Faraday in many ways has similarities to some of the ISM band development boards and projects already available. However, we’d like to clarify just what makes Faraday different. We often see Faraday compared to projects with use LoRa technology, GoTenna Mesh, or Ubiquiti hardware repurposed for amateur radio use. Here’s why Faraday is a completely different product.
Designed For FCC Part 97
Faraday is not only intended but also designed for use on FCC Part 97 bands. This means at its core Faraday is for use and experimentation by radio amateurs. Just because the radio uses a 33 cm band transmitter intended for FCC Part 15 operation (ISM) does not mean that’s what it is designed to do. We made a conscious decision to leverage technology which overlapped United States amateur radio allocations in order to focus on solving the problems we set out to accomplish.
Faraday is one part of a larger network. Being open source and open hardware we fully intend to spur the development of a network that is interoperable with various RF modulations schemes. By design Faraday data meets the network interface (localhost) on your computer when acting as a modem. This means as long as hardware is present to modulate/demodulate RF bits and protocols coming into the localhost we can share data between them.
Faraday is starting a network that is tolerant of different RF modulations and protocols. It’s an ideology.
Faraday by default has a GPS module on-board and can transmit at 400mW. This alone separates it from most development board hardware intended for FCC Part 15 use. Additionally, since we have designed it for Part 97 amateur use we allow experimentation with external antennas without modification to the board. This is rare for Part 15 development boards. We also designed Faraday to be as clean as possible. We didn’t have to put a 915MHz SAW filter before the CC1190 amplifier but we wanted to and aim to provide a clean signal for radio amateurs.
The power supply was designed to be easy to use. Power is obtained from USB or external batteries up to 17V which covers 9V and lead acid cells such as spare computer UPS supply batteries. The on-board USB connector interfaces with the computer via USB serial and requires no external micro-controller board or interfacing hardware to communicate with Faraday. Simply plug in a USB cable. Finally, the ADC inputs are protected with RC filters for ESD and over-voltage events in addition to filtering out unwanted noise.
Few commercial Part 15 RF modules have put this much attention into making a radio easy to experiment and develop with.
Modular Code, RESTful Interface
Amateur radio is much more interesting if we are learning and building cool projects. Faraday is designed for experimentation via programming as well as simple operator use via a user interface. By using a RESTful interface we enable experimentation on-top of layers we’ve already solved. Providing this interface lets developers focus on expanding amateur radio applications and services without having to reinvent the wheel of sending bits over RF.
However, this doesn’t exclude anyone from experimenting with the RF hardware, low-level firmware and software, or any other sections of the code. It’s open! By intention we are developing the base firmware and software to adhere as strictly as possible to keeping the OSI layers separate. By doing this radio amateurs can develop new implementations of network stacks to keep the hobby progressing forward.
Open Source, Open Hardware, Educational
Most consumer oriented FCC Part 15 devices are closed source and closed hardware. This protects private Intellectual Property but hinders the ability to learn. Brent and I at FaradayRF decided we want Faraday to be more than just a product, we want it to be the start of moving amateur radio into a digital world. To do this we need radio amateurs to learn and build awesome projects along with us. You will see that all of Faraday’s hardware and code has been licensed appropriately.
We didn’t just provide a library to interface with Faraday using Python or a Serial API. The firmware and hardware are clearly open providing a unique view into all aspects of what it takes to create this radio.
Author: Bryce Salmi
Licensed radio amateur KB1LQC and Co-Founder of FaradayRF. Professional Electrical Engineer designing and building avionics for rockets and spacecraft during the day and developing the future of digital amateur radio experimentation by night. All opinions are my own.