Ham Radio is about experimentation, and is the only service that allows operators the opportunity for building their own equipment. The builder’s club caters to anyone with an interest in kit building or homebrewing. You do not need to be an seasoned electrical engineer to get started. If you have a kit or something you want to build, bring it by. With support from experienced mentors, anyone with an interest in kit building can learn the tricks of the trade.
If you are a new builder or weren’t able to participate in previous sessions, the club’s Builders Group meets bi-weekly at the QTH of Dino KL0S on Saturday mornings beginning at 10:00 a.m. and lasts until the last tired soul walks out the door (realistically by around 1 p.m. based on experience). His garage area which is well lighted and is a conditioned space, and has tables, chairs, magnified table lighting, extension cords to power the equipment you bring along to use, and refreshments. A workbench is just upstairs from the garage and available for any more advanced construction or troubleshooting that may be required for your project.
You can see a short video of one of our previous sessions here (thanks to Don N4DJ).
Dino wrote an article about the builder’s group for QST; it was published in the February 2015 issue and you can read it here: Ham Radio Makerspace (Reprinted with permission, February 2015 QST; copyright ARRL)
Projects that folks worked on last year included QRP transceivers, boatanchor radios, digital dials, frequency counters, power meters, emergency power battery chargers, and some commercial equipment that simply needed a little TLC.
The 2013 group experience level spanned from the beginner to those who have been building for years but everyone learns something new. Chris KC4CMR and Chuck AI4WU served as group mentors last year and I’m hoping they’ll be available again to lend a hand again.
If you don’t already have a soldering iron and set of basic tools you may want to consider starting early to gather them. The internet abounds with inexpensive tool kits for you to consider. Radio Shack has some good basic sets, either online or in-store. The local store has been supportive of the club so please keep them in mind and thank them when you shop there for supporting the hams in the area. One thing you may want to spend a little extra on is your soldering iron – a inexpensive soldering station vs. a simple plug into the wall soldering iron is a good investment for the future.
In the past folks have asked for kit recommendations – in general if you’re a beginner I’d try to stay with a kit that is not overly complex and that doesn’t require any advanced construction techniques. But don’t let winding toroids scare you away from a build as we can walk you thru that process. Here’s a good starting point for potential projects:
This QRP Amateur Radio Club International (QRP ARCI) page has links to several kit providers to consider. One kit provider missing from that list is Doug Hendricks’ kits at:
Gray W4NGR bought Doug’s tri-band QRP transceiver kit and worked on it at our get togethers last year.
Another kit supplier is Rex W1REX (www.qrpme.com); Rex specializes in the famous “Tuna Kit” transmitters and receivers. Rex also sells some nice supplies for the homebrewer who wants to build a project “Manhattan Style” (“MePADs” & “MeSQUAREs”).
CW Keyer kits (www.hamgadgets.com)
Test equipment (RF probe, dummy load, etc.) (www.ohr.com)
Projects from “scratch?” (Pick a article from QST, CQ or your own design).
Be sure to allow sufficient lead time if you’re ordering a kit or parts for your project. Mouser Electronics (www.mouser.com) is one of many online parts suppliers and is well known to hams for their no minimum purchase policy. Another good source is Jameco Electronics (www.jameco.com); both companies sell tools as well as parts. Another great supplier is Quicksilver Radio (www.qsradio.com). John Bee N1GNV owns QSR does the hamfest circuit – he’s been at the VA Beach Hamfest in the past and hopefully plans to attend again next month.
For more information, please contact Dino KLØS.