Friday, February 25, 2011

PowerSDR 2.0 Release Candidate

I have been working on some issues for PSDR 2.0. I installed PSDR 2.0 RC1 at Joel Harrison's QTH (W5ZN) and we then proceeded to play on the air on 160 meters and 80 meters. Joel and I designed a receive antenna system derived from the W8JI 8 circle.

160 meter page at

I worked new countries on both bands. The noise reduction was extremely helpful even in narrow bandwidths. It is good that Eric, Neal, Steve and others at Flex debugged the control problems with the algorithm. The algorithm was, and is fine. But when you tell it to do dumb things, it gets pretty dumb. All's well that ends well. It works fine now.

Wide Band Image rejection (adaptive over signals in the IF) works as well and is on the road to major improvement as well. Again, we were shooting ourselves in the foot with external code that was doing damage to the operation of the correctly functioning algorithm.

W5ZN is ecstatic with both PSDR 2.0 and the Flex 5000 which he used to set (blow away) the W5 single band record on 80 meters in the ARRL CW DX competition.

More later....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What A Year

Well, to say it has been a year since I posted does not begin to do justice to the events, the impact they have had on work, life, family, friends, and more.

In the past year we have seen the resignation of Eric Blossom as the leader of GnuRadio. This could have been a disaster for all of us. Eric is so capable. But it is clear he needed to move on for his own personal reasons to other challenges. He did.

As a result a bittersweet thing happened to me, my employer, and SDR and Cognitive Radio. In 2008, Center for Communications Research hired Thomas Rondeau, Ph.D. as a newly minted Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. Tom had been involved in GnuRadio and the SDR work being done at IDA/CCR and the Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences for a while as a graduate student at VPI. His adviser, Charles Bostian, was a well known person in ECE communities and had been an employee of CCR's sponsor many years ago.

Tom began to have an immediate impact on my work. I was chairman of a summer long workshop at CCR for Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio being applied to the problems at my work. After his arrival, it was announced that Tom had won the best Ph.D. thesis for 2008 by the council of graduate schools in D.C. Tom's being hired was a real coup for IDA/CCR and all involved (I looked like a genius but mostly what I did was hoist a few beers with Tom!).

Tom Rondeau wins big award

But also in attendance at my workshop was Joe Mitola who coined the very terms we were working on for the summer in seminal papers, books, and a new Ph.D. thesis for himself. Joe is now an adjunct of CCR in Princeton and a senior executive at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Joe Mitola, Stevens superstar and friend

But by any opinion worth listening to, the most important relationship formed was with fred harris of San Diego State University. I walked up to fred at an SDR Forum meeting in Colorado and invited him to come to Princeton that summer. My life will never be the same.

fred harris, DSP super star and friend

Beginning that same summer, while my professional life at CCR was reaching its zenith, my personal life began a downward spiral. In this past year my marriage of 32 years ended. We are both okay and more kindly to each other now than we have probably ever been.

Where one door closes to an active person, others often open. My first girl friend was also divorced and still living in my home town. Her Aunt and I were in every single home room together since first grade! She told me Sharon was divorced shortly before Valentine's Day. I asked her to be my facebook friend and after a two week wait, she accepted. My legal separation became complete and she agreed to see me again. She is now my fiancé. Sharon Moore Davis, my first girl friend, will become Sharon Moore McGwier in 2011.

We had a our first date after nearly four decades in May. In September, she asked me to come and take her to Montgomery, AL to the red cross. She locked herself in a guest bed room and told me she needed privacy to work for an evening and that we would need to leave the next morning at 10 A.M.

By 3 P.M. that afternoon, she was N1SMM and I was already sure I was in love, but that did it for me. Two geeks in a pod.

On the professional front, one of several scenarios will happen in 2011. I will stay with Center for Communications Research. I will join Flex Radio Systems. I will join the faculty at Virginia Tech. I will do all three. The latter is my ideal choice.

On Software Radio, fred harris and I have several conference papers on the polyphase filter bank work we have been doing and which has been applied at the Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences at U. Md. to projects it has run at (you guessed it) Flex Radio, and also Gnu Radio, and more. The work has resulted in tremendously capable software radios for doing Cognitive Radio work.

Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences

I have been helping to build a deployable Cogntive Radio since last summer at Oak Ridge National Labs which is on contract to LTS for work which is supported by IDA CCR, my employer.


I was born in Lebanon, TN. Still have family in Tennessee and I love living between Knoxville and Oak Ridge, which I will continue to do until at least June 1.

Stay tuned here for more "exciting news" in the weeks to come.

Monday, January 04, 2010

PowerSDR, PB-PAL and real diversity

Today we have a fully functional synchronous receiver, truly phase synchronous phased array working in the development branch of FlexRadio's PowerSDR(tm) (Pretty Better PAL or pb-pal). This will move into the main development branch for the code soon and be released in the version 2.0 releases.

For now it is restricted to manual operation, but this will change with time.

Please visit

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Privacy, You, Social Networking, and Little Brother

I am not often driven to words here. This is my first real post in months. This is the medium of such luminaries (and my favorites on the web and in print) Cory Doctorow , Neil Gaiman, and John Scalzi to name my three favorites. I am no competitor to them to say the least and feel that it would take more hours than I have to become good enough to not be embarrassed by my efforts held up in comparison to theirs . But on this occasion I am impelled to add my voice.

They are all influential people on the internet, in print, and in social media.
@doctorow, @neilhimself, and @scalzi are all on twitter. It is how I learned more about all of them. If it was their goal to use twitter and other "social networking" tools as marketing tools (even if only partially as motivation), I view it as a success. It is completely clear to me that they "get it" and enjoy the banter on twitter.

From Scalzi: "
Deleting e-mails from strangers asking for Google Wave invites."

From Doctorow: "
Cydwoqs may be the coolest men's shoes on the planet, e.g.,"

and lastly from Gaiman in response to a tweet sent to him by "jolieminkbikini":

From Gaiman: "
@jolieminkbikini I know. @amandapalmer always tells me to travel with snacks. And I should."

It is clear, after looking for a single day, they enjoy it. They enjoy the give and take with their fans/followers in this nearly safe environment. You get trolls but with a single click you can block them, report them as abuser, and has NO MERCY. It works.

Witness the recent launch of Imogen Heap's new album
Ellipse (which she twittered about for months as @imogenheap and allowed her followers to actively participate in the making of Ellipse). It was brilliant, cost her a few dollars, and a few hours a week. It was much better than touring through small clubs and exhausting herself. She managed to build a house, have a life, AND do the album. She agonized over every detail, but with the support of her 1,000,000+ followers. And she follows us as well, not all do. Stephen Fry does as well. Heap's Ellipse enjoyed a #5 opening on the billboard charts. Her record label did VERY little advertisement and after the fact, helped her get a spot on the Letterman Show (too bad it was before his big announcement, his ratings are through the roof).

This leads one immediately to speculation and hopes. It would be a great day indeed if these great artists can market themselves effectively with their small efficient staffs (all of these artists are showing us the way) and at the same time, deliver their offerings to us directly without the need for what is surely seen by all of them as inefficient intermediary dinosaurs. I think all of them are beginning to push the technology. Heap has allowed us to see all of her tunes without a single mention of paying to get a listen. Yet she debuts at #5 on billboard and is selling well still.

Doctorow gives away his book under an "open license". He still sells books, does tours, has a day job informing us about our web world. He is one of the most influential writers on the web. He does other neat things for activist supporters who believe his writing is important. He allows us to donate copies of his works, fiction and nonfiction, to the causes we support.

Gaiman does speaking tours everywhere and in spite of the fact that he
gives away readings from his tours and promotions, his books sell like hotcakes. He wins big awards, and is beloved by his fans. He has shared his budding relationship with Amanda Palmer on twitter.

I could go on and I have started this line of argument before. The need has grown to the point that a serious effort is required to provide the new user an entry level introduction to all of this social networking and how to use it to meet your needs (and how you can allowed to invent new ways to use it).

For now, it is very important to understand that while the available tools are very exciting we must be aware of the potential loss of privacy these tools and others in our online lives subject us to. Remember the old time worn adage: "Just because you are paranoid does not mean no one is out to get you". Never has that been more true. Not all of the reasons are nefarious. Many are an attempt to provide you the end user with services tailored to your particular desires and to guess your needs. That can be good for you. It is certainly good for those who are gathering the data. So while not necessarily evil, they certainly have the potential for becoming so.

Recently I read Doctorow's novel
Little Brother. I love books. I read hundreds of them a year, some not completely before I have from them what I need (technical books for my job), some non-fiction, but most by far are novels. I love the well turned phrase and the mental imagery the talented have. Doctorow has an abundance of ability and it has grown over time. His writing on the internet are well known and many rate him in their top ten list of most important writers on the internet. I could care less about ratings. What I care about is that his impact on my thinking has been profound. Nothing he has done has had more impact that this novel.

The plot line is simple. San Francisco, the town where our protagonist Marcus lives is attacked by terrorists. Ostensibly it is the omnipresent Al Qaeda. Yet it quickly evolves into a damning look at the typical overreaction by security organization and politicians. We had the terrorists a victory when we decide that the freedoms upon which we have joined the US American democratic experiment (with a little d).

I URGE all people to read this book.

Then you should go and look at the damage being done by Music, Movie, and e-book industries to your freedoms and right to due process in the US and around the world. The last trade agreement gave us the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and just stay tuned for much worse. You are about to get much much worse. In the trade agreements being supported by the Obama adminstration right now, you can forget due process. Three ACCUSATIONS of copyright infringement is all that is needed to have you banned from connecting to the "web" for an indefinite period. Just like confiscation of property without a trial, you can now sacrifice your right to access the modern world with a trial, without hearing the evidence, with seeing your accuser. Recently, the British government tried to pass laws "in the middle of the night" until the same Cory Doctorow who wrote Little Brother, raised hell in Boing Boing. The Obama administrations trade negotiator is in the same meetings that led to this law being proposed in Britain.

We CANNOT allow sacrifice of basic rights to guarantee security, to protect artists and studio and publisher rights.

Stay tuned. I have more rants to follow.

Please join EFF. This is not an organization of trouble making rabble rousing goofs. They are a group that is determined to stand in the way of this assault on YOUR freedom. They are refuse to listen to the argument (specious at best) that goes something like "I have nothing to hide and those who do, should beware". Just try this on for size when you areFALSELY ACCUSED and have no due process to protect you from the assault by the mighty.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Contest for Geeks!

Doug Grant, K1DG and Tim Duffy, K3LR, both very active contesters and members of the CQ contest committee have led the committee to make a startling change in the contest rules for CW and SSB contests this coming CQ contest season. Doug came to the SDR forum at Dayton Hamvention this year and proposed the Xtreme Class for CQ WW major contests this year.

Doug wrote to me and asked me to allow him to speak and to trust him in that it would be of interest to software defined radio types. It was. I also learned that Tim Duffy, K3LR, has completely embraced SDR as a tool. He has a rack full of Perseus Receivers tied to CW Skimmer to look across the entire CW band during contests, and decode all signals. These signals are then introduced to regular contest logging software as "spots" in the same way that packet sends spots.

The big difference is that the Perseus/CW Skimmer spots are GUARANTEED to be audible by the station since they were collected from a receiver operating on site. Tim and others have become very impressed by what we geeks are offering to the contester. Please allow me to put the entire announcement from K1DG here:

"This year at Dayton, the new CQWW Xtreme categories were announced.

These new categories (single-operator and multi-operator) have been
established to allow amateurs to participate in the CQ WW Contest
while experimenting creatively with Internet-linked stations and other
new technologies that currently are not permitted in any of the
existing contest categories. The full rules for the new Xtreme
Category, as approved by the CQ WW Contest Committee, appear in June
CQ magazine and also at:

This PDF file may be copied and re-posted to other Web sites as long
as this text is included: "Reprinted with permission from the June
2009 issue of CQ magazine; copyright CQ Communications, Inc."

Please forward this email to your local club reflectors and newsletters.

The new categories are effective with the 2009 CQ WW Contest later this year.

In essence, (almost) anything goes! The "almost" part means that you
must obey the rules of your country, including power (up to the CQWW
1500W maximum), licensing, and remote operation (if you use it).

It is permitted to use multiple transmitting sites with one callsign
(if legal in your country), but all transmitting sites must be located
in the same country and CQ zone, and only one signal is permitted on a
band at any time. Single-ops with packet, Skimmer, robot stations,
on-line databases, etc. are OK! Multiops with remote operators and
remote receiving sites around the world...OK!

The initial response at both the Contesting Forum and SDR Forum at
Dayton was very positive, with some of the SDR Forum attendees
actually challenging each other in public! This is a chance for
experimenters to see which technology innovations actually work best
in competitive situations.

If you have questions about the rules, please send them to

There is an also email reflector ( set up
for discussions relating to these new categories. You can subscribe by
sending email to with the word
SUBSCRIBE in the subject line and message text, or go here:
(thanks, K5TR)

K3LR has stepped up and is sponsoring the K3TUP Memorial Trophies for
the winners of the single-op and multi-op Xtreme categories.

73, and let the Xtreme Contesting Games begin!

Doug K1DG"

Thank you Doug and the entire CQ Contest committee. This is an impressive and thoughtful first attempt. I urge all to think about doing this. Flex users, HPSDR users, QS1R, Peseus, etc. can all make a valiant effort and with "innovation" being 50% of the score, a great single operator super star is not required to be a significant placeholder in this. Let's go!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Vuze, uPnP, Media Companies, and Freedom

I am wondering when media companies will be convinced that people will not pay for lousy service and crappy content. Freedom is the only way forward and people WILL PAY FOR CONVENIENCE AND NOT CONTENT. If the artists tailor their approach to this, they benefit and when the drip turns into the flood THEY WIN. As much as I support the right of artists to be compensated fairly for their work, the entire system built to support them, screws every person who does not sit in the middle, artist and consumer, people who should be peers and are not. Who has not felt raped by Ticketmaster, or Sony (embedding theft protection malware in the audio CD) or the horrors of DRM.

Some artists get this, but I fear most are too lazy or too stupid to understand that with action (concerted to be sure) on their part, we have reached the golden age.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Adaptive Signal Processing, Polyphase Filter Banks, for the old and new

Recently I have spent enough time on adaptive signal processing algorithms to have driven my friends crazy (yes, I do have friends). Everyone wants the polyphase filter bank code. I completely sympathize. While I am not a Dionysius (a Greek king), I invite you to be Damocles and feel the sword as you sit in my chair for a few sentences and then I won't bore you any more with this.

The polyphase filter bank code is "done". It has been for months. The implementation of the filter banks in question? A completely trivial matter for someone with as much digital signal processing experience as I have suffered, err uhh, enjoyed. There is a problem. The problem is significant and I am absolutely determined to solve it. Polyphase filter banks should be everywhere, ubiquitous if you will. They should be easily used, and easy to get right. This is a major problem but it really is the only one I am interested in pursuing to the end. I find that all of the major players, from my new friends and colleagues, to those I have never had the pleasure of meeting, have failed to address an overall structure.

The structure in question is how to do all of this in a completely automated way. You give me a few design parameters, ones that are obvious, I give you back a pointer to a filter bank object and from that moment on, you give me signal, and I give you output. What is difficult about this? The filter bank's signal performance is completely determined by the filters and the filter performance is determined by the size of the computer word. If you ask me to implement a filterbank with brick wall edges and 100 dB adjacent channel suppression, the filter design and the flow of signal through the filter bank needs new work done by fred harris and I (soon to be published). If you need perfect reconstruction with these parameters (the channelization is reversible to high accuracy through a synthesis operation), I return with a "you are a fool" and tell you the best you can hope for is ...... The nature of the filters inside depends on whether or not you want linear phase or not and .......

The construction of all of this filter determination code has been the object of study for brains better than mine for decades (Julius O. Smith comes to mind) but it is not all collected into one object. I am determined to crack this nut once and for all. Irrespective of how much respect I have for my filter bank colleagues, they have written enough papers on one-off designs. They have charged enough money for one-off consulting. Through the power of doing this right and then giving it away GPL and probably publishing a treatise, I am determined to make this a sea change, once and for all.

The work done by fred harris and I needs publication approval from my masters. These are the ones that feed my children, send them to school, and allow me to drive a fancy sports car and go to Broadway twice a month. The approval is coming. The filter bank FILTER DESIGN work is being done and we will all have it soon.

Thank you for your patience. Understand that I do the other things knowing they are not as important as the filter bank code. They are nevertheless necessary. They show off the differences between these sdr signal processing chains and what is possible in traditional "narrow band high performance radios" to the SIGNIFICANT advantage of the SDR's. I may be mad, but there is method to my aggravating pace.