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.

Serious Kit Building at K5ND!
Serious Kit Building at K5ND!
PC Board Vise works great when soldering
PC Board Vise works great when soldering
Completed PC Board
Completed PC Board
Modified for SO-239 Connectors
Modified for SO-239 Connectors
It Works!
It Works!
Internal construction
Internal construction
NorCal Power Meter in operation
NorCal Power Meter in operation
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Jim-K5ND

Freelance writer and active Scouting volunteer. Retired publishing and communication executive who writes for fun and to finance his hobby, amateur radio.

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