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

Gordon JC Pearce gordonjcp at gjcp.net
Mon Jan 3 07:03:03 PST 2011

On Mon, 2011-01-03 at 09:29 +0000, Howard Long wrote:

> 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.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really *really* glad you're shifting units.  It
makes it all worthwhile when you see those orders come in.  What was it,
just under a minute until the last batch sold out?

> 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.

Okay, but how can we write software for it without access to the spec
for the chip?

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

While I'd like to donate 

> 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.

There *are* sample programs, but none of them appear to build in Linux.
Maybe I'm missing something.  I got somewhere with the Qt version, but
it moans about libusb not being installed.  Why it can't see libusb
sitting there happily in /lib/ is beyond me.

> 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.

Well, if it uses class-compliant devices then great - that *does* make
it all a bit easier.  

> 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.

Well, if the software doesn't run in Linux then people won't use it in
Linux.  If there was enough documentation to let me write software to
support it, then I'd buy one as soon as they next became available.

Gordon MM0YEQ

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