I have been looking for a QRP power meter since I built my Elecraft K3/10. I’ve looked at a number of options from Elecraft’s W1, to Oak Hills, to the NorCal Power Meter. Nothing really stood out. Plus it wasn’t something that I couldn’t live without since the K3 has a built in power indicator. However, after the NorCal QRP Club shut down orders last year, I became more interested in the NorCal unit. Then, when they announced that they would open up orders in order to clear all inventory, I went for it. Saved some money, too, as they dropped the price.
I’ve added some photos of the kit building process and the finished unit. On building this kit I put in play the Aoyue 937+ soldering station that I purchased at Christmas. It worked great. I also put in play the Hendricks PC Board Vise that holds the PC board during parts insertion and soldering. It was a very handy tool to have on the bench.
I found that the assembly instructions and photos for the kit were top notch. However, my reading skills were not. I messed up big time on installing the 16-pin header into the LCD readout. I sailed along and soldered it to the wrong side of the board! Yikes! No matter how much I tried to extract the header intact with various desolder tools, I had no luck. I finally had to remove the header one pin at a time, thereby destroying it. The NorCal guys were kind enough to send along another header (at no charge), and gave me a bit of a deserved hard time about potentially being banned from kit building.
With the new part, I was able to assemble it this weekend and it works! I tested it in line with the K3’s power indicator. The K3 reads 5 watts and the NorCal reads 4.6 watts. It tracked reasonably well at lower and higher power levels. The analog meter should prove handy with an external antenna tuner. It was a fun kit to build and if you ever get the chance to buy one, I’d recommend it.