Winter 2007 Issue

CQ VHF Visits: West Mountain Radio

The second in a series of factory tours, this time WB6NOA takes us to
West Mountain Radio, which offers weak-signal operators accessories
for VHF and UHF.


By Gordon West, WB6NOA

The West Mountain Radio staff (left to right): David, KB1LTW; Elena; John, N1OLO;
Kathy; Dan, N1ZZ; Ned, KA1CVV; Del, K1UHF; and Ed, K3EIN.

 

West Mountain Radio, in Norwalk, Connecticut, offers weak-signal operators compact accessories for VHF and UHF operating stations. Field Day is just a few months away, so it’s time to be thinking about Anderson PowerPole connections, where everyone is assured of the same type and polarity, DC power input, and output plug.

Dan Gravereaux, N1ZZ, and Del Schier, K1UHF, joined forces to form West Mountain Radio, combining their own engineering companies. Dan was an engineering director of CBS Laboratories and then struck out on his own, making audio amplifiers for the New York Transit Authority subway cars. Del owned and ran an exclusive, high-end home-entertainment specialty store in Greenwich, Connecticut. The combination of Dan’s and Del’s experience gave them plenty of engineering background to make West Mountain Radio an instant success.

On our factory tour, we saw the first product that emerged from their technical backgrounds—RIGblaster. Del, an accomplished VHF/UHF weak-signal operator and contester, now had an interface to use contesting software with a voice keyer function, ideal for EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) and meteor-scatter operating.

“Our design goals for the RIGblaster were to make it universally compatible with most weak-signal radios, including high-frequency radios, and compatible with all ham software and almost any computer,” commented Dan, N1ZZ.

“We called our first RIGblaster the M8, for the 8-pin round mic connector,” said Del, K1UHF. “Now we have four different models of RIGblaster, from the most basic “nomic” model (no microphone) to the RIGblaster PRO, which will do anything you can do with a computer and a radio,” added Del.

The Rigblaster “nomic” and the PRO are microphone-jack interfaces, which make them universally compatible with any VHF/UHF radio and all HF radios. Interfacing the audio and PTT (push to talk) always works correctly with any radio, provided the mic connector is either RJ 45 or 8-pin round.

For 4-pin round-connector radios, such as the old Kenwood rigs, and 6-wire RJ 22, we also offer adapter kits “covering over 2000 different radios as supplied,” said Del, smiling. Dan and Del were quick to realize that hams like getting everything in the box, making it simple to get on the air. They say that all RIGblasters now come with everything included in the box to get on the air with sound-card software.

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