So you want to be a builder? My name is Doug Hendricks, and I have been a ham since 1976, and an avid qrper for most of my ham career. In 1993, the late Jim Cates, WA6GER and I started the NorCal QRP Club. The purpose of starting the club was to find 10 or 15 like minded hams who would be interested in getting together to talk about qrp operating and also to help each other with building our own gear. Were we successful? I would say so, as we stopped counting NorCal members when we got to over 3000, from every state and 60+ foreign countries. NorCal's main purpose was and always will be to promote QRP. We had a very successful journal for 10 years, QRPp, but we stopped doing that in 2003 when it became too much for me to handle. There are 3 things that have remained constant for the club over the years, and are still being done: Club kits, monthly meetings at the California Burger, and hosting of the QRP Forum at Pacificon every October.

My favorite part of the club has always been the club kits, because I have always had a desire to build electronic equipment. When I was a boy, I remember reading Boy's Life magazine in the school library. My favorite articles were always the ones about Ham Radio. I dreamed of being able to build my own radio someday, to be able to talk to the world!!

I am not an electronics engineer, nor do I profess to be an expert on electronics. But I am an average guy, with average ability to build. I have built a complete SSB station, as well as a complete CW station. And when I say complete station, I mean every piece. I even built my own microphone for one of my SSB homebrew rigs. I have built keyers, paddles, keys, transmitters, speakers, receivers, antennas, antenna tuners, watt meters, etc. I take great pride in being able to say that the station here is 100% homebrew. It always gets a response like, "Even the microphone and the paddles?"

This article will appear as a series, and it will take you from being a complete novice, having never built a kit, all the way to building a multiband rig. I will be recommending projects that are easy and fun to build, and will go from projects that include complete kits to ones that are just a schematic and a parts list. You don't have to build every project in the list, and you may substitute others as you wish, but I do recommend that you build the ones on the list, as I know that they are somewhat sequential in difficulty. We will start with easy projects, and graduate to harder ones as we develop skills. These articles will be posted on the NorCal QRP Club web site, I will be recommending club and commercial kits. Please don't think that I am the ultimate authority on this. It is just my opinion and something that I want to share with others.

This series will cover 4 main construction techniques: through hole, surface mount, manhattan pad, and dremel/bit pad. Our first 2 kits will cover through hole and surface mount construction. They are very inexpensive, and they are easily available from the NorCal QRP Club. One is a kit that has been around for years, and the other is a brand new kit. We will build the VE3DNL through hole marker generator kit, and the Surface Mount QRP Dummy Load. The best thing about these 2 kits is that they are available with all parts included, they have solder masked, silkscreened circuit boards, and the cost is only $7.50 each!! If you want to get started, go to and click on the the "So You Want to be a QRP Builder" Button. The first article in the series is called "So You Want to be a Builder, 2006, Part 1"

 So You Want to be a Builder, 2006, Part 1
 So You Want to be a Builder, 2006, Part 2

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