My winter kit-building cycle

What is it about winter that engages my inner kit-builder–?

I go through this cycle every year: when outdoor temps plummet, I fire up the soldering iron and start building kits that have been sitting on the shelf for the previous three seasons.

I used to think that I built more kits in the winter because I spent more time indoors, but that’s not actually true. Reality is, I probably spend more time outdoors in the winter than I do in the other seasons…save fall, perhaps.

I actually have a QCX+ transceiver kit that a kind reader generously donated to me (thanks again, OM!). I can’t wait to dig into this particular build, but I’m forcing myself to wait.

Until I finish building and installing my Murphy Bench (check out this HRWB podcast episode where we take a deep-dive) I don’t have a dedicated space for a good multi-day transceiver kit. At present, I have to take over the dining room table and as you might imagine, the others in my family aren’t incredibly pleased with a semi-permanent workbench in the middle of the house.

I’m making my Murphy Bench a priority and dangling the QCX+ as a reward for completing the build. Wish me luck!

I’m curious: Do you find that you also do more kit-building during certain seasons? What kits or other projects are on your horizon?Please comment!

15 thoughts on “My winter kit-building cycle”

  1. Where do you find the time? Like me, you’re outdoors as much as you can be. I’m on a sabbatical at the moment and still don’t have time to finish project or even start new ones!

    1. Ha ha! Good question. I think it almost always starts out with a repair that requires a little solder then I go to the kit pile while the soldering iron is on. I find kit building very relaxing and therapeutic, actually.

      But more to your point, doing the more involved projects is very difficult for me. I’m out so much it’s hard to get an hour in here and there. The Murphy bench will give me a dedicated workbench space (albeit a small one) where I can keep projects on the table for extended periods.

      Looks like you’re having fun in parts more temperate than MM land at the moment!


  2. Great question! Most of my kit building happens in the winter. I’m in NE OH and as a result I take the days where it’s sunny and warm as time to be outside. But when the snow hits and the temperatures drop, I head to the basement and warm myself with the iron.

    Getting started on a QDX this weekend. I have a few antenna projects on the horizon as well. And then there is the pile of half-finished items as well. And the fixes…and… You get the idea!

    1. I have a new QDX kit v3, sitting in my box of ‘builds.’ I bought the 12v assembled v4.0. I love the transceiver… I read the recent post on the QDX, and may post a field report of my own.

      Anything Hans designs is primo! The one recomendation I’d have is to read & reread each step, two steps ahead of the assembly. Take your time, use a good solder & hot iron. Good luck on the build!

  3. I haven’t soldered in ages but have a couple kits lined up to start soon. One is a QRP dummy load and power “meter” (4 LEDs — 0.5w, 1w, 2w, 5w) from Four State QRP Group. The other is a fancier QRPGuys digital power/SWR meter and dummy load. I could have paid for a commercial meter and dummy load but decided to save some money and renew my soldering skills. The Four State dummy load uses SMD resistors and I look forward to building with those for the first time.

  4. I am currently building an entire Tuna Can station including 2-watt TX (Super Tuna+), RX (WWVR), EFHW tuner (Tuna Tunah), T/R Switch (Tuna Helper), Power Distribution (Tuna Helper), Super Keyer, and others, including band modules for 80, 40, 30, 20, & 10M. While a real fun project x10, I think it would be fun trying a POTA activation once I get everything going & debugged, LOL. Cheers es 72, Dave – KU9L

  5. I tend to work on kits and projects during the winter as well but here in the midwest I also have a building period during summer when the humidity is very high and the thermometer heads for triple digits! The nice, cool temperatures of the basement are very attractive on those summer days.

    1. Building some half squares to try some more portable DX. Working on a 50w amp kit for qcx mini…THAT’LL get some DX with half square….built one for 20 and now finishing 40m one…they are REALLY cheap to build and will be nice to have when prop goes back down…


      1. I know 50w that’s not Qrp , but hope the half squares work as well as the modeling software shows..then 50w will be for emergency use only! For 29.50 plus case that’s a cheap backup.

    1. I plan to post photos and details as I start to assemble it. This may take some time (as in several months) because a wood-working friend doesn’t yet know I’m going to build this in his shop! 🙂

  6. I just ordered a QRPguys Power/SWR meter with dummy load because my Bird Model 43 doesn’t have a 5 watt element available and the resolution with the 25 watt element doesn’t let me measure into the milliwatt range very accurately. Plus, it comes with a built in dummy load. And yes, winter is the ideal time to build these kits. I tend to be activating parks in the summer when the weather is nice and we have longer days.

  7. I spent the end of 2021 and most of 2022 building kits during a period that I was non weight bearing while recovering from surgery. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated assembly area in my home office. Weather isn’t much of a concern here in SoCal, and I’d definitely rather be out using the kits than building them as long as I’m physically able.

    I have one large kit, The Veteran SDR, that I’m still working on due to parts shortages. There are some ICs with projected delivery dates in 2024!

  8. Thank you all for the comments! I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one with some fun projects on the bench!

  9. I’m also putting together a building area. I’ve accumulated tools, components, materials and some kits like the QDX, CRKits Pixie, CRKits 40M direct conversion RX and a few others. Also hoping to homebrew a regen RX and a couple of simple 40M/30M TX plus a bench supply. Yes, winter is a good time to cuddle up with the iron, put something together and listen to some late night BCB AM talk radio or check out the old timers on 75M AM. Good Luck on the projects and Good DX !
    Jim WB4ILP

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