Over on his YouTube channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has just released a new video titled "Software Defined Radio Introduction | What SDR To Buy? | Choose the Right one For You". The video is an introduction to low cost software defined radios and could be useful if you're wondering which SDR you should purchase.
The video includes a brief overview of the Airspy, KerberosSDR, PlutoSDR, LimeSDR Mini, HackRF, SDRplay RSPduo and various RTL-SDR dongles. In addition to the hardware itself Corrosive also discusses the compatible software available for each SDR.
Software Defined Radio Introduction | What SDR To Buy? | Choose the Right one For You
Steve notes that to get the Limesdr Mini to run in SDR# he simply had to download and extract into the SDR# folder a front end plugin developed by Goran Radivojevic (YT7PWR). After adding the front end plugin XML definition, it can now be found in the SDR# device selection menu. This plugin should work for the standard LimeSDR as well.
We note that this is the same procedure for other SDRs too, such as the PlutoSDR. If you have an SDR not supported by default in SDR#, search for "[your_sdr] + SDR# front end plugin" on Google, and if you are lucky you might find something already exisiting.
The GRAVES radar at 143.05 MHz is often used by amateur radio astronomers as a way to detect the echos of meteors entering the atmosphere. The basic idea is that meteors leave behind a trail of ionized air which is reflective to RF energy. This RF reflective air can reflect the signal from the powerful GRAVES space radar in France, allowing the radar signal to be briefly received from far away. Detecting the angle of arrival from these reflections could help determine where the meteor entered the atmosphere.
Their experiments used a pair of J-Pole antennas and a LimeSDR receiver. The LimeSDR has two channels and can receive the signal coherently from both channels. The phase difference in the received signals from the two antennas can then be measured, and the angle of arrival calculated.
In their testing the first tested with 145 MHz amateur radio satellites. Unfortunately due to the low elevation of the antennas and multipath from terrain obstructions an angle could not be calculated. In a second experiment they tried receiving terrestrial APRS signals. With APRS they were successful and were able to determine the angle of arrival from multiple stations. Unfortunately for GRAVES meteor echoes they were not entirely successful, citing multipath issues due to houses, and the need for a clear view of the horizon.
DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcast and is a digital broadcast radio signal that is available in many countries outside of the USA. The digital signal encodes several radio stations, and it is considered a modern alternative/replacement for standard analog broadcast FM.
The tutorial is split into four parts. The first part simply explains what SDRs are and in particular discusses the LimeSDR and how it can be used with ODR-mmbTools. Part two discusses what hardware you need, and explains what each component of the ODR-mmbTools software does. Part three gets into the actual setup of the software on Linux. Part four finishes with actually transmitting the signal and decoding it with an RTL-SDR and the Welle.io DAB decoder.
The end result is a DAB radio station with three stations being broadcast.
Over on CrowdSupply LimeMicro are currently preparing to crowdfund their next project called 'LimeRFE'. LimeRFE is an RF front end power amplifier with filtering. It is designed to be used in conjunction with a LimeSDR or LimeSDR Mini. The LimeSDR and LimeSDR Mini are 12-bit TX and RX capable SDRs that were crowdfunded in the past. The LimeSDRs appear to be mostly aimed at cellular/industrial/commercial use cases, but there have been efforts (mostly from Marty Wittrock) to make the LimeSDR useful for ham radio.
For ham radio usage the LimeRFE front end module contains band filters for the HF band (1.6 - 30 MHz), the 2m band (144 - 146 MHz), the 70cm band (430 - 440 MHz), the 23cm band (1240 - 1325 MHz), the 13cm band (2300 - 2450 MHz) and the 3300 - 3500 MHz band. They do note that for HF use, additional filtering may still be required. On these bands the power amplifier is capable of boosting the power up to a P1 point of 35 dBm on the lower bands down to 26.5 dBm at 3 GHz.
The LimeRFE is not yet available for CrowdFundng as it is still in the prototype stages, but they note that the board is close to being finalized. You can sign up to be notified of when the board is ready on the Crowd Supply page.
Over on his YouTube channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has uploaded a tutorial video that shows how to update the LimeSDR firmware and drivers. The LimeSDR Mini is a US$159 12-bit TX/RX capable SDR that can tune between 10 MHz – 3.5 GHz, with a maximum bandwidth of up to 30.72 MHz. The specs and price of the LimeSDR mini are pretty good, but documentation for actually using it can be a bit confusing, so videos like Corrosive's tutorial are great.
LimeSDR Mini Tutorial Drivers and Firmware Update on Windows 7/10
Over on YouTube Corrosive from channel SignalsEverywhere has uploaded a new video in his series on Digital Amateur Television (DATV). The new video shows us how to use a transmit capable SDR like a LimeSDR or PlutoSDR to transmit DATV with a free Windows program called DATV Express.
In the video he explains the various transmit and video encoding settings, and then demonstrates the signal being received on SDRAngel with an RTL-SDR (which he explained in his previous video)
Transmitting DVB-S DATV Digital Amateur Television with LimeSDR / Pluto on Windows with DATV Express
Thanks to Luigi (aka @luigifcruz and PU2SPY) for writing in and submitting to us his LimeSDR based doppler radar blog post. The LimeSDR Mini is a low cost two port TX and RX capable SDR. Luigi's doppler based radar makes use of one TX port to transmit the radar signal, and the RX port to receive the reflection. The idea is that the if the object being measured is moving, the received reflected signal will be altered in phase due to the doppler effect.
In terms of hardware, Luigi's radar uses the LimeSDR Mini as the TX/RX radio, a Raspberry Pi 3 as the computing hardware, an SPF5189Z based LNA on the RX side, and two cantenna antennas. It transmits a continuous wave signal at 2.4 GHz.
On the software side it uses a GNU Radio program to transmit, receive and process the returned signal. Luigi's post goes over the DSP concepts in greater detail, but the basic idea is to measure the phase shift between the transmitted and reflected signal via a Multiply Conjugate block, and then decimate the output to increase the resolution. The result is then output on a frequency domain waterfall graph. The GNU Radio is all open source and available on Luigi's Github.
In order to test the system Luigi first set up a test to measure an electric fan's blade speed. The result was clearly visible line in the spectrogram which moved depending on the speed setting that the fan was set to.
Software Defined Radar - Continuous Wave Doppler Radar w/ LimeSDR
In his second test Luigi measures the speed of vehicles by placing the radar on the sidewalk, pointed at cars. The result was clear indication of the vehicle passes as shown by the longer vertical lines on the graph below. The smaller lines have been attributed to pedestrians passing by.
In a third test, Luigi measured vehicle speeds in tougher conditions, with the radar placed 50 meters away from the highway, at 45 degrees, and with weeds in the way. The radar still generated obvious lines indicating vehicles passes. Finally, in his fourth test, Luigi tested the speed accuracy of his radar by measuring a car driving at a known speed. The results showed excellent accuracy.
Software Defined Radar - Continuous Wave Doppler Radar w/ LimeSDR