Pretty much every radio amateur of my generation will remember Heathkit assembly. We built and used these electronics kits for many years.
While recently assembling my original Prusa i3 MK3S 3D printer, I found myself thinking about Heathkit. Many of you may remember Heathkit assembly of radios and test equipment. For more than forty years until 1992, the Heath Company was the backbone of DIY ham radio gear.
What made me remember Heathkit assembly was the high quality of the Prusa Assembly Instructions, which were at the rare quality provided by Heathkit.
Do the comparison for yourself. Here is the Prusa assembly manual. Now, you can compare it to the Heathkit HW-101 transceiver manual from 1970. Both make extensive use of visualization to identify parts and where you should place them. Both have great guidance for step-by-step assembly. Granted, you will find a lot more parts in a Heathkit (and a lot more soldering, obviously) but both manuals set a gold standard.
I built five Heathkits over the years. Very few wiring errors although some cold solder joints. Lots of help in the manuals for troubleshooting. But usually, a few friends would check each others work.
Remember Heathkit Assembly – Black and White
There are two advantages found in the modern Prusa assembly instructions. First, you can really appreciate the use of color and quality printing. In addition, as you can see above in the lower picture, Prusa uses color to identify specific parts through each step of the assembly.
Second, the companion web site provides great full-screen pictures, and can be updated with improved instructions at any time.
I am sure that if Heathkit was still around, they would take advantages of these newer techniques, as well. If you look at the 1969 Heathkit Catalog, you will find a pretty amazing range of kits that would be fun to build, even today.