“We started with the premise that people are basically good” – eBay marketing crap.
Sorry eBay, you got it wrong. People are basically crap, and will screw you out of a buck at the slightest opportunity. That’s why I normally stay away from scamBay, but I do find that on rare occasions, I actually need them. Such was recently when I began building my spare radio into an old ARMY amplifier case. I bought a second uBITX kit from India, from HF Signals. It was at the house in less than two weeks, which I thought was pretty amazing on its own. But it puts out only 5-10 watts. It’s enough to do the job in decent situations, but for talking further and farther, it’s nice to have a bit more power.
There’s a slight boost available by bumping the transistor voltage up to around 20 volts, but it still only gives you 15-20 watts at best, and stresses the components. So, the other option is an amplifier.
Anyone that had a CB in the 80s, or any Ham operator worth their license, knows what an amplifier (or “Linear”) is for – it’s for bumping a low level signal up to something useful. Unfortunately, most of the amplifiers I could find either come prebuilt and ready to use, for lots of money, or are overseas kits.
Taking a prebuilt amp and sticking it in a case seemed sort of silly and expensive. For what they were wanting, in addition to the uBITX kit, I could have just bought another Yaesu FT-450D or even an 857, and gone with that. Plus, there’s no room for experimenting and messing around. It’s plug and play.
So – Option 2 was to go with scamBay. I looked around a lot on the site and finally settled on something that would be useful for me. Most of my time on the radio is spent on 7mhz or 14mhz (the 40 and 20 meter bands). I like 20 in the day and early evening for foreigners and early domestic nets, and then 40 from dusk on until around 930 or so. The problem with these scamBay companies is that a lot of them barely speak English and apparently from the reviews, they leave out parts or instructions.
Which is exactly what happened to me. I ordered the amp, and 2 weeks later it came to the house from China, and I had a box of parts and a PC Board. No instructions, period. I started soldering stuff together anyway, figuring sooner or later I could find what I needed online. I’ve never soldered surface-mount resistors and capacitors before. I know my eyes aren’t the greatest but WOW, it was impossible. I had to borrow my wife’s magnifying desk lamp just to put a dab of solder on one pad and then stick the part down. Once it was cool, I was able to do the other end. After about 40 of the little bastards I was done, and could put the bigger parts together.
Online was no help. Everyone pretty much said the same thing as the reviews: Be wary of Chinese parts, because they don’t include instructions. I got fed up looking and initiated a return. I figured I just wasted my time and money. Finally I got an answer from the seller, that they were pushing the factory to provide the manual. I was surprised and elated about actually receiving it. It was quite detailed, but written in broken “Engrish”, badly translated English from a foreign language.
I got a schematic of the circuit design, which was quite helpful. I was immediately able to go back and solder 4 parts in place that were on unmarked sections of the PC board. It also showed me which side several capacitors went on, as there were 8 capacitors, 4 of one value and 4 of another, that went on two different Low Pass Filter sections. The schematic also showed me which filter side was which.
The biggest help is the Toroid winding instructions. Radios and amps often have a lot of inductors, basically coils around magnetic doughnuts, called Toroids. The number of turns of wire through the doughnuts, and the composition of the toroids themselves are very important, often different amounts of different metal powders in a resin binder. The toroid winding instructions and the schematic gave me the values of the inductors, and the number of turns around each one. Without these instructions I could never have completed the amp.
The last form was the assembly and testing guide, which gave me detailed instructions for initial power up and tune up of the amplifier. There is a very important step given, to properly set the amplifier transistor resting voltage, before soldering in the coil that connects the power side of the transistor. Done wrong, you blow the transistors and kill the amp. Again – something I couldn’t do without the instructions.
So, scamBay came through, all it took was 5 emails and a threat to return the item. I finally got in installed in the case, and I’m trying to tune the little radio that goes with it. They never seem to come tuned up right. Must be that flight from India or something.