As I was checking my Twitter and Google+ accounts this morning, I ran across some intriguing news. Apparently, Heathkit announced that it was going to get into the kit building business again. I admit that when I first heard the news, I was stoked! I’ve been looking for good kit building projects that were related to amateur radio. But as I dug deeper and did a little more research, my proverbial “bubble” had been popped.
Heathkit’s website states:
In late August, Heathkit will debut their new line of Do-it-Yourself kits for common around-the-house items. The first kit will be a Garage Parking Assistant (GPA). The Garage Parking assistant kit lets you build your own system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to locate your car as it enters the garage. The system signals to the driver using LED lights mounted on the wall when the car is detected and in the perfect spot for parking.
Continuing on down the website the Heathkit Press Release states:
Next on the market will be a Wireless Swimming Pool Monitor kit followed by many more.
While these kits may seem to be a good start, they aren’t kits that I would buy. Why? Well, I don’t own a garage, so a Garage Parking Assistant would not do me much good. I suppose I could use it to park my car in the car port if I wanted to. I live in Upstate New York, so I don’t own a swimming pool. There are people that do own pools in my neck of the woods but I’d rather spend my money on radios, something I can use year-round as opposed to two months out of the year!
I guess there may be a ray of hope in the last line that I quoted from the website. It is possible that Heathkit will make Do-it-Yourself kits related to amateur radio or radio in general. I, for one, wouldn’t mind building a “general coverage” receiver from broadcast band to 30 MHz. (Ten-Tec does make some shortwave/SSB/CW receiver kits … nothing in the broadcast band as far as I can tell). Or perhaps a small CW or SSB backpack transceiver as another ham friend of mine mentioned on his blog. (Ten-Tec also makes CW transceivers but NOT SSB transceivers). The only caveat to that is that it would need to be certified by the FCC, which as I’m sure we’re all aware, takes time and patience! They might also consider building kits that make use of solar energy. Regardless, I’m definitely interested in seeing what kits they roll out in the future.
I remember fiddling with kits when I was in an electronics class in high school. They always garnered my attention but I never did buy a kit and try to put it together myself. A lot of that was due to the fact that I had poor vision. I’ve built PCs before, which requires some fine motor skills and vision, so I think my kit building abilities would be okay at this point in time, though it might take me longer than the average person.
I did buy a kit last year but have yet to put it together. The only thing stopping me there is TIME! It is a CW identifier that you can hook up to a radio. It also can serve as an ID timer reminding you of when you need to identify your station if you’re in a QSO with someone. It looks fairly simple to put together. Perhaps I’ll get to it this winter.
With the national and global economy becoming more of a concern on a daily basis, I think people are going to try to be more self-sufficient. Kit building, in theory, should be cheaper than buying something preassembled. Plus you also get the satisfaction of knowing that YOU built it yourself. You can enjoy the fruits of your labor once you flip the switch, tune the dial, hear the faint signal of a distant station or the rhythmic sounds of the “dit-dahs.” It would certainly give you a deeper appreciation and understanding of the equipment. It could also inspire you to build something on your own with a little bit of research, patience, and time. Heck, how do you think innovation came along in this great country of ours?!
73 de Andre