Above — All 4 boards were built in re-purposed Hammond boxes. A PIC-based counter sits on top of the offset mixer. I build modular gear and this allows modification and fosters experimentation. When I build a final transistor radio receiver, I plan to place the offset mixer, PLL circuitry and VXO on the same board inside the radio with some shielding. My VCOs always go in a RF tight container. A 0.0033 µF feed through capacitor connects the VCO varactors to the outside world.
Version 2 — What is it? V2.0 is the Simpleceiver Plus SSB Transceiver Architecture with the following changes:
A GRQP Club 9.0 MHz Crystal Filter is used in place of the homebrew 12.096 Four Pole Filter. This gives the advantage of acquiring the matching crystals for the BFO and with a 5 MHz Analog VFO you can have a two band rig (20 meters or 80 Meters). The only change required is the appropriate matching Band Pass and Low Pass Filters. A couple of relays and a toggle switch will put you on either band. So a big plus here. Or you can leave it on 40 Meters.
Compacting the rig in physical size. I have used two 4 X 6 inch PC Board and fit all of the circuitry on these two boards which will then be stacked upon each other.
After getting the sketches written for the SI5351 board written to support multiple display types, I decided I need to write one more. Now that Pete is moving the Simpleceiver to a single conversion super-het, I will have to worry about the BFO as well as VFO frequency. Since I will probably use a different crystal frequency than Pete for the IF filter, I need to have a way to find the correct BFO frequency for both upper and lower side band. The easiest way to do that is to write a sketch that uses the 5351 as a two channel signal generator,with independent control of both frequencies.
Henrik Forstén has a nice build log on his newest version of this homemade 6 GHz FMCW radar:
Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar works by transmitting a chirp which frequency changes linearly with time. This chirp is then radiated with the antenna, reflected from the target and is received by the receiving antenna. On the reception side the received signal that was delayed and undelayed copy of the transmitted chirp are mixed (multiplied) together. The output of the mixer are two sine waves that have frequencies of sum and difference of the waveforms. The frequencies of the received signals are almost the same and the sum waveform has frequency of about two times of the original signal and is filtered out, but the difference waveform has frequency in kHz to few MHz range. The difference frequency is dependent on the delay of the received reflection signal making it possible to determine the delay of the reflected signal. The electromagnetic waves travel at speed of light which allows converting the delay to distance accurately. When there are several targets the output signal is sum of different frequencies and the distances to the targets can be recovered efficiently with Fourier transform.
See the full post on his blog. Project files are available at github.
Agilent 53152A 46GHz frequency counter teardown and repair from The Signal Path:
In this episode Shahriar investigates a faulty Agilent 53152A 46GHz frequency counter. The instrument does not power on and shows no sign of internal voltage presence. Teardown of the instrument reveals a large PCB where all analog and digital circuity is contained. The power supply module is a module components and upon measurements shows no activity.
The power supply is a simple switching architecture with functioning input rectifier and capacitor filter. By using an oscilloscope it is clear that the power supply PWM controller attempts to start. However, the main power supply pin shows unstable voltages indicating inadequate charge retention on the rectifying capacitor. Replacing the capacitor revives the startup condition and the power supply function returns. The PWM controller and main switching transistors are also replaced with new ones. After this repair the unit powers on and passes all self-tests. The unit can successfully measure signal frequencies and power.
In this episode Shahriar explores the principle operation of automotive FMCW radars. Thanks to a donated automotive radar module, various components of the system can be examined and explored. The PCB reveals three die-on-PCB ASICs responsible for generating and receiving 77GHz FMCW signals coupled to a 2D array of antennas. Several microwave components such as rat-race couplers and branchline couplers can also be observed. PCB rulers from SV1AFN Design Lab also show these microwave components at much lower frequencies. Two other ICs are used for ramp generation and PLL as well as a multi-input LNA/PGA/AAF with 12-bit ADC for IF processing. All components are examined under the microscope and the frequency of operation is calculated by measuring the branchline coupler’s dimensions.
Finally a simple Doppler effect radar is constructed by using a doubler, power divider, mixer and a pair of Vivaldi horn antennas. The Doppler effect can be observed by moving an object in front of the antenna pair.
Craig writes, “RF filter design is a piece of cake these days thanks to computer design and simulation tools. But actually realizing the simulated filter response in the real world can be a completely different matter! This video provides an introduction to practical RF filter design by building, testing, and tweaking a 137MHz bandpass filter suitable for NOAA APT satellite reception.”
Keysight MXA revision-b signal analyzer / Spectrum analyzer review, analysis & experiments from The Signal Path:
In this episode Shahriar reviews the long awaited Keysight MXA Signal Analyzer (N9020B). The new X-Series Spectrum Analyzers from Keysight offer an entirely re-designed GUI interface which supports multiple tabs as well as multi-touch interaction.
In 2011 I fulfilled a dream of building a shirt pocket sized QRP SSB transceiver. Well actually I built two of them and the second was a diminutive 2″ X 4″ X 2″. Both used through hole components –so no cheating with SMD. In each case the IF was 4.0152 MHz and employed a crystal switched VXO that essentially gave about 100 kHz on 20M SSB. But it was a VXO and there was not full band coverage. But nevertheless a small miracle (or so I thought) that they both worked! You can see the two versions blow.
But with new technology now available to us my next goal is to fit the larger rig with the Si5351 and an OLED display. Today I made that happen!
Far too much stuff is wireless these days. Home security systems have dozens of radios for door and window sensors, thermostats aren’t just a wire to the furnace anymore, and we are annoyed when we can’t start our cars from across a parking lot. This is a golden era for anyone who wants to hack RF. This year at Shmoocon, [Marc Newlin] and [Matt Knight] of Bastille Networks gave an overview of how to get into hacking RF. These are guys who know a few things about hacking RF; [Marc] is responsible for MouseJack and KeySniffer, and [Matt] reverse engineered the LoRa PHY.
In their talk, [Marc] and [Matt] outlined five steps to reverse engineering any RF signal. First, characterize the channel. Determine the modulation. Determine the symbol rate. Synchronize a receiver against the data. Finally, extract the symbols, or get the ones and zeros out of the analog soup.
From [Marc] and [Matt]’s experience, most of this process doesn’t require a radio, software or otherwise. Open source intelligence or information from regulatory databases can be a treasure trove of information regarding the operating frequency of the device, the modulation, and even the bit rate. The pertinent example from the talk was the FCC ID for a Z-wave module. A simple search revealed the frequency of the device. Since the stated symbol rate was twice the stated data rate, the device obviously used Manchester encoding. These sorts of insights become obvious once you know what you’re looking for.
In their demo, [Marc] and [Matt] went through the entire process of firing up GNU Radio, running a Z-wave decoder and receiving Z-wave frames. All of this was done with a minimum of hardware and required zero understanding of what radio actually is, imaginary numbers, or anything else a ham license will hopefully teach you. It’s a great introduction to RF hacking, and shows anyone how to do it.