After almost a week, my new HW-7 arrived from Orlando, Florida...and amusingly, it used to be owned by a ham that lives less than 4 miles from where I lived in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
If you've ever read eHam's Equipment Review page, you'll find MANY differing opinions from hams from all over the world. The HW-7 page (http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/741) is among the many of them. I even wrote a review on the HW-7 on April 30, 2004. (My current HW QRP is probably the 5th or perhaps 6th one I've owned.) That being said, reviews are mixed as to whether or not the HW-7 is a GOOD rig, or a BAD rig. Since it has a 3.0/5.0 only enhances the generic.
This one in particular is pretty rare, in that it has been LIGHTLY modified. One of the previous owners had replaced the RCA antenna jack on the back with a common SO-239. And the main 13V power cable inside the radio was replaced with a small length of RG-58...an obvious response to the hum that is so prevalent in the HW-7 and HW-8. Besides those minor alterations, it is STOCK.
If you look closely at the photo, you'll see that the Receive Preselect knob is not original. It WAS on the radio when it arrived, however, two of the HW-7 reviews (KE7WAV and WB0KWJ's) mentioned that using a larger knob makes receive tuning much easier. And they were spot on! Peaking the audio now is a breeze.
One thing I did is to remove the power cable from the matching HWA-7-1 power supply that came with the rig. Truth be told, I NEVER liked this power supply. The hum they produce is legendary. I made a clean extraction, so that if I EVER change my mind, I can add this cable back to it for a 100% stock power supply. My main battery that I use for ALL of my gear is now providing the power for the HW-7, and once I did that, the hum VANISHED. I don't believe I have ever heard a 7 sound this good.
I even tuned up the band and listened in on the OMISS W.A.S. Net.
The HW-7 is one of the many radios of the era that required high impedance headphones/speakers for proper audio reproduction. Connecting the Boom Cube to it only reinforced this. With unbelievable luck, I happen to possess my grandfather's WWII-era Telephonics Corp TH-37 "can" headphones. In the past, when I've used them in new gear, I wasn't very impressed...this, of course, was the same issue...only in reverse. Since it is closer to the impedance that the HW-7 "wants", the old "cans" were giving me audio that I didn't think they were capable of almost 70 years later. These WILL be the audio device of choice while using this radio...not only because they work so amazingly well, but it adds to the NOSTALGIA effect. (Thanks, grandpa!)
Since my Ten-Tec KR5A keyer is connected to the CRK-10, I decided to hook up the Heathkit SA-5010 keyer for the sake of testing and tuning. (Once in my new apartment, the old-school Heathkit HD-10 is going to be the keyer of choice for the HW-7 since they are from the same era.)
Once connected to the MFJ Versa Tuner II, I observed 2 watts output on all bands. So, the transmit is good as well!
As of this morning, I called CQ a few times with the Micromatic's memory function. I pressed 2/SEND, and the HW-7 called CQ for me...and I was pleasantly surprised by my call coming up on the Reverse Beacon Network.
All that's left...is to make a QSO...and all of the basic elements are there.
Despite the drawbacks present in this radio (microphonics, hum, "Radio Jesus" on shortwave, lack of selectivity), I can say that I am going to enjoy using this radio. And even though it has all of the limitations of a direct conversion receiver, keep in mind, that whether I've been using the CRK-10 or the Rockmite, ALL I HAVE BEEN USING SINCE RETURNING TO THE AIR has had a DC receiver in it.
What's more, if you or I can make reliable QSOs with a RM-40, or the CRK-10, or a Pixie II, or a DCxxB, or Rex Harper's BEAUTIFUL "Lil Squall Transceiver", then making contacts with this old HW-7 will be simple. Plain and simple. There IS NO magic to it...once you get the feel for how a direct conversion receiver operates and are OK with its limitations, it becomes a non-issue. The 2 watt output is icing on the cake.
Tonight will be the last chance that I have to operate from West Falls, and with my 200' random wire. Most of my gear is already packed and ready to be taken to Elma and set up in my new apartment. I have some ideas for a few stealth antennas that I can install easily. One idea taken from a CQ article was from an American ham in Germany that installed a loop around the ceilings of his flat. It wasn't a perfect "loop", but it was a 150' enclosed space, and it worked very well for him. I am considering trying the same...except that not only would I encircle the ceiling, but also run down the corners for some additional length and vertical components. I have been given permission for a "shortwave antenna", so I have finally settled on the PAR EF-10/20/40MKII, since it is 40' long and I can have it up in no time. (And during the Lockport Hamfest, I had a chat with my friend Steve, AG2AA. He purchased a KX3 and a PAR End Fed, and was playing around with the KX3's keyer. The story he told us is that he was setting up the keyer with his callsign, and when complete, he pressed the "execute" button. The EF was laying in his living room, half of it apparently strung across his chandelier in his dining room. When the KX3 was done calling CQ, he immediately received a response. He was shocked, and I was amazed...and encouraged to get one. Thanks, Steve!)
So, next week or thereabouts, if you here me calling CQ on or around 7030-7040...I'll be using the HW-7.
In closing, I have been in numerous discussions with component vendors from around the world. The parts that make the HW-7/HW-8 (and the Ten-Tec Powermites, for that matter) so rare, such as the CA3035V1 IC, as well as the MPSU05 transistors, and 40673 FETS are still "available" in remote corners of the world. This year, I am going to bring together ALL of these sources to market a Heathkit Hotwater Rebuild Kit.