Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The HT of the Future?

Bob, K0NR wrote back in 2012 about the theory of dualband (2M/70cm) handheld transceiver that is built on top of the Android operating system.

He wrote:
"While this hardware configuration is exciting, the real power comes from having a software developers kit (SDK) with a stable Application Programming Interface (API). This would unleash the creativity of all those software-oriented hams out there and a plethora of apps would emerge"
I agree.

Since then, smartphones like the Runbo X5 are available, these have a built in UHF two way radio.

More recently Bruce Perens K6BP has been giving talks about his vision of the "HT of the Future."
Some of his points are:

Narrower bandwidth, not more than 3 KHz
Higher end units run Android, and host applications which communicate over digital radio.

-The prototype we are working on is based on Chris Testa's Whitebox design, and an Android touchscreen computer as the user interface and application host.
-It can run Android applications in conjunction with it's packet, digital voice, or FM two-way radio.

- It has WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, USB, Ethernet.

The problem is Apps use data to transfer information to work.  If we are talking 1200 or even 9600 baud, then the app space is doomed by this limitation.  There really isn't any talk about apps as those will be a third party thing. However I feel you should identify what some potential ones would be, so that the hardware can be designed to accommodate. I don't see that, so it's more or less; here it is, if you can make it do what you want, cool.  Else not cool. In short I think the data rate will significantly impact what you can do with it.

Whitebox is SDR design optimized for a handheld.  It uses a Flash based gate-array for low power consumption.  The problem is it's a narrow band I/Q modulator design.  This version probably isn't good for spread spectrum. However HackRF, an open source SDR platform by Michael Ossmann would be.

I have written many times that ham radio needs to embrace spread spectrum.  I have also pointed out that is somewhat incompatible with our gentlemen's developed bandplans.

So I'd like to compile a list of things (think big) you'd like to see your future HT do. Here are some of my initial thoughts:

Mesh style, were if your HT can't reach the repeater/ other person it will find a relay (your mobile etc - think same band crossband)

GPS for APRS as well as auto downloading/programming local repeater frequencies on the fly. Street level map display for APRS (android interface)

Voicemail - if your not answering a directed call it will go to a hunt group, and lastly voicemail till next time you PTT (SIP integration)

Ability to use the HT as a remote base for your frequency agile home station.

RTL like ability- able to monitor public safety trunked systems out of of the ham band, while simultaneously monitoring the ham channel.

Please put your thinking hat on.