Is open source digital voice about to explode?

Digital voice is exploding! That’s the title of HamRadioNow episode 193 where Gary KN4AQ interviews David Rowe VK5DGR, creator of Codec2 and co-author of FreeDV.

In this interview David gives an update about Codec2 and FreeDV, introduces a FreeDV “Speaker-Mic”, and talks about a disruptive DV system for VHF/UHF he is developing.

The SM1000 “speaker-mic” with built in FreeDV modem can now be pre-ordered and will start shipping end of March. The SM1000 allows us to get on the air with FreeDV using any SSB radio with an audio interface, including the very old radios.

Unlike the digital voice radios you can buy today, the SM1000 is open source hardware and runs open source software. Its functionality is not limited by the manufacturer. We can upgrade the firmware to include new modulations and codecs, or to improve the existing ones. Wit the proper skills, we can even build our own custom version of the hardware. There are no secrets or patents involved.

Watch HamRadioNow episode 193: Digital Voice is EXPLODING!

As mentioned in the video, David has also been interviewed in the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast episode 138.

Later this year we will see the launch of the Whitebox Charlie, an open source SDR project that Chris Testa and Bruce Perens have been working on. It will be a handheld SDR transceiver that looks and works like a smartphone. This will be a low power developer version that we can use for experimenting. It will offer a VHF/UHF/SHF radio and a computer in one handheld-sized package.

Bruce Perens presented and demonstrated Whitebox Charlie at Hamcation 2015. His slides contain a lot of interesting info about this exciting product.

In the meanwhile, I am working on integrating FreeDV support into software defined radios that take advantage of existing hardware, such as the Funcube Dongle or SDR-IQ radios. Much more about that later.

So yes, 2015 might actually become the year where free digital voice is going to take off for real.

Author: Alexandru Csete

Embedded software engineer in the satcom industry during the day. Radio amateur and SDR hacker during the night.