On Making Nanowaves – Part I

During last year's fall season, VE7CA (Markus), VE7BDQ (John) and myself were getting prepared to venture into the nanowave world....that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that lightwaves of various wavelengths call home.

Over the course of many months, I had become intrigued by the lightwave experimentation being done by amateurs in the UK and particularly those being done by Roger, G3XBM. Like many of the UK builders, Roger had been building and testing simple low-power LED lightwave transmitters along with simple receiving systems. It was fascinating to follow his progress thanks to his daily blog (read his '481tHz' optical postings here) which documented every detail...both failures and successes. Even though not amateur radio per-se, to me it represented the best of what is so wonderful about our hobby and experimental homebrewing in particular. Unknowingly, Roger had me hooked and eventually I started to seriously contemplate building a lightwave system.

What finally pushed me over the building-brink was an amazing series of articles by Stuart Wisher (G8CYW) published in Radcom magazine and now available for download on Yahoo's "UK Nanowave Group". This four-part series was full of ideas, schematics and inspiration. I would challenge any homebrewer to read them without wanting to start building almost immediately! The group itself is an excellent source of circuits and up-to-date information regarding the latest activity amongst the UK amateur 'nanowavers'.

Now.... just having a lightwave system would not be much fun without having someone else to talk to. My first challenge was to find someone, preferably another ham, with whom I might be able to communicate once I had a system built and....they would need to be a homebrewer as well since none of this stuff was available 'off the shelf '. I contacted Markus (VE7CA), a very skilled homebrewer and sent him the series of Radcom lightwave articles. I did the same with John (VE7BDQ), another ardent builder and the main motivator (although he never knew it at the time) in me becoming hooked on ham radio as an early teenager. Both immediately called 'all-in'....our nanowave project was off and running!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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