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

Fred Spinner fred at spinner.org
Mon Jan 3 08:48:55 PST 2011


As for the NDA, ask the vendor what is and is not acceptable.  I'd approach this as it going to a bunch of engineers (there's a lot out there) that might also be interested in their chips.  Not having access to the firmware is a problem for a lot of us.  It makes the device basically like an ICOM radio..

Having access to the source would make the devices worth quite a bit more to me.  I don't care all that much about the inner workings of the tuner.  It's a tuner.. black box..

All of the NDA stuff is a tad bit ridiculous, but that is what the lawyers have done to us.  The whole concept of "intellectual property" is insane, really.  Can the end users sign the NDA and then get source from you.  Is that possible?

As for demand, you didn't think there'd be demand for something like this?  It's very neat, actually.

Maybe you should contact a MFJ or someone like that to mass produce these.. if you could, for example get $25/unit for AMSAT-UK you'd be doing great in the process.

Fred W0FMS
Jan 3, 2011 09:05:41 AM, amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org wrote:


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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