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Making your own Kits

Updated on May 26, 2015
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Neil got interested in amateur (ham) radio in high school. He currently holds a General Class license.

The fully assembled kit for a small RF detector I built over a couple of weekends.
The fully assembled kit for a small RF detector I built over a couple of weekends.

Here are a couple resources for making sure you have the correct part for a project. The first is one of many vendors who will have spec sheets for most of the parts they sell. Whether you have the component already, or are ordering it, find the part and pull up the specifications to ensure it is the right one (and confirm the labeling of the part).

www.jameco.com

And this one (of many) will explain resistor color code and how it works.

http://www.resistorguide.com/resistor-color-code/


When you order or buy a pre-made kit, someone had to collect all of the parts and put them into the bag. But what if the kit doesn’t do exactly what you want it to, or what if the kit you want doesn’t exist? This hub deals with electronic kits, but models or other types of kits can be assembled in a similar manner. Finding the parts yourself can be far more time consuming than at first glance, but it is vital to the success of the finished project, and many times there are not kits made for the projects I work on. Creating a ‘kit’ or finding the parts for a project is important, for a variety of reasons. If you won’t have time to finish the project in one day and must come back to it later, then this process is vital. Also it’s always a good idea to know you have everything you need before you begin. Life presents enough interruptions without having to stop to go get another part.

Finding the parts may or may not be an easy process depending on the state of organization of your 'junk boxes'. Junk boxes are catch all boxes that have left over parts from other kits or parts salvaged from other projects. If you don’t have a junk box, finding parts may take longer than someone who does have such a box, because as parts become harder and harder to find, locating those parts in your junk boxes will be all the more important. If working with electronics reviewing the resistor color code (as most of the resistors you will have will only be identified with that code) and having a capacitance/inductor meter available can help identify those unmarked components.

In one of my first projects, collecting the kit consisted of searching several boxes of my fathers stuff to find the meter movement I knew he had, and searching through several of my tool boxes to find the leftover antenna from a commercial kit I had put together. Then I went to my local parts supply source (another story, and one that will be a bit different for each type of kit created) to get the final three parts.

Once you have gathered all of the parts, make sure they are labeled, then put them in some kind of container! Many of the parts will be very small, and easily lost. The cost of a ziplock bag or sandwich container will be far less than the cost of that one lost part, especially if you don't have to find those tiny parts again when you begin assembling the kit.


The final element of the kit is the base on which the project will be assembled, and the case to put the project in (if one is used). The base in my case was a custom circuit board, and I found when I was done that I didn’t need a project case, but many projects do require a case of some kind. If you are using open wiring then you will still need some kind of base to attach the circuitry to. Usually this is the project case. If you are doing surface mount or circuit board assembly the board is the base, and a case may not be necessary. If you are working with high voltage or high current circuits put the project in a well insulated project case!!!

Creating a circuit board is another hub by itself. See my hub at:
http://neildabb.hubpages.com/hub/DIYcircuitboards
The process is more involved than open wiring, but well worth the effort.


Once you have all of the parts together, create assembly notes! These should have been kept all along so that when the kit is assembled all components are appropriately positioned and installed. For an electronics kit, a schematic is vital. For models and other kits, if you can create an exploded view this will be helpful as well. Notes, or documentation is especially important if the kit will be sitting for more than a few hours or will take more than a few minutes to assemble. In the case of commercial kits this is the documentation or instruction sheet that comes with the kit. Don’t neglect this important part of the process!

When all of the pieces are collected, that hard to find kit is complete and ready to assemble, and you did it yourself!

qed.

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