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Nostalgia: Heathkit Twoer and Gonset Communicator II

Restoration Projects and Mods

When I became a novice in 1966, I could not afford an HF rig, so I bought a Heathkit Twoer for $45 and ended up spending most of my novice year on 2 meter AM phone, especially after the local Civil Defense club loaned me a Gonset Communicator II, which had much more power than the Twoer and a better receiver.

For nostalgia, I recently bought a Twoer and a Gonset, feels good to have my first rigs back in the shack, even though there is not much I can practically do with them, since 2 meter AM has long ago given way to FM and SSB. The Gonset can at least receive FM repeaters, so I can use it for monitoring. The Twoer does not receiver FM well at all, I can faintly hear audio on some repeaters but mostly just carrier, am looking for a mod that would enable FM reception.

This page will chronicle my efforts to restore these rigs. The Gonset receives but does not transmit. The Twoer receives and transmits but has a bad hum. The photo on the left shows how they look now, in January 2012. The Twoer was sold to me for $40 shipped (about the same price it sold for 40 years ago as a new kit) and the Gonset cost me $20 plus $30 for shipping (it weighs 22 lbs.). Twoers are very easy to buy, they come up for sale on eBay almost every week; Gonsets are not so easy, it may take some effort to find one to buy. Some still look nice, others are junk, be careful what you buy.

W2CQ loaned me this tube tester, looks like the 2E26 final on the Gonset is OK:

The Twoer may be the most modded rig in the history of ham radio. Heathkit wanted it to be an economy radio so it was sold with absolutely no frills. Many of the mods were described over the years in articles in 73 magazine, which is now online in the public domain for non-commercial use. Here is a pdf of numerous Twoer mods from 73. The articles in the pdf (numbers refer to the handwritten numbers on the lower left side of each page) are:

1 - Testing the Twoer
4 - More Selectivity for the Twoer
5 - VFOing the Twoer
6 - Push to Talk for the Sixer
9 - VFO Operation for the Twoer
11 - Squelch for the Twoer and Sixer
14 - Getting the Most From Your Twoer [xtal socket, meter, improved audio]
17 - Sixer to the Nth [power supply, vernier dial, antenna coupler, headphone jack, xtal socket]
19 - Twoer Talk [tank circuit mod for increased output, audio clipping, meter, neutralization]
21 - Operating Suggestions for the Twoer [xtal socket, antenna]
23 - Push to Talk (The Twoer Way)
24 - Twoer Modifications [VFO, AC/DC switch]
26 - The Twixer [mod to convert Twoer into 6 and 2 meter duo bander]

Also found in the 73 archive one mod for the Gonset, a mod for improved reception.

Here is a copy of the Twoer manual and a copy of the Gonset Communicator II manual (for 6 and 2 meters), the Communicator II schematic (2 meters), and the the parts list and voltage test points chart (2 meters), from the BAMA archive . Here is the schematic, parts list, and test point voltages for the 6 meter Communicator.

With thanks to W2AMR and K1ZJH, here is a copy of the Heathkit instructions for the Lunchbox squelch mod, written for the CB-1 but works as well on the Twoer, Sixer, and Tener. It is very simple, just needs two #47 lamps and two 4.7 ohm resistors, said to have been designed by W6ECE. I tried the mod but did not get much squelch.

UPDATE March 2012 - I have done the selectivity mod from page 4 of the 73 Magazine pdf, and it works. I can now receive FM on my Twoer. Here is a video of the Twoer receiving FM from England and California via a Win System repeater:

Here is a photo of the modded detector on the Twoer:

If anyone has a Twoer that has no 60 hz hum, please let me know. This may have been a design defect, every Lunchbox I have seen has the hum.

I also have the Gonset cleaned up and working, good reception and 7 watts output. The only problem was a bad tube. More details on that later.

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