Tagged: morfeus

Controlling moRFeus over a Network Connection

Thank to LamaBleu for submitting news about his new software for the moRFeus signal generator and frequency mixer called moRFeus_listener. The software allows you to remotely control a moRFeus device via Telnet, TCP/UDP or HTTP. This could be used to control the moRFeus in a similar way to the short script that we used for generating a tracking tone in our previous tutorial on using measuring filters and antenna VSWR with the moRFeus.

LamaBleu also shared his results with using the harmonics of the moRFeus to generate a signal well past it's upper frequency limit of 5.4 GHz. He writes that by using the third harmonic is was able to generate a CW signal at 10.8 GHz and that tones up to harmonic 11 seem to work well. 

moRFeus Half Price Sale: $99 Signal Generator and Frequency Mixer

moRFeus is a low cost wideband signal generator and frequency mixer. It can be used to generate a tone anywhere from 85 MHz to 5400 MHz, and can also be used as a frequency mixer, allowing you to implement upconverters and downconverters. In past posts we've reviewed and seen it being used as a PC based signal generator with open source GUI's, downconverter, CW generator, and most recently as a tracking generator for measuring filters and antenna VSWR.

Currently Outernet are having a half price sale on the moRFeus. Normally it's US $199, but now with the coupon code "rtlsdrblog" it's only US $99. The sale only lasts until Saturday 09 June 2018, so get in fast if you want one.

moRFeus can be purchased from the Outernet store.

Update: Please note that the sale has now concluded.

moRFeus coupon "rtlsdrblog"
moRFeus coupon "rtlsdrblog"

Using an RTL-SDR and moRFeus as a Tracking Generator to Measure Filters And Antenna VSWR

The Outernet moRFeus

As Outernet is currently having a sale and selling their their moRFeus product at only US $99 (see next post for details - or simply use coupon code "rtlsdrblog" on their checkout - valid until Saturday 09 May 18), we thought that we'd show an interesting use for the moRFeus when combined with an RTL-SDR.

Outernet's moRFeus is a signal generator and frequency mixer that can be controlled either by it's built in LCD screen, or via software on a Windows or Linux PC. It can generate a clean low phase noise tone anywhere between 85 to 5400 MHz. Because it can be computer controlled it is possible to use moRFeus as a tracking generator for characterizing filters and measuring antenna SWR. A tracking generator is just a signal generator that can be set to output at the same frequency that the measurement receiver is tuned to.

In the past we've posted a tutorial showing how to use a wideband noise source for measuring filters and antenna SWR. However, if available, a tracking generator is usually preferred over a noise source. A wideband noise source outputs high power at all frequencies, and so can easily overload an RTL-SDR causing reduced dynamic range and accuracy in measurements. This is especially the case when measuring bandstop filters as they pass all frequencies, apart from a small blocking band. Since so much noise gets through to the dongle, dynamic range is reduced.

This post shows how to use the moRFeus as a tracking generator together with an RTL-SDR for making RF measurements. This could be called a scalar network analyzer. The set up uses GQRX and a Python script, but in the future it is possible that someone may develop a standalone app.

Equipment Required

  1. A directional coupler like the minicircuits ZFDC-20-5, or an RF Bridge with 50 Ohm dummy load.
  2. moRFeus or other computer controllable wideband signal generator.
  3. An RTL-SDR
  4. A ~20dB attenuator

Since the output of the moRFeus is quite strong, an attenuator is required to keep signal levels low enough to not overload the RTL-SDR.

The cheapest RF bridge we've found is available on eBay for about $7. With an RF Bridge you'll need a 50 Ohm dummy load as well to connect to the 'REF' port. Directional couplers seem to work more accurately however, and second hand minicircuits ones can often be found on eBay. A $2 TV 'tap' is also a directional coupler, and may also work, although we have not tested this.

Software Setup

In this tutorial we're using the method first described by 'LamaBleu' in his post to the Outernet forums. The method uses Linux and involves reading power levels from the RTL-SDR by using GQRX and it's remote telnet connection capabilities. The telnet command "F freq" can be used to change frequency in GQRX, and the command "l" can be used to read out the current power level in dbFS.

To control moRFeus we use Outernet's official "morfeus_tool",  which is a command line based tool.

A basic Python script was written to set the frequency in moRFeus and GQRX at the same time. After a 500 ms settling time the power level is measured and recorded in a CSV file, then the script iterates to the next frequency. We iterate at 1 MHz intervals.

If you have a moRFeus and want to try this project out, copy and paste the script from pastebin, and name the file morfeus_scalar.py. Place the morfeus_scalar.py file and the morfeus_tool_linux_x32 tool into the home folder.

To get the software started:

  1. Open GQRX and connect the dongle and required RF components for the test (shown below).
  2. Set the RTL-SDR gain to zero or just low enough so that the signal doesn't cause overload (moRFeus signal levels are fairly high).
  3. In the GQRX GUI ensure that the "Remote control via TCP" button is pressed in. (Looks like two computer screens).
  4. Edit the Python script and choose the frequency range that you'd like to scan by setting variable FREQ_MIN and FREQ_MAX.
  5. In a terminal run "sudo python morfeus_scalar.py".
  6. When the script completes you'll have a file "out.txt" which is a CSV file of frequency and signal power levels.

Characterizing Filters

To characterize a filter (find the response of a filter) simply connect the system like so:

moRFeus Filter Test
moRFeus Filter Test
  1. But first connect just the moRFeus, attenuator and RTL-SDR together.
  2. In GQRX increase the gain until just a few dB before the RTL-SDR overloads and starts showing signal images. This will maximize the available dynamic range.
  3. Run an initial calibration scan with morfeus_scalar.py. Save the results in out.txt into a spreadsheet.
  4. Connect the filter in the RF chain, and then run a second scan with morfeus_scalar.py. Save the results into another column in the spreadsheet.

  5. Subtract the calibration scan results from the filtered results. Plot the resulting values using the spreadsheet software. This will show the response of the filter.

Download Example Spreadsheet (.xls) (.ods)

Continue reading

Another GUI for Outernet’s Wideband Signal Generator moRFeus

Thanks to Ohan Smit for submitting news of his newly released GUI for Outernet's moRFeus wideband signal generator. Ohan's GUI works in both Linux and Windows. The Windows release can be downloaded from the GitHub Releases page. With the GUI you can change the mode between Mixer/Generator, generate noise, run a sweep, turn the bias tee on/off and generate a CW message.

A few days ago we also posted about about a moRFeus GUI by "Lama Bleu" which has similar functions. Although it only appears to run in Linux, Lama Bleu's GUI can interface directly with GQRX.

moRFeus is still currently on sale at CrowdSupply for $149 for the next 19 hours from the time of this post. The price is expected to rise after.

moRFeus GUI Generating a Sweep
moRFeus GUI Generating a Sweep

New GUI and Info on Outernet’s moRFeus Wideband Signal Generator

Back in March we posted about the release of Outernet's moRFeus device which is a low cost wideband RF signal generator. Since then we've received a few emails from two readers who've received their units and have found some interesting hacks and have developed software for it.

First we have a submission from Ohan Smit who discovered a hack that allows moRFeus to work as a wideband noise generator by setting the LO to 5 GHz and the Mixer current to 3. Together with an Airspy and the Spectrum Spy software he was able to measure the response of a bandstop FM filter. Over on the forums he also shows screenshots of Python based control software that he's developed for controlling moRFeus.

moRFeus Generating Noise
moRFeus Generating Noise

Next we have a moRFeus Linux GUI created by "Lama Bleu". It can be used to access the same functions as via the moRFeus LCD screen, but is also has a few very useful features such as a step generator which allows a generated tone to sweep across the frequency spectrum. The moRFeus GUI can also connect to GQRX and sync with the LO frequency specified in the GQRX GUI for easy control. It should also be possible to implement a CW morse code generator with some scripts.

Outernet moRFeus GUI
Outernet moRFeus GUI

Over on the forums Zoltan, one of moRFeus' designers also notes that it might even be possible to use moRFeus for WSPR modulation, although this isn't confirmed yet. It seems that moRFeus is shaping up to be a very useful tool for RF testing and experimentation.  The device is currently still available on Crowd Supply for $149US with over 136 units sold so far.