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Software Defined Radios


By Daniel Yang, K6DPY

It seems Software Defined Radios* (SDR) are popping up everywhere these days. As personal computers, and integrated circuits in general, get more powerful with the march of Moore's Law, this has made SDRs more capable and less expensive to own and operate. This in turn fosters the proliferation of SDRs for many fields, including amateur radio.

Top of the line SDRs have recently reached the state of the art where RF is sampled directly from the antenna and converted to digital signals. This eliminates age-old problems associated with analog mixing and analog IF. These are exciting times for amateur radio. We amateurs of course are interested in the transceiver variety of SDR, not just receive only.

Here is the current, not necessarily complete, list of Software Defined Transceivers (in production and under development) targeted towards the amateur market.

*The accepted definition of a real Software Defined Radio is one "where components that have typically been implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, oscillators, modulators/demodulators, detectors. etc.) are instead implemented using software running on a personal computer or other embedded computing devices (embedded in the SDR)" . This is made possible by the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), which has come into its own over the last twenty years. FPGAs differ from Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) in that FPGAs are field programmable, while ASICs are designed with a certain purpose in mind and can no longer be altered after it is manufactured.

See the links below.
Daniel Yang, K6DPY



ARRL:  Software Defined Radio

Software Defined Transceivers:


Apache Labs Products

KickStarter bladeRF - USB 3.0 Software Defined Radio

KX3 Transceiver

Ettus USRP Instant SDR Kit





NW Digital Radio Products

SoftRock RXTX Ensemble Transceiver Kit

Zeus ZS-1 Transceiver

For further information, contact Daniel Yang, K6DPY.