Linked by the_randymon on Wed 9th Jan 2013 23:37 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Anyone who has turned on a shortwave radio in the past decade knows it's a wasteland out there, to the chagrin of nostalgic old geeks like me. But this technology sector is also one poised to explode with innovation thanks to software-defined radio. From H-Online: "Software-defined radio promises to [make] the complexity in radio systems a software problem. The principle is simple and, in the ideal setup, an antenna is connected directly to analogue-to-digital converters for receiving signals and digital-to-analogue converters for transmitting them, with software running on an attached processor taking care of everything else." Your computer is about to become more useful than ever.
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DSP radio
by transputer_guy on Thu 10th Jan 2013 03:29 UTC
transputer_guy
Member since:
2005-07-08

When I read about Software Defined Radio, it is always in the context of military. Cell phones are already probably software defined to some extent except the various standards make them pretty well frozen for each generation. Its the job of the system engineer to select which DSP blocks go into hardware or software to meet the current specs.

Looks like the picture of the GNU radio is FPGA driven too, Verilog based, looks quite interesting.

And the RTL2832U is a cheap way of getting some of that capability for low end.

This getting way out of the normal coverage of OSNews?

Reply Score: 3

RE: DSP radio
by CavemanGR on Thu 10th Jan 2013 06:43 UTC in reply to "DSP radio"
CavemanGR Member since:
2011-08-11

>>This getting way out of the normal coverage of OSNews?

Not really, probably is very insightful. In the forthcoming versions of near field communication SDR shall have a major role in the market. A new patent era rises though not many have realized that. Yet. And of course the various implementations of the same algorithms for various OSes etc etc...

Reply Score: 4

RE: DSP radio
by the_randymon on Thu 10th Jan 2013 13:44 UTC in reply to "DSP radio"
the_randymon Member since:
2005-07-06

Howdy: original submitter here. Out of the normal coverage for OSN? It's at the limit, certainly, but I think these days there's a lot of interesting stuff going on in the tech world that implicates OS but doesn't qualify as strictly OS stuff. Anyway, I thought it would interest this crowd.

One big place where this technology is hitting the airwaves is digital radio mondiale. Check out http://www.drm.org (the world's worst acronym, given the whole RIAA thing). The idea is you use the old shortwave radio frequencies to broadcast a radio signal that's basically digital (if I don't have this quite right, it's because I only partially understand it myself). Then consumers buy radios that have computer technology inside - probably something no more complicated than a little Android stick - that receives the signal and interprets it. The result is a digital-quality radio broadcast transmitted over the airwaves. There are prototype radio receivers out there, and an organization that's getting government and authority support to dedicate those frequencies. Several stations (BBC is one) are experimenting with the technology, and the initial results are apparently very promising.

Shortwave frequencies allow transmissions to be beamed around the world. In the old radio days, the signal quality was poor. This would fix that problem. Yes, there's internet radio, but scumbags like the ones I discuss at http://www.dictatorshandbook.net have made it too clear that they can cut the internet whenever they want to. That means internet radio can be controlled and even monitored. Digital Radio Mondiale can be broadcast like the old days, and governments can't monitor who is listening to the signal. It's a bold move for freedom fighters.

That's really cool, and this is the tech that's at the heart of it. As an old shortwave geek, this would bring all the coolness of radio technology to the modern generation now that the internet has shown its weaknesses.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: DSP radio
by transputer_guy on Thu 10th Jan 2013 16:44 UTC in reply to "RE: DSP radio"
transputer_guy Member since:
2005-07-08

The more of these off beat hardware/firmware/software articles that get posted, the more I'll stick around, its right up my street, hardware software continuum.

So one way of looking at shortwave radio is as a retro internet with new DSP hardware to make it work a whole lot better. I can see why some my be interested but I see very little bandwidth there compared to internet radio/TV. But I also think it would be incredibly easy to jam too, there are still a few countries that don't welcome open airwaves or foreign ideas, ie NK.

I know the BBC and EU has done far more with radio than the US has. In the UK I guess everyone has DAB in their car, in the US we got junky old FM which I practically never use.

I checked out the DRM site, it is nice to see the huge quality difference made possible.

As a kid we actually used a real vacuum tube wireless set with LW,MW,SW without that new fangled FM thing so I well remember SW propaganda broadcasts from the old evil empire, "Radio Prague" etc plus Radio Caroline before auntie Beeb took over.

So yes the new tech is very cool, but I'm not convinced about radio. I wonder if there is enough bandwidth to put low res TV on it instead and send TV channels over SW, probably not.

I made my own TV antenna for free over the air broadcasts so I'm painfully aware of the limits of this medium.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: DSP radio
by the_randymon on Thu 10th Jan 2013 17:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DSP radio"
the_randymon Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't get the idea the goal is to make this into a retro internet sent over the airwaves. I think the idea is to use advances in radio technology to design a new combo of radio transmitter and receiver, and then transmit music and talk. So, the goal isn't internet, it's radio ;) just using new transmission technology instead of old fashioned amplitude modulation.

So don't hold your breath expecting video - I think they're trying to get the old world of interesting programming (news, analysis, talk, even music) distributed over the airwaves, using probably packet technology or something else digital. It's cool anyway.

And I agree, I think OSNews needs to branch out a bit.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: DSP radio
by tidux on Thu 10th Jan 2013 21:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: DSP radio"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

And hell, Thom could even spin it as a logical progression.

Desktop OSes => embedded/mobile OSes => phones => SDR

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: DSP radio
by Fergy on Fri 11th Jan 2013 08:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DSP radio"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

I know the BBC and EU has done far more with radio than the US has. In the UK I guess everyone has DAB in their car, in the US we got junky old FM which I practically never use.

I thought it was mostly stillborn and only properly forced in BBC land. How you could introduce a digital replacement for FM and use something worse than MP3 is beyond me. Why bother?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: DSP radio
by zima on Mon 14th Jan 2013 18:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: DSP radio"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

How you could introduce a digital replacement for FM and use something worse than MP3 is beyond me. Why bother?

The introduction took a long time... (I suppose you don't want to rush such things)

...at least DAB+ improves on this aspect, with AAC.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: DSP radio
by zima on Mon 14th Jan 2013 18:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DSP radio"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

SW propaganda broadcasts from the old evil empire, "Radio Prague" etc plus Radio Caroline before auntie Beeb took over.

?? (/me interested in more details)

Reply Score: 2

RE: DSP radio
by zima on Mon 14th Jan 2013 19:04 UTC in reply to "DSP radio"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

When I read about Software Defined Radio, it is always in the context of military. Cell phones are already probably software defined to some extent

IIRC at least some lines of mobile network base stations (from Huawei for example) use software defined radio ...I guess because power requirements are less strict than with handsets.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Tractor
by Tractor on Thu 10th Jan 2013 22:05 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

I've worked on Software-defined radio in the last 10 years. Imho, this is only going to be as useful as programmable chips. Which is to say : Geekland only.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Tractor
by _txf_ on Fri 11th Jan 2013 00:06 UTC in reply to "Comment by Tractor"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

I've worked on Software-defined radio in the last 10 years. Imho, this is only going to be as useful as programmable chips. Which is to say : Geekland only.


Also it is massively power hungry ATM, limiting its use to base-stations or devices with big batteries.

One should also note the difficulties in transmitting and receiving in the whole spectrum. If one plans to convert RF directly to digital baseband, you going to need beastly ADCs and DACs (among many other issues).

Edited 2013-01-11 00:06 UTC

Reply Score: 4