Introduction

SOFTWARE DEFINED RADIO (SDR) has been around for many years but it is only in relatively recent times (since about 2015) that price/performance has started to match or even exceed that of conventional Superheterodyne radios for radio amateurs.

It is my belief that the cost of SDR will continue to fall, because the underlying hardware is essentially computing technology, with a vast range of potential uses, thus driving development and delivering economies of scale. The Superheterodyne radio, meanwhile uses technology with little applicability elsewhere and as a result lacks opportunities for cost reduction. Thus, I believe, SDR will soon make the Superheterodyne radio obsolete, in the same way as transistors supplanted valves or SSB replaced AM.

By its very nature, SDR is computer-based and it is therefore entirely natural that it tends to look like a computer. Hence most SDRs today have no physical front panel with knobs to twiddle and buttons to press, although it is probably true to say that this is a changing dynamic: the situation will in all probability be different in five years time.

That is all well and good, but the mouse makes a pretty lousy singular interface to analogue controls. With a conventional radio panel changing the volume, whilst simultaneously altering bandwidth or tuning the radio is simple and intuitive. With just a mouse as your user interface to the radio this simple task is effectively impossible and yet is is a highly valuable attribute in the heat of a contest or when chasing the DX around the bands.

That is the conundrum I faced when I first started looking at possibly adopting SDR for my DXing/contest station.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The same computer technology that makes it possible to have a radio without a physical front panel makes it possible to have one with a front panel. And so I started on a project, perhaps never ending, to design and build the radio front panel I wanted. That is what this Blog and associated pages is all about.

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