DELARANEWS

Dan

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Why aren’t more hams using GNU Radio?

For the past day and a half, I’ve been attending the GNU Radio Conference 2021 in my capacity as Content Manager for ARDC. There’s a lot of stuff that’s flying over my head, but I’m learning a lot as well. One idea that I can’t shake is why more hams aren’t using GNU Radio. There are a lot of cool things about GNU Radio: It’s open source and free to use. It runs—at least that’s what they tell me—on inexpensive computing platforms, such at the Raspberry Pi 4. There’s a graphical user interface for developing GNU radio applications, which makes programming much easier. Perhaps one reason is that it’s not that easy to set up and use. Nine months ago, I tried getting started with GNU Radio on a Raspberry Pi 4. My results were a bit disappointing to say the least. I keep threatening to get working on this project again, but I always seem to find an excuse not to do it. I’d guess that other hams are in the same boat. Another reason perhaps is that while many of us know what digital signal processing (DSP) is, and are aware of the advantages of DSP, making radios with DSP is hard. You do need to know some of the mathematics behind DSP and what techniques to use in particular situations. If you think the math on the Extra Class test is hard, then DSP is going to be a real brain buster. Perhaps I’m wrong, and there are a bunch of GNU Radio projects out there in the amateur radio world. If so, I’d love to know about them. Let’s just say for the moment that I’m right. What do we need to make GNU Radio more popular and used in the amateur radio world? The first thing I think we need is more basic DSP training. Again, if there are course out there—perhaps on Coursera or some similar learning platform—please let me know. Second, I’d say we need a “GNU Radio for Dummies.” This book/online course/set of videos would not only introduce hams to GNU Radio, but use as an example some simple radio, say a 70 cm FM transceiver. The hardware for this training course could possibly be the ADALM-PLUTO. This devices has a frequency range of 325 MHz to 3.8 GHz, and Analog Devices says, “[The ADALM-PLUTO] helps introduce electrical engineering students to the fundamentals of software-defined radio (SDR), radio frequency (RF), and wireless communications. Designed for students at all levels and from all backgrounds, the module can be used for both instructor-led and self- directed learning to help students develop a foundation in real-world RF and communications that they can build on as they pursue science, technology, or engineering degrees.” What’s more GNU Radio has very good support for the ADALM-PLUTO. Software-defined radio is the future of radio…including amateur radio. It behooves us to learn about this technology, if only to be able to use it more effectively. I’d also say that we should learn about it so that we can fulfill out purpose of “advancing the state of the radio art.” GNU Radio could be a big part of that. The post Why aren’t more hams using GNU Radio? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.
DELARANews

Dan

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Why aren’t more hams using

GNU Radio?

For the past day and a half, I’ve been attending the GNU Radio Conference 2021 in my capacity as Content Manager for ARDC. There’s a lot of stuff that’s flying over my head, but I’m learning a lot as well. One idea that I can’t shake is why more hams aren’t using GNU Radio. There are a lot of cool things about GNU Radio: It’s open source and free to use. It runs—at least that’s what they tell me—on inexpensive computing platforms, such at the Raspberry Pi 4. There’s a graphical user interface for developing GNU radio applications, which makes programming much easier. Perhaps one reason is that it’s not that easy to set up and use. Nine months ago, I tried getting started with GNU Radio on a Raspberry Pi 4. My results were a bit disappointing to say the least. I keep threatening to get working on this project again, but I always seem to find an excuse not to do it. I’d guess that other hams are in the same boat. Another reason perhaps is that while many of us know what digital signal processing (DSP) is, and are aware of the advantages of DSP, making radios with DSP is hard. You do need to know some of the mathematics behind DSP and what techniques to use in particular situations. If you think the math on the Extra Class test is hard, then DSP is going to be a real brain buster. Perhaps I’m wrong, and there are a bunch of GNU Radio projects out there in the amateur radio world. If so, I’d love to know about them. Let’s just say for the moment that I’m right. What do we need to make GNU Radio more popular and used in the amateur radio world? The first thing I think we need is more basic DSP training. Again, if there are course out there—perhaps on Coursera or some similar learning platform—please let me know. Second, I’d say we need a “GNU Radio for Dummies.” This book/online course/set of videos would not only introduce hams to GNU Radio, but use as an example some simple radio, say a 70 cm FM transceiver. The hardware for this training course could possibly be the ADALM-PLUTO. This devices has a frequency range of 325 MHz to 3.8 GHz, and Analog Devices says, “[The ADALM-PLUTO] helps introduce electrical engineering students to the fundamentals of software-defined radio (SDR), radio frequency (RF), and wireless communications. Designed for students at all levels and from all backgrounds, the module can be used for both instructor-led and self- directed learning to help students develop a foundation in real-world RF and communications that they can build on as they pursue science, technology, or engineering degrees.” What’s more GNU Radio has very good support for the ADALM- PLUTO. Software-defined radio is the future of radio…including amateur radio. It behooves us to learn about this technology, if only to be able to use it more effectively. I’d also say that we should learn about it so that we can fulfill out purpose of “advancing the state of the radio art.” GNU Radio could be a big part of that. The post Why aren’t more hams using GNU Radio? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.