Whats New In Kits

Robert S. Capon WA3ULH 322 Burlage Circle Chapel Hill NC 27514

Kit enthusiasts have been rewarded this year with some new kits with great features, and they start at about $i00, so there's never been a better time to discover the joy of building your own radio. Your knowledge of amateur radio will be greatly enhanced, and you may discover thai one QSO made on your home-brew rig is more satisfying than 10 QSOs made on a commercial transceiver.

This article wilt provide you with a road map to the latest kits, along with lips and answers to the frequently asked questions for the first time kit builder.

Six Terrific Kits

This article lakes a look at six kits: live hot new transceivers and a rather unusual memory keyer (see the full re-vie\ of the KC1 in this issue) with a built-in frequency counter. Each transceiver kit features a superhet receiver and was selected because of its unique characteristics.

NorCaMOA, by Wilderness Radio. The NorCal-40* originally introduced by the Northern California QRP Club, has been reintroduced by Wilderness Radio, a newly formed kit company. The NorCaMOA is ideal for beginners; Lhe jacks and switches mount directly to the hoard, so there is no point-to-point wiring, This feature makes the radio very easy to build (1 put my NorCaMOA

Take a gander at some goodies.

together in just two evenings). Wilderness Radio s NorCaMOA comes in a liny 4x4x2 enclosure (weighing less than one pound) with a very snazzy two-tone blue paint job. The kit comes with a punched and silk-screened latched enclosure, jacks and knob set, and a first class sitk-screened printed circuit board.

band modules are gold-plated internal plug-in modules, Unfortunately, each band module has eight tonoids, so if you intend to build the Sierra for operation on nine bands (like ] have), lie prepared to wind a lot of toroids. But aligning each band module is a snap, requiring about 15 minutes each to tune up against your main station Iransceiver,

NorCal-40A.

22 73 Amateur Radio Today* March 1996

41 There's never been a better time to discover the joy of building your own radio!"

NorCal-40A.

22 73 Amateur Radio Today* March 1996

This 40 meter superhet CW transceiver. designed by Wayne Burdick N6KR, has been optimized for extremely low current drain of only 15 mA on "receive" using headphones. The radio features R1T AGC, 400 Hz CW ¡liter, and full QSK and delivers 3 waits output. The receiver is absolutely superb. The most challenging aspect of lhe NorCal-40A is that the builder is required to wind the toroids. First-time builders, however, should not be overly intimidated by this because the radio is supported with excellent documentation.

Sierra, by Wilderness Radio. Again, the Sierra, originally designed b> N6KR and introduced by the Northern California QRP Club has been reintroduced by Wilderness. Despite its tremendous sophistication, the Sierra also has characteristics that make it an excellent kit for intermediate builders. Like the NoiCal-40A, the jacks and switches mount directly to the board, so there is no point-to-point wiring.

The Sierra is ultra portable, measuring only 5,5 x 6+5 x 2.5 inches (weighing less than two pounds), and has extremely low current drain of 35 mA using headphones. This combination of factors makes the Sierra great for portable and backpacking use, and ideal for battery operation and Field Day.

The Sierra can be purchased with up to nine interchangeable band modules for operation on 10-160 meters. The

The Sierra features RIT, AGC 400 Hz CW filter, and full QSK, and delivers 2 to 3 watts output on all bands. The kit comes with a (lunched and screened latched enclosure, jacks and knob set and sitk-screened printed circuit board.

OHR-400, by Oak Hills Research. The OHR-400 is a new kil for intermediate to advanced builders. The radio has become my favorite base station QRP transceiver, because it is swi(ch-scleet-able for operation on 80. 40, 30 and 20 meters, so band changing is effortless.

The OHR-4GO also has a siuperb receiver with silky smooth QSK. The radio really excels at copying very light signals, and it compares favorably with my commercial HF transceiver at digging out stations at the noise level, Thts makes the radio ideal for mill ¡waiting work. Bui the OHR-400 is not ideal for backpacking; it has a hefly cabinet measuring 8x8x4 inches (weighing almost four pounds), and the radio draws approximately 300 mA on receive.

The OHR-400 comes with excellent documentation, and was a pleasure for

Kit Ohr 400
OMR 4t)0L

me to build. I really took my lime with the radio, and savored the experience of building the kit. The radio has three printed circuit boards that mount on a solid internal aluminum chassis, The boards are the oscillator, receiver, and transmitter. Interconnecting the boards and panel components is accomplished with approximately 50 point-to-point color-coded wires. Again, the documentation for performing the wiring is first class, but this amount of wiring should typically not be attempted by first-time builders. (Oak Hills has other kits ideal for the beginner, like the single band Explorer described below.)

The OHR-4QO features RIT. AGC, narrow CW filter, and full QSK, and delivers 5 to 8 watts output on all bands. The kit comes with a punched and screened enclosure, jacks and knob set, and the three printed circuit boards arc silk-screcncd. It has nice finishing touches, including a phono jack on the back with VFO output ior hooking up a frequency counter, a rear panel power level pot. an LED lamp, and a knob set and silk-screening on the front panel for an optional keycr. The toroids are pre-wound, clipped and tinned.

Cascade, by NorCal. SSB on 20 and 80 meters. The Cascade is the latest club project by the famous Northern California QRP Club, and was designed by John Liebenrood K7RO. The Cascadc joins an elite group of SSB QRP kits, so now phone enthusiasts can discover the fun of building their own SSB transceiver. Despite its similarities to the Sierra in physical design (jacks and switches ¡nount directly to the board, so there is no point-to-point wiring) the Cascade is a kit for advanced builders, and an oscilloscope is very helpful during the test and alignment process.

The Cascadc is ultra-portable, with physical dimensions identical to the Sierra, and has extremely low current drain of 80 mA using headphones, So the Cascade is aiso superb for portable and backpacking use, and ideal for battery operation and Field Day.

The Cascade comes standard with two interchangeable band modules for operation on 20 and 75 meters. The band mt>d-ules are gold-plated internal plug-in

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