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Kirt Blattenberger - RF Cafe Webmaster

Copyright: 1996 - 2024
Webmaster:
    Kirt Blattenberger,

    BSEE - KB3UON

RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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Heathkit IM−17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter
Cool Product Report

Featured Product Archive

The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough to warrant an appearance.

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 |

Heathkit IM−17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter

Sometime around late 1977, a year or so prior to reporting to Lackland Air Force Base for Basic Military Training (BMT) with plans to pursue a career in electronics, I began boning up on my admittedly lacking electronics skills. Having spent the past few years as an electrician, including a couple years in vocational school, I was familiar enough with the big stuff that could easily kill me, but I didn't know much about about electronics with its small components and low voltages. To assist me with my goal, I purchased a couple Heathkit kits and carefully studied all the information provided, then proceeded to assemble and test everything. My first project was this IM−17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter. It was simple enough for even me to be successful. Although it was called a voltmeter (AC and DC capability), it also measured resistance, so technically it was a volt-ohmmeter. I'm not sure why the designers didn't add a current measuring function. A few years later, Heathkit added a transistor checking circuit and re-designated the the IM−5217 (see the 1982 Heathkit Christmas catalog page).

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Heathkit IM−17 innards showing 9 V transistor radio battery - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 innards. Note the 9 V transistor radio battery in the 8.4 V mercury battery holder.

Heathkit IM−17 panel and printed circuit board assemblies - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 panel and printed circuit board assemblies.

Heathkit IM−17 bare plastic case - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 bare plastic case

Heathkit IM-17 Kit Parts and Shipping Box - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 Kit Contents - RF Cafe

Heathkit IM−17 kit contents.

Recently, I did some minor cleaning and calibration of the old IM−17, and it still works perfectly. The manual suggests using a 1.5 volt dry cell battery for the DC calibration and the 120 volt wall socket for the AC calibration, if no better sources exist. A kit-built 10 MHz bandwidth oscilloscope I assembled many moons ago specified the same two types of calibration sources. Fortunately, I had sources a little better than a battery and a wall socket, and unlike the earlier exercises, I now have a good quality digital multimeter to verify the voltage levels (and better sources). The IM−17 is a strange beast in that the AC and resistance measurements are made using the red and black leads, and the DC measurement is made using the black and gray leads. The gray lead is shielded. An auxiliary jack is provided for using a Heathkit high voltage probe or a Heathkit RF voltage probe (neither of which I own).

Also, the IM−17 originally used a 1.5 V carbon C-cell and an 8.4 V mercury cell (no longer manufactured due to hazard reasons), but now a standard 9 V transistor battery is being used successfully in place of the 8.4 V cell. The manual specifies that a 9 V battery can be substituted, but the lifetime will be shorter and the meter "zero drift" could be greater.

The entire Assembly Manual has been scanned and posted below. Heathkit spared no time or expense creating their manuals. Very clear instructions and expertly done illustrations make assembly nearly foolproof. Detailed calibration and usage instructions are provided, as well as a circuit description. According to a 1972 edition of Mac's Service Shop entitled, "Philosophy of a Kit Manufacturer," their product development process at Heathkit involved having some employees build the kits exactly per instructions, and then revisions were made to the documentation as needed prior to making them available for sale.

Front Cover (outside), Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Front Cover (inside), Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 1, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 2, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 3, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Parts Pictorial, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page Pictorial 6 & 7, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 4, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 5, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 6, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 7, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 8, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 9, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 10, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 11, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 12, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 13, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Pictorial 8, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Figures 1 & 2, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 14, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 15, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 16, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 17, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Pictorial 10, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Voltmeter Use Chart, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 18, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 19, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 20, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 21, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 22, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

 Page 23, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 24, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 25, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF CafePage 26, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 27, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 28, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

 Page 29, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Page 30, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Back Cover (inside), Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF CafePage 31 (Schematic), Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

Page 32, Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe Back Cover (outside), Heathkit IM-17 Utility Solid-State Voltmeter - RF Cafe

 

 

Posted September 21, 2020

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