OHR-400, Four Bander

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From: Jeff Gold (JMG@tntech.edu)
Date: Tue Sep 05 1995 - 10:45:03 EDT


Early/Late-Christmas/Birthday :-)

OHR 400, Four Band CW Transceiver-Initial Impressions
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Latest offering from Oak Hills Research.

Specifications:

Receiver
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RF pre-amp
Diode ring mixer
selectable AGC-manual gain control
4 pole crystal ladder filter
selectable 4 pole audio filter
very stable VFO
VFO covers 150Khz each band
RIT +/- 1Khz

Transmitter
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4-5 watts all bands
adjustable from rear panel 0-full power
smooth QSK circuit
sidetone generator with level adjust
both iambic and manual key jacks
alignment tool is provided with kit

Optional Iambic Keyer kit (can be added at any time)

I haven’t built a kit in a while and my personality has deteriorated
proportionally. I seemed to have forgotten how therapeutic the
building process is for me. Started to rationalize that I have built
one of everything and that placing components on a board was just
not as much fun as it used to be. I couldn’t resist when I heard
about the Oak Hills four bander. Four bands, three of my favorite
and one that I need to spend some more time on anyway.

I anxiously awaited the arrival. My children are now pretty well
grown up, no grand children in the near future, so guess this is the
closest I can come for the time being to “an anxiously awaited
arrival.” Got home from work on Friday afternoon. This was a
real biggy weekend. Three days off and the weather was suppose
to be nice for the first time in eight weeks. What more could I ask
for. Came in the door and there was the box, patiently waiting for
me to return from work. Having significantly matured (if you can
believe this one), I went and changed out of my work clothes
before taking the prize to my lair and checking it out.

The first thing I noticed when opening the box was how carefully
and professionally it was packed. All of the little components
were packed inside the case and sealed so that you don’t
accidentally throw them away. There are three printed circuit
boards, not counting the optional keyer. The boards are the
absolute best I have ever come across (I have seen some as
good...but none better). They are solder masked and have a terrific
silk screening. There is NO question which parts go where. The
receiver board has the parts fairly well packed, so the very high
quality silk screening is a definite plus.

Another thing I have noted is that Dick really listens to his
customers. This is evident with the documentation. The
documentation comes in several sections which are individually
stapled. The printing is top quality and even easy for my old eyes
to read without the need for those new reading glasses (so in
essence the kit makes me feel a little younger). The first section of
the documentation is the Assembly Instructions. Oak Hills has a
couple of pages on things you need to be aware of to make your
building experience more pleasant and more likely to have you
succeed with the project. The instructions are step by step, but not
in the obnoxious way Heath used to do it. I really appreciate the
clearness of instructions and not having to read and reread
something many times to figure out if what I read and thought I
understood is what the writer meant for me to understand.
Working with technical writing in the computer field I realize how
hard it is to write good instructions. Oak Hills also has started to
include very professional diagrams for the final assembly in with
the documentation. There is separate sections for each board that
has a listing of all the components, a schematic and an excellent
enlarged overlay.

The parts for each board come separately wrapped. This is another
example of Oak Hill’s listening to the customers. For each board
the parts are separated by type, such as resistors and capacitors. I
usually hate the first stage of building. I use to take a great deal of
time separating and labeling the parts. Now I use little plastic parts
bins and dump the resistors in one, the capacitors in another and
so on. I find it fairly easy to then use my magnifying glass (even
Oak Hills couldn’t solve the problem for me), to make sure I get
the right part when I start stuffing the board. I find that after a few
minutes of separating out the parts and documentation I can get
into the project fairly quickly.

The cabinet for the kit is also very high quality and has a great
paint job. The panels are beautifully screened. I believe them to be
of as good quality as the major transceiver manufacturer’s
cabinets.

There are two distinct and equally important aspects of a kit for
me; how much fun it is to build and how much I like to operate it
when it is done. I admit it. My personality is such that I don’t hold
much to design aspects and theoretical issues. I have found that
there are sufficient variable involved that even the best designs can
not work as they should when they are built. Some rigs are just
more fun to operate than others. I finally took some time recently
to ponder this aspect of my building experiences. I have built
about every kit on the market in the last 3 years. I can pinpoint
exactly what constitutes a pleasurable building experience for me.
The parts in the kit have to be high quality, the documentation has
to be clear, tested and revised to eliminate errors, no ambiguity at
all, the printed circuit board needs to be high quality and clearly
screened and separate parts list by circuit board with a clear
enlarged parts overlay.

The “fun to operate” part is much more nebulous. This aspect is
very personal. I have come up with a scientific method to
determine this aspect. It is really quiet easy. I have many rigs on
my workbench. The number and type seems to constantly change.
I find there are some rigs that I just keep using after the initial
testing and evaluating. The reason for this is that they seem to me
to work better and are more “fun to operate”. I put my Norcal 40
in this category as well as many of the Oak Hills kits I have built.
I think it is pretty amazing that a small company can put out such
high quality kits as they do. I realize they aren’t perfect and their
size is a little big for SOME uses. This in no way changes the fact
that they are about the most fun to build (when building them I
enjoy about all the time I spend building as opposed to trying to
figure out which parts should go where and what the directions
really mean and why parts are missing), and for me, up there in the
“fun to operate” category.


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