Tag Archives: Kits

A Good ‘Day’ To Be A Ham? by Paul Mills, AC0HY

We have such a wonderful hobby with its myriad, almost limitless facets. No room for boredom here! Paul Mills, AC0HY, President of The Kaw Valley Amateur Radio Club [Kansas], wrote a very interesting article in their Newsletter, THE TRANSCEIVER September 2017. It’s republished here with his permission.Club Web Page: www.KVARC.org     Layne AE1N

A Good ‘Day’ To Be A Ham? by Paul Mills, AC0HY

I was thumbing through some magazines for inspiration, as I often do. Magazines for me are seldom read but frequently browsed. In some, I observe the advertisements more than I do the articles. I do read a few articles from beginning to end. But to a large extent, I look at titles, pictures, schematics, and captions. And frequently I scan the article for areas of interest. Today this caused me to think about how things have changed in my lifetime.

My earliest days in radio, tubes were still the norm. Transistors were out there, but the quality was not great, and most were used in portable or mobile electronics. Equipment was large and heavy. Transmitters and receivers were frequently separate. Power amplifiers were very large, and often two pieces – the amplifier, and the power supply.

Over the years, transistors changed, the move from germanium to silicone greatly improved reliability, though there still remains a place for a few germanium devices. And while early transistors were bipolar devices, there came to be many FET’s and a number of new materials and techniques used in their construction.

In many ways, this was a great time. It was easy to roll up your sleeves, and put together circuits, and observe how they worked. During these days, many parts houses sold electronics components. At one time, Topeka had 5 or 6 wholesale parts houses. Radio and television repair was a common business.   But even before this era was over, Integrated Circuits, and Large Scale Integration was upon us.

In many ways, this was a great time for the radio enthusiast. Parts were widely available, and building from scratch was therefore fairly easy. Likewise, repair was possible due to the wide availability of parts. Now Very Large Scale Integration and surface mount technology has totally changed electronics, and thus radio. This has done a lot of positive things for us.

Consider that your Smartphone is tiny compared to the radio-telephone of the 1970’s. And in addition, the Smartphone contains a room full of similar era computing power. On the down side of all of this, parts are harder to come by. If you need parts, you will probably have to order them, and wait. And in many cases, it is cheaper to replace a product than it is to repair.

What does this mean to us as ham radio operators? It means that to a degree, all of us have become appliance operators. Does that mean that we are doomed to a dumbed down hobby? NO! There are plenty of things we can do if we so desire.

Most obvious of these things we can still do is to build our own antennas. There are lots of antenna designs that we can experiment with. Many antenna projects can be done with a spool of #12 wire, and some homemade insulators. Let your imagination run wild.

Those who would like to play with electronics may find some satisfaction with parts houses such as Mouser, DigiKey, Newark, Arrow, MCM, Jameco.

Additionally, eBay can be a wonderful source for things to experiment with. And, if there is something you forgot, don’t forget the Radio Shack replacement –Amazon. You will be surprised at what you can find on Amazon – and if you have Amazon Prime, frequently have in 2 days with free shipping.

In many cases, instead of building from scratch, you will buy things like RaspberryPi, Arduino, or other small single board computers. These can be used to automate various tasks in the Shack. On eBay, there is a wealth of boards that can be found to do just about anything you want. Your imagination is the limit to what you can do here. There are SDR radio kits, various parts and pieces that can be cobbled together to create your own receiver, transmitter, transceiver, etc.

If this seems hard to believe, start searching the internet, you will find that there are lots of people already doing these things.I know these are not for everyone, but hopefully it will cause some of you to broaden your horizons. Even if you do not choose to do any of them, it can be interesting to find a read about what others are doing.

Until next time…73 de AC0HY

Ham Radio Hobby

QRPGuys Iambic Paddle Build

I’ve been practicing a lot of CW lately and had ordered a QRP guys iambic paddle from their website qrpguys.com awhile back. I went to the CW class on Saturday morning, which got me in the CW mood. After knocking some items off the honey-do list I was getting a little bored on Saturday night so I headed down to the shack and dug out the iambic key kit I had ordered.

I’ve never done any kit building or anything slightly engineer-y until joining the club. I don’t always understand why things work and building kits (even simple ones help me along). This kit didn’t look too hard, although it has a 4 out of 5-star difficulty rating on their website, so I jumped right in!

I made sure I started by sorting out all the parts in an orderly fashion.Iambic Paddle Build  I learned this much from working countless hours after Christmas and birthdays on Star Wars lego kits that are made for children, but built by adults after the kids get frustrated 15 minutes after starting!

I then got to the fun part of soldering. This was different than what I’ve done in the past as I started with soldering all the mechanical parts together by applying a small amount of solder and then checking to make sure everything lined up before putting a lot of solder on. Iambic Paddle BuildI enjoyed this as it was a large area to solder and it didn’t matter so much if my soldering skills aren’t very good! There were only a few electrical components to solder and that part was rather easy, even for my limited skills!

The toughest part of the whole build was assembling the paddles. You can see from the picture there are four nuts (and lock washers) that are to be assembled on the inside of the paddles with very limited space. TIambic Paddle Buildweezers were an absolute necessity – and earplugs for any youth that may be hanging around. After many – and I do mean many – attempts of dropping and picking up nuts and washers I finally got the washers and nuts in place and fastened.

Iambic Paddle Build

I was thrilled to have succeeded and ran out to the car, where my radio is hooked up at the moment and gave it a quick test run. Below is my not-so-professional video which shows my not-so-professional CW skills.

The paddles work well. The black pads do stick together a little when you push on both paddles at the same time, but I am very happy with my tiny QRP paddles! I am thinking of cutting slots in the sides and attaching a velcro band to attach to my leg to keep the paddle in place in the hopes that I could operate it with one hand. Let me know what you think or if you’ve built this kit before.


Jamey (KC1ENX)

My SSB BitX-40 build from VU2ESE

Below is a photo of my BitX-40 kit from Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE in India with my very own custom designed case.  The kits are available from http://www.hfsigs.com/

The top cover shown is powder coated steel mesh.

BitX-40 Enclosure

The sheet metal housing was designed in a solid modeling software package called Onshape. This web based software is free to use if your designs are to be available to anyone who signs into an account.  This design is “in the cloud” and considered “open hardware”, available to anyone who would like to use it.  Below is a screen capture of my Linux desktop running Onshape within a web browser.

BitX-40 Enclosure CAD Design

With access to a CNC punch press and a 90-ton brake press, a coworker of mine helped out with a bit of “government work”!

I left out some of the detail in the housing to let others enjoy the use of a drill and allow for some creativity with a customized placement of components.

BitX-40 Enclosure with Board

Some of the wires are not needed but may be useful in future “hacks”. The image below shows some of the wires removed from the “Molex” connector.  A small sharp object can be used to push in on the barb to remove the contact for a future project.

BitX-40 Cables and Connectors

See http://bitxhacks.blogspot.com/

I used my sketch to drive the LCD screen and the SI5351 chip using the Adafruit library.  The checkered block moves left and right between the arrows to indicate when I am at or near the end of travel with the tuning potentiometer.

BitX-40 Frequency Stationary

When I move the block all the way to the right with the potentiometer it turns into an arrow and automatically increases the frequency. To make it stop just turn the potentiometer to the left.

BitX-40 Frequency rising
Frequency rising

I like the ability to scan the band without having to turn a knob!

Below is an image showing 12v and 24v voltage regulators and electrical tape on the housing tabs.  12v is for the majority of the wiring and I used 24v for the IRF510 PA.  The black tape looks nice behind the black mesh cover.  while testing I measured about 4W RF output with 12v feeding the PA and 16W RF at 24v.

BitX-40 Enclosure

The bottom has extruded “feet” along with stick on feet to keep the rig from sliding.

BitX-40 Enclosure

I used an SO-239 connector for the antenna.  I saved the BNC connector from the kit for test gear.  The red terminal post is connected to 32v from a repurposed HP printer power supply.  The barrel jack is connected to 16v from the same supply.

For more information on the case, you may contact me through my QRZ page.


Mike (AB1YK)

Our Latest “Tech Night” – A DSO138 Oscilloscope Kit Build

Our latest Tech Night became a Tech Day this past weekend. We got together on Saturday afternoon to build another kit – the DSO138 Oscilloscope. We had a great turnout with over 15 kit builders and helpers present.

Finished Oscilloscope Kit
Finished DSO138 Scope Kit in case

Brian, AB1ZO choose this really cool kit for us to build. Here are some specifications for the finished DSO138 Oscilloscope kit:

  • Analog bandwidth: 0 – 200KHz
  • Sampling rate: 1Msps max
  • Sensitivity: 10mV/Div – 5V/Div
  • Sensitivity error: < 5%
  • Vertical resolution: 12-bit
  • Timebase: 10us/Div – 50s/Div
  • Record length: 1024 points
  • Built-in 1KHz/3.3V test signal
  • Waveform frozen (HOLD) function available

The kit came with all Surface Mount parts pre-installed.

The kit included a very nice case to finish off the project. This was a pretty big project to complete in a single afternoon but quite a few of our builders completed their kits and got them working!

The gallery below contains more pictures from our kit build. Everyone was very focused on the building process as we all wanted to get our kits to work in the time we had together.

Kit Builders 1Kit Builders 2Kit Builders 3Kit Builders 4Kit Builders 5Oscilloscope Kit BuildersKit Builders 7Kit Builders Builders 8Kit Builders Builders 9Kit Builders Builders 10Kit Builders Builders 11Kit Builders Builders 12Kit Builders Builders 14Kit Builders Builders 15Kit Builders Builders 16Kit Builders Builders 17Kit Builders Builders 18Kit Builders Builders 19Kit Builders Builders 20How Does That Case Go Together?Finished Scope Kit 1Finished Scope Kit 2Finished Scope Kit 3Scope Kit Parts 1Scope Kit Parts 2

Some folks did not quite get their kits completed and are planning to finish them at home. The following are some links and videos to help.

Here are some videos which show the assembly of the kit and its enclosure and the operation of the completed scope. The first video shows the kit in operation.





I know that Brian is planning to do more kit builds throughout the year so be sure to keep an eye on our Tech Night page to see what is coming!

Fred, AB1OC