The Homebrew Journey of Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE)

I’ve been enjoying the work of Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE) ever since my research into making radios took me to the BITX, the Minima and most recently the HF1 which I don’t think has been officially published. If you’ve been reading you may have picked up that I enjoy the stories behind the equipment as much as the equipment itself so when Eric Guth (4Z1UG) mentioned that he was going to have Ashhar on QSO Today, I began watching for it immediately.

Sidebar: If you don’t yet know, QSO Today is an incredible resource of ham radio stories. In these stories there is a lot of ham radio culture, history and fresh new thought that comes through. Eric does a great job of a making his guest list diverse across the hobby so you never are quite sure what might be coming next, but I’m consistently gifted with new information to send my brain exploring into the hobby. These conversations are ripe with knowledge.

It was really interesting to hear about Ashhar’s culture and what it requires to get a ham radio license in India. Apparently things are changing there, but it was no small thing when he was 13, including background checks and a 1 year wait. On top of that, availability of parts even if he would have had financial resources at 14, meant a lot of scrounging for parts and putting things together with what ever he could find. This is certainly a man of great determination and drive because I’m sure many have stopped where he continued, eventually finding ways to build his own gear and promote the hobby among his fellow countryman through finding ways for them to build appropriate equipment with available resources. It also seemed clear that he had some great mentors along the way, one in particular that convinced him that he could do whatever he set his mind to.

One of the things he talked about as an important tool for his work was a spectrum analyzer. He built his using what he learned in a pair of QST Articles from 1998 by Wes Hayward (W7ZOI) and Terry White (K7TAU). He calls his version the Specan and wrote up some extensive notes to add to the work of Hayward and White which includes links to the articles. I’ve been looking at it and am considering adding this build to my list, maybe pre-transceiver, but after I get an oscilloscope and also build his Sweeperino project I guess since that looks to be used in the build. So far I haven’t found any way to build an appropriate oscilloscope which also seems to be needed to view the output, but I have more to read before I’m sure of that.

I’m also watching his HF1 project to see how that develops. I’m hoping more notes will surface as others build it. I’m not nearly experienced enough to be confident putting together a design others haven’t verified; however, it could be the transceiver for me. It’ll have an Arduino so I could play with the code, but it sounds like it isn’t SDR so there is plenty of HF circuitry to play with and get to understand how that works as well, instead of just converting it to digital. The schematics can be found here (main circuit) and here (linear amp). If I understood correctly, this is what Guru Farhan is using for his daily use radio these days so it certainly has plenty of potential.

Have you built any test gear? What should I consider, what should I not bother with?