Build something!

December 2, 2011

This blog post was contributed by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, an amateur radio operator for 40 years and an experienced EE.

A couple of years ago, a group of local hams were talking on the club repeater, and the talk got around to building stuff. One of the guys said, “You can’t really build anything anymore.” I almost fell out of my chair. That’s simply not true. There are still many companies out there selling kits that are not only fun to build, but are useful additions to the ham shack. There are even reports that Heathkit plans to start selling kits again.

Here are a couple of sources:

  • Elecraft ( In my mind, Elecraft has become the premiere ham radio kit company, if not the premiere ham radio company, period. The new K3, for example, outperforms just about anything on the market by many accounts. Personally, I have built the KX-1, which is a real blast to operate from a park bench or to take on vacation. I also have and use the W1 wattmeter.
  • TenTec ( While perhaps known more for their ready-made rigs, they also sell a line of single-band transceivers and receiver kits.
  • QRP Kits ( sells kits that cater to the QRP crowd, that is hams who like to operate low power. They offer many different radios and accessories.

Below are some other companies whose kits have good reputations, but with which I have no personal experience:

QRP clubs are also a good source of cool kits. QRP operators are natural builders and tinkerers, and many of their designs are quite unique. They also like sharing what they’ve done with other hams. Check out the offering of the American QRP Club (, the Four State QRP Club (, and the Arizona SQRPions (

Ready to rock and roll? Here are a couple Web sites that you might want to check out before you dive in:

I hope that I’ve whetted your appetite for building a kit or two. They’re a lot of fun to build, and you really do get a rush from operating a radio or using a piece of test equipment that you built yourself.

If you know of other kit sources, or if you’ve built a kit lately, I’d like to hear about it. Leave a comment below or e-mail me at

For more on ham radio, see: Ham radio in the 21st century.

Posted by Suzanne Deffree on December  2, 2011 | Comments (14)

December 5, 2011

In response to:Build something!
w0dz commented:


About shellysdad

Older duffer with a Dinosaur level of brain power. Likes trains and Amateur Radio Seems to always be thinking a LITTLE different than most others. Genuine California Prune Picker Most thrilling thing I have done is hopping freight trains from Stockton to Salt Lake City and back. BOY! What a thrill.
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One Response to BUILDING KITS

  1. n6xn n6xn says:

    Kits have really changed too. I built a little single band SDR radio a couple of years ago to get my feet wet with surface mount components (SMDs) It was a lot of soldering with a real fine tip soldering iron and a really strong magnifying glass. But it worked just like it was supposed to.

    The Elecraft I’m working on now has zero soldering! Everything plugs together like building a computer. It’s a lot of work but an extremely nice kit!

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