I have been interested in FreeDV for sometime and have done some testing with it, including relaying the WIA and ARNSW news broadcasts in this mode.
Like most digital modes, add these to an existing system that does not have then entails the use of a PC, audio interfaces and data and switching interface cables. Not a tidy solution.
That was until …… SmartMic:
This unit (expected to be available for $US195 at the end of 2014) is a speaker Mic with the complete digital voice encoding and decoding system built into it.
That means you can simply replace the existing microphone on any phone transceiver (normally SSB but AM and FM will work as well) to add digital voice capabilities to an old unit for an awful lot less that a change from AM to SSB cost years ago – and please realise this technology IS as important to the hobby today as the change from AM to SSB all those years ago was.
Digital voice not only takes half the bandwidth of a correctly set-up SSB signal, it also gives better quality reception at lower signal levels.
As DV catches on, I would expect all major transceiver manufacturers to add FreeDV capability inside their units, however we know that new transceivers don’t come out quickly, so expect it to take 5 years or so before we see an ICOM, Kenwood or Yaesu with built-in Digital Voice. In the meantime, i would expect the SmartMic to be a big success and given how simple it is to implement compared to a PC and interface cables etc. the US$195 price is respectable as well.
Here’s a link to David Rowe, DK5DGR’s website page on the SmartMic: