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Many (QRP) homebuilders offer their projects as kits. A popular series nowadays is the BITX. There are often mailing lists connected to those projects; I am a member of several.

I'm wondering how these communities come into being. Should I have an awesome project that I'd like to provide as a kit, where would I go? Specifically,

  • Would it be considered inappropriate to advertise my own project on, say, the BITX mailing list?
  • Or are there more general mailing lists (not tied to a particular device) that I don't know about?
  • Do club magazines publish notifications of such projects?

Or perhaps there is some other way? Or would you typically first build it with some friends (from the local club or so) and then hope the word gets spread?

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As the saying goes, if you build a better mousetrap, then the world will beat a path to your door; but in the modern era, you do need to get the word out first somehow. A website with complete information about your awesome kit is essential. That way, interested hams can find your site either directly from a URL, or from a search engine.

Don't neglect the time-honored way of promoting a product: old-fashioned marketing. A great way to do it is to have a booth at a convention, such as Four Days in May, run by QRPCI, a large and well-respected QRP club. Consider sending sample kits to clubs or hams who would write about your product.

Whether one can pitch one's own product on a mailing list or forum depends upon the rules of the mailing list or forum, which should be observed and respected. By far the biggest QRP mailing list is QRP-L, and their published rules seem fairly permissive, so it's probably OK there. There is a usually-unwritten rule that should be strictly observed though, and that is that you should disclose up front that you are the one selling the kits; that way, list members know that your opinion is biased. Posts from well-known and established participants tend to carry more weight than posts from people who just joined the list.

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It happens slowly and organically. Yes, most of these folks have probably mentioned on bulletin boards, forums, or mailing lists that they have a new project they're working on. They aren't running around putting those notes in all the lists though. They're putting it on lists in which they're active members and in ways they think that community might like, accept, and be interested in. If you aren't an active contributing member in the BITX mailing list, they might frown on you throwing up an unsolicited advert. You also likely won't get much attention.

Alternately, many of these projects start as small club projects and kits and grow through several revisions as interest grows. You build a cool project and take it to a local club meeting and they think it's cool so you order a small batch of PCBs for your friends. They tell their friends and ask if you're going to do another run, etc. Maybe you make enough of these kits or they're sufficiently advanced that you get a reputation like Ashhar Farhan for making really cool stuff.

Zero to BITX popularity doesn't happen overnight, though.

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