The CaHR $1000 Station Challenge

By Don Weeks N5SKT

Recently the guys at Coffee and Ham Radios (CaHR) put together a little challenge to come up with a ham shack for less than $1000 and create a video around it. I had an idea to use a radio that I have had in my shack for a while – the Hermes Lite 2.0. The original radio is no longer available but I looked and a similar unit was being sold again. So, I chose the Hermes Lite 2.0 for my $1000 station.

The Hermes Lite 2.0 is a board that was designed as a public domain project. It is based on the Apache Labs Anan radios (See resources below). The SmokinApe did a good overview of the radio: and Tech Minds did a good review of the build of the “kit”: .

For the challenge, I chose the following list of parts with prices I found at the time. I presented two versions of the build with different antenna mixes. In one version, I use one of (IMHO) the best antennas I have ever used, the DX Commander, and in the other version I presented a build it yourself fan dipole option (save ~$200). Also included to complete the station is a cheap laptop to run the SDR software, a 12V power supply and power cord, and coax. These were all available at the time of the video I made and links are in the description of the video. (Note per the rules, shipping and tax are not included)

Hermes Lite 2:                    $358.60
Evolve III Laptop:                $ 60.00
DX Commander ABV Classic:         $253.62
COAX 75' RG8X:                    $ 79.00
Alinco DM30T 12V Power Supply:    $129.00
MFJ-5513M power cable for Hermes  $ 17.95
Total:  $898.17
Or add an amplifier: MX-P50M HF Power Amplifier: $159
Total:  $1039.22

The software I use for the Hermes is called OpenHPSDR Thetis and it is the same software as is being used by the Anan radios but the Hermes uses an older protocol inside the radio. The SDR software is installed and run on the Evolve III notebook PC that has been the object of lots of RWK discussion. There are many SDR software choices as shown on the Hermes software page (link below). 

Here’s the video that I did for my CaHR entry to the challenge:

$1000 CaHR Ham Shack Challenge entry by N5SKT

It should be noted that, since this is an open source design, there are multiple similar versions of the basic Hermes: The Hermes 2.0 Lite (available from Makerfabs) and a Hermes variation from Apache Labs that is used in their Anan radios. Here is a video I did to explain the differences:

Explaining the difference between the Apache Labs Hermes and the Hermes 2 Lite from Makerfab

Both of these designs rely on an IC that has been in short supply since 2020, so you may or may not be able to order these boards. But this should serve as an indication of what kind of simple station is possible from modern Software Defined Transceivers.

Hunting POTA with the Hermes


Hermes Lite 2.0:…
Alpha Delta:…
DX Commander:…
Fishing Line:…
BNTechGo Wire:
Hermes Software:
Hermes Lite Web page:
Amplifier from various E-Bay Sellers:…
Alinco DM-30T Power Supply:…

Information on the Hermes:

Apache Labs Hermes:–Tested.html