Home Introduction


This and the following web pages provide detailed, "Heathkit-like" instructions on the construction of the RLC Meter kit available from Dave Brainerd WB6DHW.

The kit is based upon a concept and a set of articles by George R. Steber, WB9LVI. The articles can be obtained from Dave's website for the kit .

The kit - when used in conjunction with the free software and a PC with a soundcard - can measure resistances plus capacitances and inductances in the ranges below (determined by switching in one of five reference resistances):

10 12.99 uH12.99 mH 0.1299 uF 1299 uF
100 129.9 uH129.9 mH 0.01299 uF 129.9 uF
1k 1.299 mH1299 mH 1.29 nF 12.9 uF
10k 12.99 mH12.99 H 1299 pF 1.29 uF
100k129.9 mH129.9 H 12.99 pF 0.129 uF
(go directly to build notes)

Home Schematic

Main Circuit Schematic(s)

(above schematic has clickable areas that can be used for navigation)

(go directly to build notes)

Home Bill of Materials

See Project Bill of Materials

Home Expert's (terse) Build Notes


For reference, here are the images of the PCB

Reversed Silkscreen (annotation to bottom

Project Detailed Build Notes

For the non-expert builders among us, this site takes you through a stage-by-stage build of the kit. Each stage is self-contained and outlines the steps to build and test the stage. This ensures that you will have a much better chance of success once you reach the last step, since you will have successfully built and tested each preceding stage before moving on to the next stage.

Each stage is listed below, in build order, and you can link to it by clicking on its name below (or in the header and/or footer of each web page).

Background Info


Winding Inductors

To learn how to wind coils and transformers, please read the


If you are not experienced at soldering (and even if you are somewhat experienced at soldering), refer to Tom N0SS's excellent tutorial on basic soldering techniques.

The video below describes techniques for soldering SOIC 14 (and 16 and 8) SMDs


View the above in full-screen mode on Youtube.

For the more adventurous, there is a process using solder paste and an electric oven called the reflow process, which can be used to install all the SMT chips to one side of the PC Board. This is documented by Guenael Jouchet in the following Youtube segment:

ESD Protection

You may wish to review the message topic beginning at Message 43554 for a common-sense discussion on ESD.

Work Area

Misc Tools

Home Completed Stage

Top of the Board

View of Completed Top

Home Testing

Each stage will have a "Testing" Section, outlining one or more tests that, when successfully completed, provide you with the confidence and assurance that you are heading in the right direction towards a fully tested and built transceiver.  

When you perform a test, you should always record the results of the test where indicated in the Testing section. This will make troubleshooting via the reflector much easier, since you will be communicating with the experts using a standard testing and measurement regime.

When comparing measurements to those published in these notes, the builder should be aware that actual and expected values could vary by as much as +/- 10%. The idea behind furnishing "expected/nominal" measurement values is to provide the builder with a good, "ballpark" number to determine whether or not the test has been successful. If the builder has concerns about his measurements, he should by all means pose those concerns as a query in the Softrock reflector so the experts can provide assistance.

It goes without saying that you should ALWAYS precede any tests with a very careful, minute inspection (using the best light and magnification available to you) to be sure all solder joints are clean and there are no solder bridges or cold joints.

This kit can be built and reliably tested using nothing more than a common multimeter. Tests assume that the builder has a decent digital multimeter of sufficiently high input impedance as to minimize circuit loading issues.  Measurements will be taken of current draws, test point voltages, and resistances.

Most stages will have a current draw test, in which the builder tests the stage's current draw in two different ways:

  • First, testing the draw through a current-limiting resistor
  • Then, when that test is OK, removing the current-limiting resistor and measuring the real current draw.
Some tests will require you to use your ham radio to receive or generate a signal of a specified frequency in order to test transmitters, oscillators, dividers, and/or receivers.
Optional testing. If the builder has (access to) a dual channel oscilloscope, along with an audio signal generator and an RF signal generator, and feels the need to perform tests beyond the basic DMM tests, certain stages will include in their testing section some optional tests involving this advanced equipment.

The IQGen or DQ-Gen programs available free from Michael Keller, DL6IAK, can be used in a pinch to get the sound card to produce audio tones for injection into the circuit.

You can always use Rocky to generate I and Q signals for tests requiring these audio signals (this is the author's preferred way)

View Reference Resistor Ladder Stage View OpAmp, I/O Stage View Power Supply Stage View Negative Power Supply Stage