Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kit building...the way you start determines your successful end

How most kits arrive
How it all begins
In my years of kit building I have had my share of blunders....but I have learned from them. To me the most important part to kit building is the start. We all have ordered a kit and waited and waited and WAITED for it to arrive. When it does arrive in the past I would just DIVE RIGHT IN and start building to get it up and working.  Many times the kit did not work and in some cases there was smoke !!!!.  I have learned  that the way you start a kit gauges your success. Hmmm you say...."don't you just start  building the kit" well here is how I start a kit see if you do the same ?.... When a kit arrives I am just like anyone else I am thrilled it finally has gotten here. For a week or so I have been typing the tracking number into the Post office's web page to see where it is. I have already downloaded the PDF manual and almost memorized it. When it arrives and I get the kit into the shack it's so hard to just not open the box turn on the soldering iron and get going......but WAIT.... that is not the type of start I have learned that works for me and I say LEARNED because I have had some major screw up's by just opening a kit and solder solder solder until it was done.
When a kit arrives this is the way I start.....
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labeling bags
Most if not all manuals have a parts list and yes ALL manuals say CHECK THE PARTS!!!!
1) I take the time to check  ALL parts. When I say check, I check ALL resistor and capacitor values with a meter. The inductors I check the banded color codes as the value can vary with frequency.
2) I then check part numbers  and compare that to the manual. So diodes, transistors, IC's, crystals, relays, knobs, thermal pads, screws, standoff's .....you get the idea.
Checked parts

3) Each part or group of the same parts go into a zip lock bag with a stick on label. Static sensitive parts stay in their bags and a label goes on that bag.  The label may consist of the value such as it's resistance or capacitance,  part number, a description and if more than one of the same part (screws, resistors) the label will have the total amount as well.  All resistors, capacitors, inductors and hardware etc go into their own larger bag labeled hardware, resistors....etc When each part comes out of the zip lock bag the value or part number is checked again, the amount on the label is decreased (if there are more than one of the same part in the bag)
Wire and cable bag

When the above steps are done the kit building begins......Why do I do it this way......
1) The kit building process is rarely interrupted, a missing part can be sent to me and most times that part when needed arrives in time. Instead of getting to that point in the build and waiting for the part to come. Also some part numbers do not match the parts list. Most times it is the same part but due to availability limitations  another manufacture was used. I still email the kit company. Again I don't have to stop the build to check.
2) Checking each part gets me familiar with all the parts.  I have found very subtle differences with some parts. A mistake of soldering the wrong part in a slot is very difficult I find if I follow this process.
3) The work place is kept very neat with the larger kits this is very important as parts can get dropped and lost. I generally start out with about four large bags each containing smaller bags of hardware, resistors, inductors and capacitors etc.
4) This is the last and most important tip....these steps do take time and my XYL see's this as time spent building and not buying more kits.

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