Re: HB vs Kit


From: Pat Taber (
Date: Thu Dec 07 1995 - 08:57:38 EST

> I just had to add my two pesos worth. This is my definition of HB. It is
>something that is constructed from scratch, i.e. not a kit. Kits are fine,
>but to me a kit is like baking a cake from a box mix.

Yes, kits make it easier. Cake mixes make it easier. A cake mix in the hands
of someone who doesn't know how to bake is just as much a disaster as
scratch ingredients in that same person's hands. The key to making a cake
isn't in the box.

There is a false assumption that building a kit is just soldering a bunch of
parts to a board. And yet, it's pretty clear to me (probably because I'm one
of these smarmy kit builders) that if you don't understand the principles of
radio you stand a small chance of getting the kit to work.

There's an equally false assumption that collecting your own parts and
tack-soldering them together means you must be a radio god. It's not true,
and the rate of success for either method when used by an unqualified person
is about the same.

I've met a Real Homebrewer who allows kits as long as the person building it
makes a "substantive" change to the electrical design. This particular Real
Homebrewer had just finished building a kit where he had changed out a
couple of parts.

So let's define "scratch." I know, you've seen postings from people who say
it means you have to smelt your own metals and ion-implant your own IC's.
Most people who consider themselves "Real Homebrewers" (to distinguish
themselves from those animals who use kits) pass that off as the raving
self-justifications of the kit-builders. "After all," they say, "who could
do that?"

When asked to draw the line most Real Homebrewers essentially say "Real
Homebrewers do what I do." If they don't have a metal shop, then buying a
cabinet is OK. If they don't have a PC board shop, then it's OK to buy a
board as long as they stuff it with parts that they themselves have
procured. Naturally, none of them have IC foundaries at home, so buying a
mixer chip is OK.

I have neve yet met a person who said Real Homebrewers do something that
they themselves cannot do. They never say, "Gee, I'd love to be a Real
Homebrewer, but all my equipment is stinking kits because I don't bend my
own metal."

I guess at bottom I don't understand the compulsion to take a small group
(people who build their own radios) and subdivide it. Why not pull people
together? Why not say anyone who cares enough to build any part of a station
is one of "us" --a homebrewer?

The fact that you can't draw a real line to differentiate one from another
says (to me) that the real differentiator is caring. People who build from
scratch (whatever that is) are afraid people who put less effort into it
don't care as much and so aren't Real Homebrewers -- or at least as Real as
they themselves are. And so they start this divisive Real Homebrewer
garbage. The shame is that by so doing they confine themselves to a tiny
partition of the general population (which is small enough as it is.) If
they took the opposite view, assumed the other guy was just as caring as
they, then they'd expand their world and instead of being surrounded by
"them" they'd be surrounded by friends.

Feh! Too much philosophy for a Thursday.


Patrick Taber Email:
Principal Software Engineer Phone: (603) 880-0300
Logicraft Information Services Fax: (603) 880-7229
22 Cotton Road QRP-L: 215 (was hoping for 666)
Nashua N.H. 03063 Also known as: KC1TD

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