Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Kit: NS-40

Every so often I get the idea in my head that I can do something.
For example, in the mid-late 90's I thought I could do woodwork.  I watched Norm Abrams.  He had everything down pat, neat and tidy, right on the first cut, every time.  So I bought myself a Shopsmith Mark V `cuz I was gonna do woodworking stuff!

$3500 later...I didn't do any woodworking. I made a little sawdust, and used it to cut framing lumber to measurements to assemble a swing set, but no "woodworking" like you see on TV and in the magazines.
Ended up selling it. Cheap.

That's just one example.  There's a bunch.

So lately I've gotten the idea that I could build a ham radio kit.  I have been looking at the pictures online and they all seem so neat and tidy.  Surely anyone can do it, right?  I didn't stop to think back on all the other things I thought I could car repairs (flames shooting out the carburetor, anyone?).  I just sent the money via paypal and dreamed of how cool and easy this was gonna be.

The Kit came today.  It's a 4-State QRP club kit called the NS-40. NS stands for "No Simpler" and it's a 40 Meter, crystal CW QRP (low power)transmitter. Here it is in its unassuming package.

Here are the parts:

Here's the PC board.  I thought screening it like a QSL card was cool.

Now, there are only 14 parts, so it is pretty simple.  So I broke out the soldering iron and set to work.  First was inventorying the parts.  This was the first time I started to think "Uh oh..."  I don't have a magnifier   I better get one if I plan on doing this ever again.  My over-40 eyes could barely make out the markings on the components.  I don't remember everything being so darn teeny-tiny when I was in electronics shop in high school!!

Then I started soldering, or trying to solder, anyway.  My new 30W iron wasn't getting it.  It would leave a little burn mark on the board, but the tip wasn't getting hot enough to melt the solder.  I was getting frustrated and the dread of realizing I may have found another thing I can't do was creeping up.

I sent an IM to my good friend Bill, KA8VIT and he gave me a couple suggestions.  As I took a deep breath and tightened the tip on the iron, it all started working much better.  About an hour after starting, here is the finished transmitter:

And here is the underside, with all the little brown burns.  lol. They don't call it Amateur Radio for nothin'!  lol

Well, that's it.  It really WAS simple.  Oh, what?  Does it work?  hm...  Well, I have this here video of the 13.8V smoke test.

I'm pretty happy!
Now I just need to get a listening antenna up so I can actually talk AND listen when using it!  :-)