Nongles - the building blocks of Software Defined Radio

Due to staff illness and the current ThumbSat flight campaign, support for N3 will be limited. Normal service will be resumed after the end of July 2018.

System Block Diagram for N Series
Antennas Co-Ax Cable N6 LNA Co-Ax Cable N5 Bias Tee Co-Ax Cable N3 SDR Receiver USB Cables 5v Power Supply Connection Adapters

A message from Q

We're very proud and extremely excited to release Nongles into the Software Defined Radio (SDR) community!

Right now, the store has just a tantalising few examples of what we have been preparing to release over the next few days, weeks and months. So check back frequently and see what's new!

The broad intent and idea behind Nongles is that experimenters and hobbyists, as well as many professionals, want more options in an SDR dongle than have been available for many years.

ThumbNet needs many of these options and components for its own purposes, so we decided to produce them ourselves and offer them to the community in the form of separate building blocks that can be put together to customize your SDR kit the way YOU want it, not the way the manufacturer wants it. It's what would happen if the great folks at Lego started making SDR hardware.

Dongle is just too limiting a term for what we're doing here, so we had to invent our own word - They're not dongles... They're Nongles.

  • A broad range of filters
  • Amplifers
  • Breakout boards
  • Front end modules with the R820T2 chip
  • Back end modules with the RTL2832U chip
  • Bias Tees
  • Impedence matching transformers
  • Maybe even a radio PAD!

  • The entire engineering team are putting in long hours designing new circuits, prototyping boards, and testing the new hardware. They're all happy to be generally running around in a passionate haze, dreaming up new ways to make your life as an SDR enthusuiast as enjoyable as possible.

    Q's Workshop is intended to feature articles, stories, sneak-peaks, tips and tricks about Nongles and the hardware found on Check back as frequently as you can and see what's new to talk about.

    Happy Nongling!

    A Message From M

    I never intended to get into the radio business. However, as with many things in my life, a need to find something just right for my purposes drove me to create something.

    I wanted to build tiny satellites to make it simple, reliable and cheap for me and others to carry out experiments in space. So we created ThumbSat.

    I wanted some way to grab the data from ThumbSats without relying on large, complex and costly ground stations. So we began ThumbNet, where there are so many stations distributed evenly around the world that they can be small and simple. They can be set up and operated by schoolchildren.

    But donating any kind of commercially-available equipment to hundreds of volunteers and schools around the world can rapidly become very expensive. So we designed and built our own radio receivers. The thing is, the only way that we could make those receivers cheap enough was to build lots of them, but we didn’t need all of them. So we decided to sell the surplus, giving a twofold benefit – our radios were cheap, and the sales of surplus could fund the ThumbNet stations. And that’s how I accidentally got into the business of radios.

    I’m very proud of ThumbNet, because it has inspired the next generation of scientists and engineers around the world, but most importantly because it brings us together. There are no barriers. We do have an online digital map of ThumbNet ground stations, but it feels more right for me to take out my marker pen and proudly inscribe a small circle on an inflatable globe that I keep for this purpose. It connects me to those faraway places. The more places, the better. We have tremendous plans for ThumbNet. Watch this space...

    As I said, I didn’t mean to get into the business of developing radios, but my life has provided me with clues that it would happen some day.

    For a while, my schoolfriend could pick up radio transmissions through his teeth. Really.

    At first I didn’t believe him, but my attitude changed when I followed a book and created my own crystal radio. I was amazed that I could take just 4 simple components and some wire, wind a coil and actually grab the invisible power that was travelling through the air, and turn it into a sound in my ear. Later, radios turned into treasure. At a local radio amateur's fair, I found a book with cryptic poetic instructions to the location of a gold treasure chest. I found that treasure chest. Really.

    During my space career, others have generally taken care of the radio side of things, and it’s only with ThumbSat and ThumbNet that I have been inspired to renew a close, hands-on acquaintance with this fascinating sphere of engineering and science. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a great team who have made all this happen, from the engineering, to the organization, to the general presentation.

    It has been a long journey from that crystal radio set. We have the amazing R820T2 and RTL2832U chips that can grab all the radio waves over a large frequency range, digitize them and make use of the phenomenal processing power of our computers to give us Software Defined Radio. Of course, they can be used for listening to radio, but the limit is your imagination – how about space and atmospheric physics? Or working out which exotic country that aircraft above you is heading to? Or ???

    And with the Nongle range, we’re splitting the radios back up into separate “building blocks” and adding in some little extras, just because we need them for our own developments. We’ll make the components available to you, and because we buy them in bulk, we’ll pass on the cost savings to you too. This will give you the opportunity you to play, to experiment, to learn, to teach, and we hope – to be inspired.

    The spirit of that crystal radio set is in there somewhere.