Well here are a few pictures of my ARRL Handbook NorCal Sierra.
I started collecting parts for the rig and ordered the ARRL Template package back in September 1996 including a few e-mails with Wayne Burdick who was very helpful and encouraging. I pretty much followed Wayne's template package as he provided it to the ARRL. The dimensions and mechanical drawings were very precise and allowed fabrication of the cabinet without too much difficulty (less the rectangular hole for the KC-2). The PC boards were fabricated using two presensitized 6"x 6" double-sided boards from the local electronics store. One for the main Sierra board and one for the band module boards which yielded 5 band modules. I used overhead projector transparencies and a copy machine to transfer the top and bottom etch patterns from Wayne's template package to the transparencies which served as positives for exposure. I did have to use two doubled-up transparencies to be sure the positive was opaque enough to keep light out of unwanted areas. It worked fine and I nickel plated the boards with a solution mix from Semiconductor Specialists in Phoenix. Total cost of material and chemicals for the main board and 5 modules cost about $30.00. Keep in mind these boards are not through hole plated or silk screened.
Now for the parts collecting. After an inventory of my personal stash of junk box parts I estimated about 75% of the components I already had. The items I still needed were the tuning and trimmer caps in the VFO circuit and modules, most of the toroids, 26 gauge wire, some NPO's and Silver Mica caps, polystyrene caps, and the panel mount controls and board mounted stereo connectors, knobs, varactor diodes and one IC, band module connector, xtals, and hardware odds and ends. A few mail orders later I had the complete list of parts on the bench. I knew I wanted to use the KC-2 but waited to order it until I had convinced myself that the rig would not end up as another uncompleted project in a box.
Assembly of the main board went smoothly. I used the ARRL template component layout guide and schematics. The band module connector (J5) and the stereo headphone and key jacks were the only components I had to add "z" wires because of the non plated through holes in the board. I added some mods from QRP-L inputs (like the ferrite bead on the base of the 2N2222A). I completed the 40M module first and fired up the board to immediately hear cw signals. Once I tuned the input bandpass filter the signals were quite loud and the AGC was within range. I aligned the VFO next which required some tweaking of the L7 toroid inductor. The PMO aligned quickly and the first keydown test actually put out some RF. After alignment and checking the power out on a scope I was making about 2.4 watts on 40M. A spectrum analyzer check showed the 2nd harmonic to be down about -37dB so I knew the output low pass filter was working OK. I built the 30M module next and it performed in a similar manner and I now have the xtals to build the 80M, 20M, and 15M modules. I've decided now that I want to build the 17M module so I'll have to fab one more board since I only yielded five from the 6" x 6" sensitized board. After thinking about it I've decided to go ahead and build 'em all so I'll just do 5 more boards and a couple spares won't hurt.
I have really enjoyed building this rig. I've also appreciated the encouragement from Wayne N6KR via e-mail and a couple local hams in Colorado Springs, Paul W0RW and Rick K0SU who kept me motivated by constantly telling me on 2-meters how great their Wilderness Sierras were doing. I was also very encouraged by Mike WC5Z in Lubbock, Tx who kept asking me during our 80M sked each week how the Sierra was coming.
As a NorCal member, I've really felt like a part of the group by reading the NorCal web page even though I have not been able to attend a meeting in person. The coverage of the meetings and pictures of the rigs and people have really allowed me to enjoy the spirit of the club. I asked Jerry WA6OWR if he would be willing to include some photos of my Sierra and this small write-up so I could share my excitement with the club. He agreed to put it together for the next meeting. I went to the local computer shop here in town and used one of their nice digital cameras and I'll e-mail all of this to Jerry. Thanks again to all of you for keeping the spirit of Ham Radio alive and well. Hope to hear you on the bands. Now what do I build next?
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