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Enhanced By Simplicity
- CC430F6137 microprocessor | 2-FSK modulation
- Up to 500Kbaud raw data rate, throughput defined by software
- 256 Kbit SRAM
- 400mW RF output power 902MHz-928MHz
- Antennova M10478-A2 GPS
- On-board voltage regulator for 4.5V to 17V operation
Having a day-job where you design rocket and spacecraft avionics will teach you that simplicity is often the best answer. Simplicity allows focus on the main problems to be solved. Faraday is only as complex as necessary. The first radio we develop doesn’t need to be software-defined or run embedded Linux. It just needs to work.
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- USB Serial port
- SMA RF connector
- RESTful API
A standard SMA connector pumps out up to 400mW into the antenna of choice. Deploying the correct antenna for the situation provides the best performance. Communication with the computer is conducted over a common Micro-USB type B cable. Our open source code provides several levels of interfacing with the radio, all of which implement RESTful approaches.
Knowledge is Power
Faraday is open hardware released under the TAPR Open Hardware License. All supporting base firmware and software is open-source under the GNUv3 license. We mean it when we say we want to enable radio amateurs to be empowered to determine the future of the hobby.
Interfacing the Environment
- On-board MOSFET low-side switch with 2A current rating
- Six external ADC channels
- Five 16 Hz low pass filters
- One unfiltered ADC for microphone/external reference
- Nine external GPIO channels
- Access to external SPI pins
Ham radio is a beautiful hobby enabling radio amateurs to use spectrum, we should do cool stuff with our privileges. Faraday senses the world through GPS, Analog to Digital Converters (ADCs), and General Purpose Input-Output (GPIO) channels. The node is designed for computer and remote operation and weighs under 30 grams. It’s 2016 and it’s time we easily sensed as well as controlled our radios locally or remote.
Hardware Defined Radio
Faraday is not a Software Defined Radio. It’s modulation capabilities are defined in hardware. Many ham radio products are moving to SDR technology but not Faraday. We set out to provide a solution to the problem of amateur radio not having an easy to learn and cheap digital radio. SDR technology does not solve this problem, it distracts us. Few radio amateurs can be heard complaining that FSK or BPSK is hindering the hobby. Not when we live in a 2016 where 1200 baud AFSK is still the ubiquitous digital modulation. One cannot even purchase internet that slow.
We set out to provide a solution to the problem of amateur radio not having an easy to learn and cheap digital radio. SDR technology does not solve this problem, it distracts us.
Hardware defined radio has the advantage of being low-power by design. In-fact, without enabling any power saving techniques Faraday lasts about 12 hours on a single 9V battery when operated remotely.
Faraday Wears Many Hats
Faraday is intended for point to point communications as well as star networks. Faraday is already an access point for use in a star network providing a path from RF into another network. No fuss. This is accomplished at the network interface of a computer. Initially the data will port through a TCP/IP network such as the Internet to connect access points together. However, there’s nothing stopping functionality from being implemented by technologies such as the Broadband-Hamnet™ or AREDN™ in the future to provide more reliable backbone links.
One piece of hardware. One clear mission. Amateur radio’s last mile
We at FaradayRF envision a cellular network like data service for amateur radio. Faraday provides both the node and access point for this system as it is built.
Going The Distance
Check out our High Altitude Balloon Faraday Project
Faraday was put to the test on July 24th, 2016 when we drove to the cliffs of Palos Verdes, CA to install a temporary base station. This base station consisted of a Faraday radio, Raspberry Pi 3, battery, and a Hana OD9-5-NF base antenna with 6 dBi omni-directional gain. Positioning the base station on the cliffs of Palos Verdes, CA, about 23 meters above the ocean, provided a clear line-of-sight to the horizon over the Santa Monica Bay. The orange filled circle below is the radio horizon of the base station which clearly ends near LAX with the base station being located at the center where the pin has been dropped. The green filled circle is the radio horizon of the mobile Faraday located on Pepperdine University at an altitude of 183 meters above sea level. This will be described in more detail shortly.
Both Faraday radios were set to output 400mW of RF power at 915MHz. The mobile unit which was driven north up the Pacific Coast Highway used only a 9V battery until it was connected to a computer at Pepperdine University to receive data from the base station. Radio horizons for both stations were beautiful with the base station achieving 16.8 km (10.4 miles) while the mobile unit with its altitude advantage pushing the radio horizon to 48.4 km (30 miles)! Simply put, radio reception occurred along the beach up until LAX as predicted but at Pepperdine University, 40km away from the base station, the radio was just above the horizon of the base station allowing communications to occur.
Faraday was installed a simple Pelican case and a cheap magnetic mounted 915MHz antenna meant for the GSM service. The radio was powered simply by a 9V battery during the entire trip north along the Pacific Coast Highway with a small diversion along Highland Avenue which runs directly along the beach south of LAX.
Several hours later thanks to Los Angeles traffic Faraday was perched atop a 183 meter (600 ft) tall hill on Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. From this vantage point the radio horizon was a whopping 48.4 km (30 miles) away! This meant that while visually we couldn’t see Palos Verdes, CA it was above the horizon behind the clouds and LA smog.
Communications were established using all antennas which were brought including the lowest performance whip antenna shown above. This test proved that with only 400mW of power, a good base station antenna, and a clear line of sight we can achieve very good performance from Faraday. We want to push radio amateurs to not only learn more about digital communications but to be invested in the foundations of a wireless infrastructure serving the last mile. Faraday proved it was capable of this.
This test proved that with only 400mW of power, a good base station antenna, and a clear line of sight we can achieve excellent performance from Faraday.