Flipping through a few of the shortwave kit websites the other day I noticed that Small Wonder Labs had closed its doors in September all but stopping the shipping of their excellent RockMite QRP transceiver.
Small Wonder Labs has been around since 1996 making it such a shame if it goes altogether but with the popularity of its products someone has to see it as a viable opportunity and step in to keep the kits on general sale. If the worst does happen thankfully there are enough of these units already out in circulation to ensure that we should be able to get our hands on one from the secondhand market for years to come.
I used to pop into the RockMite Yahoo group every once in a while to see what the fans of this product were up to but since having trouble with my Yahoo login lately its been a while but must get back into my account to see how they are all taking the possible demise of this iconic kit producer.
Dave Benson (K1SWL) has kept the Small Wonder Labs online for now and is most likely the best place to get any news about any transfer of the products to another kit producer if and when it happens.
The RockMite in Action
If you’ve never seen a RockMite before this is a video of it being used in what looks like some very cold conditions.
Video Courtesy of Tony Schillig
Other Makers of Shortwave Radio Kits
Producing some quality kits Ten-Tec never seem to miss an opportunity to constantly move their products forward by always using the latest advancements in radio technology and are doing great work at the moment with internet controlled equipment. Not just purely a kit producer they also sell a range of their own finished products including tuners and antennas.
Ten-Tec builds are a lot more involved than a basic shortwave radio kit with most requiring a decent amount of electronics and construction knowledge but the professional look of the finished kits with the sleek black cases make attempting at least one kit build worth the effort.
Trading since the 1970,s Ramsey kits are a good learning tool for those just starting out experimenting with radio circuits. Their kits are aimed squarely at the hobbyist and usually come with plenty of documentation not just for the construction but to give an understanding of how and why things work.
Over the years Ramsey have moved into almost every area of hobby radio with a diversity of kits that have made them so popular with the constructor.
Will Radio Kits Always Have A Place?
Giving an easy entry into shortwave electronic construction has keep these types of kits being produce over countless years and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. The relentless march of software defined radio may make a dent in sales a bit but for someone just starting out the convenience of kits does offer many advantages.
Sure, getting hold of circuit diagrams and components isn’t that much of a nightmare but making the printed circuit board for any project needs a huge investment in equipment and expertise.