Ultra-Portable RF Signal Recorders

Spectrum Analysis Covering RF Frequencies up to 27 GHz
with Real-Time Signal Recording Capabilities
in Ultra-Portable System Configurations!

Systems starting at $15,690

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Ultra-Portable RF Signal Recorders

Product Features

  • 9 kHz to 8 GHz, 18 GHz, or 27 GHz RF Frequency Coverage
  • Option 1: 4 Selectable IF BWs – 100 / 40 / 10 / 0.1 MHz
  • Option 2: 3 Selectable IF BWs – 160 / 80 / 10 MHz
  • Real-Time Signal Recording with Internal Digitizer
    via Gigabit Ethernet
  • Real-Time Signal Recording with External Digitizer
    via Thunderbolt 3
  • Windows Spectrum Analyzer with Real-Time
    Signal Recording & Monitoring
  • Integrated Operational Control of Both
    Downconverter Receiver & Digitizer
  • Analysis Displays Include: IQ Time Domain, I Spectrum,
    IQ Power Spectrum, Constellation, Spectrogram,
    Persistence, and Histogram
  • Actively Monitor Displayed Snapshots During
    Real-Time Live Recordings
  • Flexible Signal Recording Output Filename
    Management Parameters
  • File Span Recording Splits Long Recordings into
    Multiple Size-Specified Files
  • Signal Recording Duration by File Size, Elapsed Time, or Both
  • Easy Import of Recording Files into 3rd Party Apps
    with Raw Binary Data
  • Ability to Save & Load Specified Setup Configuration Settings
  • Playback Monitoring Viewing of Entire
    Signal Recordings to Active Displays
  • Programming-Free GUI Operation;
    No Programming Skills Required

System Overview

These Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer solutions feature ultra-portable configurations for real-time, long term recording of RF signals. Wideband signals up to 27 GHz can be viewed, analyzed, and recorded using system based packages that weigh less than 5.4 kg / 12 lb. to 10.8 kg / 24 lb. They can easily be transported on commercial airlines as carry-on luggage.

Ultra-Portable RF Signal Recorder: Controller + Downconverter Ultra-Portable RF Signal Recorder: Controller + Downconverter + Thunderbolt 3 Digitizer

Controller + Downconverter

Controller + Downconverter + TB3 Digitizer

  • System Receiver Control via Gigabit Ethernet
  • Internal Receiver 14-Bit Digitizer for Capture
  • Real-Time Signals up to 100 MHz Bandwidth
  • Gap-Free Continuous Recordings up to 2.5 MHz BW
  • Total Ultra-Portable System Solution Weight of ~12 lb.
  • System Receiver Control via Gigabit Ethernet
  • External Thunderbolt 16-Bit Digitizer for Capture
  • Real-Time Signals up to 160 MHz Bandwidth
  • Gap-Free Continuous Recordings up to 160 MHz BW
  • Total Ultra-Portable System Solution Weight of ~24 lb.

There are two primary configurations - The first one employs an ultra-portable measurement controller and an Ethernet connected tuner/digitizer/DDC processor. These 2 units weigh about 6 lb. each, for a total solution weight of 12 lb. Real-time signals up to 100 MHz bandwidth can be viewed, and time domain snapshots recorded and processed later.

Other capabilities include broadband (up to 27 GHz) spectrum viewing, waterfall displays, frequency domain triggering, and signal averaging, with many cursor and display options.

Once a signal of interest is identified, users can switch to real-time recording mode. By using DDC to narrow the bandwidth, the system enables long term gap-free continuous recording of signals up to 2.5 MHz bandwidth - for durations up to 71 hours.

These recordings can then be played back and analyzed on the display, with signal regions extracted, saved, and converted to other file formats for further post processing on other systems.

The next level configuration, which adds an external Thunderbolt hosted 16-bit digitizer, can be purchased as a total solution to start, or optionally purchased as an upgrade to the smaller configuration.

The Thunderbolt based 16-bit digitizer enables much wider bandwidth real-time recording. This adds about 12 lb., for a still very portable 24 lb. total solution.

All the capabilities described in the first configuration are still available. But now, the higher performance digitizer allows for real-time recordings up to 160 MHz in bandwidth, with selectable recorded bandwidths of 100, 80, 40, and 10 MHz, depending on configuration. With this solution, 160 MHz of bandwidth can be continuously recorded for up to 1 hour or 80 MHz of bandwidth can be continuously recorded for up to 2 hours.


SpectraScopeRT & SpectraViewRT
Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer & Playback Viewer


SpectraScopeRT: Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer & Signal Recording Application SpectraViewRT: Spectrum Analyzer & Signal Playback Viewer Application

SpectraScopeRT is a Windows based spectrum analyzer application that requires no programming and allows for integrated operational control of both the downconverter receiver and the digitizer for signal capture, analysis, recordings.

SpectraScopeRT provides the ability to save established settings to a configuration file that can later be opened and applied, thus saving time from manually re-applying settings for repetitive configurations.

Analysis displays include:

  • IQ Time Domain
  • Frequency Domain
  • I Spectrum
  • IQ Power Spectrum
  • Constellation Plot
  • Spectrogram Plot
  • Persistence Plot
  • Histogram Plot

Multiple display type windows can be opened and shown simultaneously with auto tile and cascade options or manually sized and placed as desired. Display windows include support for scope cursors to navigate through the display and obtain measurements. Cursor Track Mode can be enabled to lock the position of the two placed cursors. When locked, the spacing between cursors remains constant as they are moved through the display of data.

SpectraScopeRT supports both an On-Board Memory Mode and a Streaming Mode of operation.

Using the On-Board Memory mode supports all the full bandwidth modes of the receiver. The On-Board Memory mode takes snapshots of data during execution, not all the real-time data is collected. The rate at which the snapshots are taken depends on the number of active display plots, the number of acquisition samples for each snapshot, the performance of the graphics subsystem and the processing power of the local processor. Typical update rates are from 10 to 30 captures per second.

During On-Board Memory modes of operation the process starts by triggering an acquisition. The trigger options include forcing a trigger for each collection or to trigger when the RF input exceeds a predetermined level threshold.

Once triggered the selected number of samples are collected. The sample count is determined by the Resolution Bandwidth specified. After the samples are received from the downconverter the required calculations are performed and the visible displays updated. This process is repeated until requested to cease. If recording to disk is enabled, the raw count data is written to the specified file after the displays are updated.

The primary advantage of SpectraScopeRT is the ability to conduct real-time streaming signal recordings to drive storage with provided monitoring capability to ensure the recording process is operating with expected signal data and without errors.

The non-proprietary file format of the raw binary data file allows for other 3rd party software applications to import and utilize the data easily, with associated separate XML-based header files that contain the context information on the data file.

The lossless Streaming Mode collects all real-time data digitized from the downconverter. For narrow bandwidth applications, where data is captured using either one of the two onboard internal ADCs on the downconverter, a minimum DDC decimation rate of 16 must be utilized. This restriction is due to the transfer rates that can be sustained for streaming data to the controller across a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

For wider bandwidth applications, where data is captured by using an external digitizer connected to the IF analog I and Q outputs of the downconverter, all of the full bandwidth modes of the receiver data can be captured in real-time. This is due to the faster transfer rates that can be sustained for streaming data to the controller across a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe based connection.

The recording control section of the application is utilized to establish and conduct real-time signal recording operations with various option settings that include flexible output filename management parameters, custom user text information, file span recording that splits long recordings into multiple size-specified files, and recording duration by file size, elapsed time, or both.

The SpectraViewRT application allows an operator to open/view and conduct playback of previous signal recordings to the display monitor for analysis. Viewing file details will display the details of the opened signal recording present in the header file associated with the recording data file for review. It includes basic information about the recording, applied digitizer model information, applied receiver model information, and settings utilized for the recording with total elapsed time duration of the recording file.

Playback operations utilize familiar navigation toolbar buttons for starting playback, stopping playback, stepping backwards and forwards, and moving back to start.

Selecting Start will initiate the playback through the entire signal recording data file to the active displays on the monitor. The playback operation can be manually stopped at any time by selecting Stop.

Selecting Step Backward causes the time domain display to step one interval backward, while selecting Step Forward causes the time domain display to step one interval forward. The amount of interval movement is dependent on the setting in the Playback Interval setting in the Playback Settings group. The step backward and step forward can either be by number of samples, time or time domain plot size.

Selecting Move to Start rewinds the playback to the start of the recording. If the playback is not actively running when this selection is made, the file pointer is reset to the beginning of the file but the display is not updated. You must continue playback or perform a step operation for a display update.

When the Enable Playback Looping option is enabled, the time domain data will loop from the end of the file back to the beginning when the end of file is reached. If the option is disabled the playback ceases once the end of the file has been reached.


RF Downconverter: A-Series


RF Downconverter: A-Series RF Downconverter: A-Series Front Panel RF Downconverter: A-Series Rear Panel

The A-Series RF Downconverter models features breakthrough input frequency and bandwidth coverage for their size. Its width and length is less than a sheet of paper, weighing only 2.7 kg / 6 lbs. and consuming only 19 to 25 W of power.

Three RF frequency ranges from 9 kHz to 8 GHz, 18 GHz, or 27 GHz are available with two optional bandwidth configurations that each supply four software selectable bandwidth modes: Zero IF (ZIF), Super-Heterodyne (SH), Super-Heterodyne Narrow (SHN), or High Dynamic Range (HDR):

Bandwidth Mode Option 1 Bandwidth Option 2 Bandwidth
ZIF
(Zero IF)
100 MHz @ 0 Hz IF 160 MHz @ 0 Hz IF
SH
(Super-Heterodyne)
40 MHz @ 35 MHz IF 80 MHz @ 55 MHz IF
SHN
(Super-Heterodyne Narrow)
10 MHz @ 35 MHz IF 10 MHz @ 35 MHz IF
HDR
(High Dynamic Range)
0.1 MHz @ 81.66 kHz IFF Not Applicable

The ZIF, SH and SHN modes support a tuning resolution of 10 Hz. Digital frequency shifting is then used to enhance the tuning resolution to the nearest 1 Hz (±0.23 Hz) with an embedded Numerically Controlled Oscillator (NCO). The HDR mode also supports a tuning resolution of 10 Hz with no further fine tuning.

The downconverter's front-end processing blocks utilize up to 21 pre-select filters to mitigate input-related spurs and image responses and a pre-amplifier feature for the higher 18 and 27 GHz models:

Downconverter Model Pre-Select Filter Bank Pre-Amplifier Feature
DCA08G
(9 kHz to 8 GHz RF Input)
9-Channel Switchable No
DCA18G
(9 kHz to 18 GHz RF Input)
18-Channel Switchable Yes
DCA27G
(9 kHz to 27 GHz RF Input)
21-Channel Switchable Yes

User configurable sophisticated capture control combined with fast deep caching enables fast signal searches, sweeps, triggering and captures of only the signals of interest.

For narrow bandwidth applications, the IF analog outputs can be internally digitized using either one of two onboard digitizers:

Bandwidth Mode Use Digitizer Resolution Digitizer Sample Rate Digital Down Conversion Modes
ZIF (Option 1),
SH (Opttion 1),
SHN
14-bit 125 MS/s x1, x4, x8, x16, x32, x64, x128, x256
HDR 24-bit 325 kS/s Not Applicable

Captured data is optionally stored in fast local memory for subsequent forwarding or can be streamed to the controller across a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

For wider bandwidth applications, the IF analog outputs can be externally digitized utilizing the downconverter's I and Q outputs. The use of an external digitizer is required for the Option 2 bandwidths of 160 MHz (ZIF) and 80 MHz (SH) as the internal 125 MS/s ADC is not sufficiently fast enough to handle these higher modes.

An external digitizer is also desirable for applications that require higher ADC resolution and sampling rates for wider operational bandwidth capture and signal recording capability than is possible with the internal digitizers and Gigabit Ethernet connection.


External Thunderbolt 3 Digitizers


Thunderbolt 3 Digitizer Thunderbolt 3 Digitizer: Front Panel Thunderbolt 3 Digitizer: Rear Panel

For such wideband use cases, an external high-speed digitizer is optionally supplied within an expansion box that is then connected to the controller via a high-speed Thunderbolt 3 based PCIe interface.

External multi-channel digitizers with 16-bit A/D sampling rates up to 500 MS/s are available. The large onboard FIFO memory of the external digitizers allow for real-time streaming of I and Q baseband signals over the Thunderbolt 3 interface via PCI Express to the controller's memory for post processing, display, and storage.


Overview for Narrow Bandwidth Applications


URF Signal Recorder Ultra-Portable System for Narrow Bandwidth Applications

Downconverter Internal ADC Operational Rates and Modes
ADC
DDC
Mode
ADC
Sample
Resolution
ADC
Sample
Rate
(MS/s)
BW
ZIF Mode
(MHz)
BW
SH Mode
(MHz)
BW
SHN Mode
(MHz)
BW
HDR Mode
(MHz)
Transfer
Modes
Supported
Transfer
Data Rate
(MB/s)
Streaming Mode
Continuous Samples
Collected Duration Time
(512 GB SSD *)
x 1 14-Bit 125.000 100.000 40.000 10.000 N/A Memory 250.000 N/A
x 4 14-Bit 31.250 10.000 10.000 10.000 N/A Memory 62.500 N/A
x 8 14-Bit 15.625 5.000 5.000 5.000 N/A Memory 31.250 N/A
x 16 14-Bit 7.813 2.500 2.500 2.500 N/A Memory
or
Streaming
15.625 9 h, 06 m, 08 s
x 32 14-Bit 3.906 1.250 1.250 1.250 N/A Memory
or
Streaming
7.813 18 h, 12 m, 16 s
x 64 14-Bit 1.953 0.625 0.625 0.625 N/A Memory
or
Streaming
3.906 1 d, 12 h, 24 m, 32 s
x 128 14-Bit 0.977 0.313 0.313 0.313 N/A Memory
or
Streaming
1.953 3 d, 00 h, 49 m, 04 s
x 256 14-Bit 0.488 0.156 0.156 0.156 N/A Memory
or
Streaming
0.977 6 d, 01 h, 38 m, 08 s
N/A 24-Bit 0.325 N/A N/A N/A 0.100 Memory
or
Streaming
0.975 6 d, 01 h, 52 m, 08 s

* Larger storage drive capacity options of 1 TB, 2 TB, or 4 TB are available to support even longer recording durations.


Overview for Wide Bandwidth Applications


URF Signal Recorder Ultra-Portable System for Wide Bandwidth Applications

Downconverter with External Digitizer ADC Operational Rates and Modes
Receiver
BW
Mode
Receiver
BW
(MHz)
Receiver
Center IF
(MHz)
Receiver
IF Analog
Outputs
Digitizer
Analog
Inputs
Digitizer
Sample
Resolution
Digitizer
ADC Rate
(MS/s)
Transfer
Modes
Supported
Transfer
Data Rate
(MB/s)
Streaming Mode
Continuous Samples
Recording Maximum
Duration Time
SHN:
Options
1 & 2
10 35 I Only CH-1 16-Bit 100 Memory
or
Streaming
200 512 GB: 42 m, 40 s
1 TB: 1 h, 23 m, 20 s
2 TB: 2 h, 46 m, 40 s
4 TB: 5 h, 33 m, 20 s
SH:
Option 1
40 35 I Only CH-1 16-Bit 200 Memory
or
Streaming
400 512 GB: 21 m, 20 s
1 TB: 41 m, 40 s
2 TB: 1 h, 23 m, 20 s
4 TB: 2 h, 46 m, 40 s
SH:
Option 2
80 55 I Only CH-1 16-Bit 250 Memory
or
Streaming
500 512 GB: 17 m, 04 s
1 TB: 33 m, 20 s
2 TB: 1 h, 06 m, 40 s
4 TB: 2 h, 13 m, 20 s
ZIF:
Option 1
100 0 I & Q CH-1
&
CH-2
16-Bit 200 Memory
or
Streaming
800 512 GB: 10 m, 40 s
1 TB: 20 m, 50 s
2 TB: 41 m, 40 s
4 TB: 1 h, 23 m, 20 s
ZIF:
Option 2
160 0 I & Q CH-1
&
CH-2
16-Bit 250 Memory
or
Streaming
1,000 512 GB: 08 m, 32 s
1 TB: 16 m, 40 s
2 TB: 33 m, 20 s
4 TB: 1 h, 06 m, 40 s


Product Specifications & Ordering Information

Please view the product datasheet for complete specifications on the RF Downconverter, Measurement Controller, and External Thunderbolt 3 Digitizer system components and product ordering information for Ultra-Portable RF Signal Recorder configurations.

Contact us for other possible custom configurations for specific application requirements.


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