Radio spectrum is a finite resource and it should therefore come as no surprise that radio systems are a particularly hot area of research. Whilst ever more advanced schemes for modulation, digital encoding and spectrum access promise increased efficiency, step upgrades more often than not require new hardware. As has been evidenced in the evolution of mobile telephony from analogue to GSM and 2.5G (GPRS) to 3G, and similarly in the evolution of wireless computer networks. A disruptive development in radio technology promises to change this and to bring an unprecedented flexibility to radio systems, and one similar to that which programming brought to the task of machine computation. Despite, or perhaps due to being at the cutting edge there are a number of open source hardware projects concerned with developing software-defined radio (SDR) technology. As with the earliest developments in radio systems radio amateurs are once again at the forefront, and at this month's meeting we will have a presentation on the comprehensive HPSDR platform.
HPSDR - High Performance Software Defined Radio
HPSDR is an open source (GNU type) hardware and software project intended as the "next generation" software-defined radio for radio amateurs and shortwave listeners. It is being developed by a group of software-defined radio enthusiasts around the world, and in a modular hardware fashion to help promote experimentation by both hardware and software developers.
John Melton has held an amateur radio license since 1984 when he was first licensed as N6LYT while living and working in California, and he was assigned the UK callsign of G0ORX on moving back to the UK. He became interested in developing open source software in 1990 with the launch of AMSAT Oscar 16, an amateur radio satellite with a store and forward messaging payload. He developed an open source software package to communicate with the satellite that ran on Linux (pre 1.0) and subsequently wrote an open source fully automated satellite ground station software package in Java. John has been a software engineer since 1970 when he was employed by Burroughs Corporation, and for the last 14 years he has worked for Sun Microsystems who were acquired by Oracle this year.
For the third meeting we'll be asking the question "what factors contribute to the success of an open source hardware project?",
and using Arduino and derivatives LilyPad Arduino and the concurrency.cc board as
the basis for an informal case study
Current Cost Bridge - an Arduino based, hackable consumer device
The Current Cost Bridge was developed using the open-source Arduino
platform. The reason for using Arduino, was to speed up the development
process of the bridge, allowing for fast prototyping and producing a
Chris Dalby (twitter) is Lead Software Developer at Current Cost Ltd with over 10
years experience in software development and network infrastructure. Chris
joined Current Cost in December 2009 to develop desktop and web based
software for the Current Cost monitor range.
Concurrency.cc - parallel programming for makers and artists
The concurrency.cc project describes itself as
"a group of educators and researchers exploring the development of tools that make parallel programming more
accessible to more people. Our hope is that concurrency.cc will serve the community of developers surrounding parallel
and concurrent languages on the Arduino and other low-cost embedded platforms."
Adam Sampson is a research associate in
the field of concurrent programming and complex systems simulation at the University of Kent.
He has enjoyed electronics as a hobby ever since being told off for dismantling the family vacuum cleaner as a small child.
(twitter) is a research student at the University of Kent
working on dynamically reconfigurable architectures and embedded systems.
He is passionate about the open-source hardware movement and likes tinkering,
so much so that he founded TinkerSoc, The University of Kent Tinkering Society
LilyPad - an Arduino based platform for wearables and e-textiles
The LilyPad Arduino
is a microcontroller, plus a set of sewable electronic components designed so they can be put together to create interactive wearables
or textiles based artworks. There is quite a range of components such as LEDS, sensors, buzzer, accelerometer and more
that can be connected with conductive thread. The board is based on the ATmega168V/328Vand was designed and developed by Leah Buechley
and SparkFun Electronics.
Rain Ashford (twitter)
is Senior Producer at BBC Learning where she is presently across the BBC's Media Literacy supertopic portal.
During her 10 years at the BBC she has developed and produced many of the BBC's high priority sites and online activities.
Passionate about technology, she recently started a Women in Technology network for her colleagues to discuss careers,
training, raising their profile and encouraging women to look at careers in tech.
She previously worked for BBC R&D as a Technologist where she worked on the
groundbreaking R&DTV project and the BBC's developer network, BBC Backstage,
she's a hardware hacker, coder, artist, gamer and blogger.
For our second meeting we've presentations from Andrew Katz on licensing
Open Source Hardware projects and a representative from Pay It Forward on
Altruistic 3D printing using RepRap.
Free and open source software is mainstream. Free and open hardware isn't.
Andrew is increasingly involved in open hardware, and considers what,
if anything, is different about hardware which makes open projects a challenge,
and whether it is possible to construct a licence, like the GPL,
which has a copyleft element applicable to hardware.
Andrew Katz is a partner at Moorcrofts LLP,
a boutique law firm in England's Thames Valley and advises a wide range of businesses on free
and open source related issues. He has lectured and published widely on the subject and is
a founder editor of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review.
Before becoming a solicitor, he trained as a barrister, and moonlighted as a
programmer during his studies at Bar School, programming in Turbo Pascal.
He has released software under the GPL.