Being far from home and living in London is very interesting. As a hacker, maker, and hobbyist from the US, a Radio Shack or an order from Mouser, Adafruit, etc is taken for granted. Things are different here.
There is not a Radio Shack nearby. The nearest equivalent is Maplin and these stores are everywhere. Every time I walk by one – I ‘pop in’ as they say here.
Last Saturday I ‘popped in’ to one and found a very interesting electronic kit. The Velleman Digitally Controlled FM Radio (MK194). Velleman is a Belgium based company that makes all kind of neat stuff. The kit was on sale for £12. How could I resist?
This kit is about as close as you can get to re-living the good-ole’ days of Heathkits. In the 60’s and 70’s Heathkits were all the rave among us geeks. I built a digital alarm clock that worked for more than 25 years. What is the big deal? Well, I was 14 years old when I built this clock. And it served as my alarm clock until I was 39. Every day – it was there. The power supply finally failed and its service ended.That my friends, is the definition of loyalty. Hand built and reliable.
Anyone that ever built a Heathkit remembers the yellow assembly manuals. They are legendary for their quality. Oh the joy of a Heathkit!
The radio kit took me about 90 minutes to assemble. The assembly instructions are on a single page and are clear enough to prevent mistakes. When I installed the battery and turned on the radio it fired right up.
The sound of the radio is surprisingly good. There are some tricky solder joints so this kit is probably not for beginner kit builders without a mentor.
I highly recommend this kit.