FEEDBACK: What would be a really interesting radio product?

As much as possible, we try to incorporate user feedback into our designs. For example, the following features on Dreamcatcher came from user feedback:

  • Switching from 256MB RAM to 512 MB
  • LNA/filter on antenna, for placing antenna farther away from receiver
  • Using SD card, since flashing NAND was an annoyance
  • USB to serial with microUSB cable (can use Putty in Windows)
  • Much, much, more

Selling hardware is what allows us to pay for the broadcast, so it’s really important that we build products that resonate with customers. The only requirement is a $49 retail price. This introduces a lot of constraints, but hopefully you can help us prioritize the features that would lead to a really novel, useful, and low-cost radio product.

As case : Maybe two — 1) simple protective, 2)complex with the lantern solar.
My preference … something with mount holes that would match the pcb… nothing fancy, just ‘port holes’ for all interface cables. I don’t have access to a 3d printer… so $20 for a case would easily persuade me to find a couple benjamins (that’s an old fashion thing called paper money)

We’re working on a metal enclosure right now, so that it can also act as a giant shield. But to clarify, I meant general radio products. After awhile all of the Dreamcatchers will come with a case.

You know me!

Idea One - - I’m a strong supporter of a radio with reliable external storage (larger than 32GB) that can hold data files that would be useful in rural disadvantaged areas. RACHEL (of course) is one of those large databases which several of us (@wsombeck for one) have been able to load on Outernet products over the last few months.

Idea Two - - A “bullet proof” device which requires minimal “fiddling” :blush: to keep on line. Ken

Backwards compatibility!

It’s really important not to orphan your original supporters even though it doesn’t immediately provide much needed additional financial support on your end. Those who originally supported and believed in the project should not be abandoned and expected to just buy your latest hardware. These business practices may make one hesitant to support you in the future.

The Pi users were told that the CHIP would be the only supported platform, until it was difficult for you to supply, through no fault of your own. Now your Dreamcatcher is the only option. If you do not continue to support earlier believers, many may decide its an impossible project to follow. It’s really a little scary that you no longer provide the old supporting files!

I’m still waiting for the promised discount code for the Dreamcatcher as I have bought a few of the previous versions, but am now starting to become a little wary of the future plans. I’m not sure that I shouldn’t just wait for whatever the next version may be!

I would probably be more open to just sending a donation to keep the project going at this point!

Sorry, maybe the thrill is just gone.

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You have a valid point. But one thing to point out: Dreamcatcher uses the SoC as CHIP. We chose the Allwinner A13 for that very reason.

One idea is to create a kit version of the Dreamcatcher. Or maybe a similar board with a few less features. Not sure that makes maintaining the product line any easier. But a Dreamcatcher like PCB, with all the components, that the customer would have to solder on their own, might be interesting.

It can be marketed as a build it yourself general purpose SDR computer board. Perhaps with some reduced features, and no need for a factory to assemble everything, you can reach the $49 price point.

I’m confused.

Not sure I can help with the price point because most of the things I’d want cost more money. :slight_smile: More RAM, more cores/faster CPU to handle higher bandwidth reception/processing. Ability to use a direct sampling mode for HF reception would be cool (haven’t tried it yet on Dreamcatcher). You might make more money selling antennae for various bands as well. I know if you came up with a good helical or QFH antenna for the 137Mhz NOAA APT/LRPT you could probably sell those easily. I haven’t tested the upper limits of this SDR in the Dreamcatcher yet, but being able to do beyond 1.6Ghz would open the device up to being able to receive HRPT signals from the Meteor M2 sat as well as Iridium. Making excellent ADSB antennae is pretty easy too, I had a buddy making them from coax cable and housing in PVC they were selling like hot-cakes for $30 each. Being able to pair an antenna with the hardware for the purpose someone wanted to use it for would help sales. HTH

My C.H.I.P based Outernet L-Band Satellite receiver just sat there and worked 24 hrs a day bringing in 20 Mb of data every 24 hrs and sending it out by WiFi.

The $9.00 C.H.I.P did that job remarkably well. There was in my opinion no need to improve or change the Outernet Hardware. Basically it did the Job.

Outernet is about the content it send down and the strength of the signal. There is no need to improve the hardware from what we had.

But boy do we need to improve the content.

We need to add a zillion features to the information sent down. Value added services, blogs, send this website down millions of content things, etc.

But it appears to me we have had a bit of HARDWARE mentality and forgotten about content.

When you sell the Outernet receiver for $49.00 people will want to see more than the weather, text files and a cut down Wikipedia.

PS I love the APRS feature.

I think the re-sending of Tweets was a great idea on the old high speed Outernet.

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Drawing on your comment, Seasalt @Seasalt, I’m a strong follower of “prepackaged” data bases such as Rachel ( that can happily live on an SD chip or USB Stck inside an Outernet terminal. Yesterday, I reconfigured my old Alpha Lantern enclosure with the Dreamcatcher board running Skylark and Rachel to see how “bullet proof” it might be. You’l note I am running it from a constantly charging 6,000 mAh Solar power pack.

Such data bases provide a vast amount of valuable information in rural/remote school settings, and are easy to add to an Outernet terminal. I have mentioned to Syed @Syed a couple of times teaming with Worldpossible and/or others to deliver updated content to their data bases might be a source of additional revenue for the Chicago operation.

My question to you based on your experiences in the field, are there other “prepackaged” data bases out there that should also be considered? Ken

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Solar powered, audible tsunami alarm.


I think it might need to be waterproof as well.


built in webserver to show local content (wikipedia, ebooks, audio- and video media) on added usb-storage!!!

Is a print function available. I’d like to post a hard-copy of "this mornings happenings"
Or a filtered - detail version of “whats new”.

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Dreamcatcher is one BIG board. If something goes wrong with it, one has to replace it. When the layout of Outernet was modular, one could troubleshoot each section and replace just it. Now this not the case. More chance for RF interaction and degradation when everything is together. Just my thoughts.

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compare the thermal image of CHIP and Dreamcatcher, plus try to populate all the connectors on the CHIP surface :slight_smile:

Ruff measure of heat using my finger is the Dreamcatcher runs cooler overall. Still have heat build up in an enclosure to vent, but heat doesn’t seem to be an issue here with my buttoned-up system out in the sun all day. Ken

Another suggestion to improve the Dreamcatcher - integrated LiFePo4 battery and charger, still powered via microUSB. Or sold as an addon, like the below link is for a rPi3. It would perform the functions similar to this: This would allow battery power, solar power, wall power, etc, all with a clean shutdown and even notifications of battery life. The GPIO forest should allow for the creation of different ‘hats’ to add on to the Dreamcatcher as well. I.e., LCD screen hat with sat status, head of ‘What’s New’ list, power levels, etc.