There is sometimes confusion among those new to HPSDR about exactly what hardware you need to be able to play with the system. This guide hopes to dispel some of this confusion and allow you to get up and going. Please note that availability is constantly changing, and while we try to keep this page as up to date as possible, things may have changed.
Description: Atlas is the main bus board for the OpenHPSDR system. it connects all of the components together and allows them to talk to one another. It also provides the connection for the power supply. Atlas has no real active components on it, merely some LEDs, connectors, capacitors and resistors.
Availability: Atlas is currently available in kit form from TAPR. You can order this kit off of their order page
OpenHPSDR supports two ways of connecting your computer to the RF hardware, USB and Ethernet. The Ethernet interface, Metis, is the newest and more capable of the two. Magister is a USB2 interface that is slower speed. You need one of either of these boards, not both. New users are recommended to use Metis.
Description: Magister is the board that connects the HPSDR boards to your PC or Mac via USB 2.0.
Availability: iQuadLabs has Magister currently in stock.
Description: Metis connects to your computer via Ethernet. It speaks the standard TCP/IP protocol.
Availability: TAPR has Metis currently in stock.
Description: Mercury is the HPSDR receiver board. It has another Cyclone FPGA on it, and an Analog to Digital converter to receive signals via RF.
Availability: iQuadLabs has Mercury currently in stock. Gerd Loch (DJ8AY) may also be able to supply boards for folks. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Description: Pennylane is the HPSDR transmitter board. It has yet another Cyclone FPGA, and a Digital to Analog converter to generate the RF signal. Of course, if you only want a receiver, OpenHPSDR works fine without a Penelope.
Availability: iQuadLabs has Pennylane currently in stock.
You need some way of providing power to the HPSDR components. You have a few choices here. Atlas is deigned with a PC-style ATX connector on it. An ATX power supply will work to get you going, although many of these supplies are going to be noisy and impart noise into your receiver. A high quality supply is recommended for this reason. Alternatively, TAPR offers the LPU that will take a +12VDC source and provide all the necessary voltages to the Atlas bus. The LPU is available as a kit from TAPR's order page.
These four boards should get you a functional HPSDR transceiver that will give you something to play with. That being said, there are optional components that may make your setup much more useful.
If you're looking for something pretty to put your setup in, the Atlas is designed to use the same spacing as PCI cards in a PC. This allows you to modify an ATX case to handle it such as is described on this Wiki in the The Antec P183 Solution page.
Alternatively, the project has designed the Pandora enclosure which has been intended to hold an Atlas bus with cards, the LPU and Alexiares. Pandora is currently available from TAPR's order page. There are also folks on the list making custom backplanes for Pandora with different mixes of OpenHPSDR boards.
Penelope only outputs 0.5 W, so unless you're really fond of QRP work, this isn't going to be enough for most people. To fill this need the project has designed the Pennywhistle board. Pennywhistle will be an RF amplifier designed to work with Penelope and output approximately 20W. Pennywhistle is now available for order from TAPR's order page. Pennywhistle will require some sort of low-pass filter between the output and your antenna to comply with regulations limiting harmonic emissions. See the next section about Alexiares for a possible solution.
Other alternatives for power amplifiers include the The Tokyo Hy-Power HL-45B Solution and Hercules designed to be compatible with current HPSDR hardware (Atlas, Penelope, Mercury, and Magister/Ozy). It has low pass filters designed in to meet government regulations on transmitted signals. Available from NT-Electronics in Europe and worldwide on eBay by seller red_ella (Ron - W9KFB). An optional display panel for power and SWR monitoring of the Amplifier is also available from NT-Electronics and eBay/red_ella.
In order to transmit a clean signal, and to provide some suppression of out-of-band signals into the receiver, a filter bank is useful. The project has designed Alexiares to serve this role. Alexiares is in pre-production right now and will be available from TAPR. There is a problem sourcing the toroids needed for the board, and it may be necessary for the hobbyist to wind these and solder them into an otherwise pre-assembled board.
As it stands, there are separate inputs into Mercury and Penelope for antennas. If you wish to share an antenna between transmit and receive, you will need a mechanism to do so. Gerd, DJ8AY, is providing a switching board through the red_ella (english) or red_ella (german, EU) eBay seller. Also, Alexiares will provider transmit/receive switching on some of its antenna connectors.
The project has designed a 10MHz frequency standard for OpenHPSDR named Excalibur. Excalibur has it's own highly stable TCXO on board that synchronizes the various oscillators on the other boards on the Atlas bus. It can also use an external 10MHz source to drive the Atlas bus. This allows you to provide a 10MHz signal from a GPS unit such as the Trimble Thunderbolt to get highly accurate frequency on your OpenHPSDR. Excalibur is now available from TAPR's order page.
This list of optional components is by no means exhaustive. There are many more cool components in the pipeline. These are just the large components to get a "working" transceiver to get on the air. Of course, you will need a computer to run PowerSDR, KISS Konsole, or Ghpsdr.