Fichten Field Day Radio Kit - FiFi SDR V2.0 - W1AEX


NOTE: The definitive location for the most up-to-date information for this kit can be found at the FiFi SDR wiki site at this link:

The FiFi receiver is a very capable SDR with a newly upgraded onboard sound card that now runs with a 192 KHz sampling rate. It can be used with an impressive list of software but I found Genesis Radio's "GSDR" to be the absolute best performer for me. In addition to offering many of the features found in PowerSDR it actually extends the useful coverage of the FiFi SDR to 6 meters. Other useful software includes "Radio Jet" which is shown above on the upper left and "SDR Console" which is displayed above on the right to be good performers for me. Another interesting little program is "SDR Sharp Nightly" which is under continuous development. At the time of my purchase in February 2014 the FiFi SDR (V2.0) kit sold for $169 US (including shipping) from the Box 73 online shop where it ships to US customers from Germany through the USPS. Mine took roughly 3 weeks to arrive and I found the packaging to be first-rate with a sturdy double-boxed arrangement plus the circuit boards and a bag of assorted parts all safely bubble wrapped. A card on the outside of the shipping box classified it as an "Electronic Kit" and it appeared to pass through customs without any issues. Although the product box was labeled in German rest assured that the kit comes with a very clear single page sheet providing detailed assembly instructions in English.



Since all the surface mount components are already installed, the short list of remaining parts for the kit builder to take care of includes the BNC connector, a 1/8 inch stereo phone jack, and both sides of a multi-pin inter-board connector. The provided photos on the assembly sheet make this a no-brainer and as long as you use a soldering iron with a fine tip this is a very easy task. The pads you will solder to are fairly small so it would be wise not to linger on them for too long. That being said, the quality of the boards is outstanding and it appeared to me that unless you really got carried away there was little chance of getting into trouble. My assembled boards are shown below and if you look at the at the front of the pre-selector bandpass board on the right you can see the size of the solder pads where I installed the multi-pin connector without making too much of a mess.


After you finish soldering and then sandwich the two boards together the stack of boards slides  neatly into the aluminum enclosure and you can then fasten the front and back panels onto the little SDR enclosure. I spent about 30 minutes carefully soldering to the little pads and about 5 minutes finishing up with the enclosure. Once the hardware is assembled, the next step is to install the appropriate drivers for your operating system and then install whatever radio control program(s) you decide to use. I found for some reason that the installation program on the provided CD would not complete the driver installation on my Windows 7 machine. As it turns out there was an updated installation program at the FiFi SDR Wiki for Windows 7 and 8 that handled the task flawlessly.  I also installed the FiFi SDR on my Windows XP/SP3 machine and grabbed the XP drivers from the Wiki site as well. Detailed installation instructions for your choice of operating systems can be found at the FiFi Wiki site here.

When the drivers are installed you will find that your FiFi SDR hardware will be identified by your operating system as a USB Audio Device. After I installed "Radio Jet" and "SDR Console" the radio came alive and ran very nicely, however, it did not seem to be running with a sampling rate of 192 KHz. When using "Radio Jet" the widest swath I could run in the Panorama Spectroscope was 48 KHz even though 192 KHz was selected in the "Radio Jet" interface. This was also the case with "SDR Console" which would only display 48 KHz of the band in the bottom panadapter span. It took me a couple of days of searching but I eventually found some leads to the answer in a closed "Help Ticket" at the FiFi SDR Wiki site. More information turned up at one of the sites offering compatible software for the FiFi SDR and by running the dialog, which was in German, through "Google Translate" I finally pieced together what was happening. It turns out that Windows 7 (and probably Windows 8) by default may detect the FiFi onboard soundcard as a 48 KHz audio device as can be seen in the picture below.



The solution was as simple as selecting 2 channel, 16 bit,192000 Hz (Studio Quality) in the drop down menu. Do this with your radio control program closed and the FiFi SDR plugged in and running. Then power down the FiFi SDR hardware and start it up again after a few seconds.

When you check the properties of the FiFi Complex Baseband I/Q setting it should now correctly identify it as a 192 KHz device. I found that "Radio Jet" crashed the first two times I started it up as it negotiated the right sampling rate with Windows. On the third start-up it happily came up running correctly at 192 KHz  and displayed just under 200 KHz of the band in the Panaorama Spectrograph that opens up in "Radio Jet" when you press the "Panorama" button in the lower left corner of the GUI. To select the appropriate sampling rate when using "SDR Console" look along the top menus and select "Home" and then press the "Select" option and in the "Sample Rate" box choose "192 KHz". Close and then restart the program and it should start up and display just under 200 KHz in the wide panadapter that is displayed at the bottom of the GUI.

Once that setting was resolved it was all fun as I played around with the "Radio Jet" and "SDR Console" software. I definitely like the look and the convenient interface of "Radio Jet" by Bonito (RJ10FIFI) and have to say that Simon Brown's "SDR Console" is loaded with features that include a superior synchronous detector, custom filter arrangement, and AGC implementation that is about as perfect as it gets for any receiver. Be prepared to read Simon's extensive PDF manual to get the most out of the "SDR Console" version 2.x package. Tuning around with each of these programs is very entertaining and I have also found that the FiFi SDR can serve as a fairly accurate frequency standard and spectrum display when used as the primary receiver for my old Viking transmitter. Another very capable software package is "Genesis Radio GSDR" which is a variant of PowerSDR used by the Genesis SDR transceivers. After many hours of use I have to say that GSDR is my absolute favorite program to use when running my FiFi SDR. The GUI display is pleasing and it is very easy to calibrate the received frequencies very precisely. This software provides an unexpected bonus of very capable reception right up through 6 meters! The screenshot below shows a 6 meter sideband station being received with an antenna that is quite deaf above 20 meters! The embedded video below the screenshot is a recording I made of another station calling CQ on 50.155 MHz.


For detailed instructions about how to install and set up Genesis Radio GSDR for the FiFi SDR follow the steps here:

There are other SDR control programs that I have not yet tried but I'm looking forward to checking them out as I go down the list of compatible software at the FiFi SDR Wiki site.

A few videos of the Fichten Field Day SDR in action

I made a number of recordings featuring "Genesis Radio GSDR", "Radio Jet" and "SDR Console" receiving an assortment of signals across the MW and HF spectrum. Feel free to browse a few of them here or you can look at the whole collection in the "FiFi SDR" collection at my YouTube channel. Note that if you select 720p HD in the YouTube player you can watch the videos at full-screen with excellent clarity.