Tagged: nanovna

A NanoVNA 2.0 is in the Works: Same Price, Frequency Range up to 3.5 GHz, Higher Dynamic Range

Previously we've been posting about the NanoVNA which is an open source VNA project by @edy555 / ttrftech that has recently become extremely affordable at less than US$50 for a fully assembled unit thanks to Chinese manufacturing (or a little more if you order it via Amazon).

Over on the NanoVNA groups.io forums we've seen discussion about a NanoVNA hardware version 2.0 being in the works and it could be ready as soon as January 2020.

  1. The nanoVNA [v2] will eventually reach 3GHz (and at a similar price to version 1).
  2. It's going to be based on the adf4350 + si5351.
  3. The 3 mixers are replaced with one higher spec mixer (ad8342) that is switched between the 3 channels.
  4. A variable gain amplifier is added at baseband using one opamp and switched feedback resistors for improved dynamic range.
  5. The Audio codec is removed and the stm32 built in ADC is used instead.
  6. The performance should be comparable or better to V1.
  7. Info about the baseband VGA design: A RFIC switch is used to switch the shunt resistor in the feedback path. The switch is basically "transparent" because the off state capacitance is in the femtofarad range (it is an RF switch) which is negligible at the IF frequency. The on state resistance is small compared to the resistors being switched in. Since the amplifier gain is mainly dictated by the feedback network, and the switch is "transparent", there is nothing other than the tempco of the physical resistors that can cause a temperature dependence. The RFIC used is the same as for the receiver RF switch, and it turns out all the maxscend switches do not have the shunt diode problem (most RF switch ICs have parasitic diodes from RF input to ground which will start to conduct at lower frequencies), so it has no theoretical lower frequency limit and can be applied at the IF frequency. This is a big improvement over using normal analog switch ICs which have capacitance in the pF range.
  8. Info about linearity: The code will perform a calibration of each VGA step on boot up. Since there is no temperature dependence the calibration only needs to happen once.

The layout designer has also posted, noting that the price will remain the same (roughly $50), but there will be several improvements including a wider frequency range, better dynamic range, and an improved PC interface.

Hi, NanoVNA V2 layout designer here. Here is what I know:

  •  V2 won't have a bigger display because it is too expensive
  • frequency range will go to at least 3.5GHz; PLL limit is 4.4GHz.
  • ADF4350 is used because of cost reasons; ADF4351 is more expensive by a factor of 5.
  • The layout is already fairly packed, so modular is not possible without a huge form factor.
  • Layout and shielding are much improved for higher dynamic range.
  • Price will be around the same as the existing NanoVNA. The design is already cost limited, so we can not do anything that will further add cost.
  • PC interface will be completely reworked. A binary protocol will be used similar to the xaVNA (we are going for full compatibility with the xaVNA PC software). If you are writing custom PC software for the Nano, please make sure the USB interfacing part is well abstracted away and easy to change.

The development timeline is going to be pretty long (by Chinese standards at least). We will iterate on PCB layout to get the best dynamic range. I think we might see initial (quantity limited) sales in ~3 months.

The NanoVNA Version 1.0
The NanoVNA Version 1.0

Just as a footnote, we received several emails from readers who wanted to make sure we note the credit edy555 should get. Originally edy555 had planned to produce his own units, but due to a Chinese ham enthusiast who had good intentions the design became popular and was soon cloned. We note that the NanoVNA v2.0 does not appear to be affiliated with edy555.

NanoVNASaver Software Walkthrough + NanoVNA Firmware Updates Bring 1.5 GHz Max Range

The NanoVNA is an open source VNA project by @edy555 and ttrftech that has recently become extremely affordable at less than US$50 for a fully assembled unit thanks to Chinese manufacturing (or a little more if you order it via Amazon).

Ohan Smit had recently been playing with the NanoVNA and came across a software package from Rune B. Broberg (5Q5R) called NanoVNASaver. NanoVNASaver is an open source program that can be used to read and plot data from the NanoVNA. It has some nice features like the ability to display multiple charts, increase the resolution up to 10k points, measure cable length via TDR calculations, save Touchstone files and more.

Over on his blog, Ohan has put up a walkthrough guide about using NanoVNASaver. He shows how to setup the application, calibrate the NanoVNA, and then demonstrates how to use NanoVNASaver to measure the response of some filters.

Testing our RTL-SDR.COM BCFM Bandstop filter with a NanoVNA and the NanoVNASaver Software.
Testing our RTL-SDR.COM BCFM Bandstop filter with a NanoVNA and the NanoVNASaver Software.

Later in the same post Ohan also includes an update about his experiments with some new experimental NanoVNA firmware that extends the maximum frequency range from the previous maximum of 900 MHz up to 1500 MHz. Results show that while it can work up to 1500 MHz, accuracy rapidly degrades above 900 MHz.

 

A Guide to Compiling Updated NanoVNA Firmware

Thank you to Ohan Smit (ZS1SCI) for submitting his guide that shows us how to compile the latest NanoVNA firmware from the source code. The NanoVNA is an open source VNA project by @edy555 and ttrftech that has recently become extremely affordable at less than US$50 for a fully assembled unit thanks to Chinese manufacturing (or a little more if you order it via Amazon).

As the NanoVNA project is open source the code is ever evolving and the units that ship from China now come with older firmware installed. If you want to test the very latest experimental code, you need to compile it on a PC, and then flash the firmware into the NanoVNA. Ohan's guide covers this all. For example, one recent update now enables time-domain reflectometry for measuring coax cable length, which we explored in a previous post.

Alternatively according to the GitHub readme, it is also possible to use a docker image which will remove the need to install the arm tool chain. Ready to flash images are also released every few days over on the GitHub release page, although these won't include the very latest or experimental changes.

The NanoVNA
The NanoVNAnano

Calculating Coax Length by using a NanoVNA as a Time-Domain Reflectometer

Earlier in the month we posted about the NanoVNA, an open source VNA project by @edy555 and ttrftech that has recently become extremely affordable at US$50 for a fully assembled unit thanks to Chinese manufacturing.

The NanoVNA comes with preinstalled software for it's LCD GUI, as well as a Windows program. However, the software is currently basic and doesn't implement everything possible with a VNA. Over on his blog, nuclearrambo has put up a post showing how to use the NanoVNA as a Time-domain reflectometer (TDR). A TDR allows you to measure coax cable length, and that can be useful for finding exactly where a suspected cable or connector fault is.

Nucclearrambo provides a Python script which can be used with the NanoVNA's S1P output data to create a TDR graph. His tests with RG405 and LMR200 cable show that the length reported by the script comes remarkably close to the actual length.

In addition to the above, Ohan Smit has extended on nuclearrambo's work by modifying the C# NanoVNA Windows software (which was reverse engineered by Roger Clark) to automatically run the TDR script when S1P data is saved. Future work could see the Windows program support TDR by default.

Using the NanoVNA as a Time Domain Reflectometer.
Using the NanoVNA as a Time Domain Reflectometer.

Reviews of the NanoVNA: An Ultra Low Cost $50 Vector Network Analyzer

A vector network analyzer (VNA) is an instrument that can be used to measure antenna or coax parameters such as SWR, impedance and loss. It can also be used to characterize and tune filters. It is a very useful tool to have if you are building and tuning home made antennas, filters or other RF circuits. For example if you are building a QFH or ADS-B antenna to use with an RTL-SDR, a VNA can help ensure that your antenna is properly tuned to the correct frequency. Compared to a standard SWR or network analyzer a VNA supplies you with phase information as well.

Until just recently, VNA's have cost roughly US$500 for a decent USB PC based unit like the miniVNA or PocketVNA, and have set people back thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for bench top units.

However, the cost of owning a VNA has now been reduced to only US$50 thanks to the NanoVNA. The open source NanoVNA project by @edy555 and ttrftech has been around since 2016, but only recently have Chinese sellers begun mass producing the unit and selling them on sites like Aliexpress, eBay and now Amazon. We note that it seems that there are some sellers selling them without shielding, so it might be worth double checking the listing to see if they mention that. All the listings we've seen seem to come with simple calibration kits as well.

The NanoVNA: A $50 Vector Network Analyzer
The NanoVNA: A $50 Vector Network Analyzer

The NanoVNA is a small credit card sized VNA. It has a built in LCD screen that can be used to display graphs directly, or it can also be connected to a PC and the graphs viewed via the NanoVNA Windows software. When purchasing you can opt to include a small battery for portable operation for a few dollars extra. The frequency range is from 50 kHz to 900 MHz, although you should note that above 300 MHz dynamic range performance is reduced.

Over on YouTube several hams and radio enthusiasts have recently uploaded videos demonstrating and reviewing the NanoVNA. The overall consensus is that the unit is accurate and works well. For additional support there is forum available at Groups.IO.

Below YouTube user IMSAI Guy reviews the NanoVNA. Check out IMSAI Guy's other videos too as he has several where he tests the NanoVNA on difference filters and antennas, and checks the accuracy.

#350 NanoVNA Vector Network analyzer 900MHz VNA for $50

Below is YouTube user joe smith's review. He also has two other NanoVNA videos on his channel where he shows how to use the NanoVNA to measure antenna impedance, and how to use the NanoVNA to create SPICE models for simulation.

The NanoVNA, a beginners guide to the Vector Network Analyzer

Finally YouTube user Oli gives another overview. Please note that the following video is in Polish, but YouTube captions can be set to English.

NanoVNA - omówienie, kalibracja, pomiar anteny i filtra [english subtitles]

We've also seen several recent text reviews:

NanoVNA - A short review. In this review nuclearrambo shows off the calibration kit, and shows a practical measurements of a directional coupler and 137 MHz QFH antenna.

NanoVNA compared with a Keysight fieldfox N9952A. Here nuclearrambo provides a comparison between the $50 NanoVNA and the $40,000+ Keysight FieldFox N9962A.

The NanoVNA, a real VNA at less than 48 €!. A review written in French, but Google Translate can be used. In this review David Alloza compares the NanoVNA against an Agilent E5062A benchtop VNA, and results look comparable.