Author Topic: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics  (Read 12605 times)

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Offline ampdoctor

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Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« on: July 25, 2012, 07:22:37 pm »
I was trying to scrape up some schematics online for some old Heathkit test equipment, and yes I know it's not the highest quality gear available.  What I discovered was that somebody bought up the copyrights on all the schematics and manuals and seems to have had all of them pulled offline with the exception of a few random bits and pieces floating around.

So here's my question.  If I were to draw up my own schematics of some of this equipment, am I allowed to publish that online without being in violation of copyright laws? And I realize most people here are not attorneys so I'm just putting it out as a point of discussion.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 07:30:04 pm »
Copyright protects artistic expression. So as long as your schematics are entirely your own work and are not derivative of anyone else's work, then I think you are in the clear.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline KTP

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 07:33:25 pm »
Copyrights are soooo long it is ridiculous.  A patent lasts like 20 years (which would make most all heathkit stuff free) but copyright lasts life of the author plus 70 YEARS!

sorry for the rant.
 

Offline ampdoctor

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 07:46:29 pm »
Poking around, it seems that corporate schematics and documentation lasts 95 years, where individual copyrights are the life of the author or more depending.  The quagmire of legal crap involving copyright material is just crazy!  And I would kind of tend to agree with Ian that my own redraws would be safe.  If I just scanned the manuals I'm sure that would be a violation.  Who the hell knows!
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 07:54:22 pm »
If you redraw them then you can do whatever you want with them - they are simply documenting hardware that's out there.
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Offline SeanB

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 08:02:35 pm »
I would suggest a host not in the USA...........
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 10:15:07 pm »
What I discovered was that somebody bought up the copyrights on all the schematics and manuals and seems to have had all of them pulled offline with the exception of a few random bits and pieces floating around.

Curiously, what led you to this conclusion?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 11:38:04 pm »
If you reverse engineer it, I don't see the problem. This is common industry practice.
Slap creative commons on it and spread it far and wide and let's see them try and get them all pulled ;D

Dave.
 

Offline ampdoctor

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2012, 12:45:55 am »
What I discovered was that somebody bought up the copyrights on all the schematics and manuals and seems to have had all of them pulled offline with the exception of a few random bits and pieces floating around.

Curiously, what led you to this conclusion?

I was chasing links like crazy looking for a schem for a power supply and kept hitting dead links, page has been removed etc.  Finally stumbled upon an article in on an eda times type of blog site.  Apparently, what happened was that about a year and a half to two years ago some entrepreneur bought all the copyrights from the heathkit corporation and is selling them out right or through an authorized reseller.  So you have to out with 10-20 bucks to get scans of the manuals and schematics now.  If I can find the link in my history to the article I'll post it up here.

Edit: What ampspire said!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 12:51:47 am by ampdoctor »
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2012, 12:47:20 am »
What I discovered was that somebody bought up the copyrights on all the schematics and manuals and seems to have had all of them pulled offline with the exception of a few random bits and pieces floating around.

Curiously, what led you to this conclusion?

The rights were purchased from Heathkit by Don Peterson of Data Professionals in 2008. 

http://www.d8apro.com/

Don is a former Heathkit employee, and he probably has a close tie with the products. Unfortunately, he is slowly releasing manual reprints for sale, and absolutely rejects the idea of releasing any PDF's. I wonder if he realizes the damage he is doing to Heathkit enthusiasts? If I purchased an old bit of Heathkit gear in Australia for $30, do I really want to spend $25 as well to get the manual - if Don feels like reprinting it that is?

The circuits could be reversed engineered, but Heathkits are often much more then just the circuits. They often had built in calibrating/tuning features, and you want the full manual to have access to the procedures. Heathkits were engineered for people who do not have access to electronics lab equipment and that is what makes them interesting. Often, Heathkit builders had a soldering iron and a cheap multimeter and that was it.

It would be really sad if Don has forced the removal of manual PDF's from the Internet if he does not have the manuals himself or the time to ever reprint. To me, that is vandalism of a fine product. Old Heathkit products with a manual can still be a great way to learn about electronics. Without the manual, they become tired, out-of-date pieces of gear that will probably end up in a junk bin.

There are still sites with Heathkit schematics on line. One is

http://www.vintage-radio.info/heathkit/

Richard.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 01:13:12 am by amspire »
 

Offline philaburns

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2012, 01:11:51 am »
I am not a copyright lawyer, but....Copyright laws protect the original artistic works for the life of the author +70 years (thanks to the AU-US Free trade agreements), but circuit layouts hold their own special protections which is based on copyright protections - in Australia, this is up to 10 years form the original creation  of the layout plus 10 years from when the layout was first made for a maximum of 20 years - I am not sure of the equivalent rights in the US, although suspect they are similar.  So a circuit layout may only have IP protection for up to 20 years, but the same layout *may* concurrently have copyright protection for the lifetime of the original author +70 years - this would be a point for a copyright lawyer to answer. Another point I just noticed is that IP Australia identify circuit layout protection to be for "integrated circuits".  What the consequences are for non-integrated circuits would be, sorry, but I don't have any experience with this aspect of Australian IP law, so I just don't know.

If the circuits are quite old (older than 20 years), it is *possible* that the IP protection for the circuit layouts have expired (at least any circuit layout rights, but copyright may still exist) - but I would check this very carefully across all major jurisdictions (AU, US, Europe etc).

Re your own hand drawn schematics, whilst they would be your own artistic work, the substance of the work would not have been created by your own intellectual merit (see case histories of Nine v IceTV in Australia) so you *may* have issue publishing layouts of a circuit that you do not own the rights to.  Copyright can be assigned so the person/company taking down previously published layouts is likely acting within their rights to do so (so the assertion that this is a jerk" "squelching" the designs is probably unfair) - this also suggests a desire not to have the circuit schematics out in the public domain for whatever reason......

As to reverse engineering, I can't comment, but at least in patent law, if the end result of the reverse engineered thing did the same as the original item that was protected by patents, then the reverse engineered thing would infringe those rights....i.e. reverse engineering is not a defence against patent infringement ...  Against copyright infringement? ... I don't know, but are you prepared to be a test case???

So if you do draw your own schematics from the layouts and publish them on the internet, whilst they may be your own work, because of this person's apparent desire to remove publicly available schematics, I would not expect there to be no backlash from the copyright owner as they have clearly decided they do not want the circuit layouts in the public domain.

Sorry, I can't be much more help than this.
Phil
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2012, 01:40:47 am »
@Richard: Thanks for the historical background.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 01:48:38 am »
I am not a copyright lawyer

He's worse folks, he's a patent attorney!  :P

Dave.
 

Offline philaburns

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 02:16:54 am »
 :P  Personally, I would classify copyright lawyers as below patent attorneys since, while we may look the same from the outside, at least we have some technical background as well as legal.... but I would certainly defer to a copyright lawyer in scenarios like these that are purely legal rather than technical in basis!  Unfortunately, lawyers are useful occasionally  ;)

Phil
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 03:27:00 am »
I am not a copyright lawyer, but....Copyright laws protect the original artistic works for the life of the author +70 years (thanks to the AU-US Free trade agreements), but circuit layouts hold their own special protections which is based on copyright protections - in Australia, this is up to 10 years form the original creation  of the layout plus 10 years from when the layout was first made for a maximum of 20 years - I am not sure of the equivalent rights in the US, although suspect they are similar.  So a circuit layout may only have IP protection for up to 20 years, but the same layout *may* concurrently have copyright protection for the lifetime of the original author +70 years - this would be a point for a copyright lawyer to answer. Another point I just noticed is that IP Australia identify circuit layout protection to be for "integrated circuits".  What the consequences are for non-integrated circuits would be, sorry, but I don't have any experience with this aspect of Australian IP law, so I just don't know.

If the circuits are quite old (older than 20 years), it is *possible* that the IP protection for the circuit layouts have expired (at least any circuit layout rights, but copyright may still exist) - but I would check this very carefully across all major jurisdictions (AU, US, Europe etc).

Re your own hand drawn schematics, whilst they would be your own artistic work, the substance of the work would not have been created by your own intellectual merit (see case histories of Nine v IceTV in Australia) so you *may* have issue publishing layouts of a circuit that you do not own the rights to.  Copyright can be assigned so the person/company taking down previously published layouts is likely acting within their rights to do so (so the assertion that this is a jerk" "squelching" the designs is probably unfair) - this also suggests a desire not to have the circuit schematics out in the public domain for whatever reason......

As to reverse engineering, I can't comment, but at least in patent law, if the end result of the reverse engineered thing did the same as the original item that was protected by patents, then the reverse engineered thing would infringe those rights....i.e. reverse engineering is not a defence against patent infringement ...  Against copyright infringement? ... I don't know, but are you prepared to be a test case???

So if you do draw your own schematics from the layouts and publish them on the internet, whilst they may be your own work, because of this person's apparent desire to remove publicly available schematics, I would not expect there to be no backlash from the copyright owner as they have clearly decided they do not want the circuit layouts in the public domain.

Sorry, I can't be much more help than this.
Phil

As far as the patent side of reverse engineering of Heathkit stuff,I very much doubt if Heathkit hold the patents to much,if any of the stuff in their equipment.
The original patents were probably owned by RCA,Marconi,GE,or the like,but just about all of it has been public domain for many years.

Apart from the annoyance factor ,$10-$20 doesn't seem that bad for the original information.
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2012, 04:05:23 am »

As far as the patent side of reverse engineering of Heathkit stuff,I very much doubt if Heathkit hold the patents to much,if any of the stuff in their equipment.
The original patents were probably owned by RCA,Marconi,GE,or the like,but just about all of it has been public domain for many years.

Apart from the annoyance factor ,$10-$20 doesn't seem that bad for the original information.
The problem is that it means you cannot look at the schematics or manuals if you are just interested in the product. Also the majority of Heathkit manuals and schematics are not available from the current copyright owner.

If I am thinking of buying an old piece of test gear, I try and look at the manual first to see if it is worth purchasing, or if it looks repairable.

It is great  for people learning electronics if they can see professional solutions in these older designs to problems they are working on. There were some brilliant ideas in the designs of the Heathkit gear, and I like to think that brilliant work should be preserved - not thrown away. Quite often, older designs have solutions that are still within reach of hobbyists today. Modern designs with custom coded micro's, FPGA, hybrid circuits, thin film modules, etc are not as useful.

I love looking at old HP, Genrad, Tektronix, etc manuals. I love to see how Fluke was able to make differential voltmeters in the early 60's that could measure to 0.01% or better even though the best analog meter movements could only manage about 1%. I don't want to buy one or go into business making 1960's differential voltmeters - I just want to see how they did it.

One of the really big problems with copyright law is that it gives the copyright owner the right to make content disappear, and I do not think that was ever the intention of copyright law. You could, for example, make sure that books that you disagreed with are never republished as long as your copyright ownership is valid.

Richard.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 04:11:55 am by amspire »
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2012, 04:39:33 am »
The rights were purchased from Heathkit by Don Peterson of Data Professionals in 2008.

The ability to sell and buy patents and copyrights is perhaps the taproot of our "IP" mess.  Once these legal protections leave the originator, the spirit of that law dies.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2012, 04:49:38 am »
I wonder if you have the equipment, if you are entitled to the manual/schematic regardless of who has the copyright to it especially if it was once freely available when the equipment was first sold.

To me, manuals/schematics are like an MSDS.  Are MSDS copyright-able?
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 04:53:20 am by PeteInTexas »
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2012, 05:01:22 am »
I wonder if you have the equipment, if you are entitled to the manual/schematic regardless of who has the copyright to it especially if it was once freely available when the equipment was first sold.

To me, manuals/schematics are like an MSDS.  Are MSDS copyright-able?
It would be great if you did have a perpetual right to the manuals, but you do not, unfortunately.

I do have a item of 50's military test gear, and it has the schematic printed on an etched anodised aluminium foil sheet attached to the inside of the case. This means that after over 50 years, and after the many owners and users of the device in that time, I still have a schematic in absolutely pristine condition. That is a solution that I really like.
 

Offline JuKu

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2012, 05:37:07 am »
So here's my question.  If I were to draw up my own schematics of some of this equipment, am I allowed to publish that online without being in violation of copyright laws? And I realize most people here are not attorneys so I'm just putting it out as a point of discussion.
I'm not a lawyer either, but I've seen a similar case close. You might be ok as far as copyright goes, but you are still at risk as far as business secrets go. It is not ok to reverse engineer something that is out there and publishing it, at least not universally so. The other side can sue for business damages.
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Offline amyk

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2012, 07:22:01 am »
As to reverse engineering, I can't comment, but at least in patent law, if the end result of the reverse engineered thing did the same as the original item that was protected by patents, then the reverse engineered thing would infringe those rights....i.e. reverse engineering is not a defence against patent infringement ...  Against copyright infringement? ... I don't know, but are you prepared to be a test case???
The text of patents themselves are in the public domain --- you can go look them up online and download and read freely --- it's making something based on the ideas contained that are covered by the law.

(Incidentally, if you can understand the style they're written in, patents can be very informative reading. A lot of the electronics-related ones have schematics too.)
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2012, 07:50:32 am »
Quote
I'm not a lawyer either, but I've seen a similar case close. You might be ok as far as copyright goes, but you are still at risk as far as business secrets go. It is not ok to reverse engineer something that is out there and publishing it, at least not universally so. The other side can sue for business damages
Someone can only sue if you have done something unlawful, not if you just pissed them off or revealed their secrets. This is why things like NDAs exist.
If you trace the schematics of something you own, you can do what you like with  them, in the  same way you can take photos of it and publish them.
Obviously you can't use them to start manufacturing a copy if there is patent protection.
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Offline JuKu

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2012, 02:31:42 pm »
Someone can only sue if you have done something unlawful, not if you just pissed them off or revealed their secrets.  This is why things like NDAs exist. If you trace the schematics of something you own, you can do what you like with  them, in the  same way you can take photos of it and publish them.
Maybe, maybe not. You can't buy a CD, "reverse engineer" a song, "document" it to a notation program and publish the sheet music. The schematics have copyright, and I don't think you can publish them, no matter how you got them, reverse engineering included. I might be wrong, the case I witnessed wasn't about schematics. It takes a real lawyer (likely, a few of them, a judge and a jury) to figure this out.

Btw, revealing trade secrets can be illegal, too. And in US, you can sue for about anything anyway.
Quote
Obviously you can't use them to start manufacturing a copy if there is patent protection.
Or even copyright protection.

The bottom line: I wouldn't take the risk.
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2012, 02:38:32 pm »
Quote
Btw, revealing trade secrets can be illegal, too.
Only if obtained by illegal means
Quote
And in US, you can sue for about anything anyway.
The costs mean that you can often effectivley threaten evenb if there is no legal basis, and hope the victime is too scared to put it before a court.
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2012, 04:10:06 pm »
So here's my question.  If I were to draw up my own schematics of some of this equipment, am I allowed to publish that online without being in violation of copyright laws? And I realize most people here are not attorneys so I'm just putting it out as a point of discussion.
I'm not a lawyer either, but I've seen a similar case close. You might be ok as far as copyright goes, but you are still at risk as far as business secrets go. It is not ok to reverse engineer something that is out there and publishing it, at least not universally so. The other side can sue for business damages.

The thing is,as I said,most Electronics stuff is Public Domain.

It is barefaced audacity to make a board up tacking together bits & pieces of stuff from component manufacturer's publicly released Application Notes,& then claim Intellectual Property rights for that circuitry.
Maybe you can claim for the final function of the complete board,but not all the stuff you stole from National Semiconductor,etc.

The Non-Technical management of some Companies don't realise that the circuitry is not unique,& try to apply the same rules which apply to Software.
On the other hand,maybe they do realise it,& want to hide the fact that their stuff is a hodge-podge of other people's designs.

One company I worked for wouldn't let their own staff see a circuit diagram of a board which interfaced between a number of control sensors & the main PC.
This made faultfinding during QA tests more than a little difficult!
 

Offline bullet308

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2012, 02:08:53 am »
What I discovered was that somebody bought up the copyrights on all the schematics and manuals and seems to have had all of them pulled offline with the exception of a few random bits and pieces floating around.

Curiously, what led you to this conclusion?

The rights were purchased from Heathkit by Don Peterson of Data Professionals in 2008. 

http://www.d8apro.com/


Would somebody kindly inform Don Peterson that he is an asshole? Thanks.
>>>BULLET>>>
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2012, 02:54:02 am »
The rights were purchased from Heathkit by Don Peterson of Data Professionals in 2008.

The ability to sell and buy patents and copyrights is perhaps the taproot of our "IP" mess.  Once these legal protections leave the originator, the spirit of that law dies.

In this case, in our industry, buying the rights to old gear like that and just hoarding and protecting the info for profit, is an act of evil.
There are better and more respected ways to make money.

Dave.
 

Offline bullet308

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2012, 02:56:30 am »
The rights were purchased from Heathkit by Don Peterson of Data Professionals in 2008.

The ability to sell and buy patents and copyrights is perhaps the taproot of our "IP" mess.  Once these legal protections leave the originator, the spirit of that law dies.

In this case, in our industry, buying the rights to old gear like that and just hoarding and protecting the info for profit, is an act of evil.
There are better and more respected ways to make money.

Dave.


Like selling meth or pimping out your sister...
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2012, 02:59:40 am »
Would somebody kindly inform Don Peterson that he is an asshole? Thanks.

http://www.d8apro.com/ContactUs.html

Dave.
 

Offline ampdoctor

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2012, 03:52:36 am »
I can understand not wanting information disseminated with regard to products that are in production.  If some shit bird company is going to rip off your intellectual property they should at least have to do some work for it.  However, when a product isn't being produced for profit in almost 40 years and in this case more over the company doesn't even exist anymore, it gets more than a little tricky to justify.
 

Offline bullet308

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2012, 01:47:22 pm »
And in complete and total contrast, Textronix explicitly releases ALL of there old manuals into the wild:

http://www.tek.com/manual/manuals-download-agreement

Lets see somebody try this with the service manual for my 465...
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Offline Dawn

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2012, 04:46:13 pm »
You appear to have a very short memory regarding TEK. Up unil recently, a retired TEK employee controlled all old manual sales and distribution. I think his name was Dean Kidder. Tek as far as I know, never made any attempts to enforce copyrights though. Otherwise, b4 the net, if you wanted copies of old manuals, you bent over and put on a pair of kneepads. Tucker pretty much became the first source for test equipment with other test surplus places like Fair Radio, Hobby Industries for amateur (ex. WRL), several sources for HiFi equipment, usually old shops that were running a manual op from their archives and of course Sams which was reverse engineered. Then we had some independents like this W7 character that had a bit of everything. Most all these places were photocopy by the page. It wouldn't be until the net and flat bed scanners that this monopoly would be threatened. If you looked in old publications like the yellow sheets and magazines for mail away lists of manuals from in many cases long closed service shops were milking their old files for a prince's ransom. This guy is just doing the same thing, but a little late in the game. Most of the most sought after heath test,computer, and amateur products of the 70's to the end were scanned by Richard Pestinger and were available on his website. The lists there used to be active links until Data Pro shut him down. Most all of them are in the wild anyways on foreign servers and by request on Yahoo's heathkit group. Some were outright impossible to get a copy from Heathkit when they were still open. You could get a condensed manual from them for a relatively inexpensive price or copies of most popular stuff from the  50's and early 60's, but in some cases, they didn't have it on file in products such as hi fi, automotive, and other consumer products. They would do their best though. I tried to get a manual for a 70's vintage integrated amp back in the late 80's. They sent me a hodgepodge of documentation of the same boards from other receivers that used them also. Many companies didn't have manuals or service docs after a few years, but maintained a microfiche base for their service centers that had loan access to such as Sony. Pre-net was a rough time for older equipment and probably the reason so much was either destroyed or cannibalized. You either paid several times what the you paid for the used gear for a copy of docs or deep sixed it.






And in complete and total contrast, Textronix explicitly releases ALL of there old manuals into the wild:

http://www.tek.com/manual/manuals-download-agreement

Lets see somebody try this with the service manual for my 465...
 

Offline KD0CAC John

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2012, 05:45:24 pm »
I did not read all the replies yet .
I lucked out , a while back I saw an add for a CD with what appeared to be almost all of the Heathkit stuff , I think a paid like $18.00 .
About a yr or so latter , they were stopped .
Lucky dog :)
 

Offline casinada

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Re: Some jerk is squelching Heathkit schematics
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2012, 10:20:41 pm »
Just again because it was posted earlier but if got lost with all the noise:

http://www.vintage-radio.info/heathkit/

I hope it has what you're looking for.  :D
 


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