PatronX Titus SDR receiver update

A number of SWLing Post readers have been asking about the status of the Titus II portable DRM/SDR radio. I’ve been checking the project website, but had not seen an update in a long time, so I contacted the company. Mike, with PantronX, kindly replied with the following update:

As you might be aware, we have joined up with Fraunhofer to include their MMPlayer app standard on Titus–what a difference a professional decoder, for both analog, DRM(+), and DAB(+), makes! MMPlayer is full featured even including reliable one way file downloads with DRM.

We are attempting also to license HD to include on the app for North America, making a truly worldwide receiver. Some deficiencies in our version of Android have caused issues as well as MMPlayer. All of which have caused delays leading to some serious business decisions – as you can imagine. You are correct that broadcasters have made large orders that will be fulfilled first. There are units in the field testing and such and continuing resolution of the software issues.

One of the issues that folks seem to have a hard time understanding is that we can not just build a few hundred or even thousands of units. Our minimum run is 10,000pcs! To do that everything has to be 100% – including the software. We simply will not ship units that are not 100%. Titus works, MMPlayer works – its that last 5% that takes the most time to resolve. These facts preclude any incremental production attempts. All that being said, we are very hopeful that the first production run is ready by last quarter of this year.

Thank you for the update, Mike!

14 thoughts on “PatronX Titus SDR receiver update

  1. Dan Robinson

    This message to the organizers/designers: PLEASE do not make this with a non-replaceable battery. That will mean that if the company behind the radio goes away, the radios themselves will become paperweights, unless one can replace the battery — and this is even if the radio can be powered by regular AC current. Please use either AA batteries or Lithium 18xxxxxx

    Reply
  2. Ivan Cholakov

    There is not software decoding of HD radio – it must be licensed by using a physical chip in the radio so I don’t know how you can accomodate something like that…and it will add to the cost as well. I customer in Europe will pay for the US HD Radio chip with zero use for it…unfortunately there is no worldwide digital fm solution and they should have passed on it.

    Reply
    1. Tom Reitzel

      Ivan,

      Actually, the HD signal HAS been reverse engineered and software for the RTL-SDR is freely available on the Spynet. Naturally, the inclusion of this work into the Titus 2 would require some work, but it certainly could be done.

      I have Gospell’s GR-216 so the Titus 2 isn’t that important to me personally. Yes, I’d like a portable DRM receiver one day, though. 😉

      Reply
      1. Ivan Cholakov

        Reverse engineering is of HD radio is OK for experimental purposes. You cannot use it in a commercial product, a lawsuit will pull your product off the market in an instant. The Titus also cannot use the RTL chip – it needs a better HF receiver possibly something similar to sdrplay quality.

        Reply
        1. Tom Reitzel

          Hmmmm. The WINE project has a commercial version of reverse engineered Windows for sale…. As I indicated, the reverse engineered software would have to be adapted for the Titus 2’s hardware. PantronX would only need to be concerned with trademarks as any lawsuit against reverse engineered software will likely fail as the patent holder will have to PROVE otherwise. Good luck with that, iBiquity.

          Reply
  3. RonF

    Not to put too fine a point on it, the Titus II has been reported as being at “we are very hopeful that the first production run is ready by last quarter of this year” point since 2016…

    Given the organisation behind the Titus II and its underlying target market/purpose, I can fully understand why they want everything to be 100%. But I think that, like so many before it (and DRM itself), its time will have passed before it makes it to release.

    That said, I’m on the waiting list, will buy if/when it is released, and I think there’s a good chance it’ll be a pretty good performer at least across the MW/SW/VHF bands. But I think for the most part it’ll turn out to be more of a technical curio than the game-changer it could’ve been. It certainly won’t be the DRM saviour some hope/claimed it would be.

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  4. Hemiram

    I won’t believe it until I see it’s shipping. It’s sad to say, but IMHO, it’s likely to be vaporware.

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  5. VR2HF / K7DAN

    It is literally impossible for them to make this radio and sell it for US$99 except at a loss, especially with HD for the USA market. Minimum licensing cost for HD is US$100,000 plus a fee for each unit made. And a first production run of 10,000 pieces is totally foolish. One undiscovered flaw means a recall and rework of all. That would be a total disaster and could sink the company.

    Many years ago Freeplay developed the “Devo,” a gorgeous FM/DAB radio for the UK Market (https://www.techradar.com/reviews/gadgets/ipods-and-portable-audio/radios/freeplay-devo-79697/review). The industrial design of the Devo was one of the best of any modern radio I have ever seen (I actually hate the name, however). And as far as I know, it was the first and only wind-up DAB radio ever made. Everything seemed fine and the buyer approved the sample radios. The shipment of 10,000 radios got to the UK and it was found that a programming problem caused an improper display of the metadata for songs etc. It was impossible to see this problem at the factory. It only showed up in the field. Some of the radios were reprogrammed in the UK and the rest were sent back to the factory for reprogramming. Due to this delay the buyer missed an opportunity to get the radio in the Argos catalog in the UK squashing his business plan. No more Devos were ever made. I believe most of the 10,000 were sold at a loss. Big mess for Freeplay, big mess for the buyer. The chip manufacturer, Frontier Silicon, did offer some compensation and paid for the rework, I believe, but that wasn’t enough.

    One major design flaw didn’t help. Winding the radio for 1 minute only gave you 5 minutes of use in the DAB mode. FM was okay, about 30 minutes use. I have a Devo here. I think I’ll pull it out and see if it still works. Sadly, it was a beautiful failure.

    The bottom line? If the Titus II is ever actually made, it won’t be at US$99. They might be able to do it for $199, but $249 is more likely. And the manufacturers would be wise to make only 1000 or a maximum of 3000 pieces for the first run and get radios out to users to make sure there are no major issues. A pilot run of 50-100 is essential too. Dear potential buyer, don’t hold your breath! Dear manufacturer, get real. Tell us the truth. Your success depends on it. Not even Apple with essentially unlimited resources has ever put out a perfect product.

    From the manufacturing front,

    Dan…VR2HF

    Reply
  6. Jeremías Daniel Becerra

    Sería bueno que la segunda edición de estos nuevos tengan TV Digital Terrestre y Diveemo.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: An Update on the PantronX Titus II SDR

  8. Max

    I have contacted TWR to ask if really the $150 donation for China raised at radiosfortheworld.com will allow a listener to receive a Titus II radio.
    After a week i received the answer. I am not going to copy and past but briefly they said that that was the intent, however the production is delayed so they have just stopped collecting money for this project untill is ready.
    Infact they are not mentioning anymore the Titus in the website.

    Reply

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