I found this inexpensive kit online and it looked like a fun project. I like how small it is which should make it easy to carry around in my pocket when I go hiking. Also, I've been wanting to get into the HF ham bands and learn morse code.

The kit comes with all of the parts to the radio so you won't need anything else. You will need a soldering iron and some cutters for the assembly. Having a multimeter doesn't hurt. I chose to purchase the metal enclosure that contains the completed kit in a sturdy, low RF noise, housing.

Assembling Rockmite kit

The assembly instructions are less than ideal. It is not clearly laid out and some of the information in it is incorrect or contradictory. Despite those things, I was able to get it assembled.

Assembling Rockmite kit

Once the board was soldered I could mount it inside the enclosure and start testing. It is a good idea to test before you mount the PCB, but fortunately all my soldering joints passed so no resoldering was required.

Assembling Rockmite kit

I attached a 12v SLA battery using the provided barrel plug and connected a 20M end-fed antenna. After pulling the antenna up into a tree in my back yard, I started listening for other stations. Having only two frequencies to choose from, and having to manually switch the crystals out, meant that tweaking my antenna was where most of my time would be spent.

It wasn't long until I heard someone calling CQ and to my delight it was a special station. WW1USA was the first signal I received on my rockmite, I was not aware this station before and I just happened to be listening at one of the few times they transmit each year. I am not yet proficient with morse code so I opted not to transmit back.

I was able to capture what I heard on audio. You can clearly see the transmission in this spectrograph of the audio and you can listen youself by clicking the link. ww1usa spectrograph

WW1USA morse code audio recording ww1usa_nr.mp3

I found a hard-sided container that I could use to contain all the loose parts which helps a lot with the portability. Here you can see the container with feedline and battery. The battery I am using here is oversized but it is what I had. I am looking into other options like an 8xAAA battery holder or 5v to 12v buck converter.

Kit in container

Here are all of the pieces laid out. A baggie with some string to pull the antenna up into trees, end-fed antenna, headphones, feed line, and battery.

Pieces laid out

I don't have a keyer so I made this really small iambic keyer out of two surface mount pushbutton switches, an audio plug, and lots of hot glue. It works better than you would expect since you can push the tall buttons sideways to activate them. I would still like to build something more sturdy in the future but this works fine for now.

DIY button keyer

The front panel gives you audio gain, function button, keyer speed, headphone jack, keyer jack, and power led.

Front panel

It is a very solid feeling kit and I look forward to using it in the field.

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