Subject:  [Elecraft] To the gentleman expressing concern about his ability to build a K2
Date:      Sun, 22 Aug 1999 15:33:08 -0400
From:     "Michael S. Rundle" <n1okl@ibm.net>
To:         "'Elecraft reflector'" <elecraft@qth.net>

Sorry for the bandwidth fellows, but wanted to pass along some thoughts to the fellow asking about building at K2...

Dr OM,

The K2 is my first major construction project. I have dabbled with some small kits before...a dozen components or so, but never anything this ambitious. I too had reservations, but the desire to have a rig of this quality and performance won out.

I am nearly to the point of testing the 40m RX...probably 2/3 to 3/4 done. Let me share some impressions...

* The manual is excellent; but you also need to use a little common sense and think about what you are doing as you follow the instructions. The effort is both challenging and rewarding when you get things done correctly the first time. For example, my version of the manual (Rev A) says to strip and tin the leads on the torroid inductors no closer than 1/8 inch to the core. But I have found that you need to strip much closer so that you have bare wire all the way through the PC board holes. Figured this out with my first inductor. .

* Check and recheck your work as you go. Expect to make a mistake or two (I have made several) which requires some rework. (Notice all those PCB rework tools in the catalogs; even the pros make mistakes.) When/if you find a mistake, relax, take a break and think about the best way to resolve it.

* Take your time. Building a K2 is not a timed event. Work a little, rest a little. When you return to the project after a break, you will have a fresh mind and steadier hands. This helps.

* Invest in a quality soldering station. (See "Ask Dr. Solder" on the web site for the reasons.) Marshall Electronics has a good Weller station on sale for $79. Get a long conical tip for this station, with a small point. I am using a PTS8 which has a tip diameter of .01 inch and 800 degree F temp. It works great. Long reach and very fine point for tight spots. I have seen some posts on this reflector which suggest 700F might be better, This would be a PTS7 tip.

* Invest in a lighted, magnifying lamp. This makes everything much easier and reduces eyestrain considerably.

* Give some thought to investing in a PanaVise circuit board holder. Marshall has them for $71. I did not get one, but would if I were going to do another.

* Use the recommended Kester Solder in .020 gauge.  It took me a bit of searching to find this stuff, but it was worth the effort. Most of the big electronic houses have this in .031 gauge, but not the .020. The smaller gauge is best. Check the Kester web site (www.kester.com) for a list of their dealers. I found it at Kaufman in Cambridge, MA (617-491-5500). They had 8 rolls in stock.

* You will need some place where you can lay everything out and leave it without fear of having it disturbed. This can be hard to come by if you have children. Regardless of where you decide to do the work, spend a bit of time making it functional and comfortable. A pleasant environment will make a lot of difference in how you feel about the work you are doing.

* Though you don't strictly need one, a DMM comes in handy...especially for continuity checks. RS had their top-of-the-line unit on sale for $89 a week or so ago. Nice unit. Made in Germany.

In closing, I have not found building the K2 to be especially difficult. There are some tedious procedures with which you just have to take your time. At some point, you can expect to feel that the work is slow and boring and the end is a long way off. When this happens, hang up your iron and go work some DX...or watch a video. When you return, you will have a fresh perspective and are less likely to make mistakes.

That's it. I'm SURE that you will be successful if you decide to build a K2 yourself. Oh yes, one final thing...come here for help, with questions, anything. I've found this reflector a tremendous resource. Typically you will get replies to your posts within HOURS! Amazing. Building a K2 is truly a GREAT amateur radio experience, and one you should not miss.

73,
Mike Rundle - N1OKL
Pittsford, NY USA