I have always enjoyed building new projects and this is no exception. I had been traveling quite a bit and had nothing to do in the evenings. I also wanted a radio that I could work portable out of a hotel room. This was another Dayton Hamvention theme for that year to find me a new radio to build and operate. I really did not know where to start and really did not investigate the type of rig that I should purchase. Mostly I work on the ideal of "what ever moves the spirit". I was looking inside of the Hara Arena and came across the Wilderness Radio booth. There they were selling the Sierra Multi-band CW Transceiver and I had just bought a kit from another booth for $85.00. I believe it was some Austrians. I still have not built that one. I will get it out one of these days and build it also. Well, to get back to my story I really was taken back with the looks and functionality of the Sierra.
It is a compact, multi-band CW transceiver. It's a combination of high performance, small size, and low current drain making it an ideal choice for versatile operation in the field. It was originally a project of the Northern California QRP Club and it has been field-tested by QRP (low-power) enthusiasts world-wide. The Sierra has also been featured in QST June 1996 QST, Page 49-50, as well as in the 1996 ARRL Handbook chapter 17.
The Wilderness Radio folk continues to refine the Sierra, which is now easier than ever to build and operate. They have added two new accessories that were designed specifically for the Sierra: the KC2 Keyer/Counter/Meter with 4-digit LCD, and BuzzNot noise-blanker. Also the QRP Field MiniLog and Reference can be stored inside the Sierra for transport: it includes a full listing of DX prefixes as well as HF band allocations and QRP frequencies.
This is a description from the article: The Sierra is a multi-band CW transceiver optimized for portable, battery-powered operation. It has very low receive-mode current drain-about 30 mA with headphones that is far less than the 150 to 600 mA typical of other multi-band QRP transceivers. Power output is 2-3 watts, which is a good compromise between communication effectiveness and battery life. For example, with 5 watts you'd put out about 3dB more power-about one-half of an S-unit but your batteries would last typically one-half too one-fourth as long. Other operating features include RIT (receive incremental tuning), smooth T-R switching, adjustable sidetone volume, and ABX (adjustable bandwidth crystal filter).
To eliminate band switch wiring and simplify construction, the Sierra uses band modules. These modules feature gold plating and redundant contacts for reliability. Another important benefit of the use of band modules is lower current drain; no relays or PIN diodes are needed. Changing bands takes only a few seconds, Thanks to long-life plastic latches on either side of the top cover.
Wilderness Radio offers complete band module's kits for 160 through 10 meters. You can also obtain partial band module's kits as a starting point for experimenting with other bands.
The receiver is a superhet, providing excellent sensitivity, selectivity, and freedom from 60 Hz hum pickup. There's enough AF output to drive a speaker, and AGC (automatic gain control) is used to keep strong signals relatively constant. An RF gain control is provided to attenuate extremely strong signals. The conversion scheme used results in a stable, low-frequency VFO (variable-frequency oscillator), operating at about 3 MHz.
Since all components, including the controls and connectors, are mounted on a single printed circuit board, there is virtually no chassis wiring. Alignment is reasonably easy, and can usually be done with a digital multimeter (DMM) and a home-made RF probe. A separate receiver or transceiver that covers the desired bands can also be used.
The Sierra features a rugged, custom case made of 0.060" thick aluminum. Mechanical stability has been enhanced with the addition of welded L-brackets on either side of the front and rear panels. There's plenty of room inside the cas for built-ins, such as keyer, battery, speaker, or audio filter. An equally generous amount of unused front and rear panel space is provided for controls and connectors.
All of the connection points needed to build-in Wilderness Radio's KC1, KC2 or BuzzNot accessories are available on the Sierra's Main printed circuit board. There is also a custom front panel available for use with the KC2.
Here is the website for Wilderness Radio: http://www.fix.net/~jparker/wild.html. QrpBob, KD6VIO is the owner. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He has been very helpful if I had any problems.
Here are some pictures of the radio. Hope you enjoy:
As you can see I have the KC2 and KC2 front panel installed. The KC2 is the Keyer/Counter/S-Meter/Wattmeter Kit
In the center of the picture you see a blue piece of plastic, that is the band-module. I have built three of them 20/40/80 meters. I am going to order the rest. It is very easy to change them. Just open up the top by the plastic clips and remove the previous module and plug-in the new one and you are up and running on the next band.
The back is where you have the power switch and plug in the power connector and install the key or paddle.