PortaPack Shipping to HackRF Kickstarter Backers This Week!

Update on 2015/07/23:

The PortaPack H1 is now available in the ShareBrained store.

I’m pleased to announce that I will be shipping PortaPacks to HackRF Kickstarter backers this week. Announcement e-mails have already gone to the 50 backers. If you’re one of the backers and haven’t received your e-mail, please leave a comment here and we’ll come up with another way to make contact — I need to make sure I have the right shipping addresses! It will be another week or two before PortaPacks are generally available.

PortaPack H1 in optional aluminum case
PortaPack H1 in optional aluminum case

Getting the PortaPack H1 ready for shipping was a long slog. And as is my way, I took a lot of detours along the way. I incorporated a lightweight operating system (ChibiOS) into the firmware. I built a simple UI framework that would support arrow-key navigation, with touch as an option where appropriate. I developed a sophisticated test jig (based on this) to ensure the units I ship work correctly. I designed a milled aluminum case that I’ll offer as an option. And I finished and tested all the units myself, including doing failure analysis on a bunch of PortaPacks. I learned a great deal, and hope that my next product development cycle will be much easier and faster.

Because of all the manufacturing effort, work on the firmware hasn’t advanced very far. At this point, the PortaPack is mostly useful as a basic narrowband AM/FM receiver. But there’s still a lot of capability to be tapped in the HackRF ARM processors! I’m eager to get back to firmware, and implement more signal analysis and capture functionality, along with some digital modes demodulation and decoding support.

I put together a quick-and-dirty video of the process of assembling PortaPacks. The hardware nerds among you might find it amusing. :-)

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