About this project
Out of more than 800 entries, the PSDR took 3rd place in the 2014 International Hack a Day Prize Competition. Of the 5 finalists it is the most 'liked' and most followed.
What is the PSDR?
The Portable Software Defined Radio, or PSDR, is an Open Source, Fully stand-alone HF/Shortwave Software Defined Transceiver. It includes a Vector Network Analyzer and Antenna Analyzer as well as GPS. It's built for rugged portable use. It is designed to be a flexible platform for development, a learning aid, and and a useful instrument for electronics enthusiasts.
Why did I make it?
I'm an avid backpacker and radio enthusiast. To me there is something exciting about making contact with others from remote locations where cell phones and the internet can't reach. I wanted an advanced radio that was ideally suited to tough environments. That meant I it needed to be very compact, integrated, and durable. As an engineer, I wanted an open platform that really takes advantage of the hardware and has the potential to grow and be used for other applications.
There are numerous, excellent radios out there, but none offered the combination I wanted. The best radios are closed source, larger, and expensive, while most open designs are very basic and lacking in flexibility.
Help make the PSDR awesome!
Already the PSDR has had an enthusiastic reception in the radio and electronics communities. Many people have expressed excitement about helping improve the PSDR's hardware and software. I want to get the hardware out to everyone so that those that are willing to contribute will be able to.
The design is completely Open Source. Want to peek at the code, or examine the schematics? It's all right here. Some people have already built their own!
- Coverage from 0 to 35MHz
- Waterfall display that lets you see radio signals
- Receives AM, USB (Upper Side Band), LSB (Lower Side Band), and Morse code (CW)
- Modulates USB and LSB signals
- Variable bandpass filter
- Powerful ARM processor
- Color LCD display
- Dual DDS frequency Synthesizers
- Quadrature Sampling Detector & Exciter
- Digitally controllable instrumentation amplifiers
- Morse Code key (the "Giblet" on the bottom right corner of the enclosure)
- Magnitude & Phase measurement chip (for VNA and antenna analysis functions) with Impedance Bridge
- Dual SMA connectors, smartphone style earphone/microphone connector, and USB port
- Built in Microphone and Speaker
- Internal Lithium Polymer battery with charger and high efficiency switching regulator
- MicroSD slot
- Pads for grabbing raw I/Q signals, both in and out.
Things it will be able to do with your help:
I designed the hardware to be capable of the following, but I can't write all the software myself. Please note that I can't guarantee when or if these functions will be added, or that they will work as desired.
- Work as a full Vector Network Analyzer (VNA)
- Work as a spectrum analyzer
- Cover more modes, including digital modes and image modes
- Work as an emergency location beacon
- Antenna Analyzer
- Frequency Synthesizer
- Media player
- E Reader / Picture viewer
- Have improved audio
- GPS Mapping navigation device
- High end ARM development board
- USB control of any features, including the possibility to operate the PSDR remotely. The USB port supports USB On-the-Go, making it possible to connect keyboards or other devices. Firmware updates will also be possible over USB.
Limitations of the PSDR2's hardware
The PSDR2 being offered in this campaign is an evolution of an earlier design, but is not yet complete in some important ways. Backers should be aware that the PSDR2 is a development radio, not a finished product.
- There is no preselection filtering
- There is no filtering on the exciter output
- There are slots for a mixer and amplifier stage, but development for add-ons to take advantage of these slots is not complete (and will not be part of this campaign)
- The PSDR2 can modulate signals, but it can't filter or amplify them. In short, it can't transmit by itself.
Wait, so why am I even selling it?
The number one reason is that people want it! I want to get hardware out there so those that are interested can help improve its design and software. This will all help in the development of future hardware as well.
Do I need a license to use the PSDR?
The only thing you need a license for is transmitting. No license is need when using the PSDR for listening in on signals, using it as a tool, or for development.
Build Quality and Production
I want the PSDR to be a reliable, high quality device that will hold up well over time. For that reason, I am planning on using Automated Assembly, in Lehi, Utah to manufacture the circuit boards. Of many assembly companies I've used, I have found their work to be of the very highest quality. They cost a little more, but are worth every penny. They are local too, which means that I can work with them closely to solve any issues that arise and can save time and money on shipping.
I am also working with a local company to CNC mill the aluminum housings.
Why am I KickStarting this?
I don't have time to hand assemble more than a few of these. I would have to charge too much for them if I did. So I need help! Having the circuit boards produced is expensive, but more importantly, there are minimum quantities that need to be met. 100 units is about as low as most places seem to go, so I need to have the money to order 100 PSDRs at once! Same goes for having the housings produced.
There are development tools I need to purchase, and testing that needs to be done as well!
The History of the PSDR and More information
The development of the PSDR has been documented over at my project blog on Hackaday.io. Please take a look for more information on it's design and history, or to join the discussion.
Risks and challenges
I have worked to minimize risks involved in this project.
The PSDR2 is already highly functional, however, some features are not yet fully developed in the software, so performance cannot be fully guaranteed. Performance of some functions may not be satisfactory to all backers. The PSDR2 is meant as a stepping stone to further development and more capable radios in the future. It is intended for people who are excited to help with development and those that want to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Backers interested in buying a radio that is 100% complete, in both hardware and software, will probably want to wait for future versions.
I am working with vendors and assembly facilities to mass produce the boards and housings. I am working with companies that have demonstrated excellence in my previous work with them, however, some elements of production will not be entirely under my control. Delays in the supply chain would cause delays in shipping to backers. I have set realistic shipping estimates to set expectations accordingly.
In the happy event that demand outstrips my ability to produce and ship myself, I will work with RPH Engineering to increase production volume.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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