Everyone knows I’ve been a big fan of software defined radio (SDR). My first taste was with the G4020 kit from Genesis Radio of Australia. It was a neat kit, though a little quirky, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities. That experience let me to purchase my current main station radio, the Flex-5000A.
I follow their mail reflector for all manner of news and info pertaining to Flex Radio’s products. I was surprised to hear mention of a company called Apache Labs out of India. They offer some impressive SDR products that I think will be of interest to my blog followers. I’m a loyal fan of Flex Radio and their PowerSDR software, but I think that competition in the marketplace is good and raises the bar. Usually the consumer wins.
I’ve been reviewing the material on their website to learn more about the radios. From what I can tell they’re using the open source technology from TAPR and the HPSDR project to produce a viable commercial product. Their implementation of SDR is considered fourth generation. They’re using a digital down conversion/direct up conversion scheme. The Flex-6000 series also uses this architecture. It brings the RF into the digital domain practically right after the antenna. This eliminates the losses and noise artifacts and distortions caused by chains of mixers, op amps and other active components in traditional radio designs.
As far as hardware goes I think Flex has the edge. There’s no antenna tuner option and it doesn’t appear to be quite as refined. Both have 100W PA’s but but the Flex is more robust. Perhaps it’s made with some more high end components. The pricing is very competitive, though. I also has the ability to run using different software and other operating systems. This should make it attractive to the hams that aren’t fans of Bill Gates’ products. A feature that I really like is that it interfaces to the computer through a standard ethernet connection, either directly or through a LAN.
I think this is really exciting technology. I’ll be following these products as they become available here in the United States. I understand that they’re going to be a the Havmention this year. Hopefully they’ll have some display units up and running.