Ok, one of the two timepieces that I’ve wanted since I became a ham is the Heathkit GC-1000 (the other is a Geochron). Today I received 2 of them. Maybe 1 1/2, but probably 2.

Most hams would be familiar with it, but for those who aren’t it was released for Christmas in 1983 for the low low price of $299.90 if you built it yourself, or $389.95 if you bought it “wired and tested.” If you adjust those numbers for inflation that’s $640 and $832 as of January 2009. here’s the original advertisement from it’s debut in the 1983 Christmas Heath Catalog which explains what makes this unique among clocks.

Heath Kit GC-1000 Debut, Christmas 2003

Heath Kit GC-1000 Debut, Christmas 2003

Yes, today modern WWVb “atomic” clocks and disciplined GPS outputs make this partially obsolete. What’s your point? It’s still a true Stratum-0 device completely independent of the GPS network and it’s accuracy is maintained realtime 24/7.

A friend in Canada stumbled upon a friend of his who was cleaning out his house and found one in an old dusty box. Also in that same box, was a 2nd, partially assembled GC-1000 in unknown condition!

Rather than selling it on eBay for what would almost certainly have been a tidy profit, he sent this box to me (he already has 2 GC-1000’s of his own) for which I am truly grateful. It arrived today. More correctly it arrived yesterday, but I was out sick so I got it today.

So I have 1 that needs some cosmetic work and a once-through to check out, and one completely unknown puzzle.

According to my research I really want to look at the electrolytic caps and get rid of the 7805 regulator that Heath used. They run that 7805 really near it’s max limits, and there are several pictures on the internet of it actually scorching the FR4 circuit board area around it. There is a nice modern switching regulator that is drop-in compatible. It generates almost no heat and rumor has it that it doesn’t produce any interference with the RF portion of the clock.

It may take a week or two before I can dig into this project, but I’m looking forward to building my first Heath Kit!