Hyderabad: Ashhar Farhan, founder of Lamakaan and a long-time radio ham, is in elite company after being recognized for popularising the open-source Bit-X semi-kits, thus opening up the world to more hams in a much more affordable way.
On Friday, the international magazine CQ Amateur Radio inducted Farhan along with 11 others to its 2018 Hall of Fame, with Farhan being the only living Indian on the list. The other Indian name was Kalpana Chawla, the NASA astronaut killed in 2003. Apart from Chawla, Farhan shares space in the Hall of Fame with prominent personalities such as Hollywood actor Marlon Brando, NASA astronaut David Brown, cybersecurity expert Mark Pecen and World War II photographer Ed Westcott.
Speaking to Telangana Today about the development, Farhan said he had not yet received a formal intimation about the same, but had been getting dozens of congratulatory calls and messages from friends and well-wishers.
CQ Amateur Radio is a popular New York-based radio journal, published since 1945. It honours individuals who make significant contributions to amateur radio. The Bit-X semi-kit was designed by Farhan 13 years ago, while on a flight to India from Stockholm.
“My estimate is that there are at least 15,000 of these sets worldwide. I decided to keep it open-sourced so that the amateur radio ham community can keep making modifications to it. Otherwise, closed-sourced kits run the risk of becoming obsolete. It is a lot of fun to design and keep modifying radio kits, and all the more fun to use the radio transceiver you have created. It is like flying in an aircraft you built with your hands,” said Farhan.
QRP transceivers developed using arduinos are highly affordable, costing no more than Rs 200 to make, and use as little power as an LED lamp, Farhan explained.
“And yet, you are able to communicate globally. The Bit-X transceiver is bi-directional, meaning that it uses the same components to receive and send sound signals. The components for building the QRP transceivers were all there, I just put them together symmetrically to create affordable, low-power radios,” he said.
Made traditionally, one radio station can cost up to Rs 1 lakh, Farhan added.
In 2016, Farhan was honoured by QRP Amateur Radio Club International as their only Hall of Fame inductee.