Pro/Base models – what’s the difference?


There will be two FUNcube Dongle models, the Pro version and the Base version.

The Base model is targetted at the education market as a means to encourage science and technology in the classroom by the use of practical Space experimentation. Educational outreach is, after all, the primary motivation of the entire FUNcube project. As such the Base models distributed to bona fide educational organisations will be very much less expensive than the Pro versions.

While the details are yet to be finalised, it is our intention that the entry level Base model will be frequency limited to the ITU Amateur Satellite sub-bands on 145MHz and 435MHz.

The Pro model on the other hand has no frequency limitation beyond the physical device’s abilities. For local distribution in some markets, it may be necessary to restrict the frequency range for local regulatory compliance.

Both the Pro and the Base models can have their firmware upgraded by the user, however Pro firmware will not install correctly on Base models and vice versa. At present, a Base FCD will only be able to be upgraded to a Pro FCD by returning the unit for an upgrade.


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8 Responses to Pro/Base models – what’s the difference?

  1. Rob M0TFO says:

    Hi Howard
    “restrict the frequency range for local regulatory compliance”
    could you elaborate on this a little,

    • admin says:

      Hi Rob.

      Sure. The most obvious example that springs to mind is the US FCC regulation blocking reception of analogue cellular telephones. All radio receivers distributed and sold commercially in the US need FCC approval and thus will need to be “cellular blocked”.

      In the UK there are currently no restrictions on frequency.

      Of course, should someone choose to personally import an unrestricted version as an individual we have little control over that, although as part of the shipping we do have to fill out customs forms. For example, the US does have two import forms specifically for radio receivers where we have to state the number of items, and the purposes (eg, personal use etc) for which the device is being exported.


  2. barry w0iy says:

    I need to go read the FCC regs regarding reception of cell frequencies. I doubt it is stated as “analog” but if it is, there are NO analog cellphone is the US. There was a “sunset” rule a year or 2 ago that allowed the cell companies to no longer support analog.

  3. admin says:

    Hi Barry

    I believe that you are technically correct that analog is not stated in the regulation, however it was the lack of security on analog phones that led to the regulation being introduced as I understand it. Although hypothetical now, I would doubt that the regulation would have ever been enacted had the technology gone straight to the current more secure digital technologies. That does not mean that we can expect the regulation to be removed any time soon though!


  4. Fred W0FMS says:

    Unfortunately with the closed source model there is little we can do about this I suppose. Again, it’s looking like less of a good deal all the time for us experimenters. Too Bad, too. You wouldn’t happen to be willing to have “pro” binary images available at the very least for download, would you? The US’s rules are completely bogus and sad because this could easily morph into a piece of test equipment, too. There is almost no analog cell left here but you are right: Americans, please remember this: When a freedom here gets taken away (even for stupid reasons like a dumb politician speaking freely on an analog phone) it NEVER comes back.. NEVER.

    • admin says:

      Hello Fred

      Thank you for your note.

      Please, please remember that the primary design criteria for the FUNcube Dongle was and still is to provide a device capable of receiving the FUNcube satellite in a simple way at a reasonable cost as an educational outreach tool to promote technology and science practically in the classroom.

      The FCD would simply not be in existence as it is today without the use of mass market driven devices that I am afraid for the experimenters among us have NDAs.

      A further benefit of the design is that it is capable of being much more versatile than we originally anticipated, and so we also see sales of the Pro devices as a means of a revenue stream for funding satellites and launches while also, we hope, enabling us to produce sufficient volume that would bring the cost down well within reach of educational establishments.

      As I have already stated we thought long and hard about the open source/NDA aspects after many months of project work coming up with the FCD. In the end as with all things in life, compromises have to be made, but at the end of the day there were no project requirements for the FCD itself to be open source. The programming interface itself is open. Any of the satellite design itself that is not covered by commercial retrictions will be open. The methodologies used for the telemetry data stream are open. Regarding the FCD, I have already published the firmware code used to make a codec work with an MCU without a codec interface quite some time ago, as well as code to make USB audio firmware work at higher sampling rates.

      As Rob says, there is certainly nothing stopping individuals from ordering an FCD unit from the UK.


  5. Rob M0TFO says:

    Until it’s commercially available in the USA, I should not worry too much! “Of course, should someone choose to personally import an unrestricted version as an individual we have little control over that”