It all started with beer and HF radio over at Thor’s house.  We were sitting around the radio and the bands seem dead, and we wanted to do some kind of radio operation. I had just upgraded to General Class, and Thor wanted to try some digital operation.  He pulled out this small box with a plastic project box and all sorts of cables.  He said it was a Nomic interface from Rigblaster.  We got it connected and downloaded fldigi and started monitoring the bands for digital signals to see how the software operates.  We ended the night with Thor loaning me the interface to take home and see what I can do from my house for a few weeks.


Weeks later, I told Thor that I want to find out how to build one so that I can have an interface of my own (since I couldn’t afford one). He pulled out his ARRL Handbook and started flipping pages like he was on a mission.  We grabbed a couple of beers and wandered out to his garage where he started digging through boxes pulling out miscellaneous cables, and components. We got everything collected and fired up the soldering iron.  He drew out separate segments of the circuit and guided me through putting something together.  Between the two of us we got something put together and tested a few times on the air.  I found a cassette tape with a case and thought that would work for a project box.  I took it home and after a few weeks had a few chances to test it and started into digital operation.


Field day is about getting out with your equipment and clearing the dust off and having fun and Thor and I tried to live the part.  We decided to try out field day with some other local radio operators (a whole story I will tell you about later) and I had a chance to operate my interface.  I made some contacts and did some demonstration of digital operation to a few newly licensed operators.  We had fun, learned and taught. But Thor and I discovered that my interface could use some improvement.  I took it home and put it into the pile of multiple projects we have going and after some time hoped to get back to it.


So Thor and I were sitting there with some beer, and I brought my interface to the Fir Street Labs (simply put, Thor’s house where we brew beer and build things for radios). We started to look and see what we could do.  Thor then showed me an improvement on the circuit and we soldered it up.  The original cassette case we used did not make the operation, so I took it home and found a radio shack project case I had for something else. I thought I could use that and after some modification got something put together.  I started into the testing and so far had not had a glitch.  So my introduction to building radio accessories was thanks to Thor and the lack of money to buy something (which in this case is a good thing). We’ll see how things go for the Idaho QSO party and Field day this year for the interface, as I hope to put it through a full test and have some fun again.  Talk to you on the bands and 73’s till then.

Josh Nelson (KE7MTF)