HB/modular radios

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From: howie cahn (howi@world.std.com)
Date: Mon Feb 21 1994 - 17:15:41 EST


I think that all the discussion about what true 'homebrew' is has done is
to prove that there's no real answer and I'm not sure there's any point in
trying to find one. It's not like the definition of QRP where you can
measure compliance with a wattmeter. The only place where it matters at
all is in the scoring of a few QRP contests. There, I think a vague phrase
like "substantial operator involvement in the design or construction of
the equipment" would be sufficient. I agree with Laura, VE7LDH, and
others, that the definition should be pretty loose to let people work
their way up the construction ladder at whatever rate they want.

Something that's been missed, so far, is, What about equipment that's a
mixture of homebrew and commercial pieces? A few examples:
        .Ten-Tec, in their nice new kit catalog, describes boards like Tx
RF decks, switch modules, etc., that you can build a rig around.
        . There's a lot of interest in replacing a radio's audio section
with a computer-based SoundBlaster-type board where you use DSP to
implement configurable filters, AGC, and packet modems. Several people
here on the net say they're working on the software now.
        . There are frequency synthesizers available, like the DDS boards
described by John, N9JZW, in _73_.

The point is that, increasingly, 'homebrew' equipment is going to be made
up of combinations of pieces like these. Just about all homebrew stuff is
primitive compared to a commercial transceiver. It's practically
impossible for one person to design and build a state-of-the-art radio
these days. If the only choice people have is either 'pure' homebrew or a
commercial transceiver, most of them are going to buy their rigs.
Instead, a way to get them involved with their radios, without giving up
the performance they're used to, is to encourage the trend of building
radios from modules. The radio would be a hybrid, some combination of:
commercially bought pieces, boards constructed from kits or magazine
articles, and modules designed from scratch. Rather than splitting hairs
about what homebrew is, it would be more productive to working on defining
the standards for these modules.

72/73... howie, wb2cpu


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