smalldroid2 Figure 1: The author’s homemade “brick/tablet” is shown, with its baby brother resting on top of it.

Posted Saturday, September 19, 2015:

More and more, the CPU is figuring into homebrew. The many homebrewed variations of WebSDR are good examples of this phenomenon. In the beginning of this tech shift for hams, there were CPUs embedded inside of Ten Tec and many japanese radios. Recently, there has been an increase in the amount of homebrewing that involves the use of a processor in ham gear. This is a pretty interesting sort of change I’ve observed, and it has picked up momentum in the past three or four years.

As for myself, I have built a sort of composite computer, that may qualify under some such term as a “brick” variant tablet (just a very thick tablet) computer. My particular variant is constructed with the inclusion of an SoC board (system on a chip) made by the people at hardkernel.com, and called the “Odroid C1”. Its baby brother, shown in the graphic, is a server-only device, and uses the slightly updated C1+ board for the CPU and most of the rest of the processing function. These boards, which measure only two or three inches in breadth, are ideal for composite ham homebrew projects. Their diminutive size leaves plenty of room for other boards in the box – boards dedicated to ham homebrew projects.

Some dimensions serve to present some perspective, relative to the size of these things. The yellow (mini) computer is 4.75 x 5.25 inches. Its mama (with a 9 inch display built in) – is 10.25 x 7.5 inches, and contains some empty space for such things as a small ham receiver. The Soc board has tons of IO capability, I2C, and an ADC converter.

Although not directly ham radio related, I have begun a project to insert a shortwave rx board into the bigger box. The brick tablet also serves as the station’s general purpose computer (logging, fldigi, etc).