So what are the bare essentials for successful kitbuilding or homebrewing ?
I think the following are absolutely necessary:
1) A table or work area where your project can be worked on and then left alone undisturbed when you're not around. Building a kit or homebrewing on the kitchen or dining room table just doesn't cut it !
Check out this idea - courtesy of Monty N5ESE - this is a pefect solution to an old problem!
2) A VERY GOOD light source. I use an inexpensive but nice magnifying lamp I found on eBay for about eight bucks. It uses a 60 watt light bulb and the magnifier is really helpful in reading the impossibly small silkscreening found on some components.
3) A premium soldering iron. This is your mainstay in kit building or homebrewing; so buy the best you can afford. I personally prefer Weller soldering tools. I not only use them at home; but I also use them professionally at work.
4) An adequate set of tools need not be overdone. Needlenose pliers, a good pair of diagonal cutters, some small screwdrivers and nut drivers as well as a multimeter are good beginning tools. Exotic things like metal breaks and drill presses and the like can be bought as you need them as you become more sophisticated in your projects.
5) The MOST important thing you need is patience, patience and more patience !!! Building a kit or project is supposed to be fun; not a competition or a race. Take your time and triple check everything; and odds are when you do the "smoke test" your project won't go up in smoke!
I've crossed the finish line! The K2 is done and sn 4090 now sits happily on my shack bench, situated above my LDG Autotuner. I am well on my way to re-earning WAS, this time CW QRP (32 states & 31 confirmed).
A few reflections ... I am pleased but not surprised by any stretch of the imagination, as to how good the assembly manual is. If you read it carefully and take your time, the manual leaves no stone unturned and leaves nothing to chance. Every step is laid out in plain English. There are NO ambiguities ... not one, zip, zilch, nada !!!
Kit sn 4090 was complete. There were no parts missing. Everything was as it should have been. An especially nice touch that Elecraft performs is to mount the resistors that you use on a tape in the order that you install them ! How cool is that?
Personally, I really enjoyed the winding and installing the RF Chokes and the toroidal transformers. The winding itself is not hard. Getting the enamel off the wire; and tinning it for installation can be a real pain if you let it. An easy method for preparing toroids can be found by clicking here. This is the Emtech site, which sells the ZM-2, a Z match antenna tuner kit for QRP. On their Website they have a link to a short video that you can download/watch to see the "solder blob" method of stripping enamel off toroid wire. It works great; but can be on the stinky side !!! My "hybrid" method was to do an initial scraping off of the enamel with a Swiss Army Knife. I made a light pass on each "quadrant" of the outside surface of the wire. I followed this up with the "solder blob" method and got beautifully tinned toroid leads, each and every single time.
If you're new to the concept of Elecraft rigs and want to glean some really good information, hints and other cool stuff, then I urge you to subscribe to the Elecraft e-mail reflector. You can do this by checking out the Elecraft Website and by clicking on the words "eMail List" which appear in the left hand side frame. Follow the instructions and you are "in" - no fuss, no muss !!
What's next ??? Well, I still have to align the K2's filters using Spectrogram. I'm also thinking of building from scratch a Tuna Tin II and companion 40 Meter receiver. I'm having so much fun with the K2 that I might just concentrate on operating for now.