While M17 sounds like a new type of automatic rifle (as it actually is), we were referring to an open source project to be created an amateur radio transceiver. Instead of paraphrasing the project goals, let’s just quote them:

The goal here should be to remove the proprietary protocols from the radio waves, replace DMR, Fusion, D-Star, etc. To do this, not only is it good enough to be open, it has to be legitimately competitive.

Like some other commercial protocols, M17 uses 4FSK along with error correction. The protocol enables encryption, streaming and encoding of callsigns in messages. There are also provisions for the framing of IP packets to carry data. The protocol can process voice and data in a point-to-point or broadcast topology.

On the hardware side is that TR-9 is a UHF handheld that can process FM speech or M17 with up to 3 watts of power. The RF part uses an ADF7021 chip specially designed for 4FSK. There is also an arm CPU for digital work.

We were impressed with the similarity of the TR-9 to a mobile phone as it has an LCD display, SD card slot and 9DOF sensor. Perhaps some open hardware cell phones and open hardware ham radios could find common ground.

This is pretty ambitious, but in general small ham plants are experiencing a resurgence. With high quality RF components available as chips makes a huge difference.