Traditionally when we think about Software-Defined Radio we’re thinking about little USB adapters that unlock a world of radio in the palm of our hands. This is done by allowing us to directly sample the IQ data from the mixer within the SDR.
However, this isn’t the only way to experience Software-Defined Radio. Ham Radio operator [Charlie Morris] has uploaded a 10 part series on YouTube explaining how he implemented his own HF transceiver, including custom software. Some of the components such as the amplifier and filters are built completely from scratch, other components use a little DSP magic from a “Teensy” microcontroller.
Charlie actually samples the I and Q data in a similar way that today’s SDRs do and even implemented the transmit side of the radio so he can make contact with other radio operators around the world, and man… it sounds good!
You can find a complete playlist from Charlie with well-explained videos that go over his entire process from planning, schematics, layout and final operation. The channel appears to be quite active and will surely continue to pump out amazing content.
The Hermes-Lite is able to be very low cost (less than $300) because it is based on the AD9866 chip which is a mass produced RF front end (LNA + ADC & DAC) used in cable modems. Because it is a mass produced commodity, the chip only costs approx. US$35-$25 on Mouser depending on quantity. The chip has a 12-bit 80 MHz ADC and DAC, meaning that if used without any analog mixer front end (like in the Hermes-Lite) it can receive the entire spectrum between 0.1 to 38 MHz all at once.
The Hermes-Lite is also a lot more than just the RF chip, as it contains a set of switched RF filters and a 5W power amplifier for TX. It also interfaces with a PC via Ethernet and has a built in FPGA for DSP processing.
Recently Steve presented at the FOSSi Foundation Latch-Up conference on May 4-5, and a YouTube recording of his presentation is shown below.
YouTuber jmhrvy1947, has recently uploaded a number of videos giving an overview of how he built his own HF SDR transceiver using what he calls the “Lego build method”. The idea of the Lego build method was to build a transceiver with parts picked and pulled from eBay so that it could be easily reproduced by others. There are a few scratch made components however those designs are available on his GitHub page. The SDR only functions within about 100 kHz of spectrum at a time however for amateur radio HF work this is more than sufficient. Bare bones the radio puts out a mere 100 mW and although the output power is small, he’s made contacts up to 450 miles away using CW (Morse code). You also have the option of adding an amplifier on your output if you are looking for more power than that. His final revision currently puts out 100 Watts.
Using modified versions of fldigi and Quisk he is able to easily work various digital modes and sync the transmitter and receiver together. The only real down side to this radio is that you must switch out your receive and transmit filters whenever you wish to operate on different bands, a process that really only takes a moment or two.
Check out his videos on the project – it’s really amazing to see what can be done with a small budget these days in radio and with how far software defined concepts have brought us.
DIY SDR CW Xcvr Project
In the video below you’ll see an explanation of the software involved in this build.
Thanks to various contributors for letting us know about the OVI-40, a new open source DIY SDR ham radio transceiver project that is now available for ordering. The OVI-40 appears to be a German project that is based on the mcHF transceiver. It is a standalone SDR transceiver (no PC required) with a frequency range of DC - 75 MHz. Most discussion appears to be happening in German on their forums, so it is a little difficult to get English information about it.
The kit has recently been released for preorder. The transceiver is a kit involving SMD soldering, but can be ordered fully soldered for 202 Euros (~$240 US) + taxes. The LCD screen is an additional 24 - 27 Euros. The kit without soldering done costs 112 Euros (~$132 US) + taxes.
The advertised details and specs are listed below:
OVI40-SDR is a transceiver which covers VLF...75MHz. It is mainly a DIY project - but all PCBs will also be available as soldered, aligned / programmed PCBs for all those, who do not have the skill to build a complex SMD project by themself or do not want it. OVI40-SDR will also be available as "only RX" and can be expanded with TX stages later.
Developer team takes inspirations from all existing commercial and DIY projects to get a SDR which combines possibly the best of all of them. But OVI40-SDR is not only a TRX - it is a philosophy. A community based working together, regardless of different countries, languages, religions, political systems - all are working together to get a very nice transceiver for themselfes and for others who are coming to the project later - wants to show, what people can reach if they are working together and do not struggle against each other. HAM radio always has connected the world - using the possibilities of the internet adds much more power for community working.
RX from VLF (~ a few KHz) ... 4m, possibly 2m Including
TX 160m ... 4m: 50W, 2200m, 630m and 4m (2m if Implemented): 10 ... 20mW SMA Out
continuosly tuned preselection
PA works using double LDMOSFET, independent BIAS adjusted. BIAS is internally Measured via A / D and can be set in menu Directly in [mA].
TX and RX mixer with very low capacity to minimize LO leakage
true RX QSD mixer using instrumental amplifiers
all internal Voltages (8V, 5V) are generated using well-shielded switching regulators. Additionally switching frequency is shifted via firmware so that never harmonics are present in the RX spectrum
included hardware for measuring antenna (sweep) using logarithmic amplifier
output of an independent selectable rf to SMA plug. I am experimenting to use this as a beacon WSPR Which can run parallel to radio