Heathkit Electronics Workshop

The electronics kit that started my interest in radio

This item from Heathkit got me started in electronics and radio. If I recall correctly, it was first sold in the UK by Heathkit Daystrom in late 1961 just in time for Christmas. My father saw it advertised in a DIY magazine and asked if I'd like it. Having said, "yes" it was ordered and arrived in time for Christmas that year.

I remembered the kit as the EW-1 but I have recently seen it on eBay called the SK50 and the JK-27. These may all have been variations on the same concept or different names for sales in the USA and elsewhere? It may just be that I cannot remember!

The electronics workshop consisted of a large white baseboard into which a number of components were attached by screws. Also on the panel were a loudspeaker, a relay, a crystal earpiece, a crude morse key and a slug-tuned inductor with a tuning knob attached.

With the workshop around 25 circuits could be built by following the instructions and joining up the appropriate connectors.As I recall there were simple morse oscillators, sme basic MW receivers, a simple speech transmitter (using the crystal earpiece with an attached paper cone as the mic!), an intercom and some relay controlled odds and ends.

It was the radio receiver that got me going as a shortwave listener, well medium wave listener to start with. That Christmas I was already starting to find out what stations I could pick up apart from the local BBC station a few miles away. I was amazed to find I could hear stations all over Europe as far as the middle east.

It kick-started several things. Firstly an interest in electronics and shortwave listening. This in turn led to an interest in amateur radio and my eventual licence and morse test pass. This interest turned into a degree in electronics which led to a career in mobile radio design. I am still doing this some 36 years later and some 45 years after that first Heathkit!  These days I find I can remember less and less technically - I blame it on age - but I still find radio electronics as fascinating as at the time I first explored it with one of these Heathkit workshops.