I never could understand what could be so interesting about under powered poor performing QRP radios. In a weak moment, and after reading an article in the December 2000 issue of QST I finally decided to find out. About a week after I sent a check to Wilderness Radio a little tiny box arrived in my mail. Inside was a detailed manual, a top-rate custom enclosure, and a couple of baggies of loose parts. It didn't look like much, and certainly no where near enough parts to make a decent radio.|
I was wrong in a big way!
I hadn't put anything in the way of electronics together for a long time, so I took it slow. In about 45 minutes, I had all the parts inventoried and arranged on a couple of sheets of notebook paper. I scotch-taped each part to the paper so I wouldn't loose too many pieces.
The single circuit board was very well made, and the plated-through holes were smaller than I expected. The next thing I did was run down to Radio Shack and buy a 15 watt pencil soldering iron with a fine tip. Believe me, you better do this, the parts are small and very compactly arranged on the board. The instructions recommend using 2% silver solder - do this also. This solder is a joy to use, flows very well and leaves barely any residue at all.
Aside from the solder, nothing else is needed to build and operate this radio (a magnifying glass would have been nice for my feeble eyesight).
For the next two evenings I was squinting at resistor color codes, and minuscule printing on teensy little caps. There are some toroids to wind, but don't let that scare you. I'd never done it before either. I did make one mistake, I tried winding one toroid with the wrong size wire. Don't do this! Luckily, I noticed it in time and re-wound the darned thing with no problems. The instructions in the step-by-step manual are exactly correct.
Look at the pictures, and follow the instructions. Your radio will work. I know this is true, because mine did.
When I said mine worked, did I mention that it worked instantly the first time I applied power? Well, to my genuine amazement, it did!
Alignment is a snap, and no special tools or instruments are needed.
The best part is how well, the receiver works. I swear, the receiver in this QRP Transceiver is just as capable of pulling weak signals out of the muck as is my regular rig. I've got an Icom 735, which is a good radio even by today's standards. The Wilderness Radio NorCal 40A is a REAL rig, not a gimmick or a toy. I was on the air before the last solder joint had cooled and made several contacts thousands of miles away using my barely marginal vertical all-band antenna.
Nowadays, the only thing I use the SB-1000 amp for is as a perch for Conan my jumbo sized cat. He hasn't been in the shack much lately. I guess its the searing heat put out by the amp that he really likes.
This is a really big radio in a little box.
The coolest feature of this hot little radio is the built-in memory keyer. What's so cool about a memory keyer these days? This keyer will tell you what the operating frequency is at any point in the band, and will also tell you when a desired frequency has been reached! Aside from that, the keyer allows setting of QSK, Iambic mode, key-down function, and a bunch of other stuff. Neat-O to say the least. The KC-1 memory keyer is optional, but I strongly suggest you buy it right away. It comes with a front panel drilled and labeled for a really professional look. I highly recommend this QRP kit. Get in touch with my friend QRP Bob at Wilderness Radio NorCal 40A and have him kit one up for you!
Oh, and by the way . . . I don't work for Wilderness radio, they didn't pay me to say this, and I didn't even get a free radio. I did talk to QRP Bob on the telephone when I was putting the kit together. I was a little worried about one of the steps. He listened to me, assured me that everything was going to be OK, and to just do exactly what it says. "Yes", he said, "the instructions are correct and the radio will work".