Category: Featured

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

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. …

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 …

WoodBoxRadio Fxpad for PowerSDR

WoodBoxRadio has just recently  released their Fxpad touchscreen software for PowerSDR. This is a program that allows you to use an off the shelf 7 inch usb touchscreen  as a very nice looking external controller for PowerSDR. Fxpad provides you with a gorgeous multi purpose meter as well as buttons for commonly used functions within PowerSDR. The idea behind Fxpad is to allow your main PC screen to display your logging software or PSK31 software, while displaying information from PowerSDR on separate touch screen. This as would provide quick touch screen control over your SDR radio. Fxpad also a has a set of macro buttons to allow you to define your own commands sent to PowerSDR. Fxpad uses CAT commands to send and receive data from PowerSDR. You will have to setup and define a CAT port for PowerSDR using VSPmanager or com0com. If you are already using CAT for PowerSDR to control PTT for another program, you will have to use something like VSPE to split the serial port. Fxpad is primarily designed to be used in conjunction with WoodBoxSoftwares Tmate tuning control in mind. Even though WoodBoxRadio states that the software needs the Tmate controller to function properly, …

Using the iPad to Control Your Rig

The iPad is indeed a magical device. There are many applications the iPad can be used for, but did you know that you can use it as a Touch Controller for controlling your radio or other digital software? Therefore, freeing up your main computer screen for displaying data you need to see, while the iPad delivers touch control or remote control capabilities. If you don’t already own an iPad, this may be a great excuse to get one! You will find several uses for the iPad as a Touch Controller for your Amateur Radio software or even a Remote Monitor for your radio. For example the Touch Controller setup can come in very handy when you want to leave your PSK31 decoding software on your main computer screen while controlling your rig with the touch screen on the iPad. This could also come in handy during a contest where you need fast and easy control of your rig. It is also possible to use the iPad as a Remote Monitor for your radio. The Remote Monitor would allow you to pick up the iPad and go to another location in your home and control and monitor your radio, or even …

The SDRPC

Introduction

I am officially declaring a new category of PC and I shall call it the “SDRPC”. Now some of you may think that ole KS4JU has way too much
time on his hands, but I think the SDRPC wind up adding additional aesthetics and function to your Ham Shack. It also adds a little extra “flair” for Software Defined Radio users. It really does give you that “feel” of an old school rig and looks darn good doing it.

The PC Case
I was in the process of doing some upgrades to my old PC and decided to give it a facelift in the process. I had built several HTPCs in the past and thought the principles behind the HTPC would transfer pretty nicely to a dedicated Ham Radio PC. If you are not familiar with the HTPC (Home Theater PC), this was category of hi-end PCs that were designed to be integrated into a Home Theater environment. The HTPC was typically a high-end PC used as a DVR, Audio Server, or Video Processor. As an offshoot of this, a series of PC cases were designed to look like high-end audio components. The nicer HTPC cases were typically built …

Using the 3D Connexion Space Pilot with PowerSDR

PowerSDR supports 3D Connexion devices such as the Space Navigator for control of tuning your SDR radio. If you are not familiar with 3D Connexion devices, they are basically a large knob that sits on your desktop. The Space Navigator series is primarily the knob surrounded by a cool blue lighted ring with 2 buttons on the side. The Space Pilot series is the knob mounted in a larger case with more buttons that can be mapped and a display that shows the mappings. The knob twists (does not turn), can be pushed up, down, left, right, pulled up, and pushed down to control objects in 3D environments. The devices purpose is primarily to be used with 3D drawing programs. They are a lot of fun with applications such as Google Earth. The thing to remember is that unlike a lot of desktop controllers it can’t be mapped to work with just any old Windows or Mac program. The applications have to have a plugin from the software developer installed to allow the knob to be used to control the program. However, you can map the buttons for your own use to most any program. Hopefully 3d Connexion will make …