Professor Jason from Harvery Mudd College in California has recently uploaded a 23 lesson video series on software defined radio digital signal processing (DSP) concepts that can be learned with an RTL-SDR, PlutoSDR and GNU Radio.
If you're looking for a University level introduction to DSP this looks like a good hand on approach to learning. It covers concepts from a simple FM radio receove in GNU Radio, to doppler radar with PlutoSDR, to digital modulation, pulse shaping, GPS reception and more.
Over on the TechMinds YouTube channel Matt has been experimenting with using a PlutoSDR for QO-100 amateur radio satellite communications. The PlutoSDR is a low cost RX/TX capable SDR with up to 56 MHz of bandwidth and 70 MHz to 6 GHz frequency range (with mods). The PlutoSDR can suffer from frequency instability, especially when warming up, however on the latest model C/D PlutoSDRs it's possible to inject an external clock signal.
In his video experiment, Matt uses a Leo Bodnar GPSDO as an external clock source. A GPSDO is a "GPS Disciplined Oscillator", as it uses the accurate timing information found in GPS signals to create a high quality clock signal. Matt shows how to set up the GPSDO, and how to tell the PlutoSDR to use the external clock.
He goes on to show the effectiveness of the GPSDO with some transmit experiments.
The new pricing is at quite a premium over the original LimeSDR Mini which released in 2017 for US$139, and the standard LimeSDR which released in 2016 for US$249. However we of course must to take into account the extreme inflation of electronic parts pricing that has occurred over the past few years.
Lime Micro have also noted that the standard LimeSDR has also now been discontinued due to the same supply shortages. The standard LimeSDR had 2x2 RX/TX channels and was capable of a bandwidth of up to 61.44 MHz. In comparison, both versions of the LimeSDR Mini are a 1x1 channel product with 40 MHz of bandwidth.
The LimeSDR Mini 2.0 is almost identical to the LimeSDR Mini 1.0, both still making use of the LMS7002 RF transceiver as the main chip and using the same overall design. The only change is an upgrade to the FPGA, which replaces the Intel MAX 10 16k logic gate FPGA with a significantly more capable Lattice ECP5 44k logic gate FPGA.
Given the new pricing, people on the lookout for a new hacker/research/experimenter SDR in this price range might want to consider this brief comparison to find the best suited SDR for your needs:
LimeSDR Mini 2.0- US$399
1x1 channels, 40 MHz bandwidth, 10 MHz to 3.5 GHz, 12-bits.
The La Crosse weather station system consists of a LCD base station, and various wireless sensors. Ryan first discovered that the devices used the 915 MHz frequency band via details written on the device itself. His next step was to open up Universal Radio Hacker and use one of his SDRs to record a packet. URH then allowed him to convert that data into bits for packet analysis. The rest of his post goes into detail on how he set the symbol rate, discovered the preamble and reverse engineered the CRC code.
The next step he took was to generate a spoofed packet generated by URH and transmitted by the PlutoSDR. This allowed him to set the base station display to any temperature that he specified. But he ran into a problem where only the first packet he sent after power up was received. Eventually he discovered that the system sets a randomized interval for each of the transmitters at startup, and data outside of that interval is ignored.
Ryan's post explains his whole though process and progress in detail, so is an excellent study for anyone looking to get into reverse engineering wireless signals.
In the latest video on the Signals Everywhere YouTube channel, Sarah investigates how a PlutoSDR can be used as a Spectrum Analyzer with the SATSAGEN software. The SATSAGEN software is able to work as a spectrum analyzer by rapidly sweeping over multiple frequencies and stitching the spectrum slices together. It support SDRs like the HackRF, PlutoSDR and RTL-SDR (in receive mode only). The PlutoSDR can transmit, so it is able to work as a full spectrum analyzer with tracking generator, allowing users to measure RF devices such as filters, tune antennas, and work as a frequency generator.
In the video Sarah demonstrates how to use the PlutoSDR and SATSAGEN to measure our RTL-SDR Blog Broadcast FM filter, and to tune our multipurpose dipole antenna.
Spectrum Analyzer and Tracking Generator with Pluto SDR
This week on the SignalsEverywhere YouTube channel Sarah shows how to install the "Retrogram" software. This is a command line 'retro' styled spectrum analyzer designed to be used with the PlutoSDR. The software makes use of ASCII art to display the spectrum, meaning that a spectrum can be viewed directly in an SSH terminal, without any GUI.
In the video Sarah goes through the steps to install the software before demonstrating it in action.
Retrogram - A Command Line Spectrum Analyzer For The PlutoSDR
Remote SDR V2 is software that allows you to easily remotely access either a PlutoSDR, HackRF or RTL-SDR software defined radio. It was originally designed to be used with the amateur radio QO-100 satellite, but version 2.0 includes multiple demodulation modes, NBFM/SSB transmission capability, CTCSS and DTMF encoders, modulation compression and a programmable frequency shift for relays.
MMDVM is firmware that normally runs on an ARM microcontroller board such as the Arduino Due, and is designed to be interfaced with hardware radios via the microcontrollers built in ADC and DAC hardware.
In order to use an SDR instead of physical hardware radios, Adrian's article describes how a fork of MMDVM called MMDVM-SDR is used in his system as this allows the code to run on a normal Linux computer with an SDR. GNU Radio running on Adrian's own QRadioLink software is then used to create software ADC/DAC interfaces for the SDR and MMDVM-SDR to interface with, as well as providing a user interface.