I’ve always enjoyed building kits. I got started in amateur radio building Heathkits, and to this day, I’d rather build a kit than buy a pre-assembled unit, if possible. That’s why I was geeked to find out about CRKits and MTM Scientific. Both companies offer kits that are a little out of the ordinary.
CRKits is a Chinese company. You can tell by the title of their slogan as it was translated into English: Building Fun of Ham Radio.
They offer several unique kits, one of them being a single band QRP SSB transceiver. The KN-Q7A can be ordered for either 40m or 20m operate and output 8 – 10 W PEP on 40m and 5 W PEP on 20m. It costs $130, including shipping.
The kit that I’m most interested in, however, is the PJ-80 ARDF Receiver kit (see image at right). This unit is made for direction finding on the 80m band. It is a completely self-contained, handheld unit, including the antenna. The price of this kit is $37, including shipping.
The reason that I’m interested in this kit is that I’d like to try some direction-finding activities down at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, where I manage the club station, WA2HOM. I think it would be fun to get the kids to locate a hidden transmitter, and handing the kids a single handheld unit is probably easier than handing them an HT and portable Yagi.
While these kits are available directly from CRKits in China, they are also available from QRVTronics here in the U.S. They cost a couple of bucks more if you buy them from QRVTronics, but it’s probably worth it. You’ll get the kits faster and have local support as well.
The other company that recently came to my attention is MTM Scientific. While the kits they offer are not strictly amateur radio kits—one of the kits they sell, for example, is a poultry incubator kit—they do have some kits of interest to radio amateurs. For example, they offer two receiving loop antennas, one for shortwave and one for the AM band. The prices are a little on the high side, in my humble opinion, but they are very attractive.
If you’re ready to melt some solder, check out these two companies. Buliding these kits looks to be a lot of fun.