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New Site for Softrock Kits' Documentation - WB5RVZ.ORG

I have permanently moved several of the kit projects over to a new site with different technologies. Kits' documentation that is moved will no longer be maintained on this legacy site. Links in the menu above have been modified to direct you to the new site for any kits so moved.

The kits moved so far are:

  1. Combined SR Lite II RX
  2. Ensemble RX II (HF/LF)
  3. Softrock-40-R (NEW)
  4. Ensemble RXTX

Welcome to WB5RVZ.COM

Welcome to my website. I have built this site to allow me to provide to hams worldwide the resuts of my labor of love, the documentation - in a Heathkit style - of the construction of the several "Softrock" Software-defined Radio (SDR) kits designed and distributed by my friend, Tony Parks.

Current Softrock Kits' Availability

Many have discovered Softrocks from browsing on the web and have asked about how to get a Softrock kit. The biggest problem with getting the kits is timing your access to the ordering website. The designer and kit-maker is Tony Parks, KB9YIG. He is a retired engineer who does this for the love of the hobby (and might make a buck or two of pin money but certainly no living from the sale of the kits). Because he is not a real business, nor is he rich, he does not have the capital to finance a large inventory of unsold kits. He makes kits available as he can source the boards, crystals, ICs, and other components, in small batches. He usually makes an announcement on the Softrock40 reflector a couple days before he makes the kits available on his website.

Consequently, most of the time his website will show no quantities available. When kits do come up available, they are usually sold out within 24-48 hours and then we all wait for the next batch to be kitted up.

If you want to order a kit, you should:

  1. Sign up on the Yahoo Softrock40 reflector and request the "individual email" rather than the daily digest for your message delivery option. That way, you will get (more than you want) postings as soon as they are made.
  2. If you don't already have one, get yourself a PayPal account (Tony can only take PayPal).
  3. Keep checking the Softrock ordering website. (Some folks have even gotten one of those programs that automatically check out a webpage for any changes and alert you when they occur). Most often, you will see "check back soon" on the page alongside the object of your desire! When kits become available, the "check back soon" changes to an order quantity dropdown box.

What is SDR?

There are many definitions for Software Defined Radio. The essence of each definition is that some or all of the traditional functionality of a radio is handled in software on a computer, rather than in circuitry in a traditional radio. Note that SDR is not control of a radio using software; it is, rather, implementation of a radio in software. If you have never seen or experienced SDR in action, take a look at this Flash video by AC8GY from his informative SDR website.

SDR Theory and Information

John, W4JKL, has provided this list of valueable resources for those interested in diving deeper into the theory behind SDR. These reference, plus the "Theory of Operation" sections in each of the kits documented here on the WB5RVZ site, should take the reader a long way toward appreciating this truly fascinating aspect of our shared hobby.

The "Software" Component of "Software Defined Radio"

While these pages and kits concentrate on the hardware part of the SDR mix, there are some software essentials you will need to chase down if you are building one of the Softrock SDR kits.

In order to test (and later, operate, your rig, you must download and install required software (SDR programs and Dynamic Link Libraries, along with hardware drivers. The actual steps and programs may vary, depending upon your computer's windows operating system version (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) and architecture CPU/memory (32 bit or 64 bit).

SoftwareRole/PurposeDownload LinkNotes
USB driver(s)drivers for ATTiny85 USBdownloadZip file with 32 and 64 bit drivers*.
CFGSRConfigure/Control Ensemble microcontrollerdownload
SRDLLdll for Softrock controllersdownload
WinRadHDSimple SDR (RX only) Programdownload
(Windows XP) PowerSDR-IQ V1.12.20Version of FlexRadio's PowerSDR tailored for I/Q Soundcard-based SDRs downloadHas Si570 Control Capability
(Windows 7, Vista) PowerSDR-IQ V1.19.3.15Version of FlexRadio's PowerSDR tailored for I/Q Soundcard-based SDRs downloadHas Si570 Control Capability (Please see Christos' message 43204 on the Yahoo Reflector)

*Note on installing PE0-FKO's USB Drivers: First extract the .zip file to a temporary directory (on the Desktop), plug in the device and it will show "Found new hardware DG8SAQ-I2C". Direct the wizard to the folder to whichthe software was extracted (you should see a "PE0FKO.inf" file in the folder) and the software will be installed.

Install Driver

The correct procedure is to download the driver and put it in a suitable folder, then plug in the USB lead, Windows should detect new hardware has been found and you need to manually point it to the folder containing the drive. It should then install correctly. Certainly does on Win2000 and XP. On Vista or Windows 7, there might be some issues with driver signing. There have been messages on the forum describing methods of working around these issues. One such solution is addressed in the author's MOBO4.3 builders notes.

Install/Run CFGSR ("ConFiGureSoftRock")

Once the driver is installed, if you run 'CFGSR' that will either automatically 'open' the firmware, or if not, you need to go to the 'USB' tab and select it from the list displayed in the bottom box. Which way depends on if you have 'CFGSR' set up to auto connect on program start or not.

Test Local Oscillator in Si570-Based Kits

You can use 'CFGSR' to exercise the Si570 using the 'Tune' tab that makes it into a 'VFO'. Just a case of setting the frequency, and the Si570 should output a signal at 4 times the frequency displayed on the main display on the screen. The 'Test' tab can also be used to look at all the various Si570 registers etc, but probably unnecessary as if you can hear or measure the Si570 output frequency, you know it is working.


Over time, I hope to add to this site, so you may want to come back periodically for updated info. The offerings are in the following categories:

Current Documentation Projects

Combined SR Lite II RX

Ensemble RXTX

Ensemble RX II (HF/LF)

BETA Ensemble RX II (VHF)

New USB2SDR Card from SV1EIA (not a kit)

TX ES 73