To Build Or Not To Build

I’m getting old – at least, I hope so. The older you get, the more you start to think about the ‘good old days’. Not everything was ‘good’, of course, but some things were.

When I started to develop an interest in this hobby, my father helped me out. He had some basic knowledge of electronics and was more than happy to guide me. He didn’t know anything about radio, but he had a good basic knowledge of Ohm’s law, knew everyhing about building power supplies and how to use an AVO meter.

Maybe it wasn’t a solid foundation, but it proved to be enough. In those early days, you had to build everything yourself. You didn’t have much of a choice, as a matter of fact, there just weren’t any stores selling transmitters or transceivers. Components however, were sold by almost every radio shop in town. You bought some tubes, coils, wires, transformers plus other related stuff and built your own radio station.

Now I have to travel 40 miles for even the smallest and simplest component, and chances are that they never heard about it or don’t have it in stock. Building something yourself is becoming difficult, almost impossible even. By disassembling old circuit boards, I can postpone the inevitable: a time when you can only buy, not build.

Times change and there’s nothing we can do about it. We will have to live with the fact that we will buy things of the shelves. We also have to live with the fact that, some time in the future, we either can’t repair nor modify a transceiver. A few months ago, someone asked me be to make an Icom 706 MKIIG MARS/CAP capable. One SMD diode had to be removed. It was so small that I couldn’t see it without the help of a very powerful magnifying glass. The mod went well, but I still wonder if I was just lucky. One wrong move with my soldering iron would have removed five diodes, not one.

Yes, I’m getting old.