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PortableSDR

Fully stand-alone HF (Shortwave) Software Defined Transceiver & Vector Network Analyzer. Designed for rugged portable use. Highly hackable.

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This project was created on 06/20/2014 and last updated 3 days ago.

Description
The PSDR is a completely stand-alone (no computer needed), compact, Portable Software Defined Transceiver (hence the name, sorta). Originally designed for backpacking use by Ham Radio operators. It includes complete coverage up to about 30Mhz (plus 144Mhz), it has a 168Mhz ARM processor, color display, and an innovative interface.

Vector Network Analysis (which includes antenna analysis) and GPS functions are included.

The entire design is Open Source. The electronics are designed and laid out to be easy to understand and tinker with. In addition to source code, schematics, board layout and parts lists, articles and videos describing the theory of the design are being created.
Details

Project Overview View:System Design Document / Block Diagram:

Click here for a PDF.

Source code and Design Files: All files (including the above diagram) are available on GitHub at https://github.com/MichaelRColton/PSDR

License Information: The project code is still very much in development. It currently uses the Adafruit GFX and ILI9340 libraries (both being adapted for this application) and is likely to use other libraries in the future. I will comply with any licenses for libraries I include, and plan to license the project itself under a permissive license (like MIT) or a copyleft license like GPL. I would very much appreciate suggests on this.

About the PSDR1: There were a lot of subcircuits that I had never tested for this project (and were hard to breadboard at the frequencies and sizes involved) so I built the PSDR1 board you see here to demonstrate all those parts. I left off the easy stuff (like a battery charger, the whole GPS sub system) and a few of the more advanced parts (like the RF switching, and phase and amplitude measurement IC) Also, while the LCD module was expedient, the next version will have it integrated directly.

Project logs
  • PSDR2PCB

    3 days ago • 2 comments

    Hi loyal minions! After quite the marathon of board layout, the PSDR2 PCBs are complete. I am trying dirtypcbs.com . They've got great prices for 4 layer boards and have reasonably priced rush/fast shipping options. Though I was sad to learn that I can't get a red board with gold plating AND rush the order... Red was going to look really good, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen for the first batch of PSDR2s.

    Anyway! I'm glad I pushed so hard to get these out. I might just have something cool to show off by the end of the month.

    I'm pretty happy with the layout, but I didn't have time to give it some of the polish that I usually like to. Routing for the power traces isn't ideal, and I didn't bother with proper impedance considerations..... I think it will be okay.

    So I generally try to do something new on each PCB I produce, if I can. This time it's a bunch of new components, a new fab house, and you'll notice that I left off pretty much all of the reference designators so I'd have room to label the circuit blocks. I think it's pretty neat, but it's going to mean that I'll have to prepare well illustrated assembly diagrams. What do you guys think? How important are reference designators really?

    Speaking of assembly, there are a few parts that will pretty much have to be installed with a hot air pencil or a reflow oven, I really tried to make it possible to assembly without those, but some of the parts aren't available in any other package.

  • PSDR2 Teaser

    5 days ago • 0 comments

    Hi everyone, has it really been ten days since my last update? Sorry about that. As I said in my last update, I have been working very hard on getting the PSDR2 designed. I've been spending every spare moment on it and took the last day and a half off from work to get this thing out. It needs to get sent off for production as soon as possible or I wont get it back in time to show it off for the next round of judging!

    Anyway, I'll have it done by this weekend, hopefully have it back a week later-ish. I don't think I'll have time to write much code to take advantage of the new features though. A month is not a long time.

    This has been one of the most challenging boards I've ever designed, and the most thought out, which helped. I'm pretty happy with how it's going. With the exception of the final power amplifier and 2-Meter mixer, it's got everything I wanted to put in. It's PACKED! I'm so excited!!

    Oh yeah, this version will have an enclosure too. :D

    Wish me luck! Back to work!

  • Final 50

    15 days ago • 1 comment

    Hi guys! Sorry it's been so long since I've updated. Believe me, I haven't forgotten. I've been hard at work! As you may know, the PortableSDR was selected as one of the 50 semi-finalists for the Hackaday Prize! Thanks everybody! Wish me luck!

    The next round of judging is less than a month away so I am trying really hard to knock out the next revision of the PSDR. So far I've got dual capacitive touch keys (for morse code), battery charge controller, GPS, and the VNA/Antenna analyzer blocks. Even bigger microcontroller. Real time clock support, digital gain control. MicroSD slot.

    Anti-aliasing filters are going in all over the place, built in speaker, mic, and an earphone connector that works with smartphone-style earphones/microphones will be included.

    There are a few things that wont make it into this version (RF Amp, 144Mhz mixer) but for some things I am including a "shield" style place to plug in modules. I don't think I am going to get a new LCD in there this time. Also, PJRC's amazing work at speeding up the driver for the ILI9341 makes me think I may not need to switch to the parallel interface on the LCD (which takes A LOT OF PINS!)

    I hope to have the schematic changes done in a few days and a PCB design as soon as possible after that (a week?). I'll keep you guys updated!

View all 15 project logs

Discussions

Fer Jackson wrote 13 hours ago null point

Congrats on the v2 board being released :D Do you have plans for a release of these boards for testing?

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Andrew wrote 5 days ago null point

Hello, I am an amateur radio operator in the United States, and I was wondering if I could obtain one of your kits (or finished radios). In a couple of months, I will be on a humanitarian trip providing communications to a medical team, and I have been looking for a radio. It would love to try one of your systems, if that is possible.

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Benny wrote 6 days ago null point

I am ham radio operator from Israel, your work is marvelous, I do suggest that you go commercial with this - I am sure they will sell quite well, and give you nice profit.
I will be interested in buying pcb, kit or fully assembled one when available - Best 73 and good luck from the Holy Land

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Darren wrote 8 days ago null point

In the readme it says that the sch and pcb files are for mentor pads. I downloaded their free viewer but it will not open the file. Any chance of posting files that viewed in Eagle or KiCad?

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Jean-Pierre wrote 10 days ago null point

Hello, I am a french amateur radio and would be much interested to build a PSDR transceiver. I am on the line to get circuit boards when they will be available. Congratulations and "Bravo" for your work.
Jean-Pierre F6AXC

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Reginald Beardsley wrote 10 days ago null point

"how do I build an arbitrary filter for FFT convolution with a known kernel length?"

Can you be a bit more specific about what you're trying to do? Zero phase is trivial, but it gets a bit harder if you require a causal filter. I'm a reflection seismic guy. We generally want a zero phase signal. So I've always been doing things the easy way. But I ought to be able to remember how to do whatever you want.

BTW I'm very interested in antialias filters for the STM32 ADC inputs. 1.8 MHz low pass seems pretty hard to find as COTS. I'm trying to avoid the problem of aligning high order filters w/o having test gear.

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bibilukaa wrote 23 days ago null point

Thanks for info.
I will check local possibility for making PCB, and minimal quantity first. I will find solution.
I camming from metal industry (design of blades/vanes for compressors) unfortunately HI.
So, ham radio, homebrewing is my hoby and i really enjoy in it...
SMD kits or homebrew project with that small parts is no problem, but any programing i am not able to do.
Regarding extra knobs/buttons you are actually right.
Few additional knobs will increase tha size, but that is not the point of the project, i agree.
At least two encoders will be necessary especially for VNA, as well.
HC05 can make some additional possibilities in the future.
After reading of your PortableSDR Video Script.docx is clear what is the target.
Well, your project is my favorite and i will follow them...
Tino

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bibilukaa wrote a month ago null point

Thanks to you for answer...Yes i will check where to order PCB locally
If you will make a new PSDR with a lot of modification and improvements i will rather wait.
The concept is really powerful and not very expensive.
After study of existing available files provided from you, please consider some following points
if you will make any modification, and if you agree.
Frequency dial knob is better to be on the right side.
Some additional encoders and/or buttons will help for easier operation
(like Audio Gain, RF-Gain, RF- Attenuator, Keyer Speed or Filter selection no matter of touch screen etc.
Possible implementation HC-05 Wireless Bluetooth Transceiver module,
Physical layout and sketches are interesting, too.
If i can help somehow like Catia designer, let me know.
73 de 9a4bl

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Michael R Colton wrote 25 days ago null point

A few places you can try for PCBs include seeedstudio.com, iteadstudio.com (what I used for this one), oshpark.com, circuitboard.com (used them before), and dirtypcbs.com (who I think I'm going to try next because their four layer boards are so cheap!)

Yes, the controls will be on the right side, it was actually an accident that the PSDR1 has them on the left. Certainly extra knobs, encoders, buttons, etc will make for quicker operation, but in the size that I am going for, it really isn't possible. I MIGHT do two encoders (one for selecting an item, and the other for changing it.) Also, I am specifically avoiding touchscreens for this.

It has occurred to me to add bluetooth, but... I'm not sure I want to yet. How would you imagine using it? I kind of like the idea of a blackbox radio that has no knobs or display at all, it connects to your phone over bluetooth that acts as the interface. The reason that might be interesting is you could connect it to an antenna and throw the whole thing in a tree, no feedlines at all. I think that can wait until a little later though.

Thanks for the offer for help with Catia. I haven't used that before, though I am quite comfortable with SolidWorks. I would love to see what sort of industrial designs you come up with. Look at some of my older project updates for some sketches I've done. I've done some more since then.

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bibilukaa wrote a month ago null point

I just discovered your project …. It looks like a very interesting project.
Implementation of VNA is Your excellent idea which fascinate me.
As i can see main effort will be to add new features via software updates.
I really appreciate your effort regarding this project.
Actually, how i can order one PCB if is possible?
Vy 73 de 9A4BL, Tino

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Michael R Colton wrote a month ago null point

Thanks for the kind words!

I don't really have any more PCBs left, though I could probably produce another small batch if enough people want them (or you can send the gerbers off for production, it's pretty easy and all the files you need are on my GitHub repo). I do plan on producing more PSDRs when I have the design a little further along...

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Jasmine wrote a month ago null point

Hello Michael R Colton,

I just wanted to remind you that this is the checklist of what must be on Hackaday Projects by August 20th:
- A video less than 2 minutes long describing your project. Put it on YouTube (or Youku), and add a link to it on your project page. This is done by editing your project (edit link is at the top of your project page) and adding it as an "External Link"
- At least 4 Project Logs (you've got 10, so you're fine)
- A system design document. (I can see it in the photos section, but it would be great if you could highlight it in the project details)
- Links to code repositories, and remember to mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project. For example, if you are using software libraries you need to document that information in the project details.

Thanks for entering and good luck!

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Hans wrote a month ago null point

This is a nice project. I hope that the project will be availble for other people.
My compliments !!!

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Michael R Colton wrote a month ago null point

Thanks! I do plan on making it available when the design is a little further along. Thanks again!

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DainBramage1991 wrote a month ago null point

Michael, amazing project! Please let us know when the completed project becomes available, I would very much be interested in purchasing one. I don't have the coordination or stamina to solder at this level, so I will be looking for one that you have already constructed. With any luck, I'll have some money in the ham budget to cover it. Maybe I'll have to skip NEARfest...

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Michael R Colton wrote a month ago null point

Hi Mr. DainBramage. I do plan on selling them when I get the design a little further a long. The next revision may do it, but in my experience, it's usually my third board that really works right. This one is a little more ambitious than most boards I design though. Anyway, I'll try not to keep you waiting too long. I am anxious to get more hardware out there to see how it does!

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Christopher Story wrote 2 months ago null point

Any chance you have any boards still available? I have built several SoftRock RXTX's and I would love to try this out. - KC5HHQ

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Sounds like Mr. Pwn4tr0n wants to wait for a future revision, so you can have his. Send you address to me and I'll send you one. I'm waiting for a few other people's addresses as well. Don't forget everybody!

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replic8tor wrote 2 months ago null point

Michael:

This is a great project and something I am very much interested in. Can you offer advise on how someone might transition from the software world, and possibly knowing a bit about digital circuits, to designing analog RF circuits like this that function within the digital world still?

I recently got my extra ticket, and I can write software all day and futz with arduinos but. I want to get to the point where I can design some of my own RF devices like you have, lay down the pcb design, put it together, and get something actually useful.

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

That's a broad question. Maybe I should make a video about that one! I learned pretty much everything I know from google and books. It's taken me a few years, but I didn't go to school for it or anything (probably should have, I seem to have "the knack": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmYDgncMhXw )

Here are a few resources that have been helpful to me:

RF: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiqd3GLTluk2s_IBt7p_LjA
RF: www.arrl.org/shop/Experimental-Methods-in-RF-Design
PCB Layout: https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/category/1 (sounds like you can skip the first few)
SDR: https://sites.google.com/site/thesdrinstitute/A-Software-Defined-Radio-for-the-Masses

It was helpful to me to recognize that RF circuits can be compartmentalized, and really reduced to only a few blocks: Amplifiers, Mixers, Oscillators and Filters.

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eresonance wrote 2 months ago null point

Holy crap, this project is kinda similar to the one I'm going to put up. I also noticed that there was a severe lack of portable HF SDR radios and thought of making something of my own. Good work so far, definitely a motivator to get mine up here too!

One thing to note, I'm not sure if it's my PDF reader (sumatra) but your schematics have a lot of notes that are cut-off on the edges.

My approach is a bit different from yours. I'm wanting to keep it super-simple for the first iteration since I'm fairly new to radio design so I figure I would start with the Rx, and base it off of the softrock. But the cool bit is removing (or not populating) the audio/line out jacks and throwing in a decent-speed ADC in there. Then pulling the data off of the ADC into a beaglebone via one of its high-speed DSP blocks. Processing can be somewhat limited and definitely hampered by a non-RTOS (linux), but it should have enough processing power to get waterfall displays going for each amateur band.

Now I just need to put it all together on here...

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Ah! You are right about the schematics! I'll fix that shortly.

Good luck on your project! Basing it off a SoftRock is a good idea, it seems to be a solid, proven design. Really, I did the same thing, check out the SDR-1000, there was a series of articles about its design. I studied that thing until I understood every part of it. My design has a lot in common with it (plenty of things that had to change too, to get size, and power consumption down, etc.)

There are plenty of great SDR packages for Linux, if I'm not mistaken, so I don't think a non RTOS would hold you back that much. A nice SDR shield (it's, or is it cape) for the BeagleBone would be pretty sweet! I look forward to seeing what you put together.

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Mike Ashcraft wrote 2 months ago null point

Very cool project. So whats the cost breakdown like?

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Hard to say for certain. I had some of the parts already. In low volumes, if you source everything yourself, I imagine parts cost will be in the realm of $150. Checkout the BOM on github, it includes the costs for almost all the parts (except for the PCB and LCD, I think)

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Looks like we have our seven PCB recipients! Nricciar, Nicholas TenBrink, Will Rea, Chris Northcott, John Laur, Paul Warren, and Jason Hersey. If you would all send me your shipping addresses, I'll get those sent out. My email is michaelrcolton@gmail.com . It's awesome that you guys are interested! Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

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Jason Hersey wrote 2 months ago null point

I'd love a board if you still have any left. This is a fantastic project! Kudos on the work and great ideas.

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago 1 point

In the comments to my most recent update, Mr. Pwn4tr0n mentioned building his own PSDR. I'm probably going to start working on the next version of the board soon, and I have several of the current PCBs I'm not likely to ever use. If anyone is interested, let me know and I'll send you one for free (unless shipping is more than $4-5USD, in which case, a contribution might be nice). That would be for a bare PCB. If you want one assembled, that would probably be more like $200 for the parts and assembly time (I'm not yet setup for mass production.) I would love for other people to start testing it and developing code for it.

I have 7 PCBs (I thought I had more?) First 7 replies to this comment win!

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nricciar wrote 2 months ago null point

If you still have boards availiable I would like to build one.

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

You're the first to reply, so yes, I do. When enough people have responded, I'll get everyone's addresses and send them out. Thanks for your interest :D

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Angus wrote 2 months ago null point

I'd love to take a PCB, but I think I'll hold off until the project is more complete. Would you consider offering them as a kit, or partially assembled in the future?

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Yes, I may do that. I think I will sell fully assembled units too.

I'd be interested to know how many people would be comfortable soldering a board like this, probably a fair number on hackaday, but most Ham kits are far less complicated.

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Nicholas TenBrink wrote 2 months ago null point

Michael, if there are still boards available I would love the chance to build one up.
Let me know how to get mailing info and such to you.
Thanks!

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Will Rea wrote 2 months ago null point

I'm in for one if they're still available

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Chris Northcott wrote 2 months ago null point

I've been following your project for a little while and am in the process of building something similar. You might have replied to me on Reddit once ;)

I'd love a board, I'm even willing to pay shipping to the UK!

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John Laur wrote 2 months ago null point

Michael, I would be very interested in populating and experimenting with a board if you still have one available. The STM32F is a good choice, but I fear that it is memory limited for DSP applications even though the processor has floating point and is relatively powerful. Still I think there are some interesting applications for such a platform!

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Looks like we've got two left (Angus, you're holding off for now, no?) they are going more quickly than I had expected!

Hi Chris, small world! I hope your project is going well. Any news?

John, so far, I haven't run into any memory issues (and I am not yet making any efforts to be careful with my memory usage) I think the next rev will use an even bigger version of the F4 (mostly so I can get a high performance LCD controller) but it will also increase the RAM and Flash that I have available. I'd be interested to know what other ideas you have for the platform. In addition to it working as a very flexible transceiver, I want to build in VNA and spectrum analyzer functions (though they'll be fairly limited in frequency) I also thought about a sort of mixing oscilloscope... media player, ebook reader, video game system, feature creep detector, stuff like that.

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Paul Warren wrote 2 months ago null point

I'd love to help test by populating a board! I'll go and research the BoM now :)

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago 1 point

I'll have to make a few notes as to what is different on the PCB. There were two corrections made and a few places that jumpers need to be placed. The board was designed so that the different sub circuits could be disconnected from each other for testing, you see.

Also, speaking of the BOM, I formatted it so the DigiKey BOM importer function works, so you can use that to save yourself tons of time when ordering. There is a balun that you can't get from DigiKey, MiniCircuits sells them, but you have to buy 10 at $3+ a piece, plus shipping, so I think I'll just toss one in for you guys. The LCD was from ebay, but is easy and cheap to get.

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Chris Northcott wrote 2 months ago null point

@Michael - I'm caffeinep0wered who you replied to on /r/stm32f4, although you have probably figured that out by now. :)

I'm still trying to figure out my way around the STM32F4, struggling a bit with DMA but learning slowly but surely. I've settled on a 100Mbit Ethernet PHY via full MII (TI/National PHYter), ADC (AD7356), HF/VHF VFOs (AD9850/MAX2606), VHF tuner (R820T) and output amp (IRF510). I can get a carrier across the house (woohoo!) but it's still early days. I ordered the same screen you have but it was DOA, yay for eBay...

I suggest keeping yours SDR, heh... an idea of mine was to load "modules" off a MicroSD card so different configurations can be tested easily.

The VNA is a brilliant idea, I'd buy one for that feature alone. ;)

I shall have a look through the BOM now - I think I probably have most of the parts on hand...

@John Laur : The STM32F4x7/9 (IIRC) has a flexible memory controller interface for adding SDRAM, so as long as enough free IOs are available, it's easy to expand the memory if needs be. Generally it's only feasible on the LQFP144/178 and higher pin count BGA parts. I'm going to assume this project processes samples on the fly though. These things are surprisingly capable.

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John Laur wrote 2 months ago null point

Michael, Well David Rowe is building the FreeDV SmartMic using the same family of micro, so there is more or less ready to go codec2 and an fdmdv 1600bps modem. But his project is the one where there were memory issues, and he is using the STM32F4 variant with more memory than the F1 you are using (I think the variant he uses has 192KB). For simple mod/demod there may not be an issue, but there definitely will be issues in implementing more complex modems via DSP. I would like to see an SDR that implements digital modems as standard native demodulations instead of going through the SSB or FM intermediary which will require some memory.

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Michael R Colton wrote 2 months ago null point

Yes! I had in mind to include some of the HF digital modes (especially the ones that can transience way below the noise floor with tiny power levels, ideal for portable, power constrained operation), but I had forgotten about these new voice codecs. Ideally, this little guy will be able to support stuff like that, it would be cool to have things like PSK31, Morse decoding, maybe even SSTV.

Imagine being out on a hike, grabbing SSTV weather data, and being able to get messages out reliably on digital on tiny power levels. Know where you are and be able to communicate, no mater what.

Speaking of which, I know there are digital spotting programs (that listen in and report that they heard you on the internet) I think it would be interesting to extend those to pass messages. So I could send something like "I'm here, and safe" and whatever radio hears it, passes it through the internet to the right person.

Like I said, I think I am going to be moving up to a larger F4 (it's only a few extra bucks to get 256k/2M ) and I guess I could look into external RAM, probably not on the next rev though.

Thanks for the input!

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Adam Fabio wrote 3 months ago null point

I am loving all the RF an SDR hacks that have started popping up on here! Thanks for entering PortableSDR in The Hackaday Prize, Michael! Don't worry about folder organization to start - the hardest part is clicking "Submit" that first time. That LCD waterfall display looks like it will really come in handy out in the field.
Have you tested out the transmitter circuits yet? I saw they were unpopulated in your images.

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Michael R Colton wrote 3 months ago null point

Thanks Adam! This is a project I've been wanting to do for a long time and the HaD prize helped push me a long. The waterfall is really cool and already working well. I leave the PSDR running on my desk when I am not using it, and it's cool to glance at it to see if there is any activity. I haven't tested the transmitter yet, I had ordered the wrong size part for the two ICs in the transmit section. I've been busy with the receive stuff so I haven't been in a hurry to order the correct parts.

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Michael R Colton wrote 3 months ago null point

I might be mistaken, but some of the stuff that's going on in slow HF digital modes is state of the art stuff, probably newer than APRS. But it feels weird to say that a mode that sends 16 characters per minute (or less!) on a shortwave radio is "cutting edge".

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j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 3 months ago null point

Very nice, I'm gonna have to do some reading on these older digital modes. Is there a link to the Github repository you mention in the project? I'm sure it's around, I just can't find it

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Michael R Colton wrote 3 months ago null point

Yes, it should be capable of APRS, the software will just need to be written. There is this project, which is APRS for the STM32 ( http://michaldemin.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/cheap-afsk-tnc/ ) that might be able to be integrated.

There are some other digital modes (like JT65) that send very slowly, but can transmit effectively at very low power (thousands of miles on less than a watt doesn't seem that unrealistic) that I want to support. That's one of the reasons for including GPS, as accurate timing is important for some of these modes. I'm really excited about the idea of this radio working as an emergency beacon if needed.

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j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 3 months ago null point

APRS functionality? Even sending texts at 12000 baud while backpacking would be great.

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