The NC20 was a Norcal Kit project designed by Dave Fifield, AD6A. This project was unique in that for every kit sold, a free kit was sent to an Amateur in a third-world country to encourage QRP CW. Unlike many QRP transceivers which use the ubiquitous NE602 ICs for RX mixers, the NC20 was designed for strong signal performance by utilizing a TUF-1 DBM. This results in higher current consumption, so makes the rig less desirable for portable operation. The transceiver never really lived up to its hype, although I have been quite satisfied with mine and it provides a clean 7 watts output with nice keying. Dave started his own company, RedHot Radio , and supplied NC20 kits, (renamed as RHR20) and also a 40 metre version, the RHR40 until winding up the business in 2003.
Prior to the NC20, the last kit I built was a Heathkit SB101, back in 1967, which used valves. Also my eyesight was a lot keener then.
The NC20 kit arrived in February 1999 and I really enjoyed building it.
The only problem encountered was a defective keyer IC, so I substituted a K1EL keyer IC instead.
Apart from this minor issue, everything worked first time.
Alignment was easy and the overall performance is very satisfying.
However, I attribute this success more to the supplied documentation than my constructional expertise!
Shortly after completion, various mods were published for the rig, most of which I have also incorporated on my NC20.
The picture on the left, taken during a business trip in Westboro, Mass, shows the NC20 with a Whiterook paddle.
The antenna used was a Hustler mobile whip fixed to the window-frame with a home-made clamp & 2 radials run around the room.
To see an inside view of the rig, click on the picture.
After being neglected for many years, I fired the rig up again in March 2015 and used it temporarily as my main rig (everything else was packed away as we hoped to move house later that year). I had forgotten how pleasant it was to operate. With 5 watts output into an end-fed halfwave wire, the NC20 is providing me with many QRP contacts throughout Europe.