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Hacker's corner

RF Explorer is a hacker friendly device. As hackers ourselves, we do like customizing, tinkering and expanding gadgets.

We certainly designed and built RF Explorer with these factors in mind.

Resources:

  • Windows PC Client source code : Developed in C# and VisualStudio 2015 Community Edition, you can fully extend and customize it for your own needs, under LGPL license. The latest source code is available in Github repository: github.com/rfexplorer.
  • UART - USB protocol specification : Full documentation to interface RF Explorer with any RS232 capable software or Operating System. The limit here is the CP2102 USB driver, currently supported in Windows, Linux, WinCE, Android and MacOS by Silicon Labs. Please refer to Github Wiki.
  • RF Explorer circuit schematic : Discover the internals of RF Explorer, so you get a better idea of how it works, and how to get the greatest value from its implemented hardware and software. RF Explorer is based on a powerful Microchip PIC24FJ64GA004 16 bits MCU, together with a Silicon Labs transceivers. Circuit link here.
  • RF Explorer for Python libraries: Python is a modern, portable multi-platform programming language. We developed a full portable library so you can create your own Python applications to connect with RF Explorer devices. Visit RF Explorer for Python wiki for more details.
  • RF Explorer IoT modules: If you need a fully customizable platform, both software and hardware, you can use RF Explorer IoT modules, supported in many platforms. More details at the IoT site.
  • Raspberry Pi: The Raspberry Pi is a nice Single Board Computer running Linux which can easily control RF Explorer and automate lot of actions. By making use of the the USB RS232 protocol, it has enough power to work realtime with RF Explorer product family. Check RF Explorer for Raspberry Pi wiki to get sample Linux source code you can use as starting point. You can also use Phyton and Mono among other libraries to communicate from Linux to RF Explorer.
  • Other Linux SBC : BeagleBone Black has been also tested to work fine with RF Explorer, if you test any other SBC please let us know so community can benefit from it.

Stay tuned for any new developments...

Comments   

# Steve 2011-10-03 09:58
This looks very interesting, if the 2.4GHz version was available with a 5.8GHz pre-scaler add-on module, I would buy it Now. My work involves 5.8GHz video links.
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# Harry 2011-10-28 01:51
A great product - well done - - Might it be possible to add the marker functionality to the windows software - so screen grabs could have several frequency markers?

Regards

Harry
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# Webmaster 2011-10-28 11:23
Thanks. That is a fair request, I will add it to the TODO list, stay tuned.
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# Steve 2012-01-24 11:14
Any updates on the projected 5.8GHz version of the RF Explorer? cash waiting.
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# Webmaster 2012-02-27 17:07
We are currently concentrated on the new wideband module which will work from 15 to 2700MHz and will work on the design of 5.8GHz module right after that. Sorry no ETA yet.
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# Bob 2012-03-08 23:58
Interested in using this for ham radio. Please email me on progress of tHe expanded frequency model.

Thanks,
Bob
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# MTB 2014-03-28 15:17
Quoting Webmaster:
We are currently concentrated on the new wideband module which will work from 15 to 2700MHz and will work on the design of 5.8GHz module right after that. Sorry no ETA yet.


I am interested in a 433MHz to 5.8GHz model. Please keep the updates coming.
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# Nick Price 2012-02-24 12:34
Hi,

Any news on the power meter screen.
Cheers

Nick
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# Webmaster 2012-02-27 17:08
This is one of the software features we will work on as soon as the new hardware design is complete. At the moment the finetuning of the new hardware board is taking us all the time.
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# Dave 2012-03-13 10:05
A nice device. Do you have any plans to make the firmware openly available for hacking and extension?
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# HK 2012-04-09 21:18
Any price and availability on the 'wide
band' model ?
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# Webmaster 2012-04-13 12:50
Quoting HK:
Any price and availability on the 'wide
band' model ?

Thanks for your interest!
Please check http://micro.arocholl.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84:an-update-on-rf-explorer-wsub3g&catid=3:newsflash&Itemid=50 for an update.
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# John , KD0CAC 2012-06-10 17:10
I am also a licensed amateur , and looking at the wide range combo , noticed the launch offer , and no updates since , so I hope to see that .
Wanting to have my cake & eat it too , DC - daylight , or ham bands , wifi , giggle herts :)
Thanks
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# Webmaster 2012-06-12 01:24
Quoting John , KD0CAC:
I am also a licensed amateur , and looking at the wide range combo , noticed the launch offer , and no updates since , so I hope to see that.

John, thanks for your interest. I do not have a firm ETA yet, the fab is progressing on latest details for automated testing, but from what I hear we are likely targeting a July date for WSUB3G model. I will keep updates coming into the News section.
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# Al Samson KD0KJI 2013-12-23 16:52
Hello John
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# Me 2012-07-04 01:35
Is it possible to code the vco output of the RFExplorer (for example with the computer ?)
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# Webmaster 2012-07-04 14:54
Do you mean for the models with internal RF Generator correct? In that case, the generator is not yet externally programmable but I can add that in a later firmware revision. If you mean for units with no RF Generator, there will be no way to get any RF frequency out of the SMA port.
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# Me 2012-07-04 19:34
Of course for those with a generator ;)

Btw, i read that you need to emit with a 50 ohms antenna. I understand why, but is the antenna that is shipped suitable for this purpose ?
(i suppose that the answer is "yes").

Btw if you create a tool that detect on 5.6 Ghz - 5.8 Ghz, if possible please, do it wideband.
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# Webmaster 2012-07-04 23:48
Yes, included antenna is fine for RF signal transmit, but note local regulations may apply and you may not transmit beyond legal limits, etc or have a Amateur Radio license.

We have plans for a 5GHz module but not ETA yet.
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# Me 2012-07-04 20:11
(And yes, it thing it would be useful to have an api to code exactly what you want (frequency and time between 2 peak) )

(Of course, i could probably code the stuff with a vco and a microcontroller.)
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# Webmaster 2012-07-04 23:48
An API will be available for these functions at some point. Check http://code.google.com/p/rfexplorer/wiki/RFExplorerRS232Interface for news on this.
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# bg in oregon 2012-11-29 07:54
Very cool product. One question ...when the span is 100 MHz the left/right arrows move the center 12.5 MHz (and this seems to be the ratio as I change the span). Is there any way to change this ratio, say to 1/1. That being when the span is 100 MHz the arrows change the center 100 MHz? Thank you.
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# Webmaster 2012-11-29 10:42
Quoting bg in oregon:
Very cool product. One question ...when the span is 100 MHz the left/right arrows move the center 12.5 MHz (and this seems to be the ratio as I change the span). Is there any way to change this ratio, say to 1/1. That being when the span is 100 MHz the arrows change the center 100 MHz? Thank you.


That is a good idea, may need a new menu entry to adjust the change step. However, once the span is increased in the new upcoming firmware, this may be less relevant. Please join us at www.rf-explorer.com/forum to discuss this in more detail.
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# bob in Sydney 2013-01-08 05:26
Fantastic product and thanks for bringing Spectrum Analysers to the amateur price range.

I believe you are looking at using the data decoder. Has any thought been given to have an SDR option. i.e. output audio (I/Q) that can be decoded using the many software decoders ?
Thanks
Bob
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# Webmaster 2013-01-09 00:29
Quoting bob in Sydney:
Fantastic product and thanks for bringing Spectrum Analysers to the amateur price range.

I believe you are looking at using the data decoder. Has any thought been given to have an SDR option. i.e. output audio (I/Q) that can be decoded using the many software decoders ?
Thanks
Bob


Yes, eventually a module with separated I/Q signals may be available. With stock modules only data decoding we can do is FSK/OOK/ASK. That anyway covers a good range of RF devices and gadgets, including virtually all remote control devices.
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# John 2013-02-08 22:30
I too would love to see an I/Q signal output for amateur SDR applications.

I ordered the wideband version today. Great looking product, keep it progressing!
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# Gustavo 2016-05-15 21:58
Will there be a decoding function to hear a selected frequency in the 1G model? Decoding data is done by the software, or not?
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# Webmaster 2016-05-17 16:55
There is a current BETA to demodulate digital signal but not audio, as the internal HW is not capable of any audio support.
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# Dominic 2013-01-19 10:42
This is a great device. I found the RF Generator function also an excellent way to create measurable & consistent interference for protocol testing in my mesh testbed. However I would like more control over this from the linux client I am using, will future versions of the firmware have commands that allow to be set and turned on/off?
Thanks
Dominic
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# webmaster 2013-01-21 10:49
Yes, a firmware enhancement will soon offer a way to control the RF Generator functionality as well.
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# Andy 2013-02-06 21:01
I've waited 30 years as a licensed amateur for something this good. Well done on a fabulous product. Just to know how much and what frequency it is really helps!
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# Webmaster 2013-02-06 23:35
Thanks for your feedback Andy, I am glad it helped!
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# paul w 2013-02-14 14:48
I am interested in looking at 1.7mhz wide signals in the 1900mhz region but turning on the filtering makes them vanish. Why is this? (lots of spurs with it off)
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# Webmaster 2013-02-14 14:51
Quoting paul w:
I am interested in looking at 1.7mhz wide signals in the 1900mhz region but turning on the filtering makes them vanish. Why is this? (lots of spurs with it off)


The DSP:Filter works fine on >3MHZ span, we are working to improve it so it works fine for lower span values too, the enhancement is not yet available. If you want to discuss further please open a thread on www.rf-explorer.com/forum.
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# Jeff G 2013-04-11 03:25
I'm wondering why this was based around a PIC24F and not an equivalent-speed dsPIC, for this application especially wouldn't the DSP instructions offer a processing advantage?
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# Webmaster 2013-04-11 17:06
Excellent question! Thanks for asking.

As a matter of fact, we initally started with dsPIC33F but quickly found it was overkill: the largest time in the DSP process is that of the PLL+AGC+ADC settling time. These relatively slow components gives the PIC24 more than enough time to complete all calculations so no real gain on using a dsPIC. So we can save some cost by using a PIC24 that, for equivalent price tag, you get more RAM & FLASH to work with, these two factors are certainly critical to fit more features in the device.
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# Tom 2013-12-28 22:21
I'd like to ask if there are any news about the 5GHz expansion module some people were talking about.

Thanks Tom
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# Webmaster 2013-12-29 22:41
Quoting Tom:
I'd like to ask if there are any news about the 5GHz expansion module some people were talking about.

Thanks Tom


Hi Tom,

We are still working on a few details and have no ETA yet.
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# BasTijs 2014-01-24 11:54
Would also like to see a 5.8Ghz (5.7-6Ghz) version :(
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# Reese 2014-02-27 18:55
Where is the most recent source code (1.11.1311) for the windows client? I was hoping to look at the 2D/3D waterfall code. I'm toying with an idea of being able to make the perspective rotate by grabbing the graph.
You're probably already working on that, but I wanted to give it a try myself too in the meantime.
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# Webmaster 2014-02-27 19:05
We will upload it in a few weeks.
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# Andy 2014-08-16 13:09
I'm a UK HAM and have just purchased the 3G combo. Great product! As asked by others,I'm also interested in 5.8Ghz band (mainly data/video). Best wishes.
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# Webmaster 2014-08-17 02:24
Quoting Andy:
I'm a UK HAM and have just purchased the 3G combo. Great product! As asked by others,I'm also interested in 5.8Ghz band (mainly data/video). Best wishes.


Thanks for your interest in the 6GHz unit. We will release it later this year if everything goes as planed.
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# Pavel 2014-11-13 15:23
Hello! Is it possible to increase the number of markers in the application for windows? Sometimes 10 markers not enough in GSM.
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# Webmaster 2014-11-13 15:26
Wow! More than 10 markers? Most SA and VNA offer 5-6 at most. How many you would need for GSM?
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# Pavel 2014-11-14 07:24
15))
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# Gustavo 2016-05-15 21:53
I was thinking at least 50... I could use it for shows with 16 psm1000, 5 psm900 and 16 ur4d+. Just for the main artist. And could you integrate this in the iRF app? It would be awesome!
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# Webmaster 2016-05-17 16:51
ok, we will consider a way to add extra markers and a proper way to display them, not easy to display 50 markers on screen with the current format.
Thanks for your input, we will look into that.
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# Adam 2014-11-21 10:42
Great product guys and bigger bang for the buck.
Just received it yesterday and already discovered many issues on our low range ISM radio project.
Any news about using the RFExplorer for SDR?
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# Webmaster 2014-11-24 01:55
Thanks for your feedback! great to know it helped!
We did not progress yet on SDR options, but will go back to it after higher priority developments complete.
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# Pao Nan 2014-12-15 15:40
I bought this last year with an ISM band option.Now there's another option card with 6GHz out there. Good luck!

Recently, I'm into RTL SDR. I found that your RF explorer is much better than an ordinary RTL SDR stuffs. I'm asking your a SDR option to be available next year.
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# Harisa 2015-12-26 13:38
Hello ... I bought to RF Explorer 3G in last week from seller china to Indonesia.
Good product and nice software installation pc ... Maybe this hardware 3G rf explorer can support running with SDR Sharp like RTT SDR
How do to do it ?

Thanks
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# Webmaster 2015-12-27 23:42
This could be done by community contributions in the future, but currently are not compatible SDR software we are aware of.
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# Nate 2016-10-26 18:40
Tried it out with a Jetson TX1. I don't think the silabs drivers were working properly, since it runs the nvidia linux 3 kernel. Pretty sure the drivers could be built on the tegra itself: http://www.silabs.com/products/mcu/pages/usbtouartbridgevcpdrivers.aspx#linux

http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Documents/Software/Linux_CP210x_VCP_3.x.x_Release_Notes.txt

I'll have to try it later when I have more time, for now I just switched to BBB which works fine.
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