DSP Illustrations: Learning DSP with a Soundcard SDR

DSP Illustrations is an online course that aims to explain complex digital signal processing (DSP) concepts visually instead of on a purely theoretic and mathematical level. Most of the content appears to be free, but some premium content requires payment.

One premium course that they've recently released is titled "Using your Soundcard as a Software-defined radio". In this course they use a standard PC sound to transmit (with the speakers) and receive (with a microphone) audio signals. All the DSP code is produced in Python and the course aims to walk you through all the concepts shown below.

  • baseband transmission of real-valued signals
  • passband transmission including up- and downconversion
  • modeling the audio channel as an LTI system for reproducable simulations
  • eye diagram drawing
  • symbol timing recovery
  • channel coding
  • definition and implementation of a frame structure, including header, payload and checksum
  • integration of the wireless transmission into a UDP data stream

Although the "SDR" isn't using radio frequencies, the exact same DSP concepts that apply with audio also apply to radio. So this can be a cheap way to get hands on DSP experience without the cost of needing to own a transmit/receive capable SDR.

This course costs about US$20, but the first three chapters are free.

Using a soundcard to study wireless communications.
Using a soundcard to study wireless communications.

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