Weskit BN-1


The Weskit transmitter-receiver was made by Western Radio (a.k.a. Western Electronics) of Kearney, Nebraska, around the 1956/1957 time period. It is an extremely simple rig, using only a single 7 pin miniature type 3A5 tube. This dual triode tube, which typically serves as a push-pull audio output tube in battery powered portable receivers, performs the transmit function with one triode, and the receive functions with the other. The front panel as shown above, is made of thin sheet metal, with a rather attractive gray paint job with red screen printed markings. The sides, top, and bottom of the box are made of a plastic impregnated cardboard, while the back of the unit remains open.

The transmitter is a modified Pierce crystal controlled oscillator on the 80 or 40 meter amateur bands. The L-C tuned plate tank circuit is link coupled to the antenna, and a type 1843 incandescent lamp in the antenna circuit is used as a tuning indicator. After tuning, the lamp is to be replaced with a type 41 lamp to reduce resistive losses. Power input can be as much as 5 watts with 180 volt supply, however the instructions suggest plate supply voltages as low as 45 volts, with "nominal" operation at 90 volts, with about 1 to 1.5 watts input. Snap on clips are provided for connection to dry cell batteries for high voltage, and a single D-cell battery holder is provided for the filament supply. Switching from transmit to receive applies filament power to only the half of the tube which is in operation.

The receiver is a regenerative type. Regeneration is controlled by a potentiometer across the feedback winding of the tuning coil. Frequency coverage is claimed to be 3400 kc to 8000 kc in the manual, however dial calibration does not go below 3500 kc. Audio output is intended to be fed to high impedance headphones. An optional stage of audio amplification using a type 3V4 tube can be added for operation of a small speaker. A pre-punched hole in the chassis can be utilized for the purpose of mounting the additional tube.

The unit in my collection was purchased in August of 1989, from Antique Electronic Supply. It was featured in a sale flyer that was sent out, and I don't believe it was ever offered in regular catalogs. Some other "Western Radio" items that were also available at that time, were some simple receivers with a couple of tubes, and a trap dipole. I suspect that their inventory of Western Radio items has long since been exhausted.

I have played with the rig on one occasion, and found the receiver to be quite tricky to operate, yet quite sensitive when "tweaked-in" as would be expected with a "regen". Switching the receiver filament off for transmitter operation didn't help with "re-acquiring" weak CW signals upon switching back to receive mode. The transmitter was quite simple to operate, and emitted a clean sounding CW note with 1 watt of DC input power. I worked a station about 600 miles away with the transmitter, but was forced to use a more "friendly" receiver.

Here is a GIF image of the schematic for the BN-1.

(25-Oct-1999) In response to several requests, and the apparent interest in reproducing this circuit, I'm providing some more info:

Construction information for the coils used in the BN-1:

Coil number # of turns coil length form dia. Notes
L1 13 0.18 0.50 on same form as L2
L2 55 0.85 0.50 on same form as L1
L3 15 0.31 0.56 slides over L4
L4 67 1.03 0.50

All dimensions are in inches.
All coil forms are thin wall cardboard tubing.
L1 and L2 are separated by about 0.06 inch.
All windings appear to be 32 AWG varnish coated magnet wire.

photo of the insides, featuring the tube and TX coils (L3 & L4)
photo of the insides, featuring the receiver coils (L1 & L2)

Mirror From Sheldon Wheaton's Web Site
Sheldon Wheaton's Home Page.