Maverick-603: An Affordable FT8 Receiver with an Open Source RF Chip
The Maverick-603 is a US$149 FT8 receiver based on an open source RF chip design which is capable of acquiring signals between 7 MHz and 70 MHz (technically 1 MHz to 100 MHz). It is currently undergoing Crowd Funding on Crowd Supply with 7 days left in the campaign. Shipping is expected to begin in April 2023.
FT8 is a popular weak signal propagation digital mode used by ham radio enthusiasts. FT8 signals can be received and decoded all over the world even with low transmit power and poor propagation conditions thanks to its highly error tolerant encoding. A dedicated FT8 receiver allows enthusiasts to set up a 24/7 FT8 monitor without dedicating more expensive ham radio equipment to the task. Note that a computing device like a PC or possibly a Raspberry Pi 4 will still be required to run the FT8 decoding software as this is a software defined radio.
The Maverick-603 is based on a custom open source RF chip design made possible by the company eFabless. It is now possible to cheaply design and produce custom ASIC chips (at least at the lower end of the technology scale), replacing more costly FPGA designs. The technical specs of the Maverick-603 are:
- MCU: ATMEGA1608
- Power Supply: 3.3 V / 10 mA
- Operating Frequency Range: 1 to 100 MHz
- Minimum Signal Strength: -25 dBm
- Input Antenna Impedance: 50 Ohm
- Data Interface: SPI
- Board Size: 2" x 1.75"
- Capable of receiving FT8 signals
- 7 - 70 MHZ frequency range
- Low-power operation (1.8 Volts) means no battery or outlet is required
- USB Connection
- A compact surface area