(I sent this five days ago to The Management Team (contact form at http://www.sota.org.uk), but haven’t heard anything. Is it working properly?)
Sorry, but this will be a somewhat long mail.
You may have heard about the Chinese QRP rig HB-1A (very resembling the Elecraft KX-1) which is sold on Ebay and has received very good criticism. Furthermore it covers 20/30/40M (CW) which are typical SOTA-bands. The price for the ready made rig is/was about USD 200. For the kit it would be less.
Google translate of “introduction” (not very good): http://www.hanzi.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/introduction-hb-1a-mkii.doc
My problem with this rig is that it’s ready made, and not available as a kit. I hesitate to operate a rig that I haven’t built myself. Building is half of the fun - operating is just the other half.
I asked the guy behind this rig, Yimin, whether it would be possible to have the HB-1A in kit form, but the problem on his side is that he doesn’t have any translation of the manual - that’s the situation right now.
Now, to my idea. I think that experienced builders would have no problems to assemble this kit with a minimum of basic instructions. For the less experienced builder I’m thinking of a web based wiki, where the basic
instructions are accompanied by comments and pictures supplied by the builders. By collaborative efforts (wiki spirit) I think this could end up in a full fledged manual (or even better!). I would love to see a kit of the HB-1A
branded like the “official” SOTA-rig, and the wiki should in my view be under the auspices of SOTA as well.
Yimin is perfectly willing to brand the rig with the SOTA-logo (“SOTA Special” or whatever), and could even toss in a portable 3-bands wire antenna, a paddle, and a water proof box in the deal as well (to make it a complete travel kit).
The only draw-back I have seen is that the memory of the keyer is hard coded for the time being, but I gather this would be an easy task to change. Can you see any other SOTA specific features to add? There are rumours of a SSB version coming up soon, although that doesn’t interest me personally. Other features?? Controller for a solar panel? A compass or even a built in GPS?
I can assure you that I personally don’t expect to gain anything economically or otherwise from these ideas. My motivation is simply to be able to build the HB-1A myself, as well as letting others to do the same. And of course to find a way to promote the SOTA activity in general.
What do you think? There are no economical risks involved on SOTA´s behalf . The only investment to make is intellectual in terms of the collaborative effort to write the web based “manual”.
Looking forward to your reactions!