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Sunday, January 16, 2011

FUNcube dongle making (radio) waves

Imagine turning your laptop into a high-tech radio receiver capable of receiving any frequency, any mode from 64-1200 MHz.

Enter the "FUNCubeDongle" project.

This amazing USB stick has been a hot item of late. So hot, in fact, the last batch to go on sale (104) sold out in less than a minute.

It plugs into your computer (running Windows XP/Vista/7, OS X, and Kubuntu 10.10) and with the right program turns your computer into a software defined radio, capable of receiving whatever you want between 64MHz and 1.2GHz.

It's designed to be an educational tool for helping schools to pick up satellites using the dongle and a simple antenna. Hams around the world have been using them to receive voice/data/CW/whatever on all the bands from VHF on up.

Price is set currently at £125. Good luck picking one up. I've seen a Bag of Crap on Woot take slower time to sell out that these things.

If you missed out on the last run, there's one on eBay (ends Jan. 23) you can bid on, and as a bonus you get your callsign etched on FUNcube. Proceeds from the auction benefit the AMSAT-UK team.

You can check out this YouTube video of an "out-of-the-box" test listening to several AMSAT birds.