Heathkit Clock

Sometime in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s I built my last Heathkit, the GC-1108 digital alarm clock.  I still have it and it still works.  I did have to replace the alarm on/off switch on top with a slide switch from RatShack when the original went bad.  Now the three position set time/ set alarm/ run switch is going bad, resulting in the clock loosing the time setting when the switch is operated if I apply any inward pressure on it (carefully sliding it  is OK).

Heathkit went out of the kit business, and then disappeared after my purchase of that kit.  I’ve since purchased several already-built Heath products, including a tube tester, solid state curve tracer, and a signal generator.  Their test equipment and ham radio gear were usually designed at the perfect level of performance vs cost for the hobbyist, and being kits they gave the owner a sense of pride and accomplishment once assembled.  They were also fun to build.  Needless to say, I do miss Heathkit.

As of 2015, Heathkit is back, sort of.  I’m not sure just who the new owners of the brand name are, if there is a real, direct connection with the new Heathkit and the old, or if this is just a case of a new entity having purchased all of the IP and Logos of the former company.  They are no longer in Benton Harbor, Michigan, the new company is shipping product from Ottsville, PA, and I’ve heard that their engineering office is somewhere in California.  At the moment their website store lists only four kits, an AM Radio-Tuner (available in no solder and solder versions), an Alarm Clock, a Dual Band J-Pole type antenna for the Amateur 144/440 Mhz bands, and a SMT practice soldering kit (code practice oscillator on a ruler).  They also list a precision RF meter that seems to be stuck in pre-order hell.  I don’t know if it will EVER be available.

I hope the new Heathkit will eventually add more stuff to their catalog.  I had been eyeing their new “Most Reliable Clock” kit ever since it was announced, and I finally decided to order one and relive the Heathkit building experience again.  Unfortunately, Heathkit seems to be running hand to mouth on their inventory, building kits on order.  As a result, there is a backlog of about a month from order to shipment.  You will get an order number once you place your order, and will get an email when the kit actually ships.  Mine was sent USPS Priority Mail and shipment took three days.

So far, I’ve only opened the box and verified the contents.  I’ve just started reading though the manual.  The new Heathkit assembly manual is just as good as the old ones (maybe better).  The manual is spiral bound to lay flat open to a single page.  While there is new artwork appropriate to the current date, there are also many illustrations lifted right out of older Heathkit manuals from the 60’s-80’s.

I hope to document the build of this new clock kit and report on it here.   I don’t think they have added a 24 hour mode to the clock, which would be nice for use in the ham shack (though I intend to replace the GC-1108 on my night stand with the new one).  I got the Green LED version, that’s more pleasant to the eyes at night (same color as the GC-1108).   This is going to be fun.