NorCal 20 Transceiver

A 20 meter QRP CW Transmitter with super features

NorCal produced a second kit and sent it to the G-QRP Club, which handled distribution to hams in third world countries at no charge to the receiving hams. We gave the kits away! 500 kits sold, equaled 500 kits for third world hams. George Dobbs was selected to handle the distribution of the third world kits because of his extensive network of contacts with hams in these countries. Every effort was made to assure that the kits got to deserving hams.

This is a huge project, and one that has never been done successfully before. The NorCal 20 was designed to be easy to build with minimal test equipment, yet be a quality radio capable of world wide contacts when finished. Dave has many years of experience of operating in Europe, and is very familiar with the requirements of radios in that environment. He has designed the front end with the operating environment in mind.

The NorCal 20 team consisted of Dave Fifield, George Dobbs, Jim Cates, Mike Gipe, Doug Hauff, Gary Diana, Brad Mitchell, Bill Jones, Richard Fisher, Jerry Parker, Paul Harden and Doug Hendricks. They all have worked very hard to insure success. We hope you enjoyed the kit and we thank you for your help to further QRP throughout the world.


  • Superhet receiver
  • TUF-1 Mixer for the front end (designed for the harshest European conditions) NOT another NE602 front end.
  • Variable output power from 0 – 5 Watts
  • VFO controlled, user bandwidth selectable from 10kHz to 200kHz on any portion of the 20 meter band. This means that if you only want your VFO to cover 25 kHz of the band, you may set it up to do so.
  • Varactor tuned VFO, 10 K pot supplied, but board layed &nbspout for 10 Turn Pot
  • Self Contained Keyer custom designed for NorCal by Embedded Research.
  • LM380N 2 Watt Audio chip. Easily drives a speaker.
  • Frequency readout via Audio Frequency Annunciator. A PIC chip is used as a frequency counter with
  • audio output. In the Automatic mode, as you tune the radio, a beep is generated every kHz. Then
  • when you stop, the last two digits of your frequency are announced in Morse code. You may also push a
  • button to generate the frequency that you are on. The manual mode does not have the beeps and you
  • must push the button to get your frequency. Designed by Mike Gipe, K1MG.
  • Custom clam shell case, made from .090 aluminum. 4.5″ x 4.25″ x 2.25″. Designed by Bill Jones, KD7S, and made by Doug Hauff, KE6RIE.
  • All controls, knobs and connectors supplied.
  • Double sided, plated through, solder masked, silk screened board, commercial quality.
  • Comprehensive manual, written in the build a section, test a section style.
  • 5 pole crystal filter.
  • 220 board mounted parts, no surface mount.
  • Full QSK, NO relays.
  • IRF510 Final, 2N4427driver

The NorCal 20 will be the first of many high-performance radio kits planned for introduction in the next few years. At the same time as shipping the NorCal 20 kit, Red Hot Radio will introduce a 40m version known as the “Red Hot 40”. The Red Hot 40 (or RH40 for short) is based directly on the NorCal 20 design.

The Red Hot Radio version of the NorCal 20 kit and the Red Hot 40 will both have several improvements/enhancements over the NorCal kit version. It will ship with a dark red anodized and engraved case from the San Luis Machine Company, a ten turn tune pot, improved AGC action and enhanced AFA operation to name a few.

Also on this website are some NorCal 20 builder resources and the parts to change to get an existing NorCal 20 converted to 40m operation. Note that this is a complex conversion – not to be undertaken lightly AND the AFA will NOT WORK in the 40m converted rig. Best all round to wait for a proper 40m kit.

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