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RF Explorer Touch for macOS

RF Explorer Touch is available as BETA version

Supported on macOS 10.11 - 10.14. This software is not compatible with macOS Catalina.

Install Instructions:

  1. Install USB drivers and Mono as documented in this article
  2. Download the RFETouch for Mac from the download page
  3. Run the software from the package, or better drag it to the dock or the Applications container
  4. Make sure the software is Authorized for use in macOS Sierra or newer versions: You may need to authorize the application explicitly in your system. To do so, go to Security & Privacy panel in System Preferences, then hit the Allow or Enable option. You may need to follow these instructions if your macOS reports "damaged file"

Note: first run may take some time to internally recompile libraries to adapt to your system, depending on how busy the system is and HD speed it may take a few minutes in some cases. Next loads work much faster after first compilation is completed.

RF Explorer Touch for Linux

Configuration and Setup

RF Explorer Touch runs on any Linux distribution with kernel 2.6 or newer. The Kernel must include Silabs CP2102 drivers, which is commonly the case in any distro released in the last 8+ years at least.

Setup steps:

  • Install latest Mono package from www.mono-project.com
  • Download RF Explorer Touch for Linux from the download page and copy it to a folder with enough permissions
  • Add your linux user to the dialup group, otherwise may not be able to open the USB port. For instance this command will do it in Ubuntu/Debian: 
    sudo adduser <my_user> dialout
  • Reboot the computer
  • Copy RF Explorer Touch for Linux executable, you can locate it anywhere in your computer.
  • Connect your RF Explorer spectrum analyzer to the USB port.
  • Run the tool with
    mono RFETouchLinux.exe
  • Note: use regular Linux login, not root or superuser, otherwise configuration files will not be stored in the home folder correctly.

 

RF Explorer Touch for Raspberry Pi

Touch Screen Raspberry

Configuration and Setup

RF Explorer Touch can be used with Raspberry Pi in two different configurations:

  • RF Explorer 3G+ IoT module - in this case you can easily deploy a compact, easy to use module with no need for extra cables or devices. This is ideal for IoT 24x7 setup, compact scan boxes and industrial applications
  • RF Explorer USB handheld devices - with this configuration the application will connect to any RF Explorer handheld device connected to USB

Thumbnail1 RPITouch

Use SD Card image for IoT module

There are SD Card standard Raspberry Pi images for models 3B, 3B+ and 4B, specifically adapted to the official Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen combined with RF Explorer IoT module. The Touch Screen is optional and any compatible screen or HDMI monitor can be used. Touch screen operation for other screens may require specific configuration to be updated.

PiAssemble

Installation process:

  • Follow instructions to assemble RF Explorer IoT module as per this article
  • Assemble or connect the touch screen
  • Download Raspberry Pi SD Card images: please visit the download page . Important: Note there are two SD Card image types, please select the one best suited for your needs:
    • Specifically adapted to 7" Touch Screen
    • Configured to work with any HDMI screen of any size
  • Upload the image into a SD Card using Etcher. (For more details visit https://www.balena.io/etcher)
  • Insert SD Card in the Raspberry Pi and power it on. User and password are default <pi, raspberry> as in any Raspbian setup but note RFETouch always run as superuser as otherwise Raspberry Pi pins cannot be switched as normal user
  • RF Explorer Touch application will start right after boot and will display full screen, ready to use

Install in existing Raspbian

If using a full image is not best suited for your needs, you can easily update any valid Raspbian setup with the following steps:

  • Configure your Raspbian OS as described in this article to adjust for IoT module compatibility
  • Install Mono from www.mono-project.com
  • If Raspberry Pi Touch Display is available, follow instructions to configure it as described in this link 
  • Download RF Explorer Touch for Raspberry from the download page and copy it to a folder with enough permissions
  • Open a terminal window and launch RF Explorer Touch with

sudo RFETouchRPiBundle

  • RF Explorer Touch will start and display full screen
  • If you are using USB handheld device, follow these additional instructions
  • You can optionally configure RFETouch to auto-load after the Raspberry Pi starts, follow these instructions in advanced configuration 

Upgrade an existing RFETouch version

In order to upgrade an already working raspbian image which includes RFETouch setup already, it is simpler to just download the RFETouch binaries and not the whole Raspbian image again.

  • Download latest RFETouch for Raspberry Pi binaries from download page
  • Replace the older RFETouch binary and replace with the new one. If the RFETouch is configured to auto-start, you may need to open a terminal and kill the application manually before being able to replace binary.
  • Configuration parameters among versions are compatible but some may require fine tuning.

Quick start guide for IoT module

Once RFETouch application has been started, the software will connect with RF Explorer IoT device automatically if it is available and it will start capturing and displaying real-time data from RF Explorer IoT device after a few seconds. From there you can change frequency and amplitude settings with menus, as described in full user manual.

Tune FM radio

  1. Connect an antenna to the RF Explorer IoT module RF connector.
  2. Set Start frequency at 88 MHz and Stop frequency at 108 MHz.
  3. Spectrum Analyzer graph will show captured activity in real time from FM radio channels, a possible example is displayed below.

FM Signal Example

Open example files

  1. Go to File -> Load and a files dialog will appear.
  2. Navigate to path /home/pi/RFExplorer for SD Card Image setup or in other case, select directory where RF Explorer examples are.
  3. Select file Antenna_FM_93.9MHz.rfe and click on [Load]
  4. Main screen will show data in spectrum analyzer graph for one captured FM station.

Antenna Example

Use SD Card image for USB devices

The same SDCard images available for IoT module can be used to work with USB devices, with the following changes:

  • To use RFETouch with USB devices, there is no need to work as superuser. If you plan to use an alternative user, add your linux user to the dialup group, otherwise may not be able to open the USB port:
    sudo adduser <my_user> dialout
  • Open for edit RFETouch.xml settings file located in /home/pi/.RFE directory and modify next line as shown:
    <IsIOTModule>false</IsIOTModule>
  • RF Explorer Touch application will start right after boot and will display full screen, ready to use

User manual

For more details, please read user manual.

Assembling standard expansion module in RF Explorer WSUB1G PLUS

The RF Explorer WSUB1G PLUS includes a new, advanced set of internal electronics which enables it to fit Expansion PLUS modules, currently being developed and expected to be available before mid 2019.

The new internal expansion port is 16 pins wide in WSUB1G PLUS, whereas standard spectrum analyzer modules come with 12 pins wide connector. However, we made the new 16 pins connector fully compatible with 12 pins expansion modules, so you can easily expand your RF Explorer WSUB1G PLUS with RFEM24G or RFEMWSUB3G <standard> expansion modules.

Firmware support for expansion modules requires version 3.06, available in our download page. Please follow below instructions to assemble the expansion module in your RF Explorer WSUB1G PLUS spectrum analyzer.

You will need to order a separate top aluminum CNC cover to assemble a standard expansion into the new form factor of WSUB1G PLUS. Please check this product from SeeedStudio for more details.

ESD precautions

As you will be dealing with ESD sensitive electronic CMOS components, you should use antistatic protection to avoid any impact on the circuit. For that, it is recommended to use an Antistatic wrist strap. See below tools you will need for the upgrade.

Assemble tools small

Before following this process, be sure you upgrade the RF Explorer WSUB1G PLUS firmware with the v3.06 or latest available version from the download page. The firmware upgrade must be completed before you install the hardware Expansion Module.

Remove RF Explorer case cover

The very first step is to power off your RF Explorer and disconnect it from any external USB source or power.

RFEPlusAssembled small

Then remove the rubber protection.

RFEPlus removed rubber small

Get top and bottom cover off by removing the small screws, indicated by red arrows below. Use an appropriate Philips screwdriver of the right size to avoid damaging the screws. Remove the SMA nut as well.

TopCover Plus small

BottomCover Plus small

Note: There is no need to remove the main PCB from the front cover, we suggest not removing it; otherwise assembling it back with all button keys may be a bit difficult.

Plug the Expansion Module in

You can now get the PCB out of the box, you may optionally disconnect the lipo battery but that is not mandatory if you keep the power switch in the OFF position at all times.

RFEMWSUB3G PLUS

The 12 pin male connector from the Expansion board must be plugged in the 12 pins marked in yellow in above image, avoiding any contact with the 4 pins marked in red. By connecting this incorrectly may damage the expansion and/or mainboard and is not covered by guarantee, so make sure the right connection and alignment is used. See more detailed picture below.

RFEMWSUB3G PLUS detail

After proper connection, the alignment of the boards must look like these images below.

 Alignment detail

Alignment detail 2

Important

  • Review very carefully your battery is not making contact with any PCB or connector anywhere.
  • The battery should have been assembled in the factory in such a way that would be in an area far from the Expansion Module contacts. However, if you see the battery in risk of contacting the PCB, connector or anything else, you must fix that before assembling the RF Explorer unit back.
  • Always proceed very carefully with the Lithium Ion battery and make sure it is not punctured, damaged or inflated in any way. A healthy battery is a flat rectangle with no signs of any deformation. If you have any doubt, please take a picture of your unit and send it to us for further help. Read this article for additional information on battery handling and care.

Assemble RF Explorer

Next step is to securely attach the back cover, top and bottom covers.

Final step is to tighten all screws up in all top, bottom and back covers.

Power the unit on, if everything is working as expected, you will see a screen detailing the base model and new module in place. Check the new module is identified as expected, below is an example but the exact screen will depend on the model installed.

The asterisk mark indicates the SMA connector associated with the module, and the [ACTIVE] signals the currently actived one.

You can use the MENU button to navigate to this screen anytime to review your configuration. To switch between the two available modules, you can use the MENU button to navigate to the FREQUENCY MENU and then cycle through the active module by clicking ENTER on the Module option at the bottom.

Notes:

  • There may be minor variations in the pictures shown when compared to what you have, based on model or production batches. If you got any question, please ask in the list or by the contact form.
  • All the RF Explorer CNC job is done with sub-millimeter accuracy. It may be sometimes difficult to fit everything perfectly in place if you tighten some screws too much before having the others in place. You may need to release a bit some screws for the others to fit properly in place. Generally speaking, it is better to have all the screws in place before you tighten them up to their final position.