The Panoradio: A tech-demo for direct sampling SDR

SDR researcher Stefan Scholl (DC9ST) recently wrote in to us and wanted to share his project which is a direct sampling SDR using a fast AD converter on the Zynq SoC (System on Chip). He calls the SDR ‘Panoradio’. He writes:

The Panoradio is a modern software defined radio receiver, that directly samples the antenna signal with 250 MHz with an analog-to-digital converter. The receiver captures and displays signals from 0-100 MHz, i.e. shortwave and VHF signals simultaneously, and can even receive signals from the 70 cm band with undersampling.

The hardware platform is the Zedboard, that features the Xilinx Zynq Soc, which combines an FPGA with an ARM A9 dual core and runs a Linux operating system. Fast signal processing is then done in the FPGA, slow signal processing with the ARM A9. The radio can operate in standalone mode with just a monitor and mouse attached.

The radio’s features at a glance:
– 0 -100 MHz direct sampling reception
– Direct sampling of 70 cm (425 – 440 MHz) signals
– Three independent zoomable waterfall displays (100 MHz to 6.1 kHz bandwidth)
– Two independent audio receivers (22 kHz bandwidth) with Weaver SSB demod
– Standalone operation with embedded system (Zynq / Zedboard)
– Full Linux running, including demodulation software (e.g. Fldigi)

The Panoradio is designed as a tech-demo for software defined radio, that shows what is possible with today’s technology in AD conversion and signal processing platforms.
It is an open source project, the design files can be accessed from the project website, which also includes basic information on direct sampling SDRs and single-sideband (SSB) detection:

Stefan also presented his work at the “Software Defined Radio Academy” conferences in Friedrichshafen, Germany in both 2015 and 2016. The talks are shown below, as well as some photos and screenshots of the SDR in action.

Stefan Scholl, DC9ST: The Zedboard: A Modern “System On Chip” for SDRs

Stefan Scholl, DC9ST: The Panoradio: A wideband direct sampling SDR with 250 Msps

A direct sampling SDR is an SDR without any analogue tuner on the front end, basically directly sampling with the ADC from the antenna. This takes us closer to a ‘true’ SDR which has very little analogue components. Over time we should start to see more direct sampling SDRs popping up. For example recently we saw the release of a new Xilinx RFSoC which is capable of sampling at up to 4Gsamples per second which should provide a very wide band, wide frequency range SDR. While this chip will probably be extremely expensive for the time being as it is mainly designed for commercial cell tower communications, it shows how well direct sampling technology is progressing.

One comment

  1. Adam

    Nice machine… Nice dynamic range over the 100MHz.
    The Crystek filters are bit expensive, $80 for 2 pcs + $60 S/H result 1/8 of the price of complete radio. This are 9th order LP filters and you should build them. A Chebyshev 9th order should work even better.

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