Heil Headset Reviews

From N2KEN
I’ve used many headsets and microphones over the years. This combination is near perfection. They are comfortable and the HC-5 dynamic element sounds great. The Heil is an excellent headset & very comfortable

When I first opened the box and held the headset in my hands the size of the headset, microphone boom and element enclosure caused a bit of concern. The sturdy (and substantial) mic boom is mounted on one of the two full-sized, closed cup, circum-aural headphones. Was all this plastic, vinyl and steel a bit too much to wear?

The headband suspension self-adjusts and no knobs or click stops are provided. As if made for my head, the headband fell right into place with just the right amount of tension. The headbands fit me perfectly with no bending or adjustment. Once positioned the whole thing stays in place comfortably. Very nice! A set of cloth earpiece covers are provided if that is your preference.

The ear cups attenuate a substantial amount of room noise and allow total focus on the incoming audio. Despite its robust size the Pro Set Plus is not heavy. After hours of wearing them they are still comfortable. The microphone boom requires a bit of persuasive force to bend and rotate it into position. This is a one-time affair, and it hasn’t budged a millimetre since. A small foam windscreen slides over the element housing and adds to the girth of the mic. For those who like a small, discrete-looking microphone this is not for you.

Compared to other studio-quality headphones, the audio is quite good. This is a nice sounding communications headset. Received audio is crisp and clear with ample low, mid and high frequency response. However headphone volume is a bit less than my other phones at the same receiver setting. This is not a big issue since simply increasing the volume level is the solution. The closed ear cups effectively reduce feedback when monitoring your transmitted audio or making EQ adjustments. The phase reversal switch added something to tinker and experiment with.

The HC-5 microphone element has a pleasing frequency response and has a somewhat full sound with a moderate amount of low end. It is not quite as robust sounding as the Heil Goldline full-range element, but gets good audio reports for it’s smooth and clear audio quality. The HC-4 element is also built-in and a small slide switch changes the active element. This element is harsh sounding and favors the mid and higher frequencies – as intended. I’ll save this one for DX work.

Interfacing with my Kenwood TS-940S was easy using the optional adapter cable. You’ll also need a PTT switch – an easy project. A ¼” stereo phone jack is standard on the Kenwood, so receiver audio was plug and play. I also had no difficulty feeding microphone audio into a pre-amp and an EQ for audio experimentation. The mic connection is by 1/8” mono plug and a suitable adapter was easily found in my parts box. An ample length of wire is provided so you can move around your operating position. I like the Heil Pro Set Plus and this is a fine addition to my shack. The construction and audio quality are excellent and should provide years of use.

From Dennis N2CF
The Pro Set Plus very nicely compliments my Kenwood TS-2000. The feel and fit is very comfortable. I am wearing them as I write this, and they have been on my head now for about 3 hours. If not for the microphone being in view when I glance down, I’d forget they were on my head.

Sound quality. I have used many headphones over the years for various applications. The sound quality in the Heil P-S-P is among the best I have ever listened to. The Phase reverse is quite effective. I prefer the “B” setting.

Microphone: Without being redundant with the specs and functions that others mentioned already, the elements in the boom mike on this headset are downright fabulous. The DX / Full Range toggle is a nice touch and as well effective.

Quality: This Headset is attractively made and I find the design configuration to be perfect (for my Melon at least). It’s very apparent that there was no corner cutting done here. The headset also comes with ear covers [put them on the headset, not your own ears :-)) ] and a Mic “poppy” cover. I employ both. If you want a top notch headset/mic combo, I believe you need not look further than the Heil Pro Set Plus. Money well spent.

From K7VI
This is it–the ideal context/DX headset. This is a fabulous headset. If you’re a serious DXer or Contester, buy a set. I’ve been a long-time, not-always-happy Heil customer. I’ve owned three of their headsets prior to this one: One of the open-air sets and two of the Pros. I didn’t care for the feel of the open air set (personal preference) and had a problem with the wiring being flaky in one ear. Both the Pros failed mechanically (ear piece fell off) within a few months. One failed within 30 days.
Honestly, I thought that I was done with Heil products. That thought was a very disappointing for me because I loved the HC-4 audio. Figured it was back to a desk mike for me.

Since then, Bob Heil convinced me to try his new Pro-Set Plus. I’ve now made a bunch of QSOs and run half a dozen contests with this set. I started out REALLY sceptical and worried that I was going to break off yet another earpiece. As time went by, I worried less. By the end of a contest when my eyes are pretty bleary, I’m not thinking about being careful with the headset when I put it on or take it off, so I’ve got some really “honest” hours on this set. I love ’em. Plain and simple.

This set is comfortable to wear for hours at a stretch. They lay well on your ears and the band is comfy for many hours at a stretch on the top of your head. The physical adjustability of the mike is perfect. The weight of the set is a great balance of feeling substantial and “worth” the money with airy comfort.
The ear pieces, though. That’s what I was worried about. I already knew the other stuff was good. Bob’s redesign of the connecting mechanism seems to have yielded exactly the results he (and his customers) desired. When I’m thoughtful, I use both hands to take the set off. When I’ve been trying to break the TN pileup with no success and I strip the phones off my head one-handed, well, I’ve put the set to test and it’s stood up beautifully.

There’s nothing I can add about the microphone’s performance that you haven’t read in a dozen other places. It’s premiere. The speakers are further improved from the Pro-Set. I really, really, REALLY like the speakers in these headphones. I think that you will, too. Another minor, positive note: The cord from the phones to the rig is of ample length.(about 8 feet) so that I can roll around the shack without worry of jerking the phones off my head (ever had that one happen to you?!?). I love the quick connect to the mike input on the rig. When the cord gets tangled it takes 5 seconds to disconnect, untangle and reconnect. Very nice.

So, I’m a fan of this product. Bob Heil has won me as a fan with his personal service, superb product performance, and successful redesign. The mechanical aspects of this set now match the near-legendary talk/listen audio performance.

Heathkit SB-220 Modifications

Part 1

Mileage may vary but this is how I modified my SB-220 for use during major contests. Basically you don’t need a “big bang” in the middle of a ferocious run on 20M. If you have a catastrophe, either by inexperienced ops working with gear that has the potential to take out power panels or an amplifier spontaneously does a nasty and fills the air with ozone and lightning, you need circuitry that will sustain only minor damage which may be repaired and put back into service quickly.

WARNING!!!!!!! Before you undertake any modifications you must know that under 100 VDC will kill you easily. Big amplifiers such as the Heath SB-220 generate extremely lethal DC in excess of 3000 Volts DC Mess with it and you will not survive! Do not work on your amplifier with it plugged in. Do not work on your amplifier if you are tired or are not thinking clearly. The procedure each time you make a change is to:

1)      Turn off and unplug your amplifier.

2)      Look at the HV meter and watch it slowly discharge to zero.

3)      When it is Zero, check with a screwdriver across the chassis to the plate caps. If there is a flash and a bang, count yourself lucky to be alive and go back to step 1 and 2!!!!!!!!!

The series of photographs will show you what I have done. Basically the improvements are:

1)      Below:

Removed all the 115V/230VAC wiring and set up permanently for  230/240VAC 

2)      Remove the antenna switching relay, mount it near the circuit breakers and rewire it as a “Step Start” relay to bring the voltage up on the filter capacitors slowly, limiting inrush current and protecting the main power switch along with the power supply components.

3)      Install three new 26VDC relays near the cathode choke. There are in series with a 680 ohm dropping resistor to reduce the 120VDC bias supply voltage to around 75 VDC for the chain. I used equalizing resistors across tow of the three relays and total current drawn is 85 ma which is acceptable for most Yaesu and Icom radios. Two of the relays are Jennings RJ series available from Maxgain systems and the third small reed relay switches the 120VDC bias to the filament/cathode on standby.

4)      Power supply improvements include removing the 30K resistors across the filter capacitors and   replacing with 68K 5 watt wire wound resistors to reduce heat near the capacitors. I replaced the original diodes with 1N5408 3A diodes. I removed the original Zener diode and replaced it with a series of seven 1N5408s.

5)      I removed the RF network at the grids and grounded each grid together and to the chassis.

6)      I removed the metal rod between the HV feedthrough insulator and the RFC feeding the main RF choke and substituted a junkbox surplus steatite insulator and placed a couple of fuse clips across it which allowed me to insert a 1A fuse in the B+ supply to the plates.

7)      I put back to back 1N5408 diodes across both meters to protect them.

All in all a very satisfying project and well worth while. I haven’t really noticed much difference in the amplifier’s operation except that the tuning each side of resonance is equal and smooth. It is nice to know that the amplifier is protected and will be more reliable under 48 hour contest operation.

Part 2 – About 1 year later

I was using my old SB220 during the CQWW last year and there was a helluva bang accompanied by a bright flash followed by the sickly sweet odour of transformer gunk liquidizing. I put amp on the shelf for a few months and was in complete denial trying to justify that it was just an old electrolytic gone west. It wasn’t. A good mate of mine stripped down the old transformer and we were planning on rewinding it when I ran across a company in the USA (Antek Inc.)  marketing a line very large toroidal wound HV transformers.

I ordered the 800 VA one as it would just fit in the cavity. It’s specs were 2 x 650 VAC secondaries and 2 x 115 VAC primaries. Our mains voltage here in ZL is 230VAC and the amp has long been converted to that. And the cost was $99.00 – about one third the price of a Dahl replacement. I seriesed  the two secondaries for 1300VAC and the SB220 brought them up to 2600V x 1.41 which gave me 3600 VDC on the 3-500s. A bit high, but liveable.

The transformer arrived and of course it was just slightly LARGER than the cavity. Since the amp has been extensively reworked with vacuum relay switching etc, I had nothing to lose and decided to take my 4” grinder and mount the big 20 lb toroid into the chassis with a bit sticking out the back which will be covered with a safety cover plate. I mounted the new “Step Start” relay and resistors on the side of the toroid as you see in the photos. 

Since the CW/SSB switch became redundant, I changed the circuitry so that it is a Standby/Operate switch that kills the HV. (Yes, I know it’s not needed as the 3-500s are instant on, but it’s better than leaving it there doing nothing.)

Some of the other circuitry improvements have been to get rid of all the garbage grid circuitry and ground them direct, Vacuum relay antenna switching for QSK, Step start power up (using the old antenna relay!) removing the ALC circuitry, installing two new replaceable fuse holders on the back panel, one as a line input fuse at 7A and the other as a “glitch fuse” of 1.0 amps in the secondary of the HV transformer. (yes I know it’s a bit dicey but it works fine)

It has been a very interesting project and the final result is an amp that will put over a kilowatt into the antenna with a plate current of around 500 ma and the transformer runs very cool. The higher voltage on the plates required that I increase the resting bias a bit up to nearly 10 volts and the resting plate current is 150 ma.

It will actually put about 1400 watts into the antenna but that it a long way past the capabilities of the band switch and variable capacitors so running it at around 900 to 1000 watts seems to sit well with it.

73, Lee ZL2AL


Choosing Your First Radio

Choosing Your First Radio by – Chris Levin, KB7YOU 

1 Introduction

Ham radio is an exciting hobby – and there is a lot more to it than just talking on the radio.

Amateur radio provides a framework that supports a wide variety of interests. With amateur radio as a resource and guide you can experiment with digital communications and RF/Internet gateways, you can design and build electronic devices and talk to stations in outer space.

You can study propagation and atmospheric conditions or listen to interstellar signals created by the explosion of stars and much more.

Of course, communications is an important part of the amateur radio world. Meeting new people around town and around the world is tremendous fun.

Whatever your interests and goals, amateur radio can provide value to your endeavors.

The very versatility that makes ham radio so interesting can also cause problems. As a new ham or even as an experienced operator trying out a new aspect of the hobby, the huge amount of information available can be difficult to sort through. The Internet can be a valuable tool but with so many people giving conflicting advice, how do you know what’s right? That’s where this paper comes in. My goal is to give the new ham some basic, general information on radio types, their pros and cons and the ways that they can be used.

The information in these pages is based on my first hand experience. I don’t write about things I have no skill or experience with. By following these rules I can ensure good accuracy in the information I present.

I hope that you enjoy reading this document and that it helps you with your radio purchase. If you have questions, comments or corrections I would enjoy hearing from you.

2 Radio Types

2.1 Terms you need to know:

  • DC to Daylight – Refers to the new breed of radios that cover the HF (1.8MHz – 30MHz + 50MHz to 54MHz), VHF (144 MHz – 148 MHz) and UHF (420 MHz – 450 MHz) amateur bands. These are all mode radios and are available in a variety of form factors and feature sets.
  • All Mode – A term used to describe radios that support CW, SSB, AM, FM and various digital communication modes. Most modern HF radios and some VHF/UHF radios are all mode.
  • Dual Band – Generally refers to a radio that covers the 2 meter and 70 centimeter amateur bands.
  • HF – The 160 meter to 6 meter amateur bands.
  • VHF –The 2 meter amateur band.
  • UHF – The 70 centimeter amateur band.

Choosing a first radio is one of the most important decisions you will make – and one of the toughest. The right radio for you will depend on what you want to do now and in the future. It can be hard sorting through all the advice. To get you started I have listed each of the common radio types and some reasons to consider each.

2.2 Mobile 2 Meter and Dual Band Radios
The mobile 2m or dual band radio is the workhorse of local communications. These radios are most commonly used for communications via local repeaters and for short haul simplex communications. Most of these radios will also let you do PACKET or APRS communication with the addition of software and hardware. Some dual band mobile radios are also suitable for basic satellite communications. The majority of mobile radios are FM only and the most common bands they support are 2m and 70cm.

There are many radios available in this category. Prices range from under $200 for a basic 2m mobile up to $500 for models with built in PACKET modems and APRS software.

Things to consider:

  • If you live in an area with an active ham community chances are good that there is a lot of activity on the 2m and 70cm FM bands. One of these radios will give you lots of opportunities to communicate.
  • If you have a Technician license and plan on waiting a while to upgrade then your HF choices are very limited. A 2m, 70cm or dual band radio is an excellent choice for day to day communications.
  • If you are interested in PACKET or APRS then you need a 2m FM radio. A basic mobile rig or one of the more sophisticated rigs with a built-in PACKET modem is a must for these modes.
  • If you drive a lot or like to take road trips the mobile dual band radio is an excellent choice. In remote areas, the relatively high power output of these radios (usually 25 to 75 watts) will allow you to make contacts over distances of 20 to 50 miles.


  • High output power – These radios have power outputs ranging from a low of 20 watts up to 100 watts for some models.
  • Flexible – You can use these mobile radios in your car or your house (with the addition of a deep cycle battery and/or power supply). They also work with a wide variety of antennas allowing you to choose an antenna that suits your needs.
  • Feature rich – The larger form factor of these radios makes it simple for manufacturers to add extra features. The larger size also means that buttons and displays are larger and easier to use. You can purchase mobile radios with built in TNC’s (PACKET modems), cross band repeaters, general purpose scanners and other features.


  • Power requirements are higher than for handhelds. Most mobile radios are not going to be suitable for QRP or camping applications because of the large batteries required.
  • Limited modes and bands – These radios only work on the 2m and 70cm bands (some also cover 220MHz, 6m and 10m). Most of these radios only support FM communications.
  • External power supplies or batteries are needed for home use.

2.3 The DC to Daylight Radio

The “do it all” HF/6m/2m/70cm (and even higher!) radios are relatively new to the market. Often referred to as “shack in a box” radios they can be a great way to explore all of the common modes and bands available to the curious ham.

So why should you consider one of these radios? There are several reasons. First, they give you a little bit of everything – HF, 2m SSB, local repeaters and more. They are also great space savers if you don’t have room for multiple radios. If and when you decide to add a specialized radio to your setup or if you decide to buy a better performing “built to task” rig, your DC to Daylight radio will make a fine secondary rig. In many cases you can use it in conjunction with your other radio (especially if they are from the same manufacturer) to facilitate things like full duplex satellite operations. These radios will serve your needs as your license privileges grow and as your interests change.


  • Ready to go as you upgrade your license.
  • Space saving.
  • Many DC to Daylight rigs have rich feature sets and support things like satellite communications, packet cluster tuning and other digital modes and computer control.
  • Good features per dollar. These rigs give you a lot of “bang” for the buck.
  • Available in mobile and base station sizes and recently in portable/backpack sizes.


  • Can be complex to operate with many menus and options.
  • Price premium over a similar quality HF only or VHF only all mode radio.
  • Generally they do not perform as well as dedicated built to task radios.

2.4 HF Base Station

The traditional 160 meter to 10 meter HF base station rig provides more features, more capable components and a larger form factor than mobile or portable rigs. Most HF base stations provide 100 watts of output power and many have built-in antenna tuners. There are a huge number of new and used rigs available in every price range.

With its larger form factor, the HF base station generally has a better receiver, more features, easier to use controls and will generally perform better than a similarly priced portable or mobile unit. Some HF base stations give you all mode capabilities on 6m and 2m in addition to their HF capabilities. Since there are so many HF base station radios to choose from you should spend some time on the ham radio web sites (eHam, ARRL, QSL.NET) reading reviews and examining features.

2.5 Handheld Radios
Handheld radios are nice, some are full of bells and whistles and many are less expensive than mobile or base radios. But I think you should consider a handheld as a second radio. Why? Modern handhelds are marvels but they have limited features, power and antennas. Yes you can add an amplifier and an external antenna but the amplifier + handheld will cost you as much as a mobile rig. Handhelds have limited frequency coverage and sensitivity. You are not going to get the most out of radio with just a handheld. If you absolutely must have one (I did!) then start with something simple while you save for one of the rigs described above. The ICOM Q7A is an excellent choice. Its $99, uses 2 AA batteries, puts out 300mW and does 2m and 70cm as well as having an excellent general coverage VHF/UHF scanner built in.

3 The KB7YOU Station Setup
I like to explore all aspects of amateur radio. I don’t have a favorite mode and I like to try out lots of different things from CW to meteor scatter to digital modes to portable operations while camping. Here is the equipment that I have collected over the last 2 years. It might give you an idea of what a typical but modest station looks like.

  • Antennas – I have several permanent antennas and I’m always experimenting with them and building new ones. Since I like to check out all the bands and because I do a lot of portable operation my antennas are pretty simple. Here is what I have:

· Inverted L – Up 35 feet and 220 feet long. This antenna is connected to my radios via an AH-4 antenna tuner, the internal tuner in my rig or a QPAK antenna tuner. The antenna runs east/west and, with my tuner, gives me all or partial coverage of all bands from 80 meters to 6 meters. I experimented with this antenna for several months, adding station grounds, radials and adjusting its length and height to get it working well. I made the antenna from a scrap length of CAT-5 networking cable.

· 40 meter dipole – I had an old G5RV floating around and I strung it up about 25 feet between a few trees in my yard. I connect this antenna to my AH-4 tuner or directly to the internal tuner in my radio. It works well on 40 meters through 6 meters. Since it runs north/south it complements my “L”.

· Force 12 40 meter vertical dipole – This is a really neat antenna. It is car portable (breaks down into 4 foot sections) and can be setup in about 30 minutes. It comes with great instructions, a series of matching coils and all the hardware you need to get it up and running. I’ve learned a lot about dipoles and antenna matching methods playing with my Force 12. I plan on setting it up permanently at my home so I can use it more frequently. It performs very well and if you set it up for 40 meters and leave off the matching coils an antenna tuner makes it useable on 80 meters through 6 meters.

· Backpack portable vertical whips – Last summer I spent some time designing, building and experimenting with vertical antennas. I now have a collection of verticals that I can strap to a pack or setup in 5 minutes or less. I use these for QRP and occasionally set one up at my house. If you are interested in experimenting with and building your own antennas this is a great place to start. Some hardware, wire, PVC tubing and a selection of whips and ham sticks are all you need. I built 5 antennas for less than $50.00.

· 2m/70cm collinear antenna – A basic omni directional base antenna for 2m & 70cm FM contacts. I’ve also had good luck using this antenna for 2m and 70cm SSB contacts even though most SSB folks use horizontally polarized antennas.

  • My handheld: Icom W32A dual band radio. Nice radio. You can receive on 2m & 70cm at the same time or receive 2 2m or 2 70cm stations at the same time. Not as small as a lot of handhelds but a good size AND you can use a $20 battery pack that takes 6 NiCad’s. Much cheaper than the $80 to $100 battery packs most radios need. This radio costs about $250.00.
  • My first “real” radio: Icom IC706mkIIg. This is a really great rig. I use it as a mobile and as a base. It lets me use 2m and 70cm repeaters during my commute plus it gives me 2m & 70cm SSB, digital and CW for DX’ing, satellites and other stuff. It’s got HF coverage from 160m to 6m and you can get the AH4 antenna tuner which is a very handy device. All around a very solid radio will 100w output on HF, 50w on 2M and 30w on 70cm. You can get one new for about $700.00
  • My base station HF rig: My base station radio is a DC to Daylight Kenwood TSB-2000. This is an all mode radio that covers HF, 6 meters, 2 meters, 70 centimeters and 1296 MHz. The B version is a 100% computer controlled radio. The front panel has a power switch and nothing else! I’ve really been enjoying this radio. The receiver seems excellent, the transmit audio is great and I have received many good reports from other hams. This has become my workhorse rig. With a built in TNC, satellite capabilities, computer control and excellent DSP IF filtering, the TS-2000 is meeting all of my needs. It is a good “bang for the buck” rig at about $1,300. The TS-2000 (has the normal front panel displays and buttons) runs about $1,500 as of November 2004.
  • My 2m/70cm FM mobile: I have a Kenwood TMD700A which I got because it has a built in TNC and APRS. Plus it’s a very good, computer controlled dual band rig with some extra features like cross band repeating and the built in TNC. This is an expensive radio at $500.00 and probably not a good first choice. If you are interested in packet or APRS you can use a program on your PC and any 2m rig (like the 706 or a handheld) to explore this mode.

4 Radio Purchasing Tips
My first piece of advice is: Do not spend too much money on your first radio!

Why? Well, you are also going to need an antenna, wire, coax, grounding rods, dummy loads, test meters, books and all kinds of other things to get on the air at home or in your car. It’s sort of like buying a new car or computer. You need more than just a radio to get on the air. Also, since you are new, you don’t yet know what your tastes and preferences are going to be. So, be careful and go slow.

1. Do lots of research. Talk to other hams and read reviews. But be careful of advice. We hams are a passionate lot and can be blinded by loyalty to a brand or a mode. Figure out what you like.

2. eHam and ARRL are very good resources for information. Use them!

3. Don’t forget accessories: Coax, antenna, ground rods, power supply, desk (for base) or mounting equipment (for mobile) and other miscellaneous startup equipment. These initial purchases can use half your budget but are well worth it. If you skimp here to get a super duper rig you will probably be disappointed or operate in an unsafe manner.

4. A couple of reference books are a good idea: My choices: ARRL Handbook, ARRL Antenna Handbook, ARRL Operating Guide.

5. Used is OK but get help from an experienced ham. eBay has lots of deals but lots of junk as well. A local ham store (if you have one near you) is a good place to buy your first radio even if it costs a little more.

6. Join a radio club. Even if this is not your thing, a membership for a year can give you access to lots of other hams. And, you might like it.

I hope all of this helps you to pick a good first radio. You should check out some of the ham radio web sites. One site, eHam, has thousands of equipment reviews (note: These need to be taken with a grain of salt!). Go to http://www.eham.net. If you are not an ARRL member you should consider joining. Members can access comprehensive and impartial reviews at the http://www.arrl.org website. There is also a technical information section (TIS) that has all kinds of documents on antennas, modes, electronics and other stuff that is good to have. I use these sites weekly.

Have fun and good luck.

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