Back in 2017 we posted about the crowd funding of the Fairwaves XTRX, a small PCIe based TX/RX capable software defined radio that back then cost US$199 (now only the XTRX Pro is available for US$599). The XTRX is based on the same RF chips that are used in the LimeSDR and each unit has 2 x 2 MIMO (multi-input, multi-output), 120 MSPS SISO / 90 MSPS MIMO, 30 MHz to 3.7 GHz tuning range and comes with an on board GPSDO.
If you’re working on a massive MIMO system or have a large swath of spectrum you need to monitor, XYNC (pronounced iks-sync) is right for you. XYNC builds on the success of the Octopack SDR we offered during the XTRX campaign and takes into account feedback from the original Octopack users.
You can connect two XYNC boards, either to increase the number of RX/TX channels (e.g., two XYNC Octos give you 32 TX and 32 RX channels) or to increase throughput per channel (e.g., two XYNC Quadros give you twice the throughput of a single XYNC Octo). Connecting more than two XYNC boards is also possible, but requires an external clock and 1 pps signal distribution circuitry, neither of which is provided as part of this campaign.
While advertised as low cost, the pricing is probably out of reach for most hobbyists, with the quad 8x8 unit coming in at US$4500 and the top 16 board 32x32 unit priced at US$13,000. Still, these prices are very good for a massively MIMO SDR and pricing is set to rise once the crowdfunding campaign ends in 39 days.
Late last month we posted about the Fairwaves XTRX SDR which is a Mini PCIE TX/RX capable SDR with 10 MHz - 3.7 GHz tuning range and 120 MSPS sample rate that costs $199 US and is currently crowdfunding on CrowdSupply. At the time of this post the XTRX is currently 84% funded.
Recently the XTRX team released an update regarding the HF performance below 30 MHz. The update shows that signal attenuation starts to significantly reduce in the HF bands with the 3dB point being at 11 MHz. At 6 MHz the attenuation is at 13 dB, and at 2 MHz it's up to 29 dB. This attenuation may not be too bad though especially for strong HF signals, or perhaps a preamp like the LNA4HF could be used. They attempted to review their design to reduce the attenuation, but found that there is no easy fix especially with having such restricted space as in a PCIE card.
They also note that HF reception with the LMS7002 chip used on the XTRX can be problematic as the LO is fixed to a minimum of 30 MHz. So to receive below 30 MHz the receiving bandwidth needs to be increased which can cause saturation from any strong out of band signals. However, they tested with some very simple external bandpass filters for the 49m band (5.8 - 6.2 MHz) and had decent results.
The XTRX team also added a new breakout header to the board which provides direct connections to the LMS7002 chip ADCs for direct sampling. This could provide even better HF performance with an appropriate custom frontend.
Back in early November we posted about the upcoming XTRX SDR, which is a small form factor 2 x 2 MIMO TX and RX capable SDR that is designed to fit into laptop Mini PCIE card slots. It is based on the LimeSDR RF chips, and has a tuning range of 10 MHz - 3.7 GHz, with a sample rate of up to 120 MSPS. It is also has some interesting additional features such as a built in GPSDO and an onboard FPGA which can be used to accelerate DSP tasks as well. The Mini PCIE interface was chosen for it's low latency transfer rates.
The card is designed for use cases such as creating LTE cellular networks, creating software defined 2G/3G/4G modems and using on board drones and in embedded systems. It can also be used for standard wideband monitoring and of course any other SDR applications compatible with Lime chips.
Today the crowdfunding campaign for the XTRX has begun. The early bird pricing is $179 USD (with 71 left at the time of this post - going down fast!), and the regular price is $199 USD. There are accessories available as well such as antenna and cable kits, a PCIe x2 adapter and a USB 3.0 adapter kit with enclosure. The XTRX team are hoping to raise 90k USD, with already 8k USD having been raised at the time of this post.
Over on the crowd funding site crowdsupply.com there have recently been several updates on the Fairwaves XTRX SDR. The XTRX is an upcoming TX/RX capable SDR in a tiny Mini PCIe form factor. Mini PCIe is the expansion slot system used on some laptops. The SDR itself will be 2 x 2 MIMO, with a tuning range of 10 MHz - 3.7 GHz (down to 100 kHz with some degradation), and have a sample rate of up to 120 MSPS. It uses the LimeSDR RF chipset which provides most of the hardware required.
The XTRX is not yet for sale, and is planned for a crowdfunding run on Crowdsupply 'soon'. You can subscribe to future updates on their page. No word yet on pricing, but according to one of the developers comments on Reddit the price will be somewhere between the LimeSDR ($299 USD) and LimeSDR Mini ($139 USD). Eventually in the future if they can tap into a mass market they hope to get the price down to $50 USD.
Features & Specifications
RF Chipset: Lime Microsystems LMS7002M FPRF
FPGA Chipset: Xilinx Artix 7 35T
Channels: 2 × 2 MIMO
Tuning Range: 30 MHz - 3.8 GHz
10 MHz - 3.7 GHz
100 kHz - 3.8 GHz with signal level degradation
PCIe x2 Gen 2.0: 8 Gbit/s
PCIe x1 Gen 2.0: 4 Gbit/s
PCIe x1 Gen 1.0: 2 Gbit/s
Sample Rate: ~0.2 MSPS to 120 MSPS
Frequency: 26 MHz
Stability: <10 ppb stability after GPS/GNSS lock, 500 ppb at start up
Form Factor: full-size miniPCIe (30 × 51 mm)
Bus Latency: <10 µs, stable over time
Synchronization: synchronize multiple XTRX boards for massive MIMO