On Starving Students

Dear List,

This is the GNU Radio mailing list, and its purpose is to discuss the
use and development of GNU Radio. I try to refrain from talking about
our business out of respect for the purpose of this list and the
community. However, due to the tenor of the recent conversation, I feel
that I must say a few things.

GNU Radio can be and is used with many different hardware devices, not
just those of our company. Some of those are completely different from
the USRP, some emulate the USRP, some are based on the USRP design to a
greater or lesser degree, and some are complete clones of it. Some cost
less, most cost more. To my knowledge none of them other than the SSRP
actually give out schematics or other technical details, but that is the
choice of those designers/companies.

You have the freedom to use or not use any of these, or even to make
your own. If you wish to make your own in a collaborative manner, I
think the GNU Radio mailing list is the perfect place to find like
minded people to work with, and I would encourage you to use it as such.
There are a lot of intelligent people here with a lot of experience to
draw upon.

At Ettus R. we get daily requests from students (and people
falsely claiming to be students) all over the world for free or
nearly-free hardware. Most (but not all) of them are at least a bit
more courteous than the outright demands we have been receiving for the
last 2 months from the multiple people who go by the name “Marten
Christophe”. If we were to accede to all of these requests/demands we
would be sending out more free USRPs than paid ones.

Very early on, I fell for this trick. I sent nearly-free hardware to
several so-called starving students. Most of those boards were sold on
eBay at a profit. The rest, to my knowledge, were never even turned on
and the “students” disappeared.

I have always found a way to get hardware to those students who actually
contribute to the GNU Radio or OpenBTS projects and demonstrate
competency and a willingness to collaborate. I fully intend to continue
to do so. I will not send out free hardware to someone who just shows
up and demands it under a fake name.

If you feel that our prices are too high, then I would encourage you to
make your own hardware. If you think you are a starving student now,
wait until you try to sell USRPs for $450.

Matt E.
President, Ettus R. LLC

To the students:

Suggest that you give Matt your Professor/Advisor contact info, and also
get your Prof to send a note to Matt on your

Bringing your Prof into the dialog is a good idea for several reasons.
For example, there might be an opportunity to
set up an instructional lab or otherwise help other students, not just
you. And it’s always more impressive if there
is a group of students asking, not just one. Team efforts are more
likely to produce results.

BTW, this is how we handle it at my company. Students have to explain
what they’re doing and why, and get a faculty
member to vouch for them and their work (i.e. a faculty member who is
searchable on the Univ web site). It has worked
for many years with DSP boards.