The Hidden Radio

Every Bond villain has a lair and a master plan for global domination.

Every radio enthusiast has a man cave or shack… you see where this going? I also have a cat, but unfortunately she’s a black short hair Heinz 57 variety rather than Blofeld’s white one!

It’s all well and good building kits and homebrew but without an overall objective they just become a pile of boxes or boards that were great fun to build and tinker with, but now sit in the corner or under the bed gathering dust.

In an ideal world, where I’ve won the lottery, I live in a rambling pile in the middle of the country side where my shack is a large log cabin at the bottom of the garden and I can throw up antennas to my hearts content and play.

Unfortunately, the reality is that I live in a modern modest house on an estate in a city where erecting antenna’s are a problem as there just isn’t the space and the population density is such that you can guarantee that there will be EMC issues with a neighbour despite your best efforts! Also, I just haven’t got the space to give over an entire room to playing so there needs to be a cunning plan.

With all that in mind I’m looking to be modest with my kit and what I want to achieve. The whole realm of QRP and digimode is what I want to play with at the moment. I can achieve that with SDR and some modest antennas that can be salted away in the loft. So let’s go one step further and put everything in that last remaining space in the house.

Loft PC

As my house is a prime customer of the National Grid I want to utilise a low power PC and using wake on LAN to mange the machine seems an even better approach.

Future proofing the setup by buying something with a serious amount of grunt, processor, storage and memory wise is also high on the list. I’ve several servers dotted around the house but nothing that I could re-deploy immediately or would be powerful enough to make it worth while.

Current considerations are –


Novatech Pockit NPI04



Same thing but without the branding or hard disk and half the price

It’s almost a shame to hide it in the loft as it’s pretty cool but that said if it needed to live on the desk for any length of time it wouldn’t get in the way.

There’s a reasonable number of USB connections as well. Networking wise it’s 1Gb LAN which would help as I want to be able to remote into it via VNC at home or over a VPN from outside and bandwidth consumption may well slow things down.

SDR Receiver / Transceiver

I’m sold on the idea of a Softrock

rx-ensemble-ii_LRG softrock-qrp-sdr-transceiver-rxtx-ensemble-kit-large

but am undecided over the RX or RXTX version

Sound Card

My trusty Sound Blaster Live 24 USB would get me going but in reality it’s going to need something like this –


The USB2SDR from Christos Nickolaou, SV1EIA

Equally, I’ve got other receivers that I could plug into this which all require higher quality sound cards so running multiple devices would potentially expand the ability of the loft rig.

It’ll soon be Christmas and I’ve got an empty list so far, so you never know!