Kit Building & Homebrewing
One of my favorite passtimes is building things, and ham radio has lots of opportunities for building stuff. From true homebrewing, i.e. designing and building gear from scratch, to buying and assembling kits, from ‘accessories’ like antenna tuners and SWR bridges, to complete transcievers, to computer interfaces, there are lots of ways for hams to ‘roll their own’ gear.
Kits are a great way to get started in homebrewing. Kit building can be very educational, and give a lot of satisfaction when complete, while being relatively ‘safe’ in the sense that the design is (typically) already tested and proven. Lots of great companies sell kits. One of my favorites is Elecraft, based in California. I’ve built three of their transceivers, the K1 and the K2 and the KX1.
Although kits are a good way to get started, not all kits are created equally. The best one use proper printed circuit boards, and include everything needed to bring the project to completion, including a proper enclosure. Some include just a circuit board and parts, and some include just the circuit board and schematics.
One of the best things about kit-building or homebrewing, is that if something should go wrong with the gear later, you’re usually able to handle the repair yourself — after all you built it! Plus, if you want to make changes, or you want to modify it or adapt it in some way, you already know all the inner workings, making it much simpler to get in there and tinker.
Another great way to get started in homebrewing, is through your local radio club. The Peel Amateur Radio Club for example, has regular Project or Homebrew Days.