Maverick-603 is the first affordable FT8 receiver board built around an RF receiver chip that was designed using fully open source tools and fabrication. It is capable of acquiring FT8 signals between 7 MHz and 70 MHz. With this frequency range, you will be able to receive signals from around the world with high accuracy. The use of our Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) will also give the chip the ability to amplify very low-strength signals, which is necessary for an effective FT8 receiver.
FT8 is a digital-mode amateur-radio protocol that can be decoded at low signal strengths and that has an extremely long range. In comparison to other digital modes, FT8 antennas are easy to set up and FT8 signals can be received and decoded even when there is a lot of ambient noise. It is used for military and government applications and is popular among hobbyists. Most FT8 solutions currently on the market are difficult to set up and require significant external hardware and software. Maverick-603 removes the need for most of these external components.
The RF receiver chip at the heart of Maverick-603 was designed using open source chip-design tools and fabrication. It is difficult for open source practices to thrive in the chip-design industry, but Maverick-603 demonstrates that open source chip design can produce products that equal or surpass their closed-source counterparts. With this project, we aim to gather interest and support, both for amateur radio and for open source chip design.
Like many open source projects, we seek to provide knowledge and technology that were not previously available to our users. Hobbyists are the backbone of the amateur-radio ("ham") community, and Maverick-603 is a one-of-a-kind product that expands the capabilities available to members of that community. Many FT8 products are inaccessible to ham hobbyists because they require prerequisite knowledge of advanced technical concepts. Not so with Maverick-603, which will lower the barrier to entry for a whole new wave of ham operators.
People often assume they need an FCC-issued license to get involved in ham radio, when in fact anyone can legally receiving amateur-radio signals. And that’s exactly what we built Maverick-603 to facilitate! We believe this project will contribute to the ham-radio and software-defined-radio (SDR) communities by making both more accessible to the public.
Our receiver chip, which is doing the heavy lifting, is open source. You can see the project on our public Efabless project page. You can also find our open source files and documentation on GitHub.
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RadioStack is a hardware and semiconductor design company based in Manchester, NH. Being one of only a few organizations designing open source chips, we are at the forefront of emerging semiconductor technology. Our goal is to not only create amazing products, but to build the open source community in an area not accustomed to it.
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