The Zola Gang Builds a Kit

Dan Brown, W1DAN, writes:

On a rainy Saturday April 20, members of the Zola-Middlesex amateur radio club gathered at the Brigham House in Newton Massachusetts to build a kit! In attendance were club members Frank, N1FMV,;Nina, N1NGK; Matt, N1IBB; Jerry, W3BBP; Nora, N1GLE and Margaret, KA1BZE. The helpers were Bob, WA1UIY; Tony, K1CEI; Don, KB1OTQ and YL Odette; Dave, W8JVY; Bruce, KC1FSZ and Dan, W1DAN.

Of note the Zola gang consist of hams who have sight and emotional impairments. The club was formed by Eric Falkov, K1NUN (SK), in 2012. After his passing in 2013, Bob ran the club and merged the Middlesex club into the Middlesex -Zola Amateur Radio Club. Frank N1FMV is now president.

The Zola radio members digging into the kits.

Figure 1 . The Zola radio members digging into the kits

To get the project started, Bob researched and ordered enough of the $20 TM-Tech DP-TM-0259 FM receiver kits from Amazon for all who wanted to build one. Before our session Bob built one of the kits to gauge the build process and difficulty. Dan and Bruce went to Bob’s QTH to check the kits out as well.  These kits contain an RDA Microelectronics RDA5807M single chip broadcast FM radio tuner and an MD8002A thee-watt audio power amplifier IC on a small printed circuit board. The FM receiver IC uses I and Q decoding and a DSP core to process stereo audio. It is essentially a Software-Defined Radio. Two AA batteries supply 3v to the system and a 2.5” speaker that provides surprisingly good sound. This kit requires no soldering and the only tool needed was a small Philips head screwdriver, which was supplied.

Bruce KC1FSZ assisting Matt N1IBB with his radio kit build

Figure 2 . Bruce, KC1FSZ, assisting Matt, N1IBB, with his radio kit build.

After Bruce explained the theory of operation of the receiver IC, club members were introduced to the feel of all parts as the helpers explained the part and how it should be assembled. The case was formed of light wood similar to Balsawood that wrapped around the sides and attached using tongue and groove as well as very small screws. Some of the instructions were not clear and the screw sizes needed at certain locations turned out to be wrong, but once we figured all that out, the process went smoothly.

Nora N1GLE was the first to finish a kit!

Figure 3 . Nora, N1GLE, was the first to finish a kit!

After success, folks enjoyed pizza for lunch. This was a fun project that provided the club members with efficient FM receivers for future enjoyment. Who knows, maybe they will hear some distant stations via summertime tropospheric ducting. Many thanks to Bob, Bruce, Don, Odette, Dave and Tony for good assistance!


Dan Brown


April 21, 2024

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