The Future of Amateur Radio is Software

The future of amateur radio will be built on its software and supported by hardware. Amateur radio operators will continue to solder components together and string up antennas, but this will be a means to an end for most people. We’ve seen incredible performance increase in hardware by moving towards software defined radios, yet this change has not drastically affected how the radios are used. Hardware is smaller and more accessible than ever before. This has created an opportunity for technology to start changing how we use radios. The change is starting to focus on us, the operators, and software will be the catalyst.

FaradayRF Firmware screenshot

FaradayRF Telemetry firmware radio code.

Change Is Good

There will always be resistance to change. The “know coders” and “real radios have knobs” camps will always have an opinion. Ham radio has been and always will be a medium to explore. Instead of complaining about change, many of us are building digital communities of like-minded people. Radio amateurs who find WSPR and FT8 fascinating are pushing its use for keyboard to keyboard operation. Communities such as FaradayRF are putting the idea of keyboard to keyboard communications into question, pushing forward towards more automation. Ham radio operators are experiencing a paradigm shift within the hobby. Amateur radio isn’t just about real-time communications anymore; experimenters are building interconnected digital infrastructures to serve the wider community. The hobby is about to explode with growth directly from software and hardware platforms waiting to be implemented as tools from the radio amateur’s toolbox.

Networking operations within ham radio allows each station to become larger than itself. Imagine real-time authentication of QSOs using digital signatures. Silence on many of the
microwave bands could be filled with activity as digital networks are much more suited to these bands. Microwave operation is difficult with point to point contacts but perfect for networking short hops between larger collections of stations. Even data mining operations within the bands and using the analytics to gain useful insight into the hobby would be fascinating. Improved sensor telemetry also allows ham radio to be on the forefront of citizen science.

A Connected Medium For Exploration

Ham radio is no longer just about making the contact. Instead it’s changing into an incredibly useful medium for fun, education, and experimentation just like it always has been. Simply, we always viewed the hobby as a means to communicate when the hobby is even more interesting if the communications become the enabler of even better technology. Software glues hardware and adventures together. Our hobby provides us the opportunity for adventure, linking distant stations together. This is why the future of ham radio is software. Embracing this change will grow not only the technology in amateur radio but the strength of our community.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Author: Brent Salmi

Co-founder of FaradayRF and an electrical engineer working in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles. I’m a General class amateur radio operator (KB1LQD)

4 thoughts on “The Future of Amateur Radio is Software

  • I guess you are right that “change is good,” but where is the fun, the human connection of a genuine conversation in automated qso’s?

  • K4WK, thanks for your comment! The human connection comes in real-life! There’s no reason we won’t be working together in clubs and organizations to build interesting projects and systems. Just because we may automate some of our hobby that previously was a part of the “connection” experience doesn’t mean we can’t morph what that connection is. I imagine a future where our relationships may be build less on the air and more in person!

  • Believe I have a little catching up to do on SDR. Not quite into DMR, D-Star, C4FM myself. Kind of off the air for a while on HF. Radio died. Got bills to pay before a new rig comes in the house.stay tuned-Tim, N4TCM

Leave a Reply


Your Cart

%d bloggers like this: