Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Build a kit

With all this talk of planning, classes, and work, one might forget that this is supposed to be fun. I've not forgotten. I'm having fun!
I ordered a kit from HamGadgets.com on Friday and it arrived today (fast service!). The PicoKeyer is a full-featured CW keyer on a 1.3 by 2.0 inch circuit board. Assembly was a snap. It worked first time. Highly recommended.
I'm sure some of the old timers are pining for the glory days of Heathkit and home-brewing. I believe Elecraft, Small Wonder Labs, and the thriving QRP community provide plenty of fun offerings that would give those old Heathkits a run for their money.
If you aren't building things I think you're missing out on half the hobby. Seriously. And, don't think that stuff you build is a compromise from the stuff you might buy. Small, inexpensive, low-power processors have become ubiquitous providing even simple, easy to assemble kits like the PicoKeyer powerful features found in products costing 5 times as much. There are plenty of clever kit producers out there making great kits.
Although I don't need a reason to buy a kit (other than wanting some fun, of course), this particular purchase had a purpose. I've been working on my code skills, especially pulling out call signs from a pile-up, with Morse Runner, but my code sending skills are also dreadful. So, I am using the newly-assembled kit as a practice keyer to go with the new paddles I bought at Dayton. I feel like I've got ten thumbs when I try to send CW. I'd like to get that number down to eight by the end of the Summer. {grin}

I'll be back to more Contest University retrospective tomorrow. Again, that experience was exceptional with lots of great information for contesters and DXpeditioners alike.


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