Re: No 2m but still an APRS igate?

"John" <john@...>

Hi Josh,

--- In UniversalDigitalRadio@..., Joshua Mesilane wrote:
> Hi All,
> I LOVE what this radio stands for. I love the fact that it will be an open
> source radio, but is the hardware going to be open as well? PCB design,
> chip code, etc? Is the project going to be completely open source & open
> hardware, or only partially?

This is a commercial product.  NorthWest Digital Radio has and is making significant investment to bring it to the marketplace.  The company's goal is to provide an open platform for amateur radio at an attractive price point.

The reality is that every modern piece of equipment has some proprietary intellectual property, and when someone manufacturers a product there is always a trade-off between cost and delivery.  It is often less expensive to buy parts than to make them, and when you buy parts you have to live within the terms of the purchase/license.  For example, to support many Digital Voice protocols you must use a proprietary Vocoder (this isn't just a D-STAR requirement, it applies to all current major Digital Voice protocols).  NWDR will offer a daughter card with a chip that does that, but can't reverse engineer and provide open source for intellectual property they do not own.

Sometimes you have to sign  restrictive agreements just to buy parts from some manufacturers.  This will be a barrier to sharing some low level details.

> Will the radio be designed in such a way that if we wish to contribute to
> the project a "2m" version could be designed?
> Are the RF components modular and would they allow for swapping? (So that
> third parties could easily design and produce open hardware alternative RF
> boards)

I won't comment on specific product plans (there are identified product concepts which will be worked on after the initial UDR is ready), but if this product sells well, that will motivate and help fund future products.  The basic design is such that the engineering to place the UDR is pretty straight forward for a few VHF/UHF bands.
> Is there any hope for an RS-232 port?

The design for the UDR56K4 is 1 Ethernet and 4 USB ports. 

> USB-Serial/USB devices in general are notoriously bad for crashing and
> rebooting in RF environments which can easily cause the serial port to lock
> up and you then need to remove and re-plug the serial port.

I have experienced this in other projects.  This is usually due to ingress via RF on cables.  Using good shielding, quality cables with ferrite chokes on both ends, and good grounding will often mitigate the problem.

> I'm not so sure
> that I'd want to use my NMEA GPS via a USB/Serial adaptor (Or even an FTDI
> USB GPS) if it were going to be hard wired into a mobile installation. In
> that environment (IMO and in the field experience) RS232 is the only way to
> go. 

Cables can be minimized or eliminated using certain form factors for the device,  another option is Bluetooth. (E.g. a bluetooth GPS or Audio device with a micro-adapter (no cable).

73 - John 

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