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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP vs alternatives

From: Johnathan Corgan
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP vs alternatives
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 12:25:01 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20080724)

Paul Miller wrote:

> I'm just trying to get my feet wet on the subject, so the $8 - $50
> pricetag is easier to swallow than $700-$1400.  I'm assuming there's a
> huge amount of limitations with the sr40 over the USRP, but it can be
> used successfully.  That's interesting.

These are apples-to-oranges comparisons.

The USRP is designed to digitize and present to the host software up to
8 MHz worth of bandwidth centered essentially anywhere from DC-3GHz, and
if you're adventurous and want to reprogram the FPGA, you can do limited
processing with 60 MHz wide waveforms there.  (The USRP2 extends this to
25 MHz on the host and 100 MHz wide on the FPGA).  Of course you can
also do all the typical narrowband digital and analog waveform
processing you want, and the USRP also works as a transmitter.

The SoftRock-40 down-converts 48 KHz of RF spectrum at around 7 MHz
center frequency, and uses your computer's sound card to digitize these
into samples.  This is the amateur radio 40M allocation, where there is
a lot of activity in a variety of narrowband transmission modes.

Clearly, these are intended for vastly different audiences, with
differing requirements for RF capability, programming skills, and budget

What they have in common, and what makes both such wonderful devices, is
that they make RF digital signal processing accessible to large numbers
of people.  Not too long ago, this was an arcane discipline limited to
the professional RF engineering staff of industry and government
agencies.  Now, along with GNU Radio, persons of the right sort of
curiosity and perseverance can learn the fundamental principles of DSP
and digital communications with a very small investment.

GNU Radio will work with either, though as a software radio *toolkit*,
GNU Radio requires you to write programs rather than having a lot of
canned, pre-written, fixed-function applications.

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