With my Mom putting her house up for sale, I've started going through my Dad's workshop to start paring down the (large!) amounts of stuff. I found a kit that I had given my Dad for his birthday or Father's Day 10 or 12 years ago that he never finished.
It's a Norcal 20, a 14 MHz single band QRP CW rig that was kitted by Dave Fifield AD6A circa 1999. I remember that the Norcal rigs had quite a following back in the day with the design emphasis on performance rather than minimal power consumption or "trail friendly-ness". Dave's company was called Red Hot Radio and the kits had a distinctive red anodized enclosure produced by Doug Hauff W6AME at American Morse Equipment. From a purely aesthetic point of view the Red Hot Norcal 20 will contrast nicely with Small Wonder Labs DSW-40 in it's blue Doug Hauff enclosure.
The DSW-40 is a 40 meter CW rig that runs about 2.5 watts out with full break-in (QSK) operation. The big feature is the Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) VFO with it's crystal-like stability. I'm not sure why, but the small kit market with it's affinity for single band radios is definitely a shadow of it's former self. In the late 90's and early 00's it seemed like there was a new single band radio kit every week. You had to monitor QRP-L (an internet e-mail reflector) for announcements because the kits would literally sell out in hours. Perhaps the decline is due to market saturation or competition from larger companies. I know that, for me, kit building has lost some of it's appeal. After a certain number of projects completed it comes down to a board stuffing exercise. I'm feeling an urge to design my own gear and do some scratch building but it probably won't happen until the cooler weather. A rainy Saturday spent sitting at the work bench tinkering is just a little slice of heaven. Fortunately for me my Dad was very detail oriented when building things, the assembly manual was in the kit box and I could see exactly how far he got by comparing the marked up instructions with the radio. I'll be able to pick up right where he left off.