|My Elecraft K1 (click to enlarge)|
You could say that this project has been a long time in the making. The kit for this Elecraft two-band (40m/20m) K1 5W CW radio was actually a Christmas present back in 2004.
Heck, I still have the invoice for $329 plus the £44.97 import duty, making it about £230.97 at the exchange rate of the day (nearly £300 at today's rates).
When I first got the kit I had a couple of reads of the instruction manual, went “wooah” and put it in the loft. It even moved house with me eight years ago.
Anyway, a conversation with Colin M1BUU (a more enthusiastic QRP builder and SOTA operator you couldn't wish to meet) at the 2014 G-QRP Convention convinced me that I really should put it together.
In the intervening 10 years I have built a lot of other kits, including a Hunter SDR, Rockmites, MKARS 80 and a Steve Weber MTR, so I had picked up a lot of construction skills.
Last Christmas I actually started the build and, while not difficult, it was time consuming. Fast forward to July and I thought it was about time I finished it.
The build wasn't too bad, but I had a few problems, such as the wiring on the multi-turn pot for the VFO control – I thought the numbers on the side of the pot represented the numbers in the manual. They didn't.
I also managed to lose a couple of components down the back of the bench, which were subsequently found, and also couldn't find the insulating spacer for the power transistor – this I managed to improvise with insulating tape and fibre washers.
The final c*ck-up was missing out two capacitors, which meant the receiver didn't work at all. I'm glad I eventually managed to debug it without any help.
In all, I think I spent about 22-25 hours putting it together, but the end result is worth it.
The Elecraft K1 has a fantastic little receiver and a built in keyer and puts out around 7W if pushed. I have had a couple of QSOs with it so far and it is a very useable QRP radio.
I can thoroughly recommend it as a QRP project, although Elecraft have now moved on quite a way with the KX2 and KX3 - but then my K1 kit is 12 years old!