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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Farhan's Amazing Knack Story: From a Boyhood SW Receiver to the Design of the sBITX SDR

The presentation starts at about the 4 minute point. 

I think if I were only allowed to watch one YouTube video in the next year, I'd make it this one. 

In this amazing RSGB video, Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE takes us back to his earliest days as a radio amateur.  He tells us about his very early desire to build radios, his early projects, and his personal evolution as a designer and builder,  from a simple DC receiver, to the BITX, the Minima, the uBITX and now the hybrid HDR/SDR sBITX.  

There is a lot of  homebrew wisdom and tribal knowledge in this video. And we learn so many hitherto unknown details about the rigs that have become so important to us:  

-- Farhan had the EMRFD book with him on the famous flight from Sweden to India during which the BITX was designed. 

-- We learn about the origins of the BITX oscillator circuits, and that the VFO and BFO are essentially the same.  

-- I was really pleased that Farhan included a picture of my HB BITX17 rig in his presentation. 

-- Farhan discusses the difficulties he faced in obtaining needed parts in India. 

-- We actually see the nylon washers that Farhan used in the original BITX. 

-- Farhan discusses his early system for measuring coil inductance. 

-- In addition the huge contribution of EMRFD,  Farhan talks about how he was helped by Pat Hawker G3VA's writing, and the ARRL's SSB Handbook. 

-- Farhkan talks about his Tex 465 'scope and his building of a Spectrum Analyzer. 

-- We see his evolution to dual conversion. We see the conceptual birth of the Minima and the birth (thanks Wes!) of the TIA amps.  I didn't know about the HF-1.  Then Farhan designed the uBITX and now the sBITX.  

 -- Farhan talks about his practice of taking the pictures of new rigs with the new rig sitting atop the book that was most important in its design and construction.  FB. 

-- I was really blown away by Farhan's presentation of how the uBITX advertisement was inspired by and in many ways based on the Heathkit ad for an HW-101.  Amazing. 

-- I learned a lot from Farhan's discussion of SDR theory.  I pledge to spend more time with this.  I really like Farhan's hybrid HDR/SDR approach. 

-- But I have a question:  Farhan seems to say that we'd need a big expensive GOOGL computer to do the direct sampling HF SDR.  But doesn't the little RTL-SDR do just that?  Without a GOOGL?  

-- Great to see Wes's AFTIA being used in the sBITX.  

-- Really cool that Farhan has his mind on VHF transverters when designing the sBITX.   I liked use of the TCXO module to free up one of the Si5351 clock outputs.   FB.  And great to include an idea from Hans in this rig. 

Thanks very much to Farhan (who stayed up until 3 am to do this!) and to the RSGB for hosting.


  1. I would like to know more about the purpose and effect of the BITX amplifier diode, which Farhan only briefly mentioned in the video. For example, VK3YE Peter Parker's Knobless Wonder design uses BITX amps without any diodes. My email address is walteraleg@gmail.com if anyone can shed further light on the amplifier diode function, and whether it is really worth including. Thanks, Walter KA4KXX

  2. The RTL-SDR uses the R820T to downconvert to just 6MHz of bandwidth, and only converts it at 8 bits depth - which explains the very poor noise and blocking performance


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