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Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

D-Star in Dixie

Okay, this is not strictly SDR, but this site is dedicated to discussing the latest and interesting technologies  that are being used in Amateur Radio. Like a lot of hams, I had sort of dismissed D-Star as an expensive niche product. Last field day, a ham friend on mine mentioned that a new D-Star repeater had been brought up in the area. After the discussion, I thought I would take a second look at D-Star. I was surprised to see  so many D-Star repeaters had sprang up in Georgia (about 26 and still growing).  As a matter of fact, D-Star repeaters are popping up like weeds in the Southeast. Other areas of the country are also seeing growth in D-Star repeaters. I was also quite amazed to see that there were about 18,000 registered D-Star users worldwide . If you want to see the the statistics of how quickly D-Star is growing, take a look at the D-StarUsers.org Watch D-Star Grow page. The daily number of new users joining the network is pretty eye-opening…

Flex 1500 and the Hercules DJ Control MP3 E2

Hercules and Flex, sounds like something from a muscle magazine. However, Hercules can make your Flex Radio more flexible. Ok, what the heck am I talking about. Let’s start at the beginning. The Hercules DJ Control MP3 E2 is a midi controller that is a hardware controller used with DJ mixing software. The controller is used to allow the DJ to have hands-on control of the mixing software through the controller. The Hercules DJ control is small and compact, but offers to large jog wheels, 6 fixed rotary controllers, 2 endless rotary controllers, 3 sliders, and 36 pushbuttons. Normally these controls are mapped to a DJ music program. Since the Hercules DJ Control MP3 E2 is an USB Midi device, other software that accepts Midi input can be mapped to use the controller. This is just what Tobias DH1TW has done with the Hercules controller and PowerSDR. Tobias has developed a “bridge” program that when combined with PowerSDR allows you to use the Hercules DJ Control MP3 E2 to control the various functions of PowerSDR. You can also customize the controller to your own personal tastes bu mapping the controllers’ knobs,sliders, and jog wheels to PowerSDR functions. In the end …

Alinco DJ-X11 Review

Every once in awhile a product comes along that becomes a game changer for its category. Alinco has just done this with the DJ-X11 wideband receiver with IQ output. The DJ-X11 is a wideband all mode portable receiver that covers 0.05 to 1,299.99995MHz that costs around $329 (online). The price of the DJ-X11 alone places it a good $200 to $400 less than its nearest competitors in the portable wideband all mode  receiver category. With the inclusion of the IQ output coupled with  Software Defined Radio, the DJ-X11 can even begin to approach the performance of a desktop wideband receiver costing considerably more. I would say that Alinco has hit a homerun here, and the other guys will be racing to catch up. That is not to say that the DJ-X11 is perfect, but it is an excellent little receiver for the money. That being said lets dig into the details of the DJ-X11 and my personal experience with the DJ-X11 after owning the radio for  two weeks.…

Free SDR Radio!

 

Well, sort of. If you are interested in seeing what all the excitement is about regarding and not want to spend a dime to find out, then this is for you. There are a couple of ways to try out Software Defined Radios. One method is to try out websdr.org. The websdr receivers are attached to the internet by individuals running websdr servers. Users can then access these receivers from their web browser provided they have Java installed on their PC. This method of accessing Software Defined Radio receivers around the world and provides a great basic introduction to the operation and the capabilities of SDR radios. However, these SDR servers are relatively simplistic in nature, and doesn’t allow you access to all the controls and adjustments that modern PC based SDR software allows. If you want to get a more realistic view of what to expect from SDR, download SDR-Radio.com. This software will allow you to operate network connected SDR receivers through the software console as if the radio was attached to your own computer. Most of the radios available over the internet are RF-Space SDR receivers. …

Control PowerSDR with the Hercules DJ Control MP3 E2

If you have been reading Ham Radio Science, you will notice that a lot of the articles featured here are about taking existing technology and applying them to Amateur Radio. Rather than reinvent the wheel, why not take an existing technology and get a little more mileage out of it. This is something Amateur Radio operators are good at, as well as coming up with completely new technology. Amateur Radio operators are known for their ability to find new ways to use stuff just laying around to benefit their hobby. Nowadays, we have a lot of technology laying around, so why not finding ways of recycling it for Amateur Radio use. Thats just what Tobias, DH1TW did with marrying an off the shelf midi controller with PowerSDR. Utilizing Midi as a control language maybe a little to foreign to Radio Amateurs unless you also happen to be a musician. Midi has been utilized for many years as an interface language between electronic instruments, sound modules, and computers. Midi controllers can come with a wide variety buttons, knobs, and sliders for controlling PC music processing programs. So why not use these as input devices to Amateur Radio software?  The biggest reason …

Alinco DJ-X11 Update

Ham Radio Science has had the DJ-X11 for about 5 days now. Preliminary testing looks very good at this point. However, the wideband antenna provided with the DJ- X11 was left out of the box. A replacement is being sent that should arrive this week. This has slowed down the review a bit. However, on first blush it appears that Alinco could have a hit on their hands. The feature set is excellent and the DJ-X11 sensitivity seems to be very could. The price point is very agressive for an all mode wideband receiver. The nearest competitors are the Icom R20 which costs about $225 more or the AOR8200 Mark III B at about $575 more. Of course the DJ-X11 cannot match the AOR8200 Mark III B and the Icom R-20 in frequency coverage. The DJ-X11 has a frequency coverage of 50 kHz to 1299.995 MHz (less cellular) while the AOR covers 500 kHz to 3000 MHz (less cellular) and the Icom covers 150 kHz to 3304.999. The Icom and AOR may be better receivers, Ham Radio Science does not have access to these receivers so no direct comparisons can be made. However, for the cost difference, they need to …

FUNcube SDR Dongle Overview and First Impressions

I finally got to spend about six hours playing with the FUNcube SDR dongle and feel like I only scratched the tip of the iceberg. The FUCcube dongle is an all mode VHF / UHF SDR radio that covers 64 MHz to 1700 MHz (with a small gap between 1100 MHz and 1270 MHz). With the proper firmware installed it will even go down to 51.5 MHz and beyond 2000 MHZ. The FUNcube Dongle is completely housed in a USB dongle that is a bit smaller than an usb TV tuner dongle. The FUNcube Dongle also has a SMA antenna connector on the other end. The quadrature sampling rate is at  96 kHz with 80 kHz useable. Sensitivity is rated at 0.15uV for 12dB SINAD NBFM at 145MHz and 435MHz. The center frequency of the FUNcube dongle can be set by software.

At this time I would have to say that the FUNcube dongle (FCD) is more of an experimenters  SDR radio than a finished product. Don’t expect to get a packaged system that includes custom software or a fancy manual. The firmware and other programs are undergoing fairly regular updates and tweaks. You pretty much just get the FDC …