Electronic Kits – Warrantees and Customer Ability
A recent debate on electronic kits has shown either a decline in public interest or manufacturers are finding it challenging to supply kits to the general public and to have a good warranty structure in place.
It is not unknown that many electronic component suppliers do not honour warrantees, period. The main drawback to supplying kits is that the supplier does not know the customer and his or her ability. The drawback from the customer’s point of view is that often kit suppliers do not supply a schematic. Most kits have no patent or copyright so whether it has or doesn’t have a schematic is immaterial – the design is often common public knowledge.
The electronic kits supplied from predominantly China and Thailand are thankfully usually high grade quality. That is in my own experience but the shopper should always do a background check and ensure that there is a proper return policy in place. This website is an official reporting ground for exactly that purpose. Post your own experiences and let the public know.
Get your facts straight
Most electronic kits are not supplied with the power supply – before embarking on a sophisticated project remember that often the power supply can cost many times more than the kit itself. Audio amplifier kits, especially the high powered units always advise the use of toroidal transformers. These transformers are very costly and depending on the area you live may not be easily obtainable except through overseas shipping where shipping charges because of the weight are exorbitant. Standard laminated transformers can suffice in most cases but are also not cheap, especially anything above 200VA. Computer power supplies are cheap – can this be used instead? Again, not all computer supplies are equal – buy the best you can afford.
Chassis, cabinets, knobs, lights and switches all add to the cost.
Valve or Tube Audio (valves are English, tubes are USA 😎 )
Valve electronic kits are expensive. Before making any assumptions read up on the respective valves or tubes available worldwide. Mostly valves are imports from China or Russia whom still keep tooling to make vacuum tubes. They can be vastly different, both in terms of anticipated lifespan and in sonic quality. Likewise with audio transformers the quality is known to vary substantially from supplier to supplier. Valve amplifiers and electronic kits use high voltages so is not aimed at the inexperienced.
For the moderate or advanced kit builder I can recommend TubeDepot at http://tubedepot.com
Over the last 4 months I have built three electronic kits – one was a 350W 4 Ohm audio amplifier (2 for the price of one) which was shipped from Hong Kong going under the kit name of L21 (V9). I was extremely impressed by the quality and shipping lead time but not by our local postal authorities. (lay in customs for three weeks). The second was a Velleman loudspeaker protector (K4700) and the last supply was kit from Maplin which allows bridging of their Mosfet amplifier. This was not impressive – no schematic and the component layout, on the documentation provided was very faded which appeared to duplicate part numbers. So no schematic and you don’t know what components to use. I’m not going to complain though as I am reverse engineering this product and will post my findings on these pages.
Out of the three the L20 wins hands down. Quality of board, quality of components and just, well a very cool experience.
Links to Electronic Kits
Firstly, I have not tried these companies listed so make no promises – I do have a few contacts that have built the kits from Tube Depot and make high recommendations from quality to after sales service.
ESP – although I have not tried any of Rod Elliott’s products (PCBs) I do believe based on his passion, experience and first class web site, for audio this should be your first port of call. Note that you will have to source your own components. His website is extremely informative with practical know-how as well as great technical write-ups for the beginner and engineer.
- ESP – Elliott Sound Products (Australian)
- Tube Depot http://www.tubedepot.com
- Velleman http://www.vellemanprojects.eu
- L20 V9 350W RMS Audio Amplifier (I could not let this one go by. These are exported by more than one source).
- Aussie Amplifiers http://www.aussieamplifiers.com/
I have left out Arduino which is also our feature image as well as Raspberry Pi. Check your local suppliers. More on this later.
Please give me links to global suppliers of electronic kits where you have had good experiences. Global suppliers please send me the links to your products so I can add them to a separate listing. This does not necessarily have to be electronic kits: auto parts, kits, accessory links are also required. Please use the ‘add business’ facility as well to promote your business on this website.