We think after we build this new PCB we can go for the croudfunded manufacturing run. It's mostly surface-mount, and we expect to sell assembled boards in this run, and then the next version will be fully-packaged radios.
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Matt Ettus has a story about a Chinese cloner of the USRP. The guy tells Chinese customers that it is illegal for them to buy from Ettus, they must buy from the cloner instead. Then, when they have problems and require serivce, he tells them to get it from Ettus. Who of course made nothing from their device sales and can not afford to service them.
This is not following the rules of Open anything. It's counterfeiting.
So, sometimes it is necessary to change the license a little so that you will not be a chump. I discussed the fact that the hardware is fully disclosed but not Open Hardware licensed with RMS, the software is 100% Free Software, and there is a regulatory chip you can't write. We can go for Respects Your Freedom certification that way..
I've paid my dues as far as "Open" is concerned, and Chris has too. This is all we can give you this time.
The case selection was so that we'd have at least one case that would work. We did not take much time on it. We'd be happy to have other people designing and selling cases.
The version after this one requires cases that look like real radios. That is going to be a bigger problem. We don't yet have a mold-design partner, etc.
We implement it as a chip that intercepts the serial bus to the VFO chip, and disallows certain frequencies. On FCC-certified equipment we might have to make that chip and the VFO chip physically difficult to get at by potting them or something. This first unit is test-equipment and does not have the limitation.
Anyone who is good at electronics can get around regulatory lockouts. We're not allowed to make it easy. But nor are we technically able to make it impossible.
U.S. regulation only allows Part 95 certified radios to be used on GMRS, and Part 95 requires that the radio be pretty well locked down. But all of those Asian imports are certified for Part 90 and there are lots of users putting them on both Amateur and GMRS. If FCC wanted to push the issue with any particular licensee, they could.
The D-STAR issue is not really ICOM's fault. JARL designed D-STAR (not ICOM) and put the AMBE codec in it because nobody believed that you could have a good open codec at the time. We now have Codec2 (a project I evangelized and recruited the developer) which is fully open. And we do have a software AMBE decoder in Open Source, although the patents won't let us use it. That is why I am working on the patent issue (as noted in the last slide of the presentation).
I know about the counterfeit FTDI chips, and Matt Ettus told me what has happened with the Chinese clone of USRP. We know what to do.
And it's because of No-Code. We looked at the licensing statistics and thought we'd preside over the end of Amateur Radio in our own lifetimes. That's the main reason I worked on no-code. There was really strong opposition among the old contingent, and ARRL fought to preserve the code for as long as they could. Someone even asked me to let Amateur Radio die with dignity rather than sully it with no-code hams. Gee, I am glad that fight is over.
Though a nice compromise might be to allow such things in certain bands only.
That is why there are different radio services. Hams really only have a few corners here and there of the radio spectrum. There really is a service for everyone, although you should be aware that the entire HF spectrum would fit in a few WiFi channels, and all of the Amateur HF spectrum would fit in one. So, we don't really have the bandwidth at all. And people who want the bandwidth on UHF already have WiFi and the various sorts of RF links, etc.
The internet really sucks and we don't want another one on ham radio. Nor could we possibly have the bandwidth to support one. The entire HF spectrum fits in just a few WiFi channels.
To satisfy the demands of the "it should be anything goes" crowd, we have CB radio. And there are all of the common carriers, etc.
So, I can't sympathize, and even if I did, there are not the technical resources there.
I am afraid that's not the way it works. Public-key encryption doesn't really give you the capability to decode the communication of two other parties unless you get the secret (rather than public) key, which they have no reason to give you. There is also a session key that is randomly generated and lives only for the duration of the connection, and there is the potential for VPNs or tunneling that further obscure the actual communication. It's actually very difficult for a monitoring station to even get 100% of the packets reliably, although the two stations in the communication do get them. So you may not be able to reconstruct all of the bits in the stream, and this will break decryption too.
All of this adds up to so many technical hurdles that in practice you have to be NSA to decode the communication, hams who are attempting to self-regulate will not have the appropriate resources.
TDMA is time-division multiple access. It just means dividing the channel into time-slots, where each is some number of milliseconds. So, say we had two slots, each 20 ms long. We could receive for 20 ms, and then re-transmit what we received in the next 20 ms. No duplexers, no front-end overload, just one frequency. Works really well with digital modems and voice codecs.
Actually the nature of the content does have relevance. It absolutely must not be commercial. Now, give me a way to regulate that when I can't break the encryption.
And if you are about to tell me that you should be allowed to do commercial stuff on Amateur Radio, you won't gain any sympathy. That's what your cell phone and a dozen other radio services are for. This was never meant for you to check your gmail, etc.
I think you should assume that your desires were simply incompatible with the service, and that both you and the hams are better off that you're not participating.
If we put in every feature, we'd never get done. Maybe we'll have a 0-to-SHF radio eventually.
I think Javier Serrano at CERN wants to fund improvements in Kicad and gEDA. I don't know enough about them myself. Chris has his favorite PCB program and I didn't force him to use something else.
But you think that's bad? The gate-array has a proprietary bitstream. You need a zero-cost but proprietary program to make it. That's the one that really irks me. We hope to work on that issue eventually.