TEN-TEC Introduces the Model 506 Rebel: an open-source QRP transceiver
The TEN-TEC Model 506 Rebel is an open-source (meaning, anybody can program it), factory-built QRP transceiver based on a Chip Kit Uno 32 Arduino-compatible prototyping platform, which serves as the main processing unit that holds the Rebel’s program. (For those of you not familiar with the Arduino series, check out this article.)
And I have to admit, I love the concept: TEN-TEC delivers a factory-built, uber-simple transceiver, with just enough programming to reliably get you on the air with a basic radio (see details below). Users then have full access to develop and program the Rebel via an open-source platform, themselves. No need to wait on firmware revisions; firmware, in a sense, will be crowd-sourced! That’s to say, it uses online collaboration–a great idea.
According to TEN-TEC, the programming environment is very safe. Users can tinker with code without fear that they might harm their Rebel 506. The original base program can be re-flashed to the radio at any time. So if you can’t get past an error, you can always revert to a safe default copy.
In addition, even if you don’t have any idea how to program, someone has already created a web-based email group where users can upload and share code packages, and you can select someone else’s programming to test drive. Click here to join the group.
The Rebel is a CW-only transceiver that operates on 40 or 20 meters. The user changes bands by moving jumpers inside the chassis, mounted on the PC board.
The basic Rebel comes with no frequency display. When you turn on the radio, it comes up on the QRP calling frequency of 7.030 MHz or 14.060 MHz, depending on which band is selected. There is no VFO, but a DDS chip that is highly stable and that allows the Chip Kit Uno 32 to select a frequency upon which to operate. Of course, since the Chip Kit controls the DDS chip, you can re-program how the Rebel manages frequencies.