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Posts Tagged SDR

Ham-It-Up Test Signal Source: Simulation

Rather than bestir myself to measure the Test Signal Source on the Ham-It-Up upconverter:

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source - LTSpice schematic

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source – LTSpice schematic

The 74LVC2G14 Schmitt-Trigger Inverter datasheet supplies useful parameters:

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source - LTSpice Schmitt params

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source – LTSpice Schmitt params

All of which come together and produce a waveform (clicky for more dots):

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source - LTSpice waveform

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source – LTSpice waveform

Which suggests the Test Signal ticks along at tens-of-MHz, rather than the tens-of-kHz I expected from the birdies in the filtered 60 kHz preamp response.

Of course, hell hath no fury like that of an unjustified assumption, so actually measuring the waveform would verify the cap value and similar details.

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WWVB Reception: 60 kHz Tuning Fork Resonator Filter

Some early morning data from the WWVB preamp with the 60 kHz tuning fork resonator filter in full effect (clicky for more dots):

WWVB - xtal filter - waterfall 5 fps RBW 109.9 Hz Res 0.02 s - gqrx window - 20171116_103542

WWVB – xtal filter – waterfall 5 fps RBW 109.9 Hz Res 0.02 s – gqrx window – 20171116_103542

The dotted line comes from WWVB’s 1 Hz PWM (-ish) modulation: yeah, it works!

The filter cuts out the extraneous RF around the WWVB signal, as compared with a previous waterfall and some truly ugly hash:

WWVB - 24 hr reception AGC - 2017-01-16 to 17 - cropped

WWVB – 24 hr reception AGC – 2017-01-16 to 17 – cropped

Well, not quite all the hash. Enabling the SDR’s hardware AGC and zooming out a bit reveals some strong birdies:

WWVB - xtal filter - waterfall - hardware AGC - 2017-11-16 0612 EST

WWVB – xtal filter – waterfall – hardware AGC – 2017-11-16 0612 EST

The big spike over on the left at 125.000 MHz comes from the Ham-It-Up local oscillator. A series of harmonics starting suspiciously close to 125.032768 kHz produces the one at 125.066 MHz, just to the right of the WWVB signal, which leads me to suspect a rogue RTC in the attic.

There is, in fact, a free running “Test Signal Source” on the Ham-It-Up board:

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source - schematic

Ham-It-Up Test Signal source – schematic

Although I have nary a clue about that bad boy’s frequency, measuring it and cutting the inverter’s power trace / grounding the cap may be in order.

The SDR’s AGC contributes about 30 dB of gain, compresses the hottest signals at -25 dB, and raises those harmonics out of the grass, so it’s not an unalloyed benefit. Manually cranking on 10 dB seems better:

WWVB - xtal filter - waterfall - 10 dB hardware preamp - 2017-11-16 0630 EST

WWVB – xtal filter – waterfall – 10 dB hardware preamp – 2017-11-16 0630 EST

The bump in the middle shows the WWVB preamp’s 2 kHz bandwidth around the 60 kHz filter output, so the receiver isn’t horribly compressed. The carrier rises 30 dB over that lump, in reasonable agreement with the manual measurements over a much narrower bandwidth:

60 kHz Preamp - Bandwidth - 1 Hz steps

60 kHz Preamp – Bandwidth – 1 Hz steps

With all that in mind, a bit of careful tweaking produces a nice picture:

WWVB - xtal filter - waterfall - 10 dB hardware preamp - 2017-11-16 0713 EST

WWVB – xtal filter – waterfall – 10 dB hardware preamp – 2017-11-16 0713 EST

I love it when a plan comes together …

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Lightning Talk: Bose Hearphones

The PDF “slides” for a lightning talk I gave at this month’s MHV LUG meeting: MHVLUG Lightning Talk – Bose Hearphones.

You don’t get my patter, but perhaps you’ll get the gist from the pix.

Hearphone - Detail

Hearphone – Detail

Summary: I like ’em a lot, despite the awkward form factor and too-low battery capacity. If you’re more sensitive to appearances than I, wait for V 2.0.

FWIW, I tinkered up a beamforming microphone array with GNU Radio that worked surprisingly well, given a handful of hockey puck mics and a laptop. Bose does it better, of course, but I must revisit that idea.

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Arduino Pseudo-Random White Noise Source

A reader (you know who you are!) proposed an interesting project that will involve measuring audio passbands and suggested using white noise to show the entire shape on a spectrum analyzer. He pointed me at the NOISE 1B Noise Generator based on a PIC microcontroller, which led to trying out the same idea on an Arduino.

The first pass used the low bit from the Arduino runtime’s built-in random() function:

Arduino random function bit timing

Arduino random function bit timing

Well, that’s a tad pokey for audio: 54 μs/bit = 18.5 kHz. Turns out they use an algorithm based on multiplication and division to produce nice-looking numbers, but doing that to 32 bit quantities takes quite a while on an 8 bit microcontroller teleported from the mid 1990s.

The general idea is to send a bit from the end of a linear feedback shift register to an output to produce a randomly switching binary signal. Because successive values involve only shifts and XORs, it should trundle along at a pretty good clip and, indeed, it does:

Arduino Galois shift reg bit timing

Arduino Galois shift reg bit timing

I used the Galois optimization, rather than a traditional LFSR, because I only need one random bit and don’t care about the actual sequence of values. In round numbers, it spits out bits an order of magnitude faster at 6 μs/bit = 160 kHz.

For lack of anything smarter, I picked the first set of coefficients from the list of 32 bit maximal-length values at https://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/lfsr/index.html:
0x80000057.

The spectrum looks pretty good, particularly if you’re only interested in the audio range way over on the left side:

Arduino Galois bit spectrum

Arduino Galois bit spectrum

It’s down 3 dB at 76 kHz, about half the 160 kHz bit flipping pace.

If you were fussy, you’d turn off the 1 ms timer interrupt to remove a slight jitter in the output.

It’s built with an old Arduino Pro Mini wired up to a counterfeit FTDI USB converter. Maybe this is the best thing I can do with it: put it in a box with a few audio filters for various noise colors and be done with it.

It occurs to me I could fire it into the 60 kHz preamp’s snout to measure the response over a fairly broad range while I’m waiting for better RF reception across the continent.

The Arduino source code as a GitHub Gist:

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Monthly Science: 60 kHz Preamp Resonator Bandwidth

Putting a small capacitor in series with the tuning fork resonator pulls the series resonant frequency upward and reduces the amplitude:

60 kHz Quartz TF Resonator - CX variations

60 kHz Quartz TF Resonator – CX variations

So something around 10 pF, net of stray capacitance and suchlike, should suffice. Plunk a small twiddlecap on the preamp board and tune for best picture:

LF Crystal Tester - resonator protection

LF Crystal Tester – resonator protection

Using the DDS generator as a manual signal source with 1.0 Hz step size shows the resonator tightens up the preamp’s response quite nicely:

60 kHz Preamp - Bandwidth - 1 Hz steps

60 kHz Preamp – Bandwidth – 1 Hz steps

I’m not convinced the preamp will have filter skirts that low farther away from the peak, but it’ll do for a start.

Zoom in on the peak with 0.1 Hz steps:

60 kHz Preamp - Bandwidth - 100 mHz steps

60 kHz Preamp – Bandwidth – 100 mHz steps

The bandwidth looks like 0.6 Hz, centered just slightly above 60.000 kHz, which should be fine for a first pass.

I’m tickled: all the hardware & firmware fell neatly into place to make those graphs possible!

Next step: install it in the attic and see whether the filter cuts back the RF clutter enough to stabilize the SDR’s AGC gain.

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60 kHz Preamp: Filtering and Rebiasing

The LT1920 instrumentation amplifier now sports two silver-mica caps on its inputs as a differential-mode input filter cutting back strong RF signals (clicky for more dots):

60 kHz Preamp Schematic - DM filter inst amp - BP filter rebias - 2017-09-22

60 kHz Preamp Schematic – DM filter inst amp – BP filter rebias – 2017-09-22

In principle, a DM filter should eliminate RF rectification from out-of-band signals, although I think the attic is quiet enough to not need any help. The caps form a simple RC LP filter rolling off at 5.490 kΩ × 150 pF → 193 kHz, high enough above the 60 kHz signal to not make much difference down there.

The silver-mica caps come from the Big Box o’ Caps, which contained an envelope with a few large 150 pF ±1% caps and a bag stuffed with similar 147 pF ±1% caps. Mixed in with the latter were some smaller 147 pF caps (*) of no particular tolerance (perhaps 5%), from which I neurotically matched a pair to 0.05 pF without too much effort. Doesn’t matter, given the other tolerances and suchlike, but it was amusing.

I’d inadvertently grounded the cold end of the 330 Ω input resistor in the LM353 bandpass filter, now properly tied at the Vcc/2 virtual ground to take the DC load off the LT1920 output: a 100 nF cap (27 Ω at 60 kHz) stores the bias level without messing up the filter shape.

A similar cap rebiases the protected resonator at the LT1010 buffer input:

60 kHz Preamp Schematic - protected resonator - output rebias - 2017-09-22

60 kHz Preamp Schematic – protected resonator – output rebias – 2017-09-22

The new caps aren’t all that visible and the resonator vanishes in the clutter:

60 kHz Preamp - protected resonator filter - overview

60 kHz Preamp – protected resonator filter – overview

Next: find out how well it works!

(*) Yes, there were two envelopes between 150 pF and 147 pF:

Silver-mica caps

Silver-mica caps

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LF DDS Sine Generator With 0.1 Hz Steps

Gutting the crystal tester program and grafting a simple joystick interface onto the corpse produces an LF sine wave generator with 0.10 Hz steps:

FG085 vs AD9850 DDS frequencies

FG085 vs AD9850 DDS frequencies

The FG085 function generator shows 60000 Hz and the AD9850 shows 60001.58 Hz, but they’re running at exactly the same frequency:

DDS 1.58 FG085 0.0

DDS 1.58 FG085 0.0

I trust the AD9850 readout, because I just finished zero-beating it against the GPS-locked 10 MHz frequency reference: it’s dead on. The scope’s frequency measurement is clearly out of its depth at this resolution.

The “user interface” doesn’t amount to much. The DDS starts at 60.000 kHz, as defined by a program constant. Push the joystick left-right to step by 0.1 Hz (actually, multiples of 0.0291 Hz, so either 0.087 or 0.116 Hz, whichever makes the answer come out closer to the next multiple of 0.1 Hz). Push it up-down to step by 1.0 Hz (insert similar handwaving here). Push the button inward to reset to 60.000 kHz.

The OLED displays the frequency (in big digits), the output of the log amplifier (which isn’t hooked up here) in dB (over 4 μV), the DDS clock oscillator temperature, and a few lines of static prompting. The camera shutter blanked the last line, which should read “Button = reset”.

There’s no amplitude adjustment, other than the DDS current-control twiddlepot and the buffer amp’s gain-setting jumpers, but I (think I can) gimmick up an adequate inductive kicker for the fake preamp antenna circuit.

Not much to look at, but now I can (manually) probe the frequency response of the 60 kHz preamp with sufficient resolution to figure out if / how the tuning fork resonator filter behaves.

The Arduino source code as a GitHub Gist:

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