Article: "No-knob" radio: the future of Warfighter communications?

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“No-knob” radio: the future of Warfighter communications?

Jan 27, 2010

By Sharon Rushen, CERDEC Public Affairs

FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. - U.S. Army engineers in collaboration with
their Navy counterparts hope to open the gates of cognitive radio
development to academia, industry and other DoD organizations by
building a universal radio test-bed this year.

The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and
Engineering Center’s Software Defined Radio lab will work with the
Navy Research Lab to transfer previous development done on the
Joint Tactical Radio System to the GNU Radio’s open source, free
software environment.

Through the GNU platform which is inexpensive and universally
accessible, universities, contract companies and government
agencies can use a common platform to advance the state of
cognitive radio software. The transition to the GNU platform will
help ease collaboration efforts with other organizations who
frequently opt to use ‘grass-roots’ hardware for programming due
to the comparably high-cost and limited accessibility of JTRS radios.

Additionally, the GNU platform will enable the SDR lab to conduct
large lab tests and field tests, rather than having to simulate
larger-scale network testing. The cost constraints associated with
the JTRS radio prohibit larger-scale networking, limiting the
number of radios they can test at one time, explained SDR lab team
lead, Tim Leising.

Through funding provided by the Office of the Secretary of
Defense, Director of Defense, Research and Engineering, the SDR
lab team will collaborate with the Navy Research Lab, to start
building a universal GNU radio test bed this year. Once the
test-bed is completed, they will work together to make it
remote-accessible using the Defense Research Engineering Network
to house the software platform, allowing DoD organizations and
external research partners to test their software on it from any
location.

CERDEC will facilitate a dial-in Q&A session for media
participants to interact with leading U.S. Army researchers
involved in developing the GNU test-bed. To participate in the
media round table, contact CERDEC Public Affairs: (732) 427-1926.

The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and
Engineering Center (CERDEC) is one of the research and development
centers under the U.S. Army’s Research, Development and
Engineering Command (RDECOM).

The Software-Defined Radio (SDR) lab is part of CERDEC’s Space and
Terrestrial Communications Directorate.

Ettus Guys-

http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/01/27/33577-no-knob-radio-the-future-of-warfighter-communications/

“No-knob” radio: the future of Warfighter communications?

After as week, this brings up a question: is there supposed to be an
official PR or other announcement about the
acquisition on NI’s website? I don’t see anything yet.

I would think that some statement from NI clarifying continuation of
open source status and GPL licensing for GNU
radio software (and hardware and FPGA logic, very crucial) would be
re-assuring to GNU radio developers and users, as
well as users-in-planning – such as US Army guys mentioned below.
Unless the acquisition hasn’t actually closed yet,
then the only thing I can guess that might be holding up NI is if they
need to tweak their wording, for example
mention items that might be excepted from GNU licensing if they conflict
with one of their many patents. The block
diagram user interface in GRC would be one possible example.

-Jeff

Jeff,

We have repeatedly made statements about our commitment to continue
developing GNU Radio and to open source, both in our original
announcement and in several following emails. We employ three GNU Radio
developers full time, including Josh B. who created GRC. I don’t know
what else you could possibly want, or how else we could possibly state
it.

If you read the GPL, you would know that nobody can take GPL’ed code
away from you. If the US Army guys in the article below have any
concerns, I’m sure they know how to contact me.

I don’t understand your concern about the lack of a press release. The
acquisition has closed and we are continuing to go about our normal
business. Right now Tom and I are working on MIMO OFDM code. You can
follow our ofdm branches in git if you like. Still all GPL.

I understand the concern about any significant change like this.
However, I would ask you to look at Ettus R.'s 5 and a half year
commitment to GNU Radio and open source, my personal 9 year commitment
to GNU Radio, my personal 12 year track record of contributions to
multiple open source projects, the tens of thousands of lines of open
source code we have produced, and our multiple affirmative statements of
continued support.

Matt E.
President, Ettus R. LLC

On Fri, 2010-02-12 at 18:43 -0600, Jeff B. wrote:

I would think that some statement from NI clarifying continuation of open source status and GPL licensing for GNU
radio software (and hardware and FPGA logic, very crucial) would be re-assuring to GNU radio developers and users, as
well as users-in-planning – such as US Army guys mentioned below. Unless the acquisition hasn’t actually closed yet,
then the only thing I can guess that might be holding up NI is if they need to tweak their wording, for example
mention items that might be excepted from GNU licensing if they conflict with one of their many patents. The block
diagram user interface in GRC would be one possible example.

See prior email from me regarding GNU Radio software status.

In short, GNU Radio is a product of the Free Software Foundation, not
Ettus R., and will continue to be licensed for use and
distribution under the terms of the GPLv3. The USRP1/2 host driver
software that exists today is part of that, and will be maintained.

NI/Ettus R. announced they will develop a new driver for USRP2 and
will dual-license under GPL and non-GPL. GNU Radio will be able to use
it. Corgan Enterprises, Blossom Research, and Ettus R. are all
working together to make this transition smooth.

Johnathan C.
Corgan Enteprises LLC

Matt-

We have repeatedly made statements about our commitment to continue
developing GNU Radio and to open source, both in our original
announcement and in several following emails. We employ three GNU Radio
developers full time, including Josh B. who created GRC. I don’t know
what else you could possibly want, or how else we could possibly state it.

Everything I’m hearing sounds good, your statements are re-assuring and
passionate.

Please forgive me, but I’m just asking where’s NI’s official statement?
Is that not a reasonable question to ask? I
checked their website every day this week. I doubt I’m the only one who
was doing that.

If you read the GPL, you would know that nobody can take GPL’ed code
away from you. If the US Army guys in the article below have any
concerns, I’m sure they know how to contact me.

Not to quibble, but like anything else, GPL code cannot infringe an
existing patent.

source code we have produced, and our multiple affirmative statements of
continued support.

Yes I know. I recognize this fully. I’m a 50 yr old guy with a long
track record in engineering and business in DSP,
telecom, and software since I started writing Apple II programs in 1980.
In my day we didn’t have open source (or the
Internet) so we started small companies and learned the hard way about
patents and IP rights and acquisitions. When I
was a few years younger than you are now I was founding a company after
leaving another one I had co-founded, which
eventually got acquired in Jan 2004 by NI. So yes I’m old curmudgeon
who’s seen a lot, which is why I insist on
asking such questions.

I can see I’m probably being annoying, so I’ll keep my questions about
an NI announcement to myself from this point.

-Jeff

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