Radio Archeology: Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver
Note: 03 Oct 2010 -
The eBay auction for an un-built kit of the radio pictured above ended with a winning bid of $1,378.57 (see it, and read more below)
Whenever I want to play with a new radio I look around the basement and see what’s down there. With my recent acquisition of the Heathkit BR-2 Broadcast Receiver I wondered what else I had in the way of Heathkit receiver kits. There is was – my Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver.
The GR-54 was produced between 1966 and 1971. It is all mode (AM/LSB/USB) single conversion Superheterodyne consisting of 6 tubes (6BH6 RF Amp, 6EA8 Osc Mixer, 6BA6 IF Amp, 6BA6 IF Amp, 12AT7 BFO Product Detector, 6HF8 AF Amp and diodes). The price when this kit was produced was $85-$135.
I got a real deal on this one. I paid $25 for it in good working condition. And that included the manual.
Turns out, at the time of this writing, there is an original unbuilt Heathkit GR-54 on eBay – the bidding is now at $709. Got that? That is not a typo. An unbuilt Heathkit is bid up to $709 with 16 hours remaining in the auction. Don’t belive me? Here, look.
Note: Click any picture on this page to enlarge
The seller posted some pictures of what is in the box. I snagged these as I know that by the time some folks read this posting this item will be gone and it may be interesting to some to see what was in these kits. You can get your own “unboxing” experience by proxy – maybe not. The images are in the gallery at the bottom of this posting.
The Value of Un-built Heath Kits – The value of History
I have seen unbuilt Heatkits going for $2,400 on eBay. There is a ham radio operator that posts on qrz.com that is in a state of utter amazement that these unbuilt Heathkits are going for so much money.
For some, “history” is not worth much. To others, history is valuable. The ham radio operator in the state of amazement suggested that one should disassemble existing Heathkits and sell them as collections of parts. Some people don’t get it – and there is no way you can ever explain it to them.
The 25 people who bid up this unbuilt Heathkit GR-54 to $709 have a sort of appreciation for things that will ensure that the history of radio is remembered valued, and passed on to future generations. I can only suspect that other people view history, perhaps, as a sequence of discrete events with no event, product, or idea with no more value than the next and all to be discarded when the moment passes. (The more academic folks reading this posting can find out more about the the idea and value of history here, here, and read about the seminal work, The Idea of History by R. G. Collingwood)
Enough of that. Back the GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver. Mine at least – the one I bought for $25 – not the one that has been bid up to $700+ on Ebay. ( I wonder what the winning bid will be?)
The GR-54 is a basic Superheterodyne but unlike the Heathkit BR-2 it uses circuit boards rather than point to-point wiring. As you can see, if you compare the pictures of the underside of the BR-2 and the GR-54, just how much the use of circuit boards cleaned up the rat’s nest under the chassis that used “point-to-point” wiring.
Here are a few picture of the inside of ( a built ) Heathkit GR-54. The last picture is the GR-54 on top of my 1934 Zenith.
As with all the radios in my collection they all get rotated into service over time and they all work.
For as long as RF-based broadcast radio exists, these radios can be of use and enjoyed every day.
Improving my Heathkit GR-54 Receiver
The above pages cached – http://frrl.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/improving_heathkitgr54_receiver.pdf
The assembly manual and giant schematic for the Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver -
A orginal ad for the Heathkit GR-54 Receiver
Gallery including what is inside the boxes in the eBay auction for the GR-54