The FUNcube Dongle Pro+: LF to L band software-defined radio

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Any mode, anywhere

No drivers required! Device drivers are already included in your operating system - Windows, Linux or Mac OSX, 32 or 64 bit.

* The guaranteed coverage of the FUNcube Dongle Pro+ is from 150kHz to 1.9GHz, and there is a gap in coverage between 240MHz and 420MHz.

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76 Responses to The FUNcube Dongle Pro+: LF to L band software-defined radio

  1. Great news, this device will give a step forward for SDR hobbist.

    Btw there is a license for the hardware/firmware? are you planning release it to the public?

    • admin says:

      Hello Cristian.

      Thanks for your note.

      Currently there are no plans to release the detailed hardware deisgn or firmware: this is largely because it’s tied to an NDA agreement on one of the devices that we’ve used which is commonly used in mass market set top boxes and TV dongles. The benefit of using such a device is that it significantlly reduces unit cost due to its high integration of several parts including RF and IF VGAs, RF & IF filters, mixer, mixer, fractional-N PLL, low phase noise reference oscillator and VCO. The down side is that for hardware and firmware tinkerers, the IP and anything that would aid reverse engineering is not allowed by the NDA.

      All is not lost however as the programming interface for the host to talk to the deviceis open.

      Howard

  2. Mike says:

    That is great news Howard,

    Have you managed to do any tests on the gain stability?

    Mike

    • admin says:

      Hi Mike

      We are currently optimising out of band strong signal handling and intermod performance particularly with the internal reference at the moment which currently looks like a small rework job of a high pass filter onto the front end.

      We’ll be limiting the gain parameter settings of the device to sensible values: for example, taking the tuner’s LNA anything over 20dB has no benefit.

      Howard

      • Rich N1DDY says:

        Looking forward to placing my order so I can add support to Pebble (http://sites.google.com/site/pebblesdr/home)

      • Mike says:

        Hi Howard,

        How is the high pass filter modification going?
        Thanks.

        • admin says:

          Hi Mike

          I have a number of different filters I’m testing. I also need to do a little more tweeking to the tuner settings. It’s that last 5% of the design that takes 95% of the time! Everything from the USB interface to the mixer in the tuner are solid as a rock now. It’s now a matter of tweaking the the front end. We fixed sensitivity several weeks ago now. It’s now IMD and out of band strong signal handling we’ve turned our attention to. As with any wide band device there are compromises. The tuner has band pass filters on its front end for UHF and above, but on VHF is uses low pass filters and that’s predominently where we are concentrating efforts.

          Howard

  3. Shankar says:

    Waiting to order!

  4. Dear Howard,

    Since I have not found how to post the questions directly to you, I am using Shankar’s message to get in, sorry for that!
    I am member of the management board of the SwissATV association (ATV=Amateur TV) and interested to order 5 Funcube Dongle Pro to experiment applications in analogue and digital TV.
    I would appreciate if you could put me on your list.
    73′s Pierre-André/HB9AZN

    • admin says:

      Hi Pierre.

      Thanks for your note. I’ll be limiting numbers to two per person to start with. For ATV, remember that the unit’s passband is 96kHz. I can let you know where to solder wires if you want a wider bandwidth to an external ADC…

      Howard

      • Hi Howard,

        thank you for your reply.
        For the beginning, if I can get two for our Association, it is fine.
        About the bandwidth, we are now transmitting digital TV signals with about 1,5 MHz in QPSK (1.024 Msy/s). Therefore, it will be very interesting to try to extend the bandwidth with an external DAC as you said!

        73′s
        Pierre-André/HB9AZN

  5. admin says:

    Pierre-André,

    IC2 is the ADC. For the best SNR, you should use short length differential connections.

    I recommend that you take the connections to the right of C6-9 on the tuner side, and AC couple all four connections. Output load is 15k ohm so keep the lead lengths very short and use buffer amps for your ADC as necessary. Also remember to take care of biasing for you ADC!

    Howard

    • Hi Howard,

      thanks a lot for your suggestion regarding the connection of an external ADC. Once we have the hardware and the schematic, it will be an excellent project for our association to extend the passband for DATV.

      Best 73′s
      Pierre-André/HB9AZN

  6. This is a really interesting project. Not only for satellite reception but for all experimentation with amateur radio SDR in general. Personally I see a great potential to use it with a converter for reception at the microwave bands, where SDR is essential to decode very weak signals.
    There are some SDR receivers available for amateurs today, but most of them are very expensive and are not suitable for the experimenter who wants an open SW interface.
    Do you think it is possible to tap the LO signal and use it for transmission? (With external TX-mixers of course)
    What is the step size of the PLL?
    73s

    • admin says:

      Hello Daniel.

      The LO signal is trapped within the tuner chip I’m afraid.

      The PLL step size varies depending on the frequency. Up at 2GHz, it’s 187.5Hz. At 64MHz it’s 7.8125Hz.

      The VCO always operates in the low to mid GHz. There is then a programmable divider applied to produce the LO.

      Note that the FCD’s current HID API firmware only allows resolution of 1kHz anyway, although I’m considering changing that.

      For SDR, generally this isn’t a problem as you use your host software’s NCO to fine tune.

      Howard

      • Thanks for this info. Such a small step size is great, I hope you enable it in the firmware.
        I would also like to add the comment that most SDR receivers designs only focus on shortwave, which is often too low as first IF for microwave converters. With your dongle one could go for 144 or 432, which are common IF frequencies, of obvious reasons.
        Maybe it could be worth while to experiment with a tuned pick-up coil placed directly at the chip to extract the LO electromagnetically at e.g. 144 MHz and amplify it for TX use. But signal-to-noise ratio might be too bad for this.

  7. Sven says:

    I’ve read the article in AMSAT-DL journal today, I can’t await to place my order!

  8. Ray Boyle says:

    Does the dongle come with a manual? Will it work with a long wire antenna?
    Regards,
    Ray Boyle,
    Stockport

    • admin says:

      Hello Ray

      Thanks for your message.

      I am in the process of writing a manual, and it will be published on this website. If you’ve used SDR before such as a Softrock, it’s fairly self explanatary. If not, you’ll need a quick tutorial on it and this is in the manual.

      It’ll work on a long wire, but in general for VHF and above, there are other better alternatives, but it depends on what you’re trying to achieve with it.

      Discones are wide band antennas, but compromise on gain. Band specific antennas are by their very nature optimised for narrow band(s) but will tend to have better gain.

      Howard

  9. Enric says:

    do yo plan to build some more ?
    I miss last ones
    cheers Enric

  10. Paolo Valfre' I1VPJ says:

    Hallo dear Howard,
    my PAYPAL document show 129,25 GBP to Hanlincrest: is this correct?

    Which is the better performant SOFTWARE for FCD? Only LINRAD?
    My notebook have already WINRAD installed, is this OK?
    Thanks and 73 de Paolo I1VPJ

    • admin says:

      Hello Paolo

      Yes that sounds right for the EU.

      If Winrad supports a standard soundcard for its I/Q, then Winrad should be OK. I personally use SpectraVue, but I know others are using programs such as WRPlus, which I believe is a Winrad variant.

      Howard

  11. Rick, PE2AAB says:

    Hi Howard!

    The batch of 20th february was run out in less then 2 minutes! Cool!
    Too bad for me. I was to late. (only a few min’s)

    Are you planning a next batch? and do you know when this batch will be sold?

    With kind regards,
    Rick, PE2AAB

  12. SV8GTC says:

    Being the third Greek who received the FUNcube Dongle with serial number #506, I would like to congratulate the developing team for the excellent work.

  13. Mike says:

    Hi!

    When will be more units available?

    Thanks.

    Mike

  14. Hi folks,
    I’ve just released the latest version of my ExtIO_USRP+FCD & BorIP software.
    It’s made up of these two components:

    1) An ExtIO plugin for Winrad/HDSDR/WRplus that allows you to use your FCD or USRP as the baseband input (this plugin also features front-end gain control and baseband UDP relay).

    2) The BorIP server, which allows you to use your FCD/USRP remotely over a LAN (the client can be any of the aforementioned SDR receiver apps, GNU Radio, or something of your own creation – extend via IP, not coax!).

    Download & info here: http://wiki.spench.net/wiki/USRP_Interfaces

    If you try it out, please let me know how you go with it. (Make sure you use the “FCD” device hint so your FUNcube is selected!)

    73 Balint VK2FUNK

  15. Don McPhee says:

    I ordered and it arrived in Canada on my doorstep in only two days! With two hours of minor frustration cursing over my laptop, I have upgraded my firmware, attached the arrow antenna and ready for the sun to come up so I can try to work some satellites.
    The Peel Amateur Radio Club has a Satellite Group being formed, this will be a big hit.
    Thank you, way cool.
    Don VE3REO

  16. ENZO VONELLA says:

    GREETINGS TO ALL, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF I CAN WITH THIS SOFTWARE TO INTERCEPT TRANSMISSIONS TETRA. LET ME KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE THANKS.

    • admin says:

      Hello Enzo

      The FUNcube Dongle itself can receive TETRA, but you will need an appropriate software package on the host PC to demodulate, decode and (if necessry) decrypt it, and deal with handover. I don’t know of a package that does this myself, although you may well find some suggestions on the FUNcube Yahoo group.

      Many thanks, Howard

      • ENZO VONELLA says:

        HOWARD HELLO, THANKS FOR YOUR RESPONSE. I want to ask HOW CAN I FIND THE CODES FOR TETRA, I OWN A 850 AND I WANT MOTOROLA MTP PUT UP YOU COULD HELP ME? THANK YOU SOON.

        • admin says:

          Hello Enzo

          I am afraid I don’t know much about specific Tetra implementations, or how to find them. Are there scanner groups that have such information?

          Many thanks, Howard

  17. Pirajá says:

    Where I can get information on which the tupported SDR Softwares by FUNcube Pro. Thank you for your attention.

    Pirajá

    • admin says:

      Hello Piraja

      It is compatible with SDR software that supports a soundcard for quadrature signals. I don’t have a definitive list, but almost all freely available SDR software will work with soundcards. If you have a particular product in mind, I can let you know its compatibility. Alternatively you might also like to take a look on the FUNcube Yahoo group where there are many references to various software products compatible with the FUNcube Dongle.

      Many thanks, Howard

  18. John Shidler says:

    Hello, I just ordered my Fun Cube Pro. While waiting for it I thought that I would purchase a fast USB Sound Card. I am considering the E-Mu 0202. Do you have any comments on this one or any other reccomendations?

    73 John NS5Z

    • admin says:

      Hello John

      Before you purchase, I should let you know that you don’t need an extra sound card to use the FCD – it has its own internal USB sound card hardware integrated into it.

      You will of course need a sound card to hear the audio itself, but any old sound card will work, usually the one integrated into the computer itself these days.

      Many thanks, Howard

  19. Alexander Antonov says:

    Is it available now for purchase?

  20. Serge Szpilfogel says:

    Hello Howard
    Want to thank you for checking my FDC. Got it back a week ago & working on setting it up this time with HDSDR.
    I also want to thank you for shipping it back FREE of charge. That is what i call getting the Royal treatment.
    It is good to know that you stand behind your product & provide support to folks who need it,
    Best regards & again thank you
    Serge Szpilfogel VE1KG

  21. Frank Kostelac says:

    Will the fun cube decode Dstar signals?

    N7ZEV

    • admin says:

      Hello Frank

      The FCD itself is the RF section of a software defined radio, and as such it does no demodulation or decoding, that is done by software the host PC.

      If there is software on the host PC that will decode DStar from a soundcard based SDR then that will work: the FCD itself doesn’t care what the modulation scheme is.

      Many thanks, Howard

  22. Jorge says:

    Hello Howard and folks ;)

    I’ve a “newbie” question… :$

    From what I understand, I should be able to receive APRS signals (144.800 Mhz) with the FunCube dongle, am I right?

    Thank you in advance! The project is just… amazing.

    • admin says:

      Hello Jorge.

      Yes, The FCD will do that. It’ll probably need to be a two part process, with the audio from a demodulation program fed into an APRS decoding program. The two can either be connected physically through an additional audio card, or by using a virtual audio cable.

      Many thanks, Howard

  23. Asif says:

    Howard,

    Good to see the FunCube has progressed since the early days. You do remember I was with you in the early days, don’t you? Support, encouragment, and a fair amount of “flexibility” at work.

    In any case, I’ve read through the pages and reduced all my questions about the dongle into one…

    What on earth is it?!

    Asif.

    • admin says:

      Hello Asif

      Good question! It’s a USB radio receiver.

      I trust you are well! For those of you who don’t know, Asif used to be my boss back when I did real work.

      Cheers, Howard

  24. Tony says:

    uhm, dumbass question, why the gap from 210 / 420 mhz ???
    i know its militair band, or is it a tuner isue ?
    thnxs.
    keep up the good work xD
    tony.

    • admin says:

      Hello Tony

      The gap is simply a hardware limitation in the tuner’s LO chain.

      Many thaks, Howard

      • Tony says:

        thank you !!

      • Yaroslav says:

        I wonder if there any chance to exclude this limitation? To cut somthing inside the stick, or for example, to solder?
        There are a lot of non-military freqs in this gap.

        • admin says:

          Hello Yaroslav

          Unless you want to dig into the tuner chip itself and micro-probe it, there is nothing from the documented software or hardware side that can be achieved.

          I think this subject has been covered dozens and dozens of times now!

          Many thanks, Howard

  25. Serge Szpilfogel says:

    Could someone tell me if the FDC pro works with HDSDR & SDR console version 1.5. Version 2.0 may be too big for my laptop computer.
    Thank you & merry xmas
    Serge/VE1KG

    • admin says:

      Hello Serge

      You might like to ask the question on the FCDProPlus group. I tend to use SDR Sharp, SDR Radio and Spectravue for almost all my listening.

      I am sure it will work if you use the FCHID2 control program, but many people like to have the frequency control integrated. There is an updated EXTDLL, but I am not sure which versions of HDSDR that is compatible with.

      Many thanks, Howard

  26. Leslie W2LPL says:

    WOW !!!!! Amazingly fast delivery to US. It was here in less then 48 hours !!!
    73s
    Les
    W2LPL

  27. Hank Lane says:

    It would have been nice to have the Military Band included (200-400MHz). Was there a (good) reason to exclude it? Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Hello Hank.

      If I had a dollar for every time that question’s been asked in the past couple of months! There is a limitation in the tuner chip we use.

      Military band has never been a design requirement for the FCD or FCD+, so to add it would have meant additional expense to add a frequency converter or additional tuner chip: I would anticipate an additional GBP40 per unit. In fact, the only frequency design requirement for the FCD is for 145.8-146.0MHz. So everything else is a bonus.

      Indeed, in jurisdictions such as the UK it is in fact illegal to listen in the military band segment!

      Many thanks, Howard

  28. Mike Carter says:

    All I have to say is SUPERB!

    Blazingly fast delivery to left coast USA, and in less than 5 minutes, I had this thing up and running with SDRSharp. Brought it into work for some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ from the resident geeks.

    Couple items – when using SDRSharp, I note that the RBW is about 250Khz in the FFT window. Is this a practical sweep limitation of the H/W or a software limitation? I’d really like to see at least a 5Mhz scope of the spectrum if its possible. I’ll go look at the SDRSharp code and see what I can do, but would like to hear your input lest I be on a pointless quest due to some practical H/W limitations.

    Also, have you tested the FunCube with a short USB extender? I tried one last night and figure the cheap 30cm cable didn’t have any shielding, as it threw the noise floor into the roof. Would like to hear your experience, if any.

    Howard, great job, mate! (And I’m allowed to say that because I grew up in Australia) Can’t wait for you to get the satellite up. I have lots to do and code and have been waiting for YEARS for something like this.

    73′s from the deepest, darkest woods in Oregon

    Mike
    DE N7GYX

    • admin says:

      Hello Mike

      Glad you got up and running in 5 minutes, that’s how it _should_ work! I had a lot of fun getting this working, indeed it rekindled my interest in HF.

      The span of the FCD+ is 192kHz. This is so that it maintains compatibility with as much SDR software as possible, and so that there’s no need to develop drivers as they’re already part of the operating system. This means the device is automatically recognised by a plethora of operating systems at the driver level out of the box without the hassle of figuring out where to find the right drivers or indeed configure them.

      I have used the FCD with extenders, both passive and active (aka a one-port hub). Although I haven’t seen it myself, I am aware of a few anecdotal tales of USB cables apparently causing trouble by raising the noise floor. The FCD+ itself has a 1M resistor in parallel with a 4.7nF capacitor from ground to the USB shield: this method resolves potential ground loop problems and is designed to cover at the device-end the precise problem you’re seeing. However if the cable itself or indeed the host end are not compliant in their attention to detail in terms of EMC.

      If it helps, all of my sensitivity testing is done with a couple of 1m USB extension cables. One of those has had about 12,000 insert/remove cycles, and has the war wounds to show it, and still works fine.

      Many thanks, Howard

      • F6FVY says:

        Hi Howard

        If I want to put the FCD+ in a metallic enclosure, is it OK to connect to the case the USB shield only, or the USB ground only (from one of the 4 its wires), or both of them ?

        Thanks and 73

        Larry – F6FVY

        • admin says:

          Hello Larry.

          The chassis is not the same as the ground on the FCD+. On the FCD+, the “ground” is connected to the shield with a 4.7nF capacitor in parallel with a 1Mohm resistor. This keeps it AC coupled at the same time as minimizing ground loops and EMI while maximizing EMC. The SMA outer is connected to this ground, not the shield of the USB cable.

          Many thanks, Howard

          • F6FVY says:

            Thanks for your reply

            So, if I understood correctly, and to avoid ruining your efforts on EMC (and ground loops), I need to connect the USB ground, and *not* the USB shield, to my metallic enclosure, which will also be connected to the outer part of the SMA. Right ?

            73 – Larry – F6FVY

          • admin says:

            Hello Larry

            Good question! I would say your suggestion is correct. I spent an awful lot of time finding out the “correct” way to connect the USB shield back when I did the original FCD. Ask three engineers about this and you’ll probably get three different answers.

            A common answer between Cypress and Atmel is to connect the shield to ground with the 4.7nF in parallel with a 1Mohm. Here are the design notes:

            http://uk.farnell.com/images/en/ede/pdf/usb_dev_mistake.pdf
            http://www.atmel.com/Images/doc8388.pdf?doc_id=13448&family_id=607

            Many thanks, Howard

  29. Giovanni says:

    Hi Howard, Interesting product. Your site is the first I’d seen with the EU cookie notice so I went to “Find out more”. There’s a product mentioned there that you probably didn’t intend. No need to keep this comment …

    Will be back when it’s time to get into SDR.

    Cheers Giovanni – ZL2GX

    • admin says:

      Hello Giovanni

      It’s an EU regulatory requirement to state what you use the cookies for.

      Many thanks, Howard

  30. Steven McDougall says:

    There is some great SDR software on Android now , do you plan to add Android Driver support

    • admin says:

      Hello Steven

      I am working on a cross-platform project for tablets and smartphones at the moment.

      Many thanks, Howard

  31. Paul PD0PSB says:

    Hi Howard,

    Running 2 FCDP+ remotely via SDR-Radio V2, with *much* fun.

    A question:
    I have a small multiband dipole antenna for 10/6/4m attached.
    I noticed that enabling the bias-T causes a drastic increase in sensitivity below 5MHz.
    This happens in both my FCDP+. For lower HF it seems the bias-T always has to be switched on.

    What could be the cause for this? Is the bias-T somehow interacting with the lowest BPF?

    73
    Paul
    PD0PSB

  32. Mike Frisco says:

    Have you considered selling a general-purpose desktop-mounted antenna in the FCD store? It’d be one less thing for buyers to worry about.

  33. Ben Hutchinson says:

    Why the gap between 240 and 420 MHz? I would understand a gap in the 800MHz range (that is cellphone frequencies), but why the gap at the much lower frequencies?

    • admin says:

      Hello Ben

      It’s a limitation of the on-chip local oscillator post-PLL divider chain I’m afraid, so it’s not something that can be overcome in software or firmware I’m afraid.

      Thank you, Howard

  34. Gary Vander Haagen says:

    “Sdr# will not connect”. I’ve been using dongle successfully until yesterday. On rebooting sdr# would not connect: paUnanticipatedHostError and paDeviceUnavailable came up time and again. Went thru your windows installation instructions, all shows properly. Tried other USB ports, and latest SW. Still the same. Tried to release ports and did partial uninstall of hubs. The utility program and boot loader do connect.

    I also tried your note on identifying the device’s VID in the USB Composite Device and uninstalling the device. It reinstalled but the unit still did not connect; the same faults occurred.

    Any suggestions of where to go. Everything else on computer seems fine.

    Gary Vander Haagen, Ann Arbor, MI USA

  35. admin says:

    Hello Jan

    There is documentation both on this website (http://www.funcubedongle.com/?page_id=313) and more on the FUNcube Yahoo website http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/funcube/files/User%20Guides/

    I recommend that you first attempt to get the FCD working under the FCHID003 and Spectravue only.

    Then, to use some of the newer functionality that third party software vendors provide, update the firmware (we are at 18i now).

    If you have already attempted to update the firmware and it is stuck in the bootloader, I suspect that it was updated while another program was accessing the device: you should only write the firmware with FCHIDBL when no other programs are operational.

    You can retry uploading firmware if it is stuck in the bootloader (when no other program are running): I am unaware of any units that have become “bricked” during a firmware upgrade.

    Many thanks, Howard

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