A brief look at the FaradayRF

The FaradayRF is not a software defined radio, but it is a computer controlled digital TX/RX radio device. Basically it is a radio designed to communicate digital data over the 33 cm ham/ISM band. The 33 cm band is between 902 to 928 MHz in the ITU Region 2 area (Americas, Canada, Greenland and some pacific islands). It was designed for amateur radio operators out of the need for a device that allows for easy experimentation with digital radio. An amateur radio licence is required, but only at the technician level which is the easiest licence to obtain.

The product itself is a simple PCB which has on board a low power microcontroller (no OS), a GPS module, and an RF front end that can TX up to 400 mW. They write that with 400 mW a signal at 900 MHz can be transmitted up to 40 miles away. Also, by using low power micro-controllers and hardware radio (instead of SDR), they write that they were able to power the device from a single 9V battery for over 12 hours. The hardware and software is also all open source.

In some ways the FaradayRF is kind of similar to the Yardstick One/PandwaRF radios which were designed for reverse engineering or security research on digital signals. But the FaradayRF comes with SAW filtering to provide a clean output, an amplifier to boost the signal, and software aimed at providing digital comms making it more for amateur radio use.

Some applications might include point to point telemetry/comms, high altitude balloons, ocean buoys, digital voice, APRS, text messaging etc.

The FaradayRF starter set currently costs $300 USD and includes two units (one with GPS included and another without) or $330 USD with two GPS capable units.

Over on TwiT the creators were interviewed earlier on in the year and a video of that interview is available. Also check out their blog which shows some of the interesting things that they're doing with the FaradayRF.

The FaradayRF PCB
The FaradayRF PCB

There was also a 5 minute "lightning talk" about the FaradayRF presented at the DCC 2017 conference, which we show below. The talk about the FaradayRF starts at 9:57.

 

9 comments

  1. Bendail Vam

    I’m kinda along the lines of the other guy posting to, the price is not even in the ball game for the 21st century. You seem to be taking the postion of the major ham guys (I) (K) (Y) we all know who they are…take for instance the (I) guys come out with a shiny new SDR…at almost $1500?? THE problem with ham guys in this game is they selling apples to the apple farmers now – IE we have almost 2 full generations now of technology connected people who are using devices that frankly become disposable in line with Moore’s law. Granted cell phones are distinct products – but like the big (I)’s “SDR” radio – they miss what the actual S in SDR is, removing up to 80% of the cost of physical components – sure there is R&D etc but seriously “SDR” concept has been around for literally 40+. Again like the big ham guys throwing the oooh 32bit “DSP” marketing verbiage – they played that one till the cows come home, its a freekin DSP!!! For thousands of monies they demand for what in effect is and has been SCR (Software Controlled Radio) for tens of years now. NO to beat a dead horse but visually I gathered about 16$ worth of parts (retail) show in your board, so that leave 300+ to software?> No thank you. Your product you sell for what you think – but posting here is not dumb hams, paying too much for “DSP” LOL. Sorry just my two pennies worth.

  2. Luigi

    would be so nice if it could cover the region 1 ism band around 868Mhz or even better the 23cm band. do you know if there is any plan in supporting region 1 bandplan?

    • Bryce Salmi

      Luigi,
      We made the decision to focus on growing out the project in the United States before moving outside the country. This was a known decision to limit the scope of the project as we build out our software and manufacturing resources. The design is completely open source so really all that’s needed is some changes to the RF filters on-board and it will work in the 868MHz range. One day we will expand to global frequencies.

      Bryce,
      KB1LQC
      FaradayRF

  3. Ham, ham, ham

    The CC430F6137 they used is somehow outdated. It has a built in radio, the receiver has a sensitivity of -117 dBm @ 600 bit/s. There are newer transceivers (from TI, ST, Semtech, Silabs) that go down to -130 dBm at similar bit rates (without coding gain).
    And modern microcontrollers with less than 80 µA/MHz and a 32 bit architecture don’t cost too much either.
    I don’t want to revile the developers, it is still a nice piece of hardware – but there are better components at the same costs available.

    • Bryce Salmi

      The trick to this in our case is to focus. The massive benefit to the ham radio community is actually our software and infrastructure. As you pointed out the hardware is not aimed at being the best digital radio out there. It’s aimed at getting the job done so we can focus on the real value we are trying to offer through software and use-cases. We offer the radio for sale as manufacturing is quite tricky but we know how to do it and can help offer the hardware to people who don’t want to take our open source design and build their own due to time, money, or expertise reasons. I would be stoked if someone went and updated the hardware design before we do, that’s progress! For now there’s a ton of value left to add to ham radio with the design as it stands which excites me and those helping us to get this rolled out into the goals we’re setting out to achieve.

      Bryce,
      KB1LQC
      FaradayRF

      • Ham, ham, ham

        Thank you for your reply, Bryce. Please don’t get me wrong – your project is promising and you can achieve great results by developing good software on it. I was just wondering about the hardware decision, since I am working with that kind of modules during daytime. As a hobby ham project it is well made!
        Keep up the ham spirit.

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