Radio System Design

Home SDR Laboratory

The Home SDR Lab is a new idea to maintain training under the exceptional circumstances presented by the COVID19 pandemic.
 

Radio System Design Ltd is offering a complete SDR Lab with accompanying literature and online lectures to help get you started in this, the fastest growing aspect of radio communications.  All the software, drivers and other 'nuts and bolts' for the course have been put onto a Rasberry Pi (RPi) to make it into an SDR learning platform.  Combined with the ADALM PLuto from Analog Devices Inc. this gives each participant a complete home SDR laboratory.  You access it from a windows computer via a network cable and the standard remote desktop connection application.  There is nothing to install on your computer, all the software provided runs on the RPi with the Pluto providing real RF harware to work with and understand SDR from bits to the antenna and back.

Learning Material

The Home SDR Lab. follows the material in the outline of the previously successful, in person Hands on SDR Couse.  It consists of 6 main topic, each of which is split into 3 distinct periods. The duration of the periods vary a little from topic to topic, but are:

  • Group time for the topic introduction, theory and a description of the experimental tasks to be done afterwards (1.5 hours max),

  • Individual time for the experimental tasks (1 hour max), agreeing a time to resume for,

  • Group time to discuss the experiments, going through the expected findings and any other observations from individuals (1 hour max).

The 6 topics covered are

  • Introduction - to hardware and software, creating an SDR FM broadcast radio receiver
  • Sampling - this is the heart of the matter understanding this is the link between software and hardware
  • Filtering - the key to spectral purity in both transmitter and receiver
  • Sample rate conversion - optimal up/down changes to the sampling rate
  • Transmitting - from digital base band to RF, creating a basic QPSK transmit signal
  • Receiving - from RF back to digits taking inot account timing recovery, matched filtering and channel adaptation

It is proposed to cover one topic per half day, starting on agreed times with no more than 6 people at a time. Then, allowing for time coordination between the participants all 6 topics can be covered within a 2 week period with each topic being no more than 5 hours including breaks and  split into manageable chunks.

 

A doodle poll will be used to coordinate the time slots, agreeing all times before the start.

Hardware

Prior to the course, participants will receive, to keep, a printed set of the lecture notes and all the hardware (value ~£200) to make a ‘home’ SDR lab. (see list in the summary). A personal computer is needed to access the hardware, but not SDR Lab. software is installed or run on that computer.

 

  • The printed notes contain all the lecture material for item 1
  • An ADALM Pluto SDR active learning module
  • A RaspberryPi with an SD card pre-loadedwith software and drivers for the experimental tasks in item 2.
  • The personal computer is used to access the RaspberryPi and other RF lab hardware via standard screen sharing software.

 

Also, there will be a written, short ‘getting started’ guide. This is to help set up the hardware before the first lecture. Time is allocated within the first lecture period for this, but to make sure everyone gets a good start, participants can do it in advance with the lecturer available via e-mail/phone to schedule help should it be needed.

Delivey

The lecture topics start on each of the agreed time slots with (items 1 and 3) delivered via a video meeting service. The lecturer will sharing the desktop to the participants, presenting those items; questions and answers will be addressed live via audio and if necessary some screen shared whiteboard.  The lecture for each topic points out the aspects that are to be covered in the experiments so that it is clear what is expected.

 

The experimental tasks are to be performed separately, off line with an agreed time to resume the video for item 3. These are intended to help consolidate the knowledge from the lecture, with notes and prepare files to assist learning. During that time the lecturer is available via phone, or if necessary video, to answer individual’s questions and help with the experiments.

 

There are notes available in advance for the final session which covers the key aspects of the experiments.  There is time is to discuss any findings, making  sure that the key points are covered, answering any questions and discussing other points that may have arisen.