Video section coming soon

In order to provide more in-depth experience we are planning to introduce a new category: Videos! We already collected many videos from interesting tutorials from the internet and want to build a visual knowledge base with it in the near future. In the next few weeks the section will be built up and finally be published. Feel free to submit your own videos or links to publically available ones via video [at] sodera.de or via the facebook messenger to the left or twitter.

LimeSDR crowdfunding campaign

This post should go in more details about the LimeSDR crowdfunding campaign. As the inventors of the LimeSDR (Canonical/Ubuntu + Lime Microsystems) partnered up and now provide an open source framework to “create the next generation of wireless applications” and to democratize wireless innovation. This should be achieved by the development of a first class driver for LimeSDR by no other than Josh Blum, the original creator of GNU Radio Companion (and SoapySDR and Pothos) as well as with support by Myriad-RF, an initiative and community founded by Lime Micro that is dedicated towards as already said the democratization of wireless innovation (i can fully see the “Long Tail” here).

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LimeSDR Docu Initiative & Wiki User Guide

LimeSDR-USB overview

A good project falls with proper documentation. In their mind of open source the documentation is pushed through the “announcement of the Myriad-RF Wiki Documentation Initiavte” and now is available as a LimeSDR-USB User Guide in form of a online Wiki. The Contents range from explanations about the key features of the board to an general overview, into more details like driver installation for Windows and Linux, general flashing procedure of the microcontroller up to loading a bitstream to the FPGA. So everyone who packs out their boards might want to look into these pages first. I like their way of doing it.

SoDeRa now LimeSDR & Crowdfunding Campaign

So, as it turned out the name SoDeRa might be already reserved (hehe) and due to copyright reasons they changed their name to LimeSDR. To get their project out of the ground they started a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of 500k USD. In their campaign the price for a single board is 299 USD for regular backers, but there is an early bird special for a price of 199 USD. And guess who got one of the cheaper boards. While it won’t come with any case i think it’s worth the 100 bucks off. As the functionality stays the same. There is also a PCIe version available.

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SoDeRa: An upcoming app-enabled low-cost Open-Source SDR Transceiver

A new software defined radio called SoDeRa (SOftware DEfined RAdio) is currently under joint development by companies Canonical (the company behind the Ubuntu OS) and Lime Micro. SoDeRa is based on the new Lime Microsystems LMS7002M Transceiver chip which has a 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz range. The transceiver chip interfaces with an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA with 256 MB of RAM and a USB3 controller, and the whole radio will have 4x TX outputs and 6x RX inputs.

SoDeRa.org. is a low-cost software defined radio through which apps can be programmed to support any type of wireless standard, e.g. UMTS, LTE, LoRa, Bluetooth, Zigbee, RFID, Digital Broadcasting, etc.

Canonical and Lime Micro try to disrupt the industry and  are currently marketing SoDeRa as “the Arduino of the Telecom and Radio Engineer”.  It appears to be designed mainly to implement IoT and other radio communications protocols, but it also sounds like it could find excellent use in the hobby and amateur market. the developers also plan to implement an app store which would allow you to essentially download a radio and instantly configure the SoDeRa SDR for any desired protocol or application.

The inventors state:

This is the first time that a revolutionary device for which we are organising a joint crowd-funding campaign with Lime Microsystems is made public. The #SoDeRa is the cheapest software defined radio you can buy. The #SoDeRa will have an app store and will be able to provide any type of (bi-directional) radio communication going from LTE, Lora, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, radar, radio-controlled toys/robots/drone, digital radio, digital TV to even MRI scanners, satellite and air traffic communications by just installing an app. The #SoDeRa is the Arduino of the Telecom and Radio Engineer.

I am very eager to see what will go on in the radio field now. From early 2012 with the coming up of “Software defined everything”, which includes networks and now radio and the advancements of digital electronics it was just a matter of time until it was clear that even base stations will get digital components. OsmocomBB and other suites are able to span LTE networks quickly with just a press of a button. Canonical says further to this evolution:

Including #SoDeRa in any type of smart device will greatly reduce the cost of deploying a mobile base station network because by open sourcing the hardware design it will become commodity. By including software defined radio in lots of devices, often with a completely different purpose, will allow these devices to become a smart cell via installing an extra app. In the future, support for software defined radio will likely be embedded directly in Intel and ARM chips. The foundational steps are already happening. This will likely reshape the telecom industry. Not only from a cost perspective but also from a perspective of who runs the network. Telecom operators that don’t deliver value will see their monopoly positions being put in danger. As soon as spectrum can be licensed on a per hour basis, just like any other resource in the cloud, any type of ad-hoc network can be setup. The question is not if but when. Open sourcing and crowdfunding will make that “when” be sooner than later. Smart operators that align with the innovators will win because they will get the app revenue, enormous cost reductions, sell surplus spectrum by the hour and lots of innovation. Other operators that don’t move or try to stop it will be disrupted. What do you want to be?

Board Specification
Key components:

  • LMS7002M Lime Microsystems Transceiver with continuous Frequency range of 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz (Datasheet)
  • Cyclone IV EP4CE40F23 Altera FPGA (Datasheet) also compatible with EP4CE30F23
  • USB3 CYUSB3014-BZXC Cypress Microcontroller (Datasheet)
  • 4 x TxOut and 6 x RxIn U.FL connectors for RF cables
  • microUSB3 connector or plug, external power supply (optional) and status LEDs
  • 256 MBytes of DDR2 SDRAM (Datasheet)
  • Size:  100 mm x 60 mm
  • Interface: USB3 for control,  data transfer and power
  • Power Output (CW): up to 6.5 dBm
  • Covering: Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, LTE, any other air interfaces

Visit the official product / project page:

http://sodera.org/

Would you buy one ?

Double bandwidth monitoring with RTL-SDR in GNU Radio

The maximum usable and stable bandwidth of an RTL-SDR is about 2.4 MHz. In order to get larger bandwidths it is possible to combine two or more dongles, although doing so comes with a big limitation – since the clocks and signal phases between separate dongles would not be synchronised, it would be impossible to decode a wideband signal this way. However, combining dongles for larger bandwidths is still useful for visualizing the spectrum through an FFT plot, or perhaps for decoding various separate narrowband signals. Although creating a wide band FFT plot with multiple dongles is fairly simple, we haven’t seen much software do this before.

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DVB-T with board apps on Linux

I wanted an easy way to watch TV quickly on the go. If you have DVB-T/DAB/FM sticks with the famous RTL-SDR Chip 2838 and a tuner like Elonics 4000 or Rafael Micro R820T / T2 or some Fitipowers you are able to achieve this tutorial here. We use VLC and it’s built-in capabilities to decode DVB-T.

I started with a freshly installed Ubuntu. First get sure to have the latest packages.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

After that we are going to install VLC player and the w_scan utils

sudo apt-get install vlc w-scan

Now we can make a program list and start the frequency search. For this purpose we use the command underlying. If you come from another country than Germany search for your 2-letter countrycode or be referred to the w-scan manual / man pages to find out for you (pretty straight forward to find your countrycode – its as usual). The >> in the command sends the found frequencies to a file (conf) in the path given. Feel free to specify another path like / (root) or others like the desktop /home/yourusername/Desktop.

w_scan -ft -c DE >> /etc/vlc/channels.conf

You could also go with another output file (experimental …). Just change .conf to the ending .xspf

Get sure, if you start the w_scan command, that your DVB-T stick is plugged in (type in command line “lsusb” without “”s and look out for your device. Also maybe restart or give free the resource if it may be blocked by another program already / or still. Hardware is a bit dumb. After that the scanning starts and needs some time. Your stations are now saved in the file. If you don’t find any stations. your antenna setuo could be bad. I e.g. had 2 antennas that didn’t work out well and then changed to a Yagi-Uda antenna.Now open VLC and go to the Menu > Media > choose device > select DVB-T stick (usually adapter0, you can proof that by navigating in the file explorer). Enter the command with the file to your conf or xspf file:

vlc /path/toyour/file/channels.conf

Or open in VLC via file open to open .conf or .xspf station lists. Now you should enjoy your stations by selecting them in Programs > station. Another, but unstable way (doesn’t save the stations) is to go to this device window and then press “play”. I was able to find approximately 10 working stations.

If you have trouble and have to mount the stick drivers first, use this command to mount the already implemented linux kernel drivers for the RTL stick:

modprobe dvb_stick_usb_rtl28xxu rtl2830 rtl2832

If you want to eliminate the OS drivers for the DVB-T mode and enter in the I/Q sample mode

sudo rmmod rtl28xxu

Under Debian it’s a bit differnt with an editor (add nano or vim in from of the command). Add the following line “blacklist dvb_usb_rtl28xxu”

/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf