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Re: [sierra_wilderness_radio] First Kit Recommendation for Beginner ?

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  • Kelly E. McClelland
    Hi Mark, Sounds like you have a good plan to get the feel of soldering. Good idea! I was very active years ago and built a few Heathkits but after 25 yrs off
    Message 1 of 6 , May 5, 2010
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      Hi Mark,

      Sounds like you have a good plan to get the feel of soldering. Good idea!

      I was very active years ago and built a few Heathkits but after 25 yrs
      off the air, I finally got back into the hobby. I built a BLT tuner from
      Hendricks to get back my kit building confidence.

      Then I built a SST for 30 meters and added a mod switch between two
      varactors to give it more range. It tunes from 10.104- 10.123 MHz which
      is the sweet spot for QRP and CW. I LOVE that little radio. I'd also say
      you might enjoy 30 meters with a QRP rig since 40m is a bit poor these
      days and 20m can be tough without power to compete with the crowd. My CW
      is still a bit slow maxing at 15 wpm or so, and I find 30m is a bit more
      relaxed and I have fun rag chewing there with the SST or Sierra and
      there are many ops in the 7-10 wpm category too.

      After I felt my confidence return, I bought a Sierra and it is now my
      main rig, but for quick outings I like to take my SST along. I recently
      used it at a garage while waiting for my oil to be changed. It is also
      fun to take to my office and throw a wire in a tree at lunch time.

      That's my experience for what it is worth... of course, your mileage may
      vary.

      Enjoy the solder smoke...

      72,
      Kelly K4UPG


      On 5/5/2010 7:05 PM, MarkM wrote:
      >
      > Hello all. I'm looking for my first kit. I am a beginner at both
      > soldering and CW (I've not used code since passing the 5 wpm test
      > element 4 years ago).
      >
      > My goal is a rig which is light and durable, go-bag packable for
      > impromptu portable operation.
      >
    • ve3wmb
      Mark : The Norcal 40 or SST are both well within the capabilities of a beginning kit builder once you have mastered soldering. Just take your time, read the
      Message 2 of 6 , May 6, 2010
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        Mark :

        The Norcal 40 or SST are both well within the capabilities of a beginning kit builder once you have mastered soldering. Just take your time, read the manual carefully and double check your parts placement before soldering.

        You could work on your soldering technique by building a small antenna tuner kit like the BLT available from Hendricks QRP as this will be very useful for portable operation and will also give you some experience winding Toroids as well.

        For rigs you might also consider the Small Wonder Labs SW+ series of mono-banders
        available at www.smallwonderlabs.com. These rigs will put out about 3W and
        have about 30 or 40 KHZ of band coverage (my SW40+ covers 7.025 MHZ to about
        7.064 MHZ which gives me the QRP, SKCC and FISTs frequencies).

        I personally think that 40m is a good choice as 40m is pretty much always open
        to somewhere so you should be able to make either daytime or nighttime QSOs.

        Best of luck

        Michael VE3WMB

        --- In sierra_wilderness_radio@yahoogroups.com, "MarkM" <skysensor@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello all. I'm looking for my first kit. I am a beginner at both soldering and CW (I've not used code since passing the 5 wpm test element 4 years ago).
        >
        > My goal is a rig which is light and durable, go-bag packable for impromptu portable operation.
        >
        > To get some degree of confidence in soldering, I bought and will play with a "Learn to Solder" kit. Beyond that, my first radio-related project will be the Hendricks dummy load kit.
        >
        > I've looked at the SST, but don't know if I'd want to live with the relatively narrow tuning coverage.
        >
        > Is the Norcal 40 more than the average beginner should attempt?
        >
        > Any other kits worth considering?
        >
        > Thanks.
        >
        > Mark
        > W0WWY
        >
      • William
        Mark, My recommendation would be to build the SW+ rig (www.smallwonderlabs.com) mainly because there is extensive documentation that will help you successfully
        Message 3 of 6 , May 6, 2010
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          Mark,
          My recommendation would be to build the SW+ rig (www.smallwonderlabs.com) mainly because there is extensive documentation that will help you successfully build it. The Elmer 101 course (qsl.net/kf4trd/) will give you a better understanding of the circuit and how it functions. Also Chuck Adams (google it) did a wonderful job writing a step by step assembly manual. It would be very hard to screw it up if you follow his manual.
          The SW+ has a vfo with a much wider bandwidth than the VXO controlled SST. It features 2 watts output and a very sensitive receiver.
          When you are done you will have a rig that can be endlessly upgraded but that will be a capable stand alone rig.
          The Sierra I view as a subsequent project after you get some confidence with the easier rig. It is not a difficult build but it does involve lots of toroids.
          For your first build its nice to have explicit instructions.

          Bill,WV1N

          ---
          >
          >
        • Frank MacDonell
          Mark - I built the NorCal40A. It was a great kit and Bob was great to work with. Some day I might build the Sierra. My advice to you is rather simple. Make
          Message 4 of 6 , May 6, 2010
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            Mark - I built the NorCal40A. It was a great kit and Bob was great to work with. Some day I might build the Sierra. My advice to you is rather simple. Make sure you take the time to do a very thorough inventory of parts. It will save a lot of time during the build. Also, buy a large, well lit magnifying to identify parts and inspect your soldering. All the pros will tell you that poor solder joints, poorly tinned leads and sloppy work on toroids are the reasons why radios do not work. 

            So take your time and have fun. 
            Frank KD8FIP

            On Wed, May 5, 2010 at 7:05 PM, MarkM <skysensor@...> wrote:
             

            Hello all. I'm looking for my first kit. I am a beginner at both soldering and CW (I've not used code since passing the 5 wpm test element 4 years ago).

            My goal is a rig which is light and durable, go-bag packable for impromptu portable operation.

            To get some degree of confidence in soldering, I bought and will play with a "Learn to Solder" kit. Beyond that, my first radio-related project will be the Hendricks dummy load kit.

            I've looked at the SST, but don't know if I'd want to live with the relatively narrow tuning coverage.

            Is the Norcal 40 more than the average beginner should attempt?

            Any other kits worth considering?

            Thanks.

            Mark
            W0WWY




            --
            Frank KD8FIP

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