[amsat-bb] Re: Need Advice for SDR choice

Howard Long howard at howardlong.com
Mon Jan 3 01:29:59 PST 2011


Some information for you.

We are already looking at having these distributed and manufactured externally.

The extreme demand was not what we expected I'm afraid. Please understand that to make these I have to personally invest several thousand dollars up front, and I want to have close control over the first units to make sure there is nothing that means a mass recall.

Regarding your comments about the NDA, this only applies to the device itself, in particular the tuner chip. This is very common in this area of semiconductors. It does not apply to host software, where source code is available already across windows, Linux and Mac OSX.

We thought long and hard about using a device with an NDA. However please remember that the original reason for the dongle was to provide a means of educational outreach for FUNcube, something that anyone could use, and that means making something plug and play, and reasonably priced. This almost dictated the use of a mass market tuner chip to keep the price down.

Remember that a proportion of the purchase price of the Pro model goes to supporting AMSAT. The educational outreach version will be significantly cheaper.

The NDA does not mean that the interface specs cannot be published. I have made available several example programs with source code. Already people other than me have developed software for the FCD. Someone has already written a Hamlib interface for example. The disclosure model is no different to, say, the excellent SDR IQ.

Regarding Linux support and drivers, the FCD was designed to work out of the box without any additional drivers in Linux, OSX and Windows. This is expressly mentioned right on the FUNcube Dongle home page.

Initially I had no intention of providing cross platform host software, leaving it to others. However after some quite vocal communications from the Mac and Linux communities I provided some cross platform example code. Bear in mind that the last time i wrote anything for the Mac was 20 years ago and for Linux perhaps about 10 years ago. I spent three weeks getting myself up to speed and making this work. It is interesting that the demographic stats of this accessing the FUNcube Dongle website shows only 4.6% are Linux users.

Hopefully this addresses the comments made.

73, Howard G6LVB

Sent from my iPhone

On 3 Jan 2011, at 03:36, Gordon JC Pearce <gordonjcp at gjcp.net> wrote:

> On Mon, 2011-01-03 at 03:17 +0000, Fred Spinner wrote:
>> Howard needs to get someone on this side of the pond building these
>> Dongles also.  I'm sure he could have someone over here sign the NDA
>> and produce significantly cheaper than in Europe.
> I was interested until you said "NDA", now I won't touch it ;-)
>> From the FAQ it looks like it's only got half-assed Linux support and
> the fact that there's an NDA involved suggests that it's going to be
> impossible to write a driver for it.  Closed-source software has no
> place in amateur radio.
> I'll stick to softrocks, thanks.  
> Gordon MM0YEQ
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