Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rockmite Clones

I've been seeing many posts on QRP-L and other places about various problems hams are having with the Chinese Rockmite knockoffs.  Poor quality boards, incomplete or nonexistent documentation, unworkable internal keyer software, missing or incorrect parts, little or no support, and the list goes on.  I know the price is attractive, but when you factor in the time and frustration to get it to work - if that's even possible according to some posts - the value quickly disappears.   As Ben Franklin said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten".

The original Rockmites are no longer available since Dave Benson retired, but an updated version is available from Rex Harper's QRPme.  eHam reviews of the original version were superlative.  The newer version has lesser but still decent scores, and if you have problems there is support available from Rex.  Just in case you're wondering, I have no financial interest in QRPme although I have had the pleasure of briefly chatting with Rex at FDIM.

I've seen many posts lamenting the lack of availability of good quality QRP kits.  One way to ensure that this situation continues is to keep buying some of this junk and reducing the incentive for our small QRP businesses and clubs to produce more kits.  No matter where in the world you live, chance are good that you have local kit producers with well regarded and well supported products.  If you're into scratch building, there are a number of available resources on the Web where you can get help from others.  The bottom line for me is that, until these clone manufacturers get their act together and start marketing quality products, hams are better off avoiding them and instead supporting the reputable companies and clubs that have done much to help our hobby.