This summer I was able to attend a sorta
local hamfest - specifically looking for a HB-1B. I was lucky enough to find one that lit up, put out 5+ watts and looked to be fully operational. I was able - with a bit of jawboning - to walk out of the building with it for $100. This also included the wall wart battery charger.
So, what did I really get?
My new radio is a HB-1B MK II late model (HB-1B8b) Note the port to charge the internal battery.
Let me chat about this for a bit - The Chinese HB series (for Home Brew) was originally envisioned as a low cost kit to compete against the KX-1.
No, is isn't a direct copy, and since form follows function, you could make the same claim about the KX-1 - it 'copies' earlier work. Looking at the series -
(BTW, all of the versioning is my own invention to make it a bit easier to track the changes seen in the rigs)
The HB-1A (not the kit version, as it was never offered in North America) was two band, but an owner could
modify the radio via a simple jumper to gain 30M. (40/30/20) There was real issues (as in not meeting FCC mandated levels) with special purity on 30M, which is why TT sold the 20/40 and 30/40 as dual band radios. As you read the on-line reviews, all of these (HB-1A and the TT rigs) suffered badly from "Quality issues"
The HB-1B MK0 mod 0 was a 4-band radio 80/40/30/20 - with no battery charge port. It may not show the build date on the splash screen on power-up. RX 3.2 -16 Mhz.
I believe there is/could be a variant
that could be called an HB-1B Mk1 mod 0 No build date on on power up. RX 3.2-16 Mhz
HB-1B Mk II mod 0 - 4 bands, 80/40/30/20 and comes with battery as an option
but no power port build date displays on power up. RX 3.5-16 Mhz. Battery is removed to charge.
HB-1B Mk II Mod 1 80/40/30/20 and comes with
LiPO battery, no battery charge port RX 3.2-16 Mhz (early)
HB-1B MK II Mod 2, 4 band, 80/40/30/20, has power port RX 3.2 to 16 Mhz (late) Reported issues with 6 Mhz blow-by on SWB? (This what I have, picked up used.) As noted, has a battery charge port.
HB-1B Mk II Mod 3, 4 band, 40/30/20/15 has power port RX 5 - 22 Mhz. Reported issues with 6 Mhz blow-by on SWB? Has a battery charge port.
HB-1B Mk III - current offering w./SWR metering.
Mine is (as defined above) a HB-1B MkII Mod 2. I've had no issues on the reported 6 Mhz blow-by as there are no high power stations anywhere near Ak running on 6 Mhz - like Radio Havana....
So, is it well built?
Actually, it is a much better build
than the MFJ-9200 that I so enjoy. Little to no hand soldering as seen on the -9200. The encoder is just as flaky, so some care is order. The HB-1B series is slightly larger than the -9200 and uses more current on RX - over double, in fact.
The bandwidth on the HB-1B is variable, unlike the -9200, which is fixed (CW or SSB) and as the filter is tightened up on the -1B, the audio drops off noticeably.
Otherwise, power out and receiver sensitivity/selectivity are a wash. I no longer have access to a spectrum analyzer, but I've not seen any reports (QST, QRZ or any of the other usual outlets) report issues with the radio not meeting FCC spectral purity standards.
On the air use gets no reports of clicks or other artifacts that may be found in digital radios. When I first lit this up - into a dummy load, I ran a second radio to listen for out of band spurs, etc. It sounded clean as well.
Is this better than a MFJ-9200? Yes and no.
The installed battery and continuous tune is a bit more convenient, and I can use an external 12VDC (up to 14.8VDC actually) source to save the internal battery for when the other (possibly solar) power source is unavailable. The radio pulls more current on both TX and RX. It is stable enough to copy PSK-31 and other digital modes - as is the -9200. SSB and AM copy of SW stations is no issue - ditto for the -9200. You cannot disable the backlight on the -1B as is possible for reduced current draw on the -9200
The -9200 is slightly smaller, weighs less, uses less current
and runs only from an external battery pack as no internal battery is offered by MFJ. Changing bands is a bit of a PITA, but normally, not a big deal. If you count in the space taken by another couple of band modules, space saving is lost. The MFJ is a true 6 band radio - 80 to 15 Meters.
For the $100 spent, I think I did well. Would I pay the full fare for a new HB-1B - NO.
No technical documentation, flaky warranty and reports of high "infant mortality" has made me take a pass until now.
I bought a used and working radio for less than 1/2 the cost of a new MFJ-9200. With internal battery and charger. I 've marked this for use in my VW Eurovan camper as the bus has a house battery and multiple 12VDC outlets.
If I'm walking, the -9200 get the nod.
Hope this was informative.