For our June “Staff Pick” Project of the Month, we selected fldigi, a Ham Radio Digital Modem Application. We asked founder and developer David Freese to share some thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.
SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the fldigi project please.
David Freese (DF): fldigi is an application unit within a family of applications called NBEMS, Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System. It is used primarily by amateur radio operators (world wide) for the transfer of emergency data and images on high frequency, HF, very high frequency, VHF and ultra high frequency, UHF. As such it directly supports such organizations as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The two principal components of NBEMS, namely fldigi and flrig can be used by the amateur for recreational contacts. Daily use of these two hones the skills of the amateur when he or she needs to use them when responding to an actual emergency.
SF: What made you start this project?
DF: I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard in 2000 and wanted to continue using my electrical engineering and systems analysis skills. I have been an active amateur radio operator since 1957, so it was a natural for me.
SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
DF: Yes, much beyond my expectations. fldigi is used by several nations as a digital signal on their scheduled HF broadcasts. This includes the United States Voice of America. I have been told that Russia, Australia and Cuba are also using the programs for similar broadcasts. This site has an excellent synopsis of the fldigi suite. I have no affiliation with the site: http://www.wow.com/wiki/Fldigi
SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
DF: World wide emergency communications responders.
SF: What core need does fldigi fulfill?
DF: An operating system independent software modem program. fldigi and its peer programs have the same look and feel on all of the target operating systems. It is entirely possible to operate the various components on a LAN or WAN with each component on a different platform but still fully linked and forming a complete system.
SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using fldigi?
DF: Daily recreational use. fldigi is probably the most used software modem program in the United States.
SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
DF: Amateur radio operators who become proficient in the system act as mentors to new users via one of three support groups:
firstname.lastname@example.org – primarily for Linux and OS X users
email@example.com – specifically for first line support of the emergency aspects of fldigi
firstname.lastname@example.org – primarily for Windows users
SF: Have you found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?
DF: Frequency releases are user driven. The NBEMS developers try to be very responsive to bug reports and new user needs.
SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
DF: fldigi was originally a Linux only application. Stelios Buonanos, M0GLD, a Greek national residing in the U.K, joined the fldigi team in 2007. He was singularly responsible for the original port to both Windows and OS X.
SF: What helped make that happen?
DF: The OS X port was facilitated by an interested OS X owner who made his system(s) available via a secure shell. Stelios did the development work from the outskirts of London, working on a computer in North Carolina. Since then I have received gift Apple computers which allow me to continue Stelios’ work locally.
SF: How has SourceForge and its tools helped your project reach that success?
DF: All of our code is controlled using git. SourceForge has been a super resource for our source code control. It is also the primary web site for users to download binaries, help files, etc. I maintain a mirror on a privately funded site: http://www.w1hkj.com/
SF: What is the next big thing for fldigi?
DF: One of the development team is working on an Android port of fldigi. He has developed two applications that use the fldigi modem code; AndMsg, and Tivor. These can be downloaded from both SourceForge and my mirror site. These two target the emergency communications aspects of fldigi, but not the casual recreational use.
SF: How long do you think that will take?
DF: John, VK2ETA, is reluctant to give us a target date, but probably a year before it is ready.
SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
DF: He has asked for any and all assistance from programmers with Android experience.
SF: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently for fldigi?
DF: fldigi is a C++ program with quite a bit of traditional C style coding. I would probably have adhered more closely to an object oriented design.
SF: Is there anything else we should know?
DF: fldigi was originally hosted by Berlios. The transition to Source Forge went quickly and without any loss of our code base. I, and the other fldigi developers are very grateful for the ease of the transition.
[ Download fldigi ]
[Category: Open Source]