QRP-L Rig

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From: Doug Hendricks (dh@altair.csustan.edu)
Date: Wed May 17 1995 - 00:20:08 EDT


Guys, I read with interest the discussion last year about an Inet rig. It
started out simple, and then exploded into the rig of all rigs. I chuckled
at the tangled maze of threads that went by. I have some experience in kit
production (700 Sierras and NorCal 40s) and certainly know what it entails.
Privately I commented to some of my friends on this list that a "group
effort would never fly", and I still believe that.

The Cascade was conceived on Nov. 11, 1994 and will ship in August. It took
5 months to go from beginning to working prototypes that were reasonable
facsimiles of the finished product. This was done with 1 main designer,
John Liebenrood, K7RO, who worked closely with and continues to work with
several of the other NorCal members on the rig. But John was the MAIN
Designer, he called the shots on the design. My job was project manager,
for want of a better name. My job was to finance the R & D (more than $2000
by the time we finish), find all of the parts, push John to finish by
Dayton, encourage John when he had problems, get the prototype builders to
get their reports in, and then get John
to finally say the Cascade was done. He is like all engineers, never
finished. I would hate to say how much time John and I have on this
project, and there are several others who have made major contributions of
time and money. (Not everything is reimburseable, there are a certain
amount of "donated funds" to the project.)

Guys, the Cascade happened because there was someone in charge. Not that
John or I are any better than anyone else on this list at organization and
producing results, but you just can't do a project by committee on the
internet. Here are
several reasons why:

        1. Who decides what the design parameters are?
A. John and I did for the Cascade. He as the engineer telling me if it was
reasonable to do, and I as the purse strings guy deciding if we could afford
it in the kit. We both had input with a small group of NorCal members about
the features of the kit.

        2. Who pays for the R & D?
A. NorCal paid for it with the Cascade. Just to give you an example of the
type of problem you have. Our first choice for the final was the IRF510,
but when we built the first prototypes, there was plenty of power on 75, but
20 meters was a disaster. Our next choice was the MRF477. John ordered 2
of them and it came to $51.00!! They work well, but cost entirely too much.
The next choice was a recommendation from RF Parts, the 2SC2312. We ordered
5 of them at a cost of $40 including overnight shipping (time was getting
short). Thank God the 2SC2312's worked out. We had $91 in R & D funds just
to find a final. Who would pay the bill for this on an Inet rig?????

        3. Who keeps the project on schedule? Who sets the deadlines?
What happens when a deadline is missed? I can assure you that all of these
are relevant questions. What did we do on the Cascade? John and I
negotiated every one of these problems as they came up. You notice the word
that I used, negotiate? I chose that word because it is the most accurate
to describe the process that John and I used to solve our problems.

        4. Then, who is going to order the parts? Who is going to pay for
them? What about the parts with the long lead time? Hey, there are some
for the Cascade that were 12 and 14 weeks. We ordered those in March!!

        5. What about the number of rigs to produce? If you don't do at
least 100, then you will pay an exhorbitant amount for parts. Who keeps the
unsold rigs?

        6. Who puts the parts kits together? Kitting 100 or more kits
quickly runs out of the "fun" stage and turns into work. What about
mistakes? Missing parts? Support of the kit?
        And I could go on and on. Guys if you want to do a rig, let me give
you some advice. First of all get 3 or 4 guys together and that is the
maximum. YOU set the parameters, and you be in charge. Use the Inet to get
help with problems, but DON'T do the design by committee. You will have to
invest heavily in time and money. Plan on spending hundreds of hours and be
prepared to spend the next few months on the project. You better have an
understanding wife or significant other. Is it worth it? Yes I think so.
I know Wayne Burdick and Dave Benson and they both have taken great pleasure
in seeing others build and enjoy their designs. How do I know this?
Because they keep doing it. I have been much more involved in the Cascade
than the Sierra or NorCal 40, and I was involved quite a lot with those, but
I am still excited every time I think about the Cascade. It is fun to work
with projects like these.

Do I think the Inet can do a rig? Yes and no. Yes the talent is here, that
is a given. But, no it will not happen unless someone takes charge and
keeps the group SMALL and manageable.

        Hopefully this piece is of interest and help to those contemplating
a design. I don't profess to be the World's expert, but I do have some
experience. I have made more than my share of mistakes, and some of them
have been expensive, but it has all been a learning experience.
72, Doug


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