Democratising HF Radio Part 1

I recently submitted a Shuttleworth Fellowship grant application. I had planned to use the funding to employ people and accelerate the roll out of the project described below. I just heard that my application was unsuccessful (they wanted something more experimental). Never mind, the ideas lives on!

I’m exploring some novel ideas for messaging over 100 km ranges in unconnected parts of the developing world. Radios are migrating from hardware to software, making the remaining hardware component very simple. Software can be free, so radio communication can be built at very low cost, and possibly by local people in the developing world. Even from e-waste.

I have a theory that this can address the huge problem of “distribution”. I’ve been involved in a few projects where well meaning geeks have tried to help people using technology. However we get wound up in our own technology. If you have a hammer, every problem is a nail. I think we have the technology – it’s physically getting it into peoples hands at the right cost and in a way that they can control and maintain it that is the problem. I also hit this problem in my small business career – it’s called “distribution”, it was really tough in that field as well.

Here is the video part of a Shuttleworth Fellowship grant application:

And here are the slides.

I’ll be moving this project forward in 2015. The world needs to get connected.

5 thoughts on “Democratising HF Radio Part 1”

  1. Hi David,
    This is a nice project!
    Unfortunately Shuttleworth don’t realize how important it is. They give a prize for a guy using a comercial optic modem to transmit data few meters but don’t undertand that using an open-source hardware radio board to tranfer data over many KMs is really important.

  2. Hi David,

    sounds interesting. What does the hardware of this radio consist of? Do you have some schematic diagram? What kind of communication protocol do you have in mind?


    1. Hi Edgar,

      I’m working on some very simple hardware designs for the SDR radio, getting the ADC as close as possible to the antenna. The design in the video was a crystal controlled DSB design, just as a demo. Protocol TBC. “Owning” the hardware means we have some novel options available for the protocol.

  3. Hi David,

    Impressive video.

    I have an i&q rig running linrad feeding fldigi.

    Olivia 32-1000 is most impressive for this type of thing. 14107.5mhz.

    I wonder what your radio schematic looks like?

    I have yet to build a similar transmitter.

    Future work :).


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