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Getting Started

RF Explorer - Internet of Things Modules

RF Explorer 3G+ IoT modules are ready to use, advanced Spectrum Analyzer devices you can configure and control any way you want, from an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or any other programming platform.

These modules are cost-effective platforms to develop your own customized Spectrum Analyzer, Power Detector, RF activity alarm, RF sniffer, RF QA test bench, etc.

Programmability and network capabilities of the hosting platform enables remote control and diagnosis scenarios, fully automated RF alarm systems, advanced assistance for unattended detection requirements such as those of radio operators, cell towers and HAM stations.

RF Explorer 3G+ IoT boards are delivered in two configuration modes:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Arduino and compatible boards (3.0 – 3.3V only)

We recommend Raspberry Pi mode for advanced usage and more powerful libraries, and Arduino for simpler, non-Linux software libraries related development.

For added flexibility, these two boards can be easily re-converted between modes by soldering a required connector:

  • Raspberry Pi Hat can be converted to Arduino Shield by soldering standard 0.1” male headers to the PCB
  • Arduino Shield can be converted to Raspberry Pi Hat by soldering a 26x2 0.1” female header to the PCB

Designed in this way, it is easy to reconvert the board to a different hosting platform with no extra cost if you have different needs down the road.

Furthermore, other platforms such as BeagleBoard, Chip, Chipkit, Teensy all them can easily control a RF Explorer 3G+ IoT by manually connecting to standard UART port.

RF Explorer 3G+ IoT Specifications

 

ParameterDescription
Module included 3G+ MWSUB3G advanced RF Explorer module
Frequency band coverage 15-2700 MHz
Connector Standard SMA 50 ohms
Selectable input stage Normal, LNA, 30dB Attenuator
Amplitude resolution 0.5dBm
Dynamic range -130dBm to +10dBm
Absolute Max input power +30dBm
Average noise floor level -120dBm (typical with LNA enabled)
Frequency stability and accuracy +-10ppm (typical)
Amplitude stability and accuracy +-3dBm (typical)
Amplitude and Frequency calibration All modules are factory calibrated
Frequency resolution 1Khz
Resolution bandwidth (RBW) automatic 3KHz to 600KHz
DC Voltage Level 3.3V on all pins
DC Protection Protected with resettable fuse
Power consumption 100-500mW

Design your Own RF tool

By leveraging RF Explorer proven technology, the 3G+ IoT modules offer same software tools used by RF Explorer Handheld units, but in a compact, reusable and customizable platform.

The internal MWSUB3G is part of the new RF Explorer Plus family of products with advanced features, including an enhanced input stage with 20dB Gain Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) for capturing low power signals, as well as 30dB attenuator for high amplitude signals. These input stages are selectable by software.

Software libraries are included for Arduino and Raspberry Pi, using same API currently implemented in all RF Explorer product family, see more details in Software Download section below. All libraries and examples are open source and available at GITHUB.

If your design requires network connection for local or remote monitoring of RF activity, we suggest Raspberry Pi hosting platform.

On the other hand, for local/direct USB connection to a computer, the Arduino hosting platform may be more convenient and lower power consumption.

Where to buy RF Explorer IoT Modules

SeeedStudio (worldwide):

  • RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Raspberry Pi: link
  • RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Arduino: link

Digikey (worldwide)link

ML&S (UK): link

CoolComponents (UK): link

Most of our distributors will eventually have them available.

Raspberry Pi instructions

Raspberry IOT PCB

For specific instructions on Raspberry Pi boards, please visit this link.

Arduino instructions

Arduino IOT PCB

IMPORTANTDo not connect to 5V Arduino boards, the IoT module is only compatible with Arduino 3.3V models. Not following this advise will damage your IoT module.

We recommend Arduino DUE, if you want to connect to a different Arduino model contact with us first.

For specific instructions on Arduino boards please visit this link.

Software Download

 

micro sd card

Raspbian OS image for Raspberry Pi 1 model B+ (ARM6)

Note: requires micro-SD card with at least 8GB size

This is a 3GB download. Use standard Raspberry Pi instructions to create the image

For more details visit RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Raspberry

micro sd card

Raspbian OS image for Raspberry Pi 2 model B (ARM7)

Note: requires micro-SD card with at least 8GB size

This is a 3GB download. Use standard Raspberry Pi instructions to create the image

For more details visit RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Raspberry

micro sd card

Raspbian OS image for Raspberry Pi 3 model B (ARM7)

Note: requires micro-SD card with at least 8GB size

This is a 3GB download. Use standard Raspberry Pi instructions to create the image

For more details visit RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Raspberry

Hardware Chip icon

Native Arduino libraries

Version v1.0.1702.1 for Arduino Due and Seeeduino

Note: For more details please visit RF Explorer 3G+ IoT for Arduino

 

Compatible with multiple platforms

All RF Explorer IoT modules can work with any development platform with some UART enabled.

We selected Arduino and Raspberry Pi hosting platforms, but using a few pigtail wires you can easily connect these modules to any other hosting with UART.

To name a few of the most popular low cost options:

Open Source Hardware

Download reference design files: link

Available as separated embedded module

At the core of the RF Explorer 3G+ IoT is the advanced RF Explorer MWSUB3G module.

RF Explorer MWSUB3G includes all hardware and functionality to create a custom, embedded RF platform with a specific PCB design. Thanks to small module dimensions (42x52mm), it can be easily added to any existing design with a CPU or microcontroller suitable for UART communication.

To get prices of standalone RF Explorer MWSUB3G modules (minimum quantity 5pcs), contact us for a quote.

We also offer OEM design and implementation engineering services to help you adapt the product to your specific needs.

Getting Started with RF Explorer Signal Generator

 

RF Explorer Signal Generator (RFE6GEN) is a 6GHz fully programmable, high accuracy handheld RF generator with CW, Sweep and Tracking functionality at a very affordable price tag.

RF Explorer Signal Generator user manual available here: www.rf-explorer.com/RFGEN_manual

Note: firmware included in factory may be outdated. To make sure you get latest features enabled, please download latest firmware and RF Explorer for Windows software from our download page.

Step by step tutorials for Network Analyzer mode

By combining RF Explorer Signal Generator with any of the RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer models to the same computer, the system works as an advanced Scalar Network Analyzer:

Connecting RF Explorer units

For tracking SNA and other functionality that requires both Spectrum Analyzer and Signal Generator connected, it is recommended to connect the devices one by one to avoid any confusion. Please check previously listed tutorials for easy step by step procedure.

Using simple CW functionality

The simplest functionality to test is by using CW (carrier wave single frequency signal).

  1. Program any frequency between 24 and 6000 MHZ in the CW area.
  2. Select nominal power from the available option list.
  3. Make sure the Signal Generator has some 50ohm load before delivering RF power. Any load is valid (antenna, RF device, dummy load, etc) Failing to connect a RF load may damage the Signal Generator output stage.
  4. Click on [Start] button to deliver programmed RF power. The legend will change from black "RF Power OFF" into red "RF Power ON" to alert on the new status. Similarly, the Signal Generator device will alert with a RF POWER ON text at the bottom of screen.
  5. If you have the Spectrum Analyzer connected with a cable or device to the Signal Generator, you can go to the "Spectrum Analyzer" tab and see response there and operate with the Analyzer as usual.
  6. Click on [Stop] button anytime to stop delivering RF Power. Alternatively, you can click on [ENTER] button in the Signal Generator device to achieve the same result.

 

Getting started with RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer

 

Thanks for supporting this project with your order. We hope you received your unit in perfect condition and are ready to use it for the first time.

All documents, software downloads and firmware upgrade details are available from our download page. Make sure you visit it to get the best possible value from your instrument.

If you received a RF Explorer Signal Generator device, please visit the dedicated page at Getting Start with Signal Generator.

If you are like us, the first thing you want to do is to power up your unit and play with it. This is perfectly ok; just make sure you are not near any strong RF field before plugin in your antenna in the SMA connector. At very same instant you plug in the antenna, the device will start receiving RF energy even if it is powered off. This is not much of an issue if you are using a 6G Combo, a 3G Combo or a RFEMWSUB3G card, but some RF Explorer models are protected from moderate RF signals only, not against very strong fields.

Please read this article for more details on how to protect your device from strong RF fields. Failing to do so may damage your RF Explorer.

 

This is a battery operated device, please charge the battery before use; it comes with half charge as the standard way to extend the battery life when it is stored for an undetermined period of time on the shop. But to use it you should fully charge it. Never charge your device unattended.

Note the device will automatically switch ON as soon as you plug it in the USB port, but that doesn't mean it is being charged: to charge the battery you need to switch the battery power to ON. There are more details on this FAQ article, including battery handling and care information.

 

To start learning the many things you can do with RF Explorer please download the user manual and release notes. We also suggest upgrading your unit to the very latest firmware available. Everything is available in the download area.

 

You can connect your PC or Mac to RF Explorer for additional functionality, please check the download area as well as the user manual online.

If you ordered an Expansion Module together with your main unit, you may want to follow these simple instructions to install and use it.

 

Last but not least, there are a few online pointers you may want to be aware of:
•    Latest news, subscribe to RSS feed or follow us on Twitter
•    General support distribution list
•    RC Group support thread for RC and FPV pilots
•    Article list and FAQ

If you run into any problem or question, let us know. We want this to be a useful tool, your comments, questions and suggestions are of high value to us.