Inner Circle Newsletter – All About the RFBitBanger

Three Days Remaining for the RFBitBanger HF Radio Kit DEFCON Show Special

Be a part of the future with a prototype kit build of the RFBitBanger, a low-power high-frequency digital radio by Dr. Daniel Marks KW4TI. Presented by Open Research Institute, this kit is designed to produce 4 watts of power and opens up a new digital protocol called SCAMP. Your donation in exchange for this kit directly enables the development of an innovative Class E amplifier based radio design. It has a display, button menu navigation, and keyboard connection for keyboard modes and keyboard-enabled navigation. This radio can be taken portable or used in a case. If you have a 3d printer, then Dr. Marks has a design ready for you to print.

  • Built-in digital modes: CW, RTTY, SCAMP (FSK and OOK, multiple speeds)
  • Key jack supports straight keys and iambic paddles
  • Open Source hardware and firmware, Arduino UNO compatible
  • External sound-card FSK digital modes supported (including FT4/FT8)
  • Experimental SSB support
  • Serial port support (2400 baud) for send and receive in keyboard modes

SCAMP is a new protocol that allows keyboard-to-keyboard contacts with a digital protocol that has excellent connection performance. See Dr. Marks presentation about RFBitBanger at QSO Today Academy in September 2023 to learn more about SCAMP and the RFBitBanger project. Information about that event is here:

All surface mount parts on the main board are pre-installed at the factory. All the through-hole parts you need to complete the radio are provided for you to solder yourself. If you don’t know how to wind toroids or solder surface mount capacitors, this is an excellent kit to learn on. There are just six toroids on the main board, and two on each band pass filter board. You can build just one band pass filter board and operate on a single band, or you can build an assortment. We provide 12 filter boards, enough toroids to build any 9 filters, and a supply of capacitors that will let you build those 9 filters for 9 different HF ham bands. These capacitors are size 1206, which is the largest common size for SMT capacitors and the easiest to solder manually. All you’ll need is a pair of tweezers and your regular soldering iron and solder. We provide detailed instructions on winding the toroids and soldering the capacitors. You get spare filter boards to experiment with.

Support is provided through a dedicated Open Research Institute Slack channel.

Instructions on how to join the ORI community are here:

Delivery is no earlier than late August 2023. Will be posted here and on the ORI website at

If you missed this sale, check out the upcoming show special at QSO Today Academy.

Want to Learn More About RFBitBanger?

Project lead Dr. Daniel Marks will give a presentation about the RFBitBanger at QSO Today Academy 9 September 2023 1300 PDT, 0800 UTC.

Daniel Marks, KW4TI, is a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, having graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001. His fields of speciality include optical engineering, computed imaging, and signal processing. He has made dozens of open hardware projects including many for amateur radio.

The recent shortage of semiconductors, parts important for electronics, shows us that supply chains can be fragile. What does this mean? It means if we have a big problem for a long time, our advanced radios might be tough to keep working, which could be a problem in an emergency.

To solve this, a new kind of radio called the RFBitBanger has been created. It’s a type of low power, long-distance radio that is easy to build from basic parts using simple tools. It uses a new digital language, called SCAMP, made specifically for this radio.

All the signal work is done by an Arduino processor. What’s cool is that the radio has a small screen and buttons or you can even attach a keyboard. It’s a full text communications system all by itself. SCAMP is pretty special too. Even though it only needs a simple 8-bit microcontroller, it can do lots of things that digital modes like FT8 can do using small bandwidth and something called forward error correction.

The RFBitBanger radio has other helpful features. It can support CW (which is Morse code), RTTY (another way of sending text), and SSB phone (voice communication).

We hope that the RFBitBanger can serve as an easy-to-build and easy-to-maintain emergency radio. It can also be a great educational kit. And, it can be a lifesaver when there’s a big shortage of parts.

Media for RFBitBanger

Thank you to Hackaday and QRZ forums for covering the RFBitBanger project. Here are the links to the articles.

2 Replies to “Inner Circle Newsletter – All About the RFBitBanger”

  1. I could not find any documentation of the use case for the “optional” parts specified in the Block 2 BitBanger kit. Is there a source for this information?

    1. I’m not sure exactly which “optional” parts you’re referring to.

      If you’re reading the documentation that’s specific to Batch 2 (from the repo) and you run across something that’s not fully explained in depth, the best place to look for more info is in the developer’s project repo at

      For example, if you’re wondering about the three 7MHz crystals that are not supplied with the kit, you’ll find in the RFBitBanger Manual that these are for the “pulled oscillator” that serves as an alternative for the SI5351A synthesizer. This isn’t a complete explanation, of course. To understand the use case, you might need to go back to the purposes of the RFBitBanger as explained in the Manual. Two in particular come to mind. First, remember that the designer intended for the radio to be buildable even when parts availability is disrupted. The pulled crystal oscillator might be considered a fallback design, buildable even if SI5351A chips and modules are unavailable. Second, remember that the RFBitBanger is aimed at radio experimenters. As an experimenter, you might wonder whether a simple crystal oscillator would have better phase noise performance than a synthesizer. Swapping between the pulled crystal oscillator and the synthesizer would help you investigate that question.

      Some of this information isn’t written down in any specific document, which admittedly isn’t ideal. In the case of the RFBitBanger, you have access to online support from the designer and others (including me) on the #rfbitbanger and #rfbitbanger-talk channels of the ORI Slack workspace. You can ask about specific optional parts there and probably get a good answer. To get the maximum amount of historical insight, you might consider scrolling all the way back to the beginning on each channel and skimming the old conversations.

      -Paul KB5MU

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