[amsat-bb] FUNcube Dongle

Howard Long howard at howardlong.com
Thu Oct 14 07:21:05 PDT 2010


I've been enormously gratified by the large volume of interest I've had in
the FUNcube Dongle over the past few weeks, and as the pace of enquiries has
stepped up I've decided to come clean about the development progress.

In case -bb subscribers are unaware, the FUNcube Dongle was originally
designed to be an accessible way to be able to receive amateur satellites,
most noteably AMSAT-UK's forthcoming FUNcube cubesat
(http://www.funcube.org.uk). What does accessible mean? Essentially we mean
both low cost and easy to setup. The original target market is, and remains,
what I call the unconverted, those, particularly in education, who need a
means of being able to practically introduce and demonstrate real space
technology in a hands-on way.

When the work on FUNcube was distributed, I was given the task of coming up
with the ground segment, and the result is the FUNcube Dongle.

As it's tuned out, the FUNcube Dongle has the added bonus that it's a
VHF/UHF and low microwave equivalent to the well-known Softrock in an
integrated plug and play package. We intend to have two models, an
entry-level frequency-restricted version targeted at the educational market,
and a full blown Pro version that seems to piqued the interest of many radio
amateurs, radio astronomers and short wave listeners.

In précis, it includes an integrated front end filter, LNA, quatrature LO,
zero-IF quadrature downconverter, dual 16 bit ADC and USB soundcard. In it's
simplest of forms, it's SMA in, USB out. It's also compatible with pretty
much any software that works for the Softrock, for example LinRad,
Spectravue, M0KGK and Rocky. 

The passband is 96kHz, tuneable from 64MHz to 1,700MHz. The tuning is via a
USB HID interface meaning that as well as your favourite soundcard SDR
program, you'll need a little app supplied with the FUNcube Dongle to
control the centre frequency or you'll end up only listening to my favourite
FM broadcast station ;-)

It's also compatible with XP, Vista , Windows 7 in 32 bit and Vista and
Windows 7 in 64 bit. Initial testing on the Mac and Ubuntu 32 and 64 bit
shows compatibility too, however I haven't written the frequency control
application for those platforms yet.

So, no USB drivers are required!

To keep people informed going forward, I have set up a blog here:
http://www.funcubedongle.com/. A few of us on the -BB may be aware of an
rather prolific internal blog I've been writing for the FUNcube technical
team that covers 100 posts or so over the past three months. The choice cuts
of the internal blog will also appear in the http://www.funcubedongle.com/

Also there's a video here of the first pre-production unit

Projected availability of the first production batch of the Pro version is
December 2010. Pricing is subject to assembly costs, but to give you
indicative pricing we are working on an initial price of the Pro version to
be circa USD150/GBP100.

73, Howard G6LVB

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list