How to make your own ham radio kit

Written by kurt schanaman
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Ham radio continues to be a technical radio communications hobby and public service of great value to society even today. Also known as "amateur radio operators," those involved tend to experiment with electronics with their own home-built communications equipment. One of the most interesting aspects of the hobby has been the introduction of ham radio kits, which makes it much simpler for the newcomer and old pro alike to build their own transmitters, receivers, transceivers and antennas. With these items, the ham radio operator is able to communicate all around the world with very low transmitter power.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Ham radio kit with step-by-step instructions
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin-core solder
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass

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  1. 1

    Obtain a radio kit of your choice. Today there are many kits available over the Internet, ranging from low-power transmitters to full-blown combination communications transceivers. You can purchase any kit from Elecraft or you can search using your favourite search engine for a variety of smaller packaged kits. Be sure the kit you choose is geared for your kit-building level.

  2. 2

    Follow all of the instructions that come with your kit. Every kit comes with a circuit board, electronics components, instructions and a chassis. The components must be soldered onto the board using a soldering iron and solder--generally a rosin-core base solder. However, some kit manufacturers may recommend a different type of solder, so be sure to obtain the type recommended so your warranty isn't voided.

  3. 3

    Place each electronics component onto the circuit board that came with your kit in the order given in the kit's instructions. If you are placing small components onto the board, use a magnifying glass to see where you are placing each component and use a pair of tweezers to set each into place.

  4. 4

    Solder each placed component onto the board. You will need to have at least an average skill in using a soldering iron and solder to ensure a good solder connection of each component onto the circuit board. Solder each component into place and allow to cool briefly, for about ten seconds, before moving on to soldering additional components.

  5. 5

    Place the circuit board(s) into the chassis mounts as the kit instructions direct. Screw the boards down tightly, connect wires to the rear panel if instructed to do so, and then place the top cover onto your equipment chassis. Plug in your newly built kit and connect any antennas to the transmitter/receiver unit(s). Follow all testing recommendations and adjustments according to the instructions you received for your particular kit.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider attending electronics classes at your local college, if offered. Many electronics courses will provide you with the basics relating to the different types of electronics components and some will also teach you excellent soldering skills. Any basic electronics course would be helpful to a newcomer when considering building ham radio kits.
  • Always use your magnifying glass to inspect the solder connections on each leg of every component to ensure solder didn't run across the board's soldering pads. If solder accidentally joins two pads together, you will end up with a short in your circuitry, which will cause improper operation or the blowing of fuses when powering up your newly built kit.

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