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

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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.

Want a PortableSDR? Please take THIS SURVEY so I can make it happen!

Finals Video:

For previous project views, please see links to the left.

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

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.

  • 1 × STM32F429 Microcontroller U21 - Digikey part number: 497-14052-ND
  • 1 × AD8302 Magnitude/Phase Detector U23 - Digikey part number: AD8302ARUZ-ND
  • 2 × AD9834 DDS Frequency Synthesizers U1, 8 - Digikey part number: AD9834CRUZ-ND
  • 1 × QVGA LCD ILI9340/ILI9341 LCD - Search ebay for "2.2 (ILI9340, ILI9341)"
  • 1 × GP39-1513 GPS Reciever U4 -,gp39-1513

View all 16 components

  • Big in Germany

    Michael R Colton01/17/2015 at 19:15 0 comments

    So I get home yesterday to find an unexpected package. Inside is a Ham Radio magazine (The December 2014 issue of Funk Amateur, I like the name!) with a note.... all in German. Sweet! I flip through it and to my shock, I find the PSDR! WHAAAAT!? What a cool thing! (I'd scan the whole thing, but that might be verboten, copyright stuff, you know.) I googled to see if the article was online, didn't find it, but did find a mention of the PortableSDR here.

    The Kickstarter campaign is off to a great start! Last I looked it was almost to $12,000 (20% of the goal) at this rate it will be successful! Thank you so much everyone for your support!

    I am getting a lot of messages, and I am trying to get caught up on posts and things, I hope to get caught up soon.

  • KickStarter! Finally!

    Michael R Colton01/14/2015 at 06:01 2 comments

    PortableSDR on Kickstarter

    Now you guys can finally get it! Sorry it took so long! Thanks for your patience and support eveyone!

    For all of you who are itching to have one (bless your hearts) click here!

    The internal speaker works now, btw (not great, but it's a start). Also, I have some ideas for a pretty cool 4 band antenna that doesn't need a tuner.

  • Quick Update

    Michael R Colton12/12/2014 at 05:31 5 comments

    Hi fans!

    I just wanted to make a quick post here to let you know that I am still here. I wanted to have the Kickstarter live by now, but I really need to get some quotes back on PCB manufacturing, or I wont be able to set the prices with any confidence. I am so excited to get these out into the world, but I don't want to go broke doing it, you know?

    I have an initial quote on the metals (though I want to change the design a little bit) and have been meeting with a local PCB assembly house. I've worked with them (as well as many others) for other projects and have found their work to be absolutely amazing. They cost a little more, but I think it will be worth it in boards that will work well for a long time. Also, since they're local, I won't have to pay for shipping, wait for shipping, or, for example, fly to China (I'm dying to go, but not on my own dime, you see).

    I hope to have a quote back from them soon. When I've got everything figured out, you'll be the first to know!

  • 3RD PLACE! (And stuff!)

    Michael R Colton11/24/2014 at 07:14 6 comments

    Hi everyone! I got 3rd place! I'm the 3rd best hacker in the world! Thanks everyone for your support! Congratulations to the other finalists, in particular SatNOGS! I have an unused, wooden garage that would be perfect for housing one of their antennas trackers. I'll need to get on that. Also, I would love a tricorder and spectrometer. I'd like a chipwhisperer too, but I think it's a little over my head.

    So where have I been? (Sorry about that, btw) Well first, after all the stress of the contest, it was nice to kinda do nothing for a while. But mostly I've been trying to figure out how to get the PSDR produced so you can have one!

    I've poured over the survey data; very interesting stuff! There are a few things in there that are encouraging; so many people said they'd buy a PSDR2 AND a future version! There are also a few things that people aren't going to like. Maybe it was the BaoFeng comparison, but a pretty large number of people said it would only be worth say $50-150 to them (some even less!). There's no way that can happen, it's made of expensive parts and.... how can I compete with a big Chinese company!

    Right now I am finding places that can do the manufacturing for me, particularly the metal housings and PCB assembly. When I have some quotes back, I'll be able to determine what I can charge and not go broke (a very real possibility if I'm not careful).

    I hope to have a Kickstarter project up in about a week. Thanks for your patience everyone! I haven't forgotten about you!

    Also another religious thought, skip if you aren't interested.

    Read more »

  • Schrödinger's Finalist

    Michael R Colton11/11/2014 at 06:10 2 comments

    Today, in the interview post about the RamanPi, Brian says, "If you're wondering who the winner of The Hackaday Prize is, even I don't know. [Mike] and a few Hackaday overlords do," Thinking of it now, of course the results would be known before the announcement, but it hadn't really occurred to me until I read that. For some reason it seemed weird to me. Whether I have won first place or not is known, but not to me. So in a weird way, I am in the superposition of both having taken first, and not. That is, until Thursday morning (for me 5 am :/ ) when the wave function will collapse. I think it would be fun to be in their position, to know that you were about to change someone's life, and you knew it, but they didn't. Good luck to my fellow finalists! No matter the outcome, I'm happy to have made it so far.

    Pictured above is Girl Kitty, she's been our cat since I was a teenager (which makes her about 18 years old) but, unlike Schrödinger's cat, Girl Kitty is, thankfully, alive.

    In other news, the response to the survey has been MIND BLOWING! The PSDR has about 650 followers, not everyone is going to respond, I guess I expected about 100 responses. Right now I have 1,106! (Which is, by the way, probably enough) THANKS EVERYBODY! It's been amazing to see such an overwhelmingly positive response! I'm still going through the data and want to devote a proper post to it. Give me a few days. I'm really learning a lot by going through all of this.

  • Trying To Transmit

    Michael R Colton11/06/2014 at 15:27 0 comments

    I shot this before the Final Overview Video, but didn't get around to posting it. Basically, it shows that my first attempt at an amplifier board for the PSDR2 was unsuccessful, also, I need filtering. I think that what I showed in the video might not have been that meaningful because I had already damaged the amp at that point. Nevertheless, it seems that filtering before the amplifier is going to be required. I have a circuit I want to try that would be a digitally variable low-pass filter. I think it will work, just not sure if will work at RF frequencies.

    I was also lucky to bump into a pretty seasoned RF engineer and picked his brain about designing this amplifier (I only picked the surface though, since I could only take about 5 minutes of his time) basically, it sounds like MMICs will probably only get me to 1 W. Which is not terrible. Beyond that, I'll probably have to design a discrete circuit. BUT he also suggested a trick I'd read about, where you use a power splitter, then, say, 5 MMIC amps, then a combiner, and there you go. I'm interested in trying that. That would also make it easy to step down power, and even provide some redundancy...

    THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE FOR DOING THE SURVEYS! I've received over 600 responses! (500 today alone, thanks to being featured on the front page. Thanks Brian!) Next time I'll give a breakdown of the responses and what it will mean for the PSDR moving forward.

  • Want a PSDR? Take this Survey!

    Michael R Colton11/02/2014 at 04:41 0 comments

    I'm trying to work out the details of making the PortableSDR available, but there are some things I need to figure out. Please please take a moment to fill out this survey so I can plan things out appropriately. It should only take a minute. Thank you so much!

  • Glamour Photos

    Michael R Colton10/28/2014 at 06:00 3 comments

    Here are some very lovely (if I do say so myself) pictures of the PortableSDR.

    There are a bunch more. Check 'em out!

    Read more »

  • Plastic's Fantastic, But Metal is Better

    Michael R Colton10/20/2014 at 04:51 5 comments

    Hi everyone!

    I spent the last few days modifying the design of the case to simplify it (7 screws instead of 21, for example) and to make it millable. I had some great help from my friend Jacob, thanks Jacob! He also suggested a countersunk front cover and I think it's going to look awesome! I spent pretty much all of Saturday at work, generating toolpaths and "borrowing" the milling machine. I made a few mistakes, learned a bunch of stuff. It was pretty fun! I'm getting better! I'm probably going to sandblast it when it's done (you can see I need to hand finish a little bit, particular around the paddle area.) so it will have a soft, frosted look. At least for now. I might paint it after that. We'll see.

    I also want to share some small miracles. Those of you who are offended and/or not interested in religious things can skip the rest.

    Read more »

  • We need more RFs!

    Michael R Colton10/17/2014 at 06:49 1 comment

    Hi everyone!

    Let me first say how blown away, honored, and delighted I am to be included in the final round of judging! The enthusiastic responses I've gotten from everyone have helped keep me motivated through the long hours of design and programming (honestly, this would have been a year long project or more otherwise). Thanks to everyone for your support! I've loved reading everyone's comments here on my project blog, on the final-five announcement page, youtube, and reddit.

    Now then! Where were we. It seems like many people have been anxious to see transmit support working. I realized that some of the other features I'm excited about, like the Vector Network Analyzer, require the PSDR to generate signals, and of course, I want to see if I can talk to people with it! So, as you saw in the last video, I got transmit support started, but I was a little disappointed that the power output was so low (I mean, I knew it would be low but...)

    So, I decided to try my hand at putting together an amplifier to go in the PSDR2's amp board socket (those five holes in the upper left), and this is the result. PCBs should get here next week, hopefully in time for the final judging. If it works the way I think it will, it should get us somewhere close to 100-200mW. Still not a lot, but enough to get a signal out, and maybe drive another amplification stage in the future.

    It was fun to design. I'm trying some weird stuff here, for example, the two MMIC amplifiers are biased like a diode or transistor (well, that's what they are), where current is more important than voltage. Also, they like to be driven around 5-6v. So I needed a boost converter, ideally with a constant current output. Well. they make LED drivers that do exactly that. So that's what will be powering this little amp.

    I'm actually not totally confident it will work on the first try, but it will be a learning experience either way.

View all 28 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    Obtain or produce the sub assemblies pictures above (See github for detailed assembly instructions, gerbers, and STLs): Polycarbonate front cover. Encoder PCB, Top housing, LCD, Knob, Main PCB, Paddles, Battery, Bottom Housing, screws and washers.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Connect battery to Main PCB, and set both into Bottom houssing

  • 3
    Step 3

    Connect LCD module to main PCB

View all 8 instructions

Enjoy this project?



jackwong1931 wrote 05/11/2019 at 02:49 point

Good job, pcbastore( can provide you with free components, and pcb prototypes are inexpensive

  Are you sure? yes | no

nilsson wrote 05/01/2019 at 04:00 point

If anyone is interested in owning one of these units, I was fortunate enough to receive the very first unit produced from the Kickstarter, serial number 0001. I'd like to sell it but am open to trades.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Pesce wrote 04/05/2017 at 19:23 point

I'm ordering 5 PCBs for the main board if anyone wants to go splitsies. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

mica.sbg wrote 06/15/2017 at 03:53 point

Hi. Are you going to order just the PCB or complete populated PCBAs? I'd be interested in a complete PCBA, since I don't have the resources to solder the components.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Chander Ganesan wrote 03/02/2017 at 02:03 point

Can this be used for multilateration.  For example can the time signal from the GPS be combined with the receive time of a signal, so that if I have 4 of these in an area (or even 3) I can accurately compute the position of an object in space?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Duke Circuit Co.,Ltd wrote 02/25/2017 at 02:56 point

Nice work,is this a 2 layers pcb or 4 layers pcb ?

  Are you sure? yes | no

morgan wrote 12/13/2016 at 21:33 point

Are any units still available? I've got an upcoming bike packing trip down the Baja Peninsula that this could fill a couple needs I have. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Simon Zhou wrote 05/17/2016 at 02:42 point

Beautiful industrial design!

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kestrelview wrote 12/10/2015 at 15:40 point

Very cool!

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Whjas Huanh wrote 05/11/2015 at 10:55 point

Great work! pcbway can provide you low-cost PCB service as well as free universal boards. It would be a good choice for your projects.

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Charles Lakins wrote 05/10/2015 at 06:03 point

are kits available, I'd love to build one :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Xun Han wrote 02/22/2015 at 09:57 point


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Anool Mahidharia wrote 02/13/2015 at 08:03 point

woot! I missed out on supporting the campaign, but I hope to snag one as soon as it is possible. And Today is WORLD RADIO DAY []! I'm attempting to revive (my long expired) Amateur Radio license, so the PSDR will definitely be on my shopping list.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Aleksandar Bradic wrote 02/13/2015 at 05:03 point

Congrats on the successful Kickstarter!! Now the fun part begins ;)

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Joao Ribeiro wrote 01/28/2015 at 18:31 point

It would be nice to have some way do control the input signal with software controlled filters and similar tools specific for signal processing.

These can be for signal clearing, fine tuning, frequency shift/remodulation, gain, etc...

Also, a different set of features for digital communication instead of audio only, would be nice. By this I mean a set of features that enables wireless computer networking, preferably with mesh support but not mandatory, Ad-Hoc style on the other hand would be essential.

I know the speeds, specially at the lower frequency end, will not be anything mind boggling, but the inherent communication range for such a device should be very very appealing allowing the device to communicate with the other side of the planet without a big effort, or power for that matter.

Anyway, as is at the moment it's already a very nice piece of hardware :) Good Luck and keep up the good work :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

vaclav_sal wrote 01/23/2015 at 18:00 point

Mike, I would like to remotely (QTH STX ) help, but Ido not wnat to post my CV here. Is you address on QRZ current? 73 AA7EJ

I'll send you snail mail if interested.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frankamato679 wrote 01/14/2015 at 15:10 point

Congrats, Michael, with Kickstarter! Hope you get a huge response over there

  Are you sure? yes | no

antennas wrote 01/03/2015 at 23:41 point

Great project. My question is, as of now can I buy all the parts and get boards made and build it? I think I will buy all the parts and have a go at it. But I suppose first I will build a reflow oven so I can solder it together.

What is the status as of right now to build this? Thanks so much for your work on this project!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frankamato679 wrote 01/03/2015 at 17:42 point

This project, and all the others here on Hackaday, reflect unique and innovative individuals who want to share their creativity, regerdless of complexity or application. This project, in particular, I personally believe, reflects Michael to be contributing a great degree of effort at a cost of personal financial expense and family time as most. if not all, on Hackday.

This isn't a pacemaker, it is an evolving project that isn't necessarily final on PCB layout yet. Plus, it is an open project that anyone can build and modify if needed, including the mentioned blue points.

Great work, Michael!

Do what you can whenever you can.

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asnieg wrote 01/02/2015 at 19:43 point

This is a bad design.
There is PCB Track
See the blue points.

This is the reason there is no email whose author of the project!

Artur SP3OSJ

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DainBramage wrote 01/02/2015 at 23:36 point

Care to explain? Care to fix it? Not all of us are EEs.

And maybe Michael doesn't want to have him email inundated with messages from people telling him his mistakes.

  Are you sure? yes | no

iz3okw wrote 01/03/2015 at 09:17 point

What are you saying Asnieg? The pcb has 4 layers and the apparently dead pads on the external ones find their corresponding tracks in the internal layers.

  Are you sure? yes | no

helge wrote 04/22/2016 at 07:30 point

1 year later... he expected blind / buried vias.

  Are you sure? yes | no

K.C. Lee wrote 04/22/2016 at 11:27 point

More like he expects the internal planes are used straightly as reference planes and not for routing general signals. Breaking up planes are bad layout for RF.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kd7wrc wrote 12/31/2014 at 00:22 point

Hello Michael

I have been looking at the HackRF, and today I found your project. I like that yours doesn't require a standalone PC, which could make my use simpler. I do have a come questions though. Does it by chance have any GPIO pins? It could be nice to change a channel using another remote device. Secondly, is there any way it could possibly support 70cm? What I have in mind for it would be using 70cm, and possibly on a couple different frequencies which I would like to be able to change remotely.

Also, you mention that you're waiting on quotes from some assembly houses. I work at a contract manufacturing place and would love to get a bid to you if you would be interested. Just let me know.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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