The FUNcube Dongle Pro+

Folks

While we’ve been out of stock of the original FUNcube Dongle waiting for parts, a couple of months ago we decided to take the opportunity to take into account the feedback by many FCD users with a redesign we’re calling the FUNcube Dongle Pro+. I think that you will find that the results are very worthwhile. There are many enhancements both in performance and features, and I’ll be demonstrating these at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium on September 14-16, 2012, and I highly recommend that you attend if you can!

This is a complete redesign. To give you a flavour, the new FCD has well over twice as many parts in its bill of materials. To cater for this, the board is now a six-layer design (the original FCD was only double sided). To fit these extra parts in, they are soldered on both sides of the PCB. There are no fewer than eleven discrete front end preselection filters, including some serious SAW filters specifically chosen for the 2m and 70cm amateur bands. But that is just the start…

As you can see there is a lot, lot more too, but you’ll have to make it to the AMSAT-UK Colloquium on September 14-16, 2012 to find out just how much can be crammed into a USB stick. (http://www.uk.amsat.org/colloquium/twelve)

I look forward to meeting you!

Many thanks, Howard

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32 Responses to The FUNcube Dongle Pro+

  1. Randy K7AGE says:

    I am waiting to hear much more about this. I sold my FCD a while ago.

    Randy
    K7AGE

  2. Iain says:

    You are such a tease Howard! I shall be there, so looking forward to finding out exactly what other goodies you have squeezed on to it.

  3. Massimo Petrantoni says:

    Can you tell me when new Funcube pro + will available for purchase?
    Max

    • admin says:

      Hello Max

      If all goes to plan, then mid October, perhaps earlier. We are dependent on manufacturing lead times and conformance/compliance testing schedules.

      Many thanks, Howard

  4. Howard,

    Looks very good, never had much success with my Funcube Dongle in Oxford on 2m due to all the local QRM so be interesting to see how this one might compare with the added filtering in place.

    Have you any more news on the Tablet SDR software? or is this part of the effort towards the final goal?

    Hoping to be at the Colloquium on the Saturday.

    73, Peter.

    • admin says:

      Hello Peter

      The front end on the FCD Pro+ has eleven different filters, including some _serious_ SAW filters for 2m and 70cm. The 2m filter, for example, is 40dB down at 142MHz and 149MHz. The 70cm filter is 40dB down at 418MHz and 460MHz.

      Regarding the tablet software, this has taken a back seat over the past few weeks while we developed the updated FCD for the forthcoming FUNcube satellite launch due for around December: we didn’t want to have a satellite and nothing to listen to it with!

      Many thanks, Hwoard

      • Thanks Howard, filtering sounds great actually found 70cms was OK but 2m suffered, so look forward to picking up the new design when launched.

        No problem on the tablet app, thought I’d just ask can appreciate that dongle needs to be first priority and looking forward to the launch of the satellite later in the year.

        Peter.

  5. Jean-marc says:

    Hi,
    When will this new device available ? any waitinglist for ordering ?. Will the price in the ‘order of magnitude’ than the dongle pro ?.

    thank you
    Kind regards F1HDI

    • admin says:

      Hello Jean-Marc

      The release is dependent on both manufacturing and conformance (CE/FCC) testing. All things being well, I anticipate having devices available in mid-October, perhaps earlier.

      The pricing will be finalised in time for the AMSAT-UK Colloquium, but I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

      Many thanks, Howard

  6. Sudhir N.Ail (VU2AIL) says:

    Dear Howard,

    I am a resident of Mumbai, India. Could you kindly let me know if you have had any orders from India. I just need to know their experience with the Indian customs. When you courier, does it land at the Customs warehouse or does it reach the users residence/address. Could you please give me some details or maybe some links on your blog where someone has noted their experience. And please do let me know when the new FUNcube Dongle Pro+ will be out with an indication on its price.

    Thanks and 73
    Sudhir

    • admin says:

      Hello Sudhir

      In the UK we are not allowed to divulge personal details of third parties without their permission I am afraid. I have had several Indian orders. Originally when we used the postal service the delivery service, particularly to India in fact, was not good despite having signed-for delivery. Since moving to Fedex, this problem has been resolved as there is full tracking throughout the entire journey. Typically Fedex will act as an agent for clearing purposes and re-charge the recipient if there are duties to be paid. I am not sure of this is the case in India, I suggest that you call up your local Fedex agent to find out.

      Many thanks, Howard

      • Sudhir N.Ail (VU2AIL) says:

        Thanks You Howard, for your response. I shall contact a Fedex agent locally to get the details. Actually, I did not want any personal details of FCD users in India but any links in your blog that may indicate their experience ordering/receiving the FCD.

        Thanks You once again,
        73 de VU2AIL

  7. Ben says:

    Yay, even more parts to be unavailable! But seriously, has the redesign taken parts availability in to consideration? Hopefully you’re only utilizing parts that have multiple manufacturers and wide availability.

    • admin says:

      Hello Ben

      Yes, as I am sure you can understand, you don’t need to tell me that!

      It’s part of the design to aim to be able to use multiple sources. Indeed, in the original design there are already about half a dozen parts I’ve had to substitute. Each time it’s time consuming to regression test as I am sure you can imagine.

      The nature of tuner chips is that they are all proprietary. To mitigate against potential future supply problems, I have ordered 5k units up front, as well as taken some time to perform due diligence on the source of the devices.

      The same applies to appropriate microcontrollers and ADCs by the way: it’s rare to have second sources for these.

      If your priority is to only use parts with second sources, that is a lot easier to say than it is to achieve. Certainly, I am not sure how that could be achieved with the FCD without significantly affecting pricing due to increased part count because of resorting to generic parts.

      Engineering design, after all, is as much about the art of compromise as it is about precicion: the inputs aren’t just about performance, they’re also about supply, quality and price, each with a varying priorities.

      At this point, I could give everyone dozens and dozens of FCD engineering anecdotes, but I’ll save that for another time!

      Many thanks, Howard

  8. Mark N8MH says:

    Howard,

    Okay! That settles it! I’m coming to the AMSAT-UK Colloquim just so see and hear about the FCD Pro+ in person!! :)

    See you soon,

    Mark N8MH

  9. Massimo Petrantoni says:

    Hello Howard!

    Since I will be using the funcube pro + also listen to all VHF / UHF, it is possible to disable the saw filters for 2 meters and 70 cm?

    What should I do to order the new funcube pro+?

    Best regards
    Max Petrantoni

  10. sigi dg9bfc says:

    hello howard
    i cant wait to get one of these :-)
    what other filters are in the stick???
    i ask cause i use it a bit below 70cm band for tracking weather sondes (balloons)
    the qrg is 402-406megs
    and what about noaa birds??? is 137 megs covered ??
    now in this moment i use a rtl stick for tracking (and receiving other things) cause my fcd is broken (again … grrrrr)
    while changing antennas i maybe gave that stick a bit too much stress on the sma connector :-( …. i think a via is broken … sometimes it works … but most of time not … so i have to use the dvb-t stick now :-( …. sensitivity of the fcd was SOOO MUCH BETTER!!! …
    could you give us some details about the frontend of the fcd 2.0+++ :-)

    greetz

    sigi dg9bfc

    • admin says:

      Hello Sigi

      We’re announcing the new FCD Pro+ and its features at the AMSAT UK Colloquium this weekend, when all will be revealed.

      If your FCD is broken, I am happy to repair it for you.

      Many thanks, Howard

  11. sigi says:

    hello howard
    is it possible to repair the via (maybe with soldering them?!?)
    sure i made it broken with giving to much stress on the tiny pcb
    what would be repair costs?!?
    i have to add it to a metal case with a bnc connector to outside (and hopefully never break it again … )

    and now about the new version:
    if it really beats the fcd (and sure it does) i would be glad to have one of the newer sticks … could you give me some details about front end? costs? what filters are fitted in? (no exact details about the frontend but maybe the available “bands”)… sure there will be an extio to use it with winrad (and clones) … what else can you tell about that new stick? (you can write me offline if you wont tell details here)
    available maybe in mid octobre? count me in :-)

    • admin says:

      Hello Sigi

      I’ve emailed you the return address: simply post it to me and I’ll repair it free of charge for you. Make sure you include the address for me to send the repaired unit.

      Many thanks, Howard

  12. Sigi DG9BFC says:

    Hello Howard …

    could you write to me offline (direct to my email adress callsign at freenet dot de)

    how can we solve the “broken” fcd?!? were shall i sent it for repair? Costs?

    dg9bfc

    sigi

  13. michelle says:

    Some quick questions:

    1) Is there going to be a run of the original funcube pro dongles, or is it all + from now on?

    2) Will it be a while for SDR programs to include compatibility for the + dongle, or will the driver take care of that?

    3) Since I missed the original run (and am regretting it!) are pre-orders at all possible? I would do so now if permitted!

    • admin says:

      Hello Michelle.

      If we can source the old tuner chips at a reasonable cost, we may well do another run: I already have enough boards and many of the other parts needed to make another 500.

      You might like to take a look at my presentation at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium this weekend which explains the situation.

      I am sure it won’t be long to support the new FCD: the HID/Audio interface remains the same although some of the commands themselves differ to take care of the different hardware implementation.

      You can add yourself to the waiting list at the FUNcube Dongle Shop site: https://funcubedongle.3dcartstores.com/FUNcube-Dongle-Pro_p_8.html

      Many thanks, Howard

  14. Chris Haigh says:

    Dear Howard
    Just getting back into radio after too many years away.. and as soon as I heard about your amazing device I started ringing around for availability.. Companies tell me they expect mid oct… does that sound about right ??? Also can you confirm the actual coverage of the fun cube pro as the download leaflets say 60 MHz and above , while suppliers and some adverts indicate long wave and above.. Thanks for your kind help… chris , West Yorkshire

    • admin says:

      Hello Chris.

      The original FUNcube Dongle Pro covers from 64MHz up to 1.7GHz with a gap around 1100 to 1250MHz.

      We had a problem sourcing one of the parts for the original FCD, so I did a redesign which turned out to be a bit more than just replacing the part: it’s a completely new design.

      The new design is the FUNcube Dongle Pro+ and its coverage is from 150kHz to 240MHz and from 420MHz to 1.9GHz.

      It is due around mid October assuming all goes to plan: we are in the middle of conformance testing at the moment. My manufacturer is programming up his pick and place machine right now and is due to start building the units next week.

      Many thanks, Howard

  15. Marco Cogoni says:

    Hi Howard,
    I tried to write a message before but it disappeared… :)
    I have a problem with my FCDP+ (bought directly from you a few weeks ago) on all frequencies: the noise floor goes up by maybe 20dbs for a split second and then it goes back to normal. It does this once every 5-20 seconds regardless of everything I tried: changing PC, changing from XP to Ubuntu to Debian, changing the USB cable, reflashing the firmware, disconnecting the antenna… the problem is always there both with Linrad and with SDR-Sharp. The problem is there even if I take the laptop in the garden far from any electrical noise in the house.

    I think it’s definetely an hardware problem at the level of the ADC since switching the LNA and Mixer amp does nothing too.

    Please could you contact me by email? cogoni AT gmail.com

    Thanks a lot,
    marco / IS0KYB

  16. Fabio Schettino says:

    Hi Howard,

    received yesterday the FCD+ , amazing toy !

    Using the FCD+ alone , the only one USB device. everything works ok, adding a Shuttle
    Pro 2 device i receive this error from Win XP. ” USB Controller Bandwidth Exceeded”, and the Shuttle Pro 2 is’t recognized , removing it. the FCD+ works again. Du u have any suggestion, other then ” don’t connect other device ?”

    Thank’s Fabio I4UFH

    • admin says:

      Hi Fabio

      We’ve found that some USB 2.0 ports don’t work very well with multiple USB full speed devices (which the FCD+ is) because they share a single “transaction translator”, or TT, in the silicon to convert between USB full speed and USB 2.0, so if there are more than one USB full speed device on the same hub you get this error.

      One way to resolve this is to shuffle around your USB devices or use an extra USB 2.0 hub.

      Many thanks, Howard

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