A Decade of SDR (more or less)
It has been nearly a decade since the GNU Radio project was conceived. What began as a simple experiment to support wireless communications research is now used for many real world applications and is surrounded by an enthusiastic and growing community. Its constituents include students, engineers and scientists in a number of domains from commercial wireless, to medical and defense. Many have contributed to the open-source SDR movement and many more have benefited from the tools the community has shared.
At the time of its creation, GNU Radio quickly differentiated itself with its ability to combine signal processing blocks to implement software radios, but did not have an affordable hardware companion. This hampered widespread adoption. In 2004, Matt Ettus invented the USRP1 (Universal Software Radio Peripheral). These two pieces of technology, open-source GNU Radio software and affordable USRP hardware set the stage for enormous growth.
Today, we are proud to say that the combination of GNU Radio and the USRP software defined radio platform have served thousands of developers and enabled countless applications around the globe. Some applications include:
- Control satellites
- Implement large multi-antenna (8 x 8) systems
- Form the basis of real-world cellular networks
Continuous Improvement for Low-Cost SDR
Now, prototyping with software-defined radio is more accessible than ever before. You can instantly begin making your own contributions to the growing open-source SDR community with the “USRP Instant SDR Kit“. Plug in the included LiveUSB key and USRPTM (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) transceiver to instantly boot your computer into a complete Linux-based SDR design environment. Customize the included sample projects to design your own SDR and with the Ettus Research platform, you can seamlessly scale your designs to higher bandwidth, embedded, and MIMO capable USRP devices.
For those of you who are new to the SDR community, this translates to an incredibly fast start-up experience. Rather than spending your time dealing with driver and software installation, you will spend it working with real world RF signals. This kit also puts a wide variety of working sample applications and development tools at your disposal. Last but not least, this kit connects you to a world of fellow developers that you can learn from and share your experiences with.
And for those of you who are already contributing to the SDR community, we would like to point out that this is just one step in a process of continuous improvement. With this kit, we will be placing emphasis on usability and using this as a platform to help our more experienced users develop increasingly sophisticated projects. This is but one step and a sign of things to come.
For more information about the “Instant SDR Kit”, please visit the Instant SDR Kit page.
One Member of the SDR Community
We’re excited to be a part of this thriving community and as we look back at the accomplishments of the last decade, we are eager to see what the next decade will bring. As both a contributor and a hardware supplier of SDR tools, our reward is the success and growth of the community. It’s been rewarding to be part of the community and work with thought leaders and visionaries through events like the GNU Radio Conference, and the 2012 GNU Radio Hackfest make this an extraordinary collaboration for us. We look forward to interacting with more of you at the 2013 GNU Radio Conference.
In the meantime, we are interested in hearing your comments. What applications or technical challenges would you like us to provide example, demonstrations, or documentation on?