FW: open radio architecture

Skelton, Tom TSkelton at engineer.clemsonsc.NCR.COM
Thu Apr 8 10:55:00 EDT 1993

I agree whole-hearted with Eric's complete proposal.
Wouldn't it be great to have a "PC" in which you could
plug boards to give you the features you wanted? I will
be the first to admit, however, that it will take a great
deal of personal adjustment on my part not to have
knobs to turn or switches to push.

Someone on the net mentioned that Collins tried this
a few years ago and it didn't fly.  Maybe now is the time?

Thanks Eric.

73,Tom WB4IUX

From: hq.tgv.com!tgv.com!cq-contest-relay
Subject: open radio architecture
Date: Wednesday, April 07, 1993 12:00AM

   Did anyone else read the closing editorial in the most recent issue of
Communications Quarterly?  It advocated a project which has interested me
for a couple of years.

   The project is to create an "open radio architecture" (ORA).  "Open"
means something like the IBM-compatible PC market:  A radio building block
architecture with standardized interconnects between the building blocks,
standard powering, and a common chassis.  Owners could purchase building
blocks on a mix & match basis.  For example, if you wanted a crunch-proof
first mixer stage, you could buy a top of the line card to drop in.  More
modest performance modules would be available at other price points.

   The operator interface would be "softer"; i.e., CRT screen, a few
knobs, and a lot of keyboard/software control.  Programming would be
open also, so that new bells and whistles can be added both to the radio's
control code as well as to the firmware/hardware.

   Competition between suppliers of software/firmware and various modules
would help drive prices down and allow performance to be incrementally
increased by selective investments in parts of the ORA which are important
to you.

   I believe this is going to happen only if hams step up to the bar and
start matters off themselves, as was done by TAPR and others in creating
the first packet TNCs.  These packet pioneers basically got together and
engineered something that worked, and make the designs available to
manufacturers with minimal/no licensing fees.  The manufacturers scrambled
to put out hardware, focusing on cost-optimizing the manufacturing process
itself -- since the engineering work had already been done.  After things
got started, then manufacturers began to add their own functions/variations
around the standard TNC functions.

   The building blocks seem to be out there.  Look at the recent QST
article on high-performance direct conversion receiver modules -- a great
and relatively straightforward start.  DSP at audio frequencies is here
now as well.  And it would not take great efforts to completely synthesize,
at a moderately low frequency with DSP and D->A conversion, a signal to
be transmitted, then mix it to the output frequency and send e.g., 100 
watts to an external HF brick for amplification.

   That's a start ... and then one can backfill by adding IF-based functions
in the receiving chain (if necessary) and surrounding it with good software
control.  A super-chassis might even include an IBM-compatible computer
system to house CT/DVP/AMTOR/etc and share CRT/power supply as another
packaging option.

   Anyone else interested in seeing this come to fruition?  Anyone know of
some real work being done in this area?

   As contesters who seek out the best in radio performance, this seems like
something we want to encourage.

 -- eric  K3NA

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