What Kit to Build, Part Two

This is installment #2 of KI6DS's opinion on which kit to build. The
objectives here are twofold, one we want to learn as we build, two we want
to build useful projects that give us the biggest bang for the buck. Again,
this is my opinion, and my opinion only.

My choice is the TiCK-4 Keyer Kit from Embedded Research. Here is their
description from their web page:

Summary of TiCK-4 Features
Two 50 character, user programmable message memories
NEW! Non-volatile parameter memory, means no more resetting speed, mode, and
other settings after power cycling the TiCK! You can configure the TiCK-4 to
you personal settings, and they will remain in effect until YOU change them!
Pin-for-pin compatible with all other TiCKs (TiCK-1 / TiCK-2 / TiCK-2B /
Maintains the familiar and simple TiCK user interface
Single Pushbutton Interface (SBI) to all functions
Upgrade your TiCK keyer by simply plugging in the TiCK-4... It's that easy!
Complete TiCK-4 Feature List
Two 50 Character user programmable message memories
Non-volatile parameter memory
Speed Adjust (via paddles)
Tune Function
Paddle Select
Sidetone (ON/OFF)
Iambic Modes A & B
Straight Key Mode
Beacon Mode
Low Current Consumption (1 uA in sleep mode)
Requires 3-5V DC
Uses the very latest in RISC-based microcontroller technology
Currently available in 8 pin DIP package and 8 pin SOIC.
We are offering the TiCK-4 as follows:
TiCK-4 Chip + Datasheet, $15.00, (S/H for CONUS $2.50, DX $5.00)
TiCK-4 Basic Kit* - includes TiCK-4 chip, parts, PCB board and manual,
$25.00 (S/H for CONUS $2.50, DX $5.00)
TiCK-4 Deluxe Kit** - includes TiCK-4 chip, parts, deluxe board and manual,
$35.00 (S/H for US $2.50, DX $5.00)
Click here for the order form

*The Basic DIP parts kit includes: TiCK-4 Keyer chip, TiCK circuit board
(1x1.2"), and construction manual. Board mounted parts: 5v regulator, 5
capacitors, 3 resistors, 1 PN2222, 1 8 pin DIP socket. Off-board parts
include 1 piezo audio device, 1/8" mono jack, 1/8" stereo jack, & 1 N.O.
momentary switch.

**The Deluxe DIP parts kit includes: TiCK-4 Keyer chip, enhanced TiCK
circuit board, construction manual, 8 pin socket, 4 resistors, 6 capacitors,
1 diode, 1 piezo audio transducer, 2 board mounted jacks (keyline &
paddles), board mounted lithium cell holder, 3v lithium cell (for memory
backup), board mounted normally open momentary switch, 9V battery clip, and
5v low dropout/low quiescent current regulator.

There is also an optional case enclosure kit:
The TiCK-EMB Enclosure Kit includes:
High Quality Hammond enclosure (black)
Pre-drilled to accomodate TiCK-EMB circuit board and panel controls
Front Panel Label
Four Rubber feet
Hardware needed for circuit board mounting
Price: $15 plus shipping
How to order?
TiCK 4 Regular Kit $25
TiCK 4 Deluxe Kit $35
TiCK 4 Enclosure Kit $15
Shipping and handling $2.50

Note: please allow 5-10 business days, after we have received your order,
for your shipment to leave our facilities in Rochester NY.
Payment Information
We do not at this time accept credit cards - send checks and money orders
For DX orders, an international money order is best.
All payments must be made in U.S. dollars
Send orders to:

Embedded Research
PO Box 92492
Rochester, NY 14692

The above information is from the Embedded Research Web Site:

Ok, now for my input as to why this kit? The cost is unbelievable. A keyer
with two 50 character memories for $25?? ($35 for the deluxe kit) What a
bargain. And, you will need a keyer to go with the rigs that you are going
to be using in your QRP career. This one is fun to build, and it is almost
fool proof. We had 29 out of 30 kits that were built at Ft. Tuthill work
the first time (and they were surface mount!!). Both types of kits are
available, but I would suggest that beginners stick with the through hole
variety. Excellent manual, first class service and parts, and it is fun to
build. Again, another one evening project, with very minimal tools needed.
Remember that soldering iron, diagonal cutters and solder that you used in
the VE3DNL kit, well, you need them again. The nice thing about this kit is
that everything is there, and Embedded Research even offers a case option
too!! I put my TiCK keyers in Altoids tins until I saw the neat case that
Gary and Brad came up with this summer.

When you finish your kit, you have a keyer that you can use with any qrp
rig, and believe me, you will want to use a keyer and paddles. The nice
thing about the TiCK is that it has memory. If you are operating a contest,
simply put the exchange in memory and when it comes time to send it, you use
the keyer to send it. Another use is that you can put your name qth, etc.
all the stuff that you send in a qso in the other memory, and when you make
a contact, you use the keyer to send it while you log. Neat!!
Note that there are more parts with this kit, and it will take a little
longer to build than the VE3DNL, but you have more when you finish. If you
are a beginner and are learning how to use paddles, now you have a way to
practice your sending!!

Let's review the skills that you will have used and improved in building the
first two kits. You have learned how to identify parts, how to read a
schematic, how to follow directions and use a parts placement diagram, how
to solder, (and probably how to desolder, grin), and how to put a board into
a case. Lots of skills, and it has only cost you $35 at the minimum, $60 if
you go first class and get all the options.

Next we will look at my recommendation for your first QRP Transceiver kit.
Hey we're ready for it, because we have a VE3DNL Marker/Signal Generator and
a TiCK keyer, and we want to be able to use them (believe me you will). But
more importantly, you have the confidence that you too can build electronic
projects. You have done it before!! Part 3 tomorrow. 72, Doug