Cubieboard as Funcube-1 telemetry receiver

Following up on my not too successful first contact with the Cubieboard, I have decided to try it one more time. It has been annoying me to have a computer board lying on the shelf not doing anything and since I wanted to migrate my Linux-based Funcube telemetry decoder from a PC to a single board computer this was an excellent opportunity / excuse to try the Cubieboard again.

To be honest, I am really not sure what went wrong the first time because this time everything seemed to go much smoother. I started with the latest Cubian image and it worked very well. The instructions are clear, concise and useful and lead me to a fully functional installation with minimal memory footprint

USB audio is already available in the kernel and the Funcube Dongle is recognized as soon as it is plugged in:

cubie@cubian:~$ cat /proc/asound/cards 
 0 [sunxicodec     ]: sunxi-CODEC - sunxi-CODEC
                      sunxi-CODEC  Audio Codec
 1 [V10            ]: USB-Audio - FUNcube Dongle V1.0
                      Hanlincrest Ltd. FUNcube Dongle V1.0 at usb-sw-ohci-1, full speed

As you can see the Funcube Dongle is device number 1.

Having a complete Debian system is great because it gives access to many packages. An installation of the Funcube Telemetry Decoder requires gcc, g++, make, libusb-1.0, sox, netcat, curl and fftw. All of these packages is readily available on Debian Wheezy for armhf, which is what Cubian is based on. IT took me one evening to install Cubian and test it, then another evening installing the telemetry decoder and installing it in the shack.

Funcube telemetry receiver

The Funcube Dongle connected to the Cubieboard receiving Funcube-1 telemetry.

Funcube telemetry receiver

The telemetry decoder installed in the shack.

The setup was working the first time, except that I forgot to install curl and the packets were not uploaded to the Funcube Warehouse. I fixed that and the receiver decoded 109 packets during the evening passes yesterday.

One issue I have noticed is ALSA overruns while recording from the Funcube Dongle. I suspect it has to do with the speed of the SD card I have used (class 4 as I recall). I get about 20 to 30 ALSA overruns during a good pass, but I don’t know what this means in terms of lost packets. I may investigate it in the future. For now I am just happy with getting the Funcube telemetry decoder scaled down fro,m a Windows PC to a single board computer 🙂

PS: Some people have asked me why not a Beaglebone or a Raspberry Pi for this? The answer is that all my Beaglebones and Raspberry Pis are currently busy doing world domination kind of stuff and I really only had this board available. No politics, no religion, just a coincidence.