Somewhere back in my long ago I got involved with the QRP world, a time when there was always another kit that needed to be built. One that caught my fancy was the Wilderness Sierra, a QRP multi-band CW transceiver whose appearance was precisely the way I imagined any real ham radio transceiver should look.

This transceiver features a low current drain superhet receiver and VFO controlled transmitter. It all fits into a 2.5”H x 6.2”W x 5.5”D box done up in two tone blue. It was designed by Wayne Burdick, N6KR and was kitted and beta tested by NorCal. The NorCal rig was such a hit that Bob Dyer, KD6VIO (now K6KK) formed Wilderness Radio to market the Sierra.

Best I recall (that was more than 20 years ago) I discovered the Wilderness Sierra around the same time that Elecraft was formed and announced the K2. I opted for the K2 and was not disappointed. I built #524 in 1999 and was absolutely captivated. I still have the K2, the only transceiver I’ve ever kept, would never sell, and intend to be buried with.

But I never forgot about the Wilderness Sierra and always counted it as one that got away as it was eventually discontinued.

I mentioned this in conversation with a friend who lives nearby who also happens to be a fellow CW and QRP enthusiast. Turns out that a friend of his had pulled up stakes and moved to Florida a few years ago and when he did, he left my buddy with a pile of old gear and a few unbuilt kits. He was pretty sure there was an unbuilt Wilderness Sierra in that pile. He said he would check and if so, I could have it.

If you have no friends like that I suggest you make some!

That conversation was a few weeks ago but yesterday he drove by my house and dropped a package off on the doorstep. It was the Wilderness Sierra kit, unbuilt and unopened. I opened the bag with the front panel to get a better look at it. It seems to all be there. Bags of unopened components all marked with the original packaging stickers…

I’ll first do a complete inventory to see if anything is missing of course, but my hopes are high at this point. It’s a rare find and a unique opportunity to turn back time and I have no intention of rushing through it.

Right now I’m trying to decide if the assembly should be accompanied by bourbon or a good wine, and if so, what wine? And what tobacco should be burning in my pipe while I’m winding so many toroids?

The workbench will be updated. This build deserves new tools and test equipment. I don’t know yet when the work will commence or how long it might take, but the journey to assemble this kit into a working transceiver will be a joy and I intend to savor every moment of it.

Besides, if it takes three months or a year, does it matter?