It is sort of the American dream: start a company in your garage and have it get crazy big. After all, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and even Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard did it. Seems hard to do these days, though. However, one ham radio company that has been pushing the edge of software defined radio appears to be well on the way to becoming more than its roots. FlexRadio has teamed with Raytheon to undertake a major project for the United States Air Force.
The Air Force has given Raytheon and FlexRadio $36 million to develop an HF radio based on the existing SmartSDR/Flex-6000. ARRL news reports quote FlexRadio’s CEO as saying that the investment in the military radios will pay dividends to the firm’s ham radio customers.
Honestly, that would not surprise us, as ham radio has always gained a lot both from military technology and surplus. In addition, military radio makers such as Collins have a long history of also making amateur gear. We would imagine the potential market for an SDR would be far larger for the military so this could make more powerful gear available at a lower price.
The Flex6000 appears in the video below. The receiver uses a digital direct sampling technique on receive and a direct upconversion on transmit. Different members of the family have different ranges, but typically the radios can go from 300 kHz to 77 MHz and sometimes also 135 to 165 Mhz.
FlexRadio has a lot of competition lately in the ham radio SDR space with players ranging from big manufacturers to small businesses all taking a piece of the pie. The military connection for FlexRadio may let them give individual hams a better product.