I was really impressed with the quality of the kit, the board is of excellent quality and the screen printing is nice too.
The build instructions by Doug Hendricks are first class. The components are quite large in SMT terms, -1206 size. I think this was a good choice by the designer. The rig still ends up being tiny, but the components are much easier to handle than the usual 0805 or 0603 sized components.
The case (chassis) is of good quality, but I attacked mine with a file taking off the rough edges. My kit was one of the first batch and unfortunately there was an error made when trimming the PCB's. My PCB was too big to fit inside the chassis. Doug Hendricks, KI6DS was straight on to the problem, letting me know about the mistake before my kit had even arrived in the UK! I trimmed my board using a hobby knife and a straight edge, it was quite tedious, but the end result after finishing with a smooth file was perfect. A day or two later, a new PCB appeared on my doormat, all the way from California! You can't grumble at that. As I had already sorted my PCB, I sent the new board all the way back to Dos Palos! Poor little PCB, - that's some round trip!
The kit went together without any issues at all and it fired up first time. The receiver seems to work quite well, there is some BCI during the darkness hours, but that is to be expected with such a simple DC receiver and I've heard worse. The transmitter portion seems to put out the stated 300mW or thereabouts. I haven't managed a QSO yet with this little gem, every time I have tried to get on 40m recently there seems to be a contest on!
Whilst this rig is intended as a learning exercise to hone the skills working with surface mount devices, it does seem to work quite well and I think it will be a lot of fun to use in the future.
I liked everything about the kit except for the water slip decals. I used Plastikote clear project paint for my chassis as I had some left over from a previous project. You can see the edges of the decals very clearly through the varnish. Maybe frosted or matt varnish would have been a better choice, but I still think you would be able to see the edges of the decals. I think if I was to build another SMK-2, I'd use my Brother labelling machine to label the controls using clear tape. The water slip decal process was fiddly and labourious.
A great kit and good value for money.
|SMK-2 built by M0CGH|
Further details can be found at: http://www.qrpkits.com/smk2.html