6 years of OpenWebRX

Today I’m finishing the development of OpenWebRX.
It has been a fascinating 6 years, and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who supported me on my journey with this project.
I’d also like to say a special thanks to those who donated to support me.

A quick summary on the changes:

  • OpenWebRX will not be further developed, but as promised, it will remain on GitHub to serve future amateur radio experiments. There are some known limitations of the last version though (including potentially reduced security as its dependency, Python 2.7 will be obsolete soon).
  • My SDR.hu website and my CSDR project will still be maintained.
    (Update 2020-05-31: the SDR.hu project is also finished.)
  • For commercial enquiries, you can still contact me by e-mail.
  • It’s important to emphasize that this post is not about the KiwiSDR. (KiwiSDR and OpenWebRX are two separate products, even though they share some code. I’m not involved in KiwiSDR development.)

I had very nice moments with OpenWebRX, a lot of things happened that I’d have never expected. I didn’t expect that my code would be used at ~480 receivers on 6 continents. I didn’t ever dream that CSDR would be used at NASA during a Mars landing attempt. I also feel extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to give some conference talks and publish some papers on my work on OpenWebRX and CSDR. I’m sure that these helped a lot in my recent admission to a PhD programme.

However, nowadays I’m more interested in exploring new ideas. My PhD has also brought me to a different field: my topic is on LPV system identification, related to control systems. This is a real challenge to me. Currently I’m putting a lot of effort into diving deeply into this topic, in the hope of being able to contribute to it later. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to spend enough time on OpenWebRX anymore.

In addition, over the years I had to deal with several conflicts regarding my open source projects, which I also want to put to an end. OpenWebRX was created for the amateur radio community, with a dual licensing possibility to sell it to companies that build radio communication products, in order to fund further development. However, this model did not work well. There were multiple attempts by others to fork the project and bring it to a different direction without me. Maybe some of you remember the case with the KiwiSDR, where luckily we ended up reaching an agreement, but there were other cases as well, and I expect that new ones would continue to appear in the future.

For me the conclusion is that open source does not work in every setting (for example, read this and this for large open source projects struggling to become sustainable), and in some cases giving away something to the public without being able to defend it might result in the public coming out poorer in the end, compared to the outcome of a more centralized / closed source way. With that I mean that these incidents and the low amount of funding I could gather gradually decreased my motivation to further develop the software. Forkers, if we worked together, I think we could have served the amateur radio community much better.

I feel that my PhD is a new beginning, with a “blank page”, where I can do everything better from the start. Nevertheless, even if everything wasn’t always happy with OpenWebRX, I think I have learnt a lot from this project, and I’ve also met some great people who I will never forget.

To everyone who joined my journey throughout this project, a big thanks!