Building is a lot of fun. You can build your own stuff, or take advantage of the work done by other hams and build projects from the ham mags like QST or CQ. One of the advantages of building projects from magazines is that frequently someone has already designed a PC board for it.
Even so, make sure you check that PC board before you start soldering parts. A recent purchase shows why.
The image at right is a scan I made of a PC board that I purchased to make a little 80m transmitter for transmitter hunting. Last night, I gave it a visual inspection before beginning construction, and I’m glad I did. For one thing, I noticed several spots that hadn’t been etched properly. These are marked with a “*” on the scan.
Those defects would have been easily corrected with an X-Acto knife, but when I flipped the board over to inspect the component side of the board, I found that none of the legends matched the holes in the board. Upon further inspection, I determined that the image used to print the component layout had been inadvertently rotated 180 degrees.
I e-mailed the vendor late last night, and this morning when I checked my e-mail, I’d already gotten a reply. The vendor apologized for the error, and said he’d get a new board out to me as soon as he could make a new batch. What great customer service!