LimeSDR is now in the crowdfunding stage

Lime-SDR-Aluminium-Case

There’s a new SDR under development–one that is promoted as a “Flexible, Next-generation, Open Source Software Defined Radio.”

The LimeSDR‘s goal, essentially, is to democratize what I call the “RF of things.”

My friend, Bernie S, told me about the LimeSDR a couple months ago and I’ve been following progress since then.  It’s a fascinating concept and one that is being supported by the likes of Canonical Ltd.

Earlier today, LimeSDR launched a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply. If early activity is any indication, I expect the team will easily exceed their goal of $500,000 (already 10% funded at time of posting).

limesdr-8_jpg_project-body

Here’s information from LimeSDR’s CrowdSupply page:

A Software Defined Radio for Everyone

LimeSDR is a low cost, open source, apps-enabled (more on that later) software defined radio (SDR) platform that can be used to support just about any type of wireless communication standard, including UMTS, LTE, GSM, LoRa, Bluetooth, Zigbee, RFID, and Digital Broadcasting, to name but a few.

While most SDRs have remained the domain of RF and protocol experts, LimeSDR is usable by anyone familiar with the idea of an app store – LimeSDR is the first SDR to integrate with Snappy Ubuntu Core. This means you can easily download new LimeSDR apps from developers around the world. If you’re a developer yourself, then you can share and/or sell your LimeSDR apps through Snappy Ubuntu Core as well.

The LimeSDR platform gives students, inventors, and developers an intelligent and flexible device for manipulating wireless signals, so they can learn, experiment, and develop with freedom from limited functionality and proprietary devices.

From Radio Astronomy to Personal Telcos

Here are just some of the applications that are possible with the LimeSDR:

  • Radio astronomy
  • RADAR
  • 2G to 4G cellular basestation
  • Media streaming
  • IoT gateway
  • HAM radio
  • Wireless keyboard and mice emulation and detection
  • Tire pressure monitoring systems
  • Aviation transponders
  • Utility meters
  • Drone command and control
  • Test and measurement
  • Many more…

With state-of-the-art technical specs, a fully open hardware and toolchain, and integration with Snappy Ubuntu Core’s app distribution platform, LimeSDR is limited only by our collective imagination.

Features & Specifications

  • RF Transceiver: Lime Microsystems LMS7002M MIMO FPRF (Datasheet)
  • FPGA: Altera Cyclone IV EP4CE40F23 – also compatible with EP4CE30F23
  • Memory: 256 MBytes DDR2 SDRAM
  • USB 3.0 controller: Cypress USB 3.0 CYUSB3014-BZXC
  • Oscillator: Rakon RPT7050A @30.72MHz (Datasheet)
  • Continuous frequency range: 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz
  • Bandwidth: 61.44 MHz
  • RF connection: 10 U.FL connectors (6 RX, 4 TX)
  • Power Output (CW): up to 10 dBm
  • Multiplexing: 2×2 MIMO
  • Power: micro USB connector or optional external power supply
  • Status indicators: programmable LEDs
  • Dimensions: 100 mm x 60 mm

Bernie has encouraged me to evaluate the LimeSDR. I may very well attempt to do so, but frankly, I don’t have the experience to truly unlock this device. I am curious if it would make for an amazingly useful little all-in-one HF/VHF/UHF digital decoding device. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would be an easy task for the LimeSDR.

Any Post readers out there plan to back the LimeSDR project? If so, please comment and tell us how you plan to use the LimeSDR.

SDR Touch now supports the SDRplay RSP in Beta release

sdrtouch

(Source: SDRplay Blog)

Good news for Android users – SDR Touch have released a beta version of their software with SDRplay RSp functionality – go to https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.sdrtouch.sdrplay to sign up as a beta tester.

SDR Touch works on most recent Android Phone or Tablet devices.

A QS1R replacement in the works?

qs1r_front_sm1

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken McKenzie, who noticed the following message from Phil Covington (of Software Radio Laboratory LLC) on the QS1R Yahoo group:

I am working on a replacement for the QS1R that will be less expensive, yet
use updated components. I am hoping to have them in production by the end of March.

Regards,

Philip A Covington
Software Radio Laboratory LLC
Columbus, Ohio
http://www.srl-llc.com

Ken noticed that the message was originally dated about one month ago, so I’ll follow-up with Phil and see how much progress has been made. The QS1R was a well-respected SDR that had been on the market for several years. It would be great to see an updated version on the market.

One year with the TitanSDR

TitanSDR-VOG

Last year, I reviewed the TitanSDR Pro by the Italian manufacturer, Enablia,. I was very impressed with not only this receiver’s performance, but also its accompanying application’s user interface. I also noted in the review that the TitanSDR is pricier than many other benchmark SDRs on the market ($1380-1970 EUR) but it is, after all, essentially a military-grade SDR that has been ported to the enthusiast/ham radio market.

I’ve been using and testing updates to theTitanSDR Pro for a year now, and I continue to be just as impressed with this receiver––and, especially, with the company who manufactures it, Enablia.

TitanSDRPro-3

I wondered at the time of my initial review how supportive Enablia might turn out to be; I knew time would tell.  Since my original review last year, Enablia has been regularly updating the TitanSDR application, adding many features requested by its users.  This shows a remarkable degree of responsiveness, and I now feel safe to say that that Enablia is an exceptional manufacturer with an exceptional product.

Only recently, I received an update which added two notch filters per narrowband channel, memories that retain AGC and notch filters settings, and sessions that retain AGC settings. I understand Enablia is also preparing updates that improve upon memory management, user interface, audio defaults, as well as offering a few tweaks to the existing feature set.

Overall, Enablia developers are certainly making this signal intelligence SDR cater to the ham radio and enthusiast market even better than before.

Though I use a number of SDRs, I reach for the TitanSDR any time there are multiple-band openings since it can record spectrum and audio across the entire LW/MW/SW landscape. Unlike my other SDRs, it’s not limited to an (already generous)  2-6 MHz recording/listening window.

For example, on Thursday night I had a lot on my listening/recording plate as there were a number of band openings. I had the TitanSDR tuned to:

  • the 31 meter band,
  • the 20 meter ham radio band,
  • the 49 meter band (specifically monitoring South American stations), and even
  • the mediumwave band.

The TitanSDR was recording spectrum on the 49 meter band while I made this AF recording of the Voice of Greece on the 31 meter band (9420 kHz, starting around 00:26 UTC on April 8, 2016):

Surprisingly, all of this recording wasn’t taxing my PC, nor the TitanSDR.

The TitanSDR application is highly stable and uses resources efficiently. Indeed, in the past year, to my knowledge the TitanSDR application hasn’t crashed even once, despite my rigorous demands of it. Since it runs nearly 24/7 in my shack, on a four-year old PC (third generation i5 Win 7), that’s saying a lot.

SWLing Post reader, Tony Roper, is also a heavy TitanSDR user and recently posted this 30+ minute video demonstrating some of the TitanSDR’s new features. Note that his screen capture software produced fairly low audio, so you’ll need to turn up the volume to hear his commentary:

Click here to view on YouTube.

In short, I stand by my conclusions drawn last year in my TitanSDR review:  although pricey compared to the competition, for those who can afford the price tag, the TitanSDR is a worthy hard-core DX machine that is especially useful to need a receiver with a bullet-proof front end, to weak-signal DXers, and to radio archivists like yours truly.

A $38.99 RTL-SDR with 100 Khz – 1.7 GHz coverage

RTL-SDR

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill, who recently shared a link to this very affordable RTL-SDR with wideband coverage.

I am not at all familiar with this model, but I do like the enclosure and the fact it has both an HF and UV antenna jack. This must be one of the least expensive SDRs on the market with HF coverage.

Here are a few details per Radioddity.com:

Features:

  • 100% Brand New And High Quality
  • Using the RTL2832 idle channel, broadband connection impedance isolation transformer provides the signal to the signal receiver HF HF bands.
  • Increased input low-pass filter to improve noise performance of the machine. At the same time, it retains the original V / UHF band reception, creative use of studded way to achieve RTL2832 + R820t circuit board assembly and connecting circuits increases
  • Further improve the overall performance of the circuit.
  • In the homemade circuit board also surrounded, surrounded reserved some help to further develop the pads. The entire circuit is loaded inside a small aluminum to further improve the performance of the overall circuit interference by aluminum shielding.

Package Contents:

  • 1 x 100KHz-1.7GHz full band UV HF RTL-SDR USB Tuner Receiver/ R820T+8232 Ham Radio
  • 1 x USB cable
  • 1 x antenna

Post Readers: If you have experience with this little SDR, please comment!

Guest Post: Using the HackRF One for DGPS Beacon Reception

h1-preliminary1-445Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


Receiving  with a HackRF One, SDR#, and MultiPSK

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

The HackRF One is a Software Defined Radio manufactured by Great Scott Gadgets (www.greatscottgadgets.com) and has been on the market for a few years. Having used an SDR-Dongle for several years I felt it was time to “step up” to this wideband (1 MHz – 6 GHz) receiver to investigate a broader breadth of the radio spectrum, so one was purchased from Sparkfun (www.sparkfun.com).

Recently I performed a rudimentary evaluation of its ability to receive DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System) beacons found in the Longwave band  between 285 – 325 KHz; this frequency range is well below the HackRF One’s stated lower receive limit of 1 MHz.

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DGPS beacons, when tuned using SSB, emit a distinctive warbling sound, and at this QTH, depending on band conditions and time of year, can be heard as far away as the Midwest. Winter brings the cold weather but also excellent conditions for receiving these beacons, some of which were former marine radiobeacons retrofitted to provide greater DGPS accuracy.

The HackRF One, when used with SDR#, MultiPSK, audio piping software, and a good (43 foot vertical) receiving antenna was able to receive DGPS beacons, and two screen captures are below:

DGPS beacon from Sandy Hook, NJ. SDR# using HackRF One in foreground, MultiPSK software in background with decoded information.

DGPS beacon from Sandy Hook, NJ. SDR# using HackRF One in foreground, MultiPSK software in background with decoded information. Click to enlarge.

DGPS beacon from Moriches, NY. Click to enlarge.

DGPS beacon from Moriches, NY. Click to enlarge.

I was very pleased that the HackRF One was able to receive DGPS stations, though tuning them in seemed a bit trickier than with a standard RTL-SDR dongle.  Since this time of year is not optimal for monitoring DGPS beacons, as well as the Longwave band in general, it’s reassuring to know that come winter I’ll be able to do some DGPS beacon DX’ing with the HackRF One.  However, anyone with a shortwave radio and a good antenna can avail themselves of DGPS beacon hunting, just tune down between 285 – 325 KHz and listen for the distinctive warble.

To decode, look into an excellent program like MultiPSK (http://f6cte.free.fr/index_anglais.htm). 73’s!


Thank you, Mario, for another great post!

When Mario told me he had purchased the $299 HackRF One, I was hoping he would do some guest posts about this SDR–DGPS beacons was use I had never thought of. Looking forward to more of your guest posts, Mario!

Mike’s Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) promotion

vac_controlpanelSWLing Post contributor, Mike Ladd, has been working with vendors to lock in promotional pricing on products and accessories commonly used by SDR enthusiasts. Last week, for example, he shared an excellent promotion for high/low pass filters.

This time, Mike has reached out to the author of Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) who has also kindly offered a discount.

VAC is a fantastic piece of software that allows you to port audio from one application to another on your PC without loss of audio quality. For example, if you’re running an SDR and you want to port its audio to FLDigi (to decode SSTV, RTTY, PSK31, or another digital mode) VAC does this for you.

Mike’s discount allows you to purchase a self-support copy of VAC for $21.42 US (a $3.78 discount).

To get the promo price, you’ll need to use this link which has the embedded coupon code, then simply make the selections as shown below:

VAC-Promo

Click here to purchase VAC with promotional pricing.

Thanks again, Mike, for sharing discounts with the SWLing and ham radio communities!