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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Re: A Humble Request.... - "Open-Hardware"

From: J.D. Bakker
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Re: A Humble Request.... - "Open-Hardware"
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2011 00:44:35 +0100

[Moeller, please include some blank lines in the inline replies, as without those your mails are much harder to read]

At 00:11 +0100 10-01-2011, Moeller wrote:
On 09.01.2011 22:34, Marcus D. Leech wrote:
> Sounds like you're volunteering to create such a project. Let us know when > you have everything set-up, including initial high-level designs, and
 preliminary parts selections.  :-)

No, but some people started (SSRP), really a good starting point...

The SSRP doesn't look too bad. Another option is the OpenHPSDR (http://openhpsdr.org/); I believe people are working on GNUradio drivers.

 > But as an occasional small-scale hardware manufacturer myself (both in RF
 > electronics and aerospace), I can tell you that simply looking at the raw
 > BOM costs doesn't give you a good feel for how much it actually costs to
 > produce/test/support real-world hardware.

This is the commercial point of view. I compare this to the Microsoft-approach. They need lots of money for producing, testing and supporting operating systems and Office.

Don't take this the wrong way, but you're sounding like a theorist with zero experience in hardware design.

When I designed the LART (a decade-old software radio experimentation platform), it took me two revisions of the six-layer PCB prototype (at >$500 per revision) to get the board working. A few months later it turned out that the voltage regulator chips I'd used were suddenly impossible to get, so I had to do two more board re-spins. The proto boards were assembled at a professional facility for >$1000, until I got a reasonable yield soldering 0.5mm pitch LQFP packages myself (destroying several PCBs and $150 processor chips in the process). To test the boards I needed access to several tens of thousands of $ worth in logic analyzers, signal generators and spectrum analyzers. And then there was the global tantalum capacitor shortage...

Needless to say, none of this would have happened if I would have had to pay for it out of my own pocket. Luckily, this was a University project, and I managed to persuade the powers that be to allow me to release the design files.

Once again: software development and debugging is essentially free, with a 'make' of a new revision costing nothing but time (and some electricity). None of that is true for hardware development. Calling it the "Microsoft-approach" doesn't change any of that.

I think for $100-$300 you could build a good SDR with mass-market chips (USRP uses quite common chips), affordable for students and hobbyists, with certain trade-offs regarding maximum performance.

If you were talking software, I'd say "please post your patch".

I'm looking forward to reviewing your schematics and/or layout. If you want to do the work, I'll gladly assist. If you're trying to get other people to do the heavy lifting, I would respectfully ask you to grow up.

JD 'http://xkcd.com/386/' B.
LART. 250 MIPS under one Watt. Free hardware design files.

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