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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Norcal SMK-1 Help

Reviews Summary for Norcal SMK-1
Norcal SMK-1 Reviews: 5 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $34
Description: Norcal Surface Mount Kit. Using a modified TT2 and MRX-40 designed by AD6A, and used as a beginer kit for surface mount construction
Product is in production.
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WB9OFG Rating: 5/5 Feb 27, 2001 10:06 Send this review to a friend
On the Air  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
OK, so Norcal says this rig was mainly intended as an instructional exercise in SMT. Boy, is it ever, but with a needle tipped iron and a big lens, I handled it nicely. In fact, I kinda like working with SMT.....

Now for the fun part. Does it work? the answer is YES!!!!

Even though the output power is much less than the instructions claim (125 vs. 350 mW) it gets out. My antenna is just a 100' random wire w/a MFJ 3KW tuner (to handle those voice peaks from the Valiant) and I'm getting around 6-8000 miles per Watt. Best "DX" so far is the eastern edge of Maine, and I've worked a few others in the midwest as well. Even had a mini "pile-up" the other morning (sorry I had to run, but I had to get to the salt mine!) I looked at the keying envelope on a scope, and it's nice, just slightly rounded and the front, and tailing off on the other end, but not enough to be "mushy", or any of those other bad habits. No chirps, no whoops, no clicks...I'm running it on 12V
The RX portion is interesting. This is my first experience with a DC rx. If I bypass my tuner, I get all that bad SWBC overload and what-not that the type is infamous for, but the selectivity of the tuner tames that down to almost non-existent. I hear little "blips" during recovery between characters when sending, but turning down the gain control eliminates most of that. RX sensitivity is very good, and I have no problem hearing as far as the TX will work. I run on battery, so power supply hum issues are moot.

I need to look into the RIT/XIT biz, though. The XT tunes between about 7037 and 7041, but the RX tunes about 7034 to 7039. Enough overlap to work, but not enough to be "frequency agile".

I biult mine into one of the ubiquous Altoids tins, and it gets a lot of comments from my friends when I say "hey, I got an HF rig that works the east coast in my shirt pocket, wanna see it?"

Eagerly awaiting the next kit project...

W2RBA Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2000 17:06 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After interrupting work on my SMK-1 (the postal guys brought me my long-awaited K2!), I finally returned to work on it recently. After getting it finished, it put out a good 250 mW but it just barely heard my rig on the bench, two feet away. Well, I was poking around and looking for something wrong when I discovered a missing Q1. Now who could have stolen a surface mount transistor from me? Then I remembered: way back in May that was the one part that went flying when I removed it from the bag and was never seen again. I planned on getting a replacement when K2 time arrived. So, raiding my junkbox for any part that would work, I did and the rig did -- beautifully. This rig is almost all surface mount parts and is extremely small -- the parts were soldered to the board in what I could call a haphazard way except they're right -- my eyes needed help just to see the them! It was a fun kit and thanks to NorCal for making it available. Thans, too, to NJQRP for the case, which worked out very nicely. It's a marvel to behold!
AC5WA Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2000 14:33 Send this review to a friend
Single board QRP xcvr  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I followed the directions and when I powered it up connected phones and an antena I heard CW! Two caps to tweak and it was "tuned up!" I will have to put up a 40 M antena just for this "monster". I built it into a small Pokemon collector's tin just a bit larger than an altoids box. I have not made a contact yet, but I expect to when I replace the 10ft piece of wire hanging from the curtain rod in the den with a real antena.

KD7JUM Rating: 5/5 Sep 13, 2000 00:04 Send this review to a friend
Excelent SMD kit!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I ordered the kit the same day as the TT2 kit.. I have yet to see the TT2. SMK-1 was delivered in just over a week, and built the same day I received it. All parts were individually compartmentalized in blisters of three plastic bags. All parts were easily identified by the instructions. Circuit board was of the highest quality (and very small) it went together easily but I did spend almost an hour looking for an smd resistor that jumped off the work bench (just as the instructions said it would!) I finished the rest of the kit working in a box. I would also recommend reconsidering what constitutes "adequate lighting" for a work bench (more is better!) The finished kit is as small as I could imagine. Caution! I initially tried to use a 12v "wall-wart" yourself some time and use a well filtered power supply or battery unless you like a lot of hum with your RX. The instructions are very good but voltages and signals indicated on the schematic would be a valuable addition, as would the circuit theory. This kit is excellent value for the price. I honestly don't think that the amount I paid could possibly buy a better kit. I doubt that the parts sans the circuit board could be purchased for the asking price of this kit! A month later I love my SMK-1 and wonder where that TT2 kit is
KE6TKQ Rating: 5/5 May 1, 2000 17:42 Send this review to a friend
Much easier than expected  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just finneshed mine last night in about 5 hours. At first glance, I was wondering if I would even get it done, but once I started, I found that it was much easier than I had expected and before I knew it, I was done. This is my second Kit ever, the first being an Elecraft K2. This is a fun beginer project for SMD and it's going to be fun to operate.

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