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Reviews For: NORCAL FCC-1 Frequency Counter Kit

Category: Tools & Test Equipment for the amateur radio work bench

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Review Summary For : NORCAL FCC-1 Frequency Counter Kit
Reviews: 2MSRP: 35.00
The NorCal FCC-1 is a highly flexible frequency counter that incorporates features not found in any comparable unit. With an add-on board, the FCC-1 becomes a DDS frequency synthesizer that's capable of replacing conventional analog VFO's in many applications.
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K7DAA Rating: 2014-04-23
The best there is! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This kit is NOT currently in production, and has not been for a couple of years now. I sincerely hope that the newly-organized NorCal QRP group decides at some point to bring this great little display back again!

I have four of these, and I also bought the optional FCC-2 DDS synthesizer add-on. Together they make a very nice DDS VFO with absolutely no drift, and tons of flexibility. You can key them with a CW key, and get whatever custom offset you've pre-programmed (600-700 Hz typically). You can also provide an RS-232 connection from a computer running any type of RTTY software, and transmit FSK RTTY directly from it. It only requires a small QRP power amp and appropriate low-pass filter to make a complete transmitter.

As a frequency counter only, the FCC-1 does a great job, and requires very little current--less than 30 mA at 12 volts. I have built and used the FCC-1 in several pieces of homebrew QRP gear, and have never been sorry I bought it.

With the FCC-2 add-on, it's just icing on the cake!
N2HTT Rating: 2007-04-27
Great kit - but could be even better Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I built the FCC-1 to use as a digital display for an OHR-400 transciever.

The kit is outstanding on the following points. I give it a 5 for:

Ease of construction
Ease of calibration
Documentation and assembly instructions
Features and operation (this kit does anything you could want in a frequency counter for ham use)
Cost (feature packed for the money)

So what's not to like?

1. Parts they left out.
The assembly instructions describe the use of 2 and 5 pin headers for input, power, and band selection connections. These headers, and the corresponding connectors are not supplied, you have to purchase them separately. It took a while to track down the part numbers for these, here are the parts I ordered from Mouser:

538-22-23-2021 Molex .100 2 pin verical PCB header tinned
538-22-23-2051 Molex .100 5 pin verical PCB header tinned
538-08-50-0114 Molex .100 crimp terminals 22-30 tinned
538-22-01-2027 Molex .100 2 pin connector housing with locking ramp
538-22-01-2057 Molex .100 5 pin connector housing with locking ramp

2. If you want to package this kit in an enclosure, you will have to cut out a rectangular opening for the LCD display, and drill holes for the push buttons with fairly high precision. I don't have an easy time of this kind of mechanical work, and I was a little disappointed with the way my enclosure turned out. I used a small LMB painted aluminum enclosure.

3. Band selection is based on a 4 bit binary input -- I used 4 toggle switches because I happened to have them on hand, but it is a clumsy arrangement. I wondered whether an encoder input directly to the PIC could have been used to select the band in firmware.

All in all, it is a great kit and well worth the money, but I think it could be an even better kit if it were supplied with a custom enclosure. I realize that would increase the cost, but the resulting instrument would be a bargain at twice the current kit price.

If you are not daunted by the challenges of putting this kit in an enclosure, you will find it well worth the effort and the money. I give it only a 4 over all, because of the packaging issues.