SoftRock Ensemble RXTX

A few photographs of my latest tinkering—a SoftRock Ensemble RXTX.  This unit provides all of the hardware necessary to have a software-defined radio (SDR) transceiver that uses a computer soundcard for ADC and DAC.  It is available here as a kit.  They are kitted in batches of 20-100 every few weeks and usually sell out within 24-48 hours.

I originally had little interest in doing a full SDR transceiver (preferring receivers only) until it occurred to me that I could modify the RXTX as an IF strip for VHF/UHF transverters like many have done with the FlexRadio Systems rigs.  So, I have developed a modification that is minimally invasive to the operation of the RXTX.  At build time, you choose a nearly octave-wide “super band” for operation.  This one was built for the 20-30 MHz band, covering the 15-, 12-, and 10-meter Amateur bands, as well as the 25-28 MHz IFs that I (will) use with present and planned transverters for the 6-, 2-, 1.25-, and 0.70-meter bands.

I’m not sure I have the enthusiasm to build another SoftRock.  There are a lot of trifilar transformers to wind.  The final result looks pretty good and seems to work.  I’m going to put it on the spectrum analyzer soon to see how clean the output is and how I should balance the drive for the transverters.  Then, I will also include a write-up of how the modifications are done.  (I promise that writeup is the same place as the control circuit schematic for the 50-MHz transverter!)

Here, you can see the W1GHZ relay board for doing split-IF T/R switching.  If the transverter control cable (DB-9) is disconnected, the SoftRock switches to common-RF for regular 15-/12-/10-meter operation.

Ethan Miller, K8GU, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Maryland, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “SoftRock Ensemble RXTX”

  • W0FMS:

    Nice.. I’ll have to follow your efforts on this as using a SDR like this on VHF has been a passion for me for quite some time. I have an assembled Ensemble and a couple of unassembled UHF SDRs to build up. They are in the queue to get to after the DVB-S DATV modulator and the HF amp project for the SDR-Cube. One of these days I’ll finish one of my big projects. Keep building.. it’s the best part of ham radio.. What you’ve done so far looks nice.. good job.

    Fred W0FMS

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