gentle climb up to altitude. My experience with control line models convinced me that the more power the better, resulting in a Cox .09 on the snout of my Minnie Mambo instead of the recommended .049.

Soon the Cox engine was screaming that song we all know so well and with my Turkish friends at my side and with a small crowd of Turkish officers including the base commander looking on from a few steps away, I felt the pull of the .09 as I faced the bitter cold 10 knot wind. I handed the screaming Mambo to my friend for the launch.

He tossed it forward into the wind and the plane climbed straight out smartly at a 30 degree angle or so. I blipped the rudder to keep it straight and up it went higher and higher, steeper and steeper. All of us gazed up in amazement, our heads tilted back nearly all the way as the plane climbed and clawed slowly forward into the wind. As we watched, the plane continued over onto it's back into a loop and was now headed upside down traveling downwind FAST and soon headed straight down as it started the down side of the loop. By now the plane was behind us headed straight down and picking up speed fast. Except for a blip of rudder at the launch I had not touched the stick as we were all astounded that it actually flew.

Within a few seconds the plane started to pull out of the loop and recovered straight and level 4 ft off the ground setting up for a perfect straffing run on the Turkish officers who were now overcome by their instinctive military training and were either running like heck or hugging mother earth! The plane flew just inches over the officers as they covered their heads with their hands while in the prone position.

The plane began a second loop and started climbing as before, but this time I had the presence of mind to try the rudder. A short blip and I managed to kill a bit of the climb and in the process changed the aircraft heading by 90 degrees before it again climbed up and over onto it's back for another loop.

About this time the Turkish officers were picking themselves off the ground and were brushing the dirt from their crisply starched uniforms, but in their effort to retain their military decorum they lost sight of the "Hun in the sun". The Mambo was just pulling out of the second loop but this time it came from a different direction, again at about 4 feet it pulled out and headed directly for our Turkish allies who just now regained sight of the plane and were once again forced into the dirt.

I finally regained enough composure to try the rudder again at the beginning of the third loop and in so doing I over controlled it and power spun into the ground destroying the plane.

My Turkish friends and I fully expected to spend a considerable amount of time in front of the base commander's desk as he chastised us for high crimes and misdemeanors, or even worse a few days in the base hoosegow! Instead we were treated to lunch at the officers club where we were the subject of great conversation throughout the club with much pointing, laughing and fighter pilot type hand motions of airplanes in flight.

I didn't much care about my demolished Mambo. I had a story to tell for the rest of my life, all for the cost of a bit of balsa!

I would have to wait another year or two till we returned to the states before I successfully flew an RC plane under full control with my very own Orbit Propo rig.
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Last edited by 049flyer; 10-23-2015 at 08:17 PM.
Old 10-23-2015, 08:57 PM
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Thank you for the wonderful story.
Old 10-23-2015, 10:06 PM
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In the early 70's my Dad built a Heathkit 3-channel for an 1/8 scale car. Power was a Veco .19. By the early 80's I had built two Ace Silver Seven radios, both single-stick. Used to build my own servos, too. Ace RC got a BUNCH of my money!
Old 10-24-2015, 03:04 AM
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As far as I know the 72 Mhz. frequency's are still legal, as are the old Citizen Band 27 Mhz frequency's, as are the Ham band if you have a license. They should still be in the FCC Part 15 or 95, don't remember which.
Kinda nice talking about this old stuff. I was a Kraft repair facility until they closed down.

Last edited by LJE4357; 10-24-2015 at 03:06 AM.
Old 10-24-2015, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by The Ponz View Post
Thank you for the wonderful story.
Yes, thank you very much.

Sincerely, Richard
Old 10-24-2015, 05:55 AM
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It just goes to show with these wonderful stories....Where there is will, we all find a way.

My earliest experience with electronic kit building came with the ACE battery charger/cycler. I was a junior in college I think and was what I could afford on meager wages. Someone from the field convinced me that I had to have a cycler for my NiCds and this was the cheapest way to go. I learned the art of soldering along the way. I still have the thing some 40 years later and it still works except some LEDs don't.
Old 10-24-2015, 07:58 AM
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In the early 70's, I built (2) Heathkit GD-19 radios. Later I built numerous ACE servos and Royal servo and receiver kits. For the most part, everything worked quite well except for those horrible KPS-9 servos with the feedback capacitors that Kraft had long abandoned. The GD-19 equipment was abandoned after about a year or so as I moved on to Kraft, Pro-Line and EK radios. I continued using the ACE and Royal equipment through the 80's and found it comparable to anything that could be bought assembled. Especially the mini servos that were in many cases superior to some of the big name brands. I used these in the hostile environment of pylon racers with zero failures. Oh the memories .....

I think RC was more rewarding in those days (and earlier days) when you actually build most everything on an airplane except the engine. I knew guys that cut their own wood, bought dope at the airport, used dress lining material for covering, etc. Most everything came into their shop as raw materials. You don't see that much anymore though yes, there are still many craftsmen among us.

Last edited by Truckracer; 10-24-2015 at 01:02 PM. Reason: add info
Old 10-24-2015, 09:39 AM
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That is a great story 049 flyer

I was a middle teen in the mid 70's and had several mentors...they had a lot of influence in my life...
One of them was a Naval Aviator during WWII, and had his early experiences in R/C with Bramco and Citizenship...he also had a Quadraplex 4 channel...a Schmitt reed set-up...(which I still have)

Anyway...he was building a Litco flight pack, and I thought I'd give it a try...
I remember that the servo (mechanics) kits that I had were similar to some of the Ace servos...the cases were in 2 pieces, split down the middle vertically...(were those Deans mechanics??? I don't remember exactly, but they were white plastic with a black insert on the top, over the gears)

Last edited by proptop; 10-24-2015 at 09:47 AM.
Old 10-24-2015, 09:56 AM
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Hi I built a HB {Harry Brook} 3 ch ,,27 mhz Tx and Rx from a kit around the same time the Heathkit came out,bought a couple of servos to match .put them in a 4ft Mini super,with an ED 2.5 cc diesel up front no throttle,which was my undoing.Radio and engine worked great but engine overpowered ,hand launched in a farmers field,this is in the U.K. by the way.Plane went into a loop,then another bigger loop,then into a third loop,not enough elevator to straighten out .Plane ending up hitting the only obstacle in the field a cattle water drinking trough.Engine and receiver survived,but later charging the tx in my bedroom the battery {Deac} 9 volt button cells blew up making quite a mess of the tx.
Old 10-24-2015, 11:44 AM
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No, never built one.
Forgot all about them, until the subject was brought up here and thank you for remembering them.
Am greatly surprised that people do remember them and that the subject did come up.
Personally, I have only used Futaba over my hobby span.
Old 10-24-2015, 12:25 PM
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Kinda the same as others, flew CL & rudder-only in the late 50's, lots of stories associated with chasing / hunting the RO airplanes. Couldn't afford the reed stuff and went on to other things. In the early 70's I build most of what Heathkit offered, still have a scope & VTVM that work. Built a Heathkit 8ch w 4 wire servos, went to the LHS and ask what they advised as a good RC airplane - they said "Kaos" w Veco .61 - OK, built that and installed the radio. Of course CL used 45 degree control travels - so why not on the Kaos. Figured that out after several rebuilds and eventually put 100+ flights on it, second airplane was a Mach 1 and I got hooked on pattern. Put over 1000 flights on the Heathkit (w 3 wire servos) before switching to ProLine. Still trying to get pattern right.
Old 10-24-2015, 01:01 PM
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Likewise as 3 wire servos became available, I switched to them as they were a monumental improvement in performance and reliability. Many of these were also kit built.
Old 10-24-2015, 02:35 PM
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My first radio was a Heathkit 5 ch. The transmitter was easy to build but the receiver and servos were a little more difficult.
I loved to build Heathkits. My first color TV was a Heathkit.
Old 10-24-2015, 03:28 PM
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Granpooba
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Originally Posted by ka8jvx View Post
My first radio was a Heathkit 5 ch. The transmitter was easy to build but the receiver and servos were a little more difficult.
I loved to build Heathkits. My first color TV was a Heathkit.
Still watching it
Old 10-24-2015, 03:51 PM
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No. Sure wish I still had it. A coil in the HV section burned out and I decided to retire it and eventually junked it. This was around 1970.
Old 10-24-2015, 04:05 PM
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Yup , built a 5 ch. Heathtkit with the combined rotary and lineal output servos . Many hours at the kitchen counter and a lot of calls to HQ which was in Benton Harbor Michigan .
Also built a Canon set which was a nightmare . When all was said and done , I had to send that off to Canon to get them to align it .
Looking back at it , I say every kid who today thinks they're some kind of electronics wizard needs to have a box full of transistors , resistors , capacitors and transformers put in front of him with a schematic and mediocre instructions .
Lets see that works out .
Old 10-24-2015, 05:41 PM
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I built 2 complete Heath kit,s back when they first came out The GD19 and GD405-d both on 6 meter's Willie McMath-K8ghz
Old 10-24-2015, 05:57 PM
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My Heathkit was on 75.640. I think that freq. was changed to surface use only. I did have an ACE on 6 meters.

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