User Manual

RF Explorer Touch - User Manual

TouchScreen  

User manual updated to version 1.4.2002


Main menu

The main menu is designed in a easy to use, hierarchical layout on the right-side of the device screen as depicted in below screen.

CW Signal example

Amplitude Menu

Use this menu option to set visual amplitude in spectrum analyzer graph.

Top

Set visual top value for amplitude axis in analyzer graph.

Bottom

Set visual bottom value for amplitude axis in analyzer graph.

Offset

Set Amplitude offset value in dB to compensate the signal shown in analyzer graph, to adjust for external attenuation or gain.

Back

Return to main menu.

Frequency Menu

Use this menu option to set device frequency.

Center

Set center frequency into device. Start/Stop frequency will be recalculated.

Span

Set span (or range) frequency into device

Start

Set start frequency into device. Center frequency will be recalculated.

Stop

Set higher frequency range into device. Center/Start frequency will be recalculated.

Offset

Set device offset frequency in MHz. Use this to compensate for external mixer or frequency converter device.

Back

Return to main menu.

Mode Menu

Use this menu option to choose between different operational mode such as Spectrum Analyzer or Power Channel.

Spectrum Analyzer mode is the enabled by default upon application start.

Marker Menu

Use this menu option to configure markers. For more details see section “Markers”.

Back

Return to main menu and current visual mode (such as Spectrum Analyzer).

File Menu

Use this menu option to load or save a file. For more details see section “Files”.

Load…

Load RFE data file.

Save…

Save RFE data file.

Save CSV…

Save file in comma separated values format.

Back

Return to main menu and current visual mode (such as Spectrum Analyzer).

Config Menu

Use this menu option to set display, device and file configuration. For more details see section “Config Screen”.

Display

Configuration for visual parameters of spectrum analyzer graph.

Device

Device configuration parameters. Any settings changed will be sent from application to device.

File

Data file configuration parameters.

CSV File

Comma delimited data file configuration parameters.

Tech Support

Create a compressed ZIP file with activity logs, configuration files and report files in order to diagnose application issues. Only required if requested by RF Explorer Tech Support.

About

Show application, Operating System and, if connected, device details

Back

Return to main menu and current visual mode (such as Spectrum Analyzer).

Presets Menu

Use this menu option to load, save or delete a preset. For more details see section “Presets”.

Connect

Use this menu option to connect the RF Explorer device.

  • For handheld devices connected to a computer, it will automatically connect to the Spectrum Analyzer device if it is the only USB device connected. Otherwise, if there is no connected device or multiple devices are found, it will open a dialog to help user select the right device.
    • In Windows computers, it will display ports with names such as COM3, COM10, etc.
    • In MacOS and Linux computers, it will display ports with names such as USB0, USB5, etc
  • For Raspberry IoT device it will connect to the module directly. This button will be disabled for IoT module if it is already connected, but will be enabled when a file has been loaded.

For specifics, check Release Notes document.

Full Screen

Use this menu option to maximize spectrum analyzer graph. This can be achieved by touch or single click inside spectrum analyzer graph. Note the specific button is only available for Windows version.

Trace

Use this option to go into display configuration directly.

Exit

Use this option to exit application.

Specifically for Raspberry Pi board, the system will automatically shut down.


Spectrum Analyzer screen

CW signal

The main screen includes standard spectrum analyzer graph with captured data from RF Explorer handheld analyzer or IoT module and the right-side menu with all options to use the application easily.

The data screen is a high speed data representation of Spectrum Analyzer Frequency vs Amplitude. The X axis represents frequency in MHZ and Y axis display actual received power in dBm, dBuV or Watt (selectable).

Touch Gestures

You can use two finger gestures in Windows (other platforms are not supported) to zoom and pan frequency or amplitude.

  • Zoom in/out - change Frequency Span: Apply two finger gesture towards the horizontal axis to increase or decrease span.
  • Amplitude pan: Move two fingers up or down to pan amplitude
  • Frequency pan: Move two fingers left or right to pan frequency 

Touch Labels

TouchAreas RPi

Some parameters can be easily configured by screen touch or click marked with red areas in picture above.

Press each of these regions to change:

  • Amplitude Top/Bottom – change with numeric dialog
  • Start/Center/Stop frequency – change with numeric dialog
  • Graph title – set current preset. Note this is not available for Full Screen mode
  • Amplitude Offset - change with numeric dialog
  • Amplitude Units - Menu Config -> Display
  • Input Stage - Menu Config -> Device
  • Firmware Version and Device Model - Menu Config -> Device
  • Frequency Offset - change with numeric dialog
  • Span Frequency - change with numeric dialog
  • Sweep Resolution - Menu Config -> Device

Navigation and replay sweep control

navigation toolbar enabled

The navigation bar provides full control to review any past sweep event and also replay sweeps at original captured speed. This can be used with recently captured data or stored data files.

  • [<<] Go back multiple sweeps (about 10%)
  • [ < ] Go back to previous sweep
  • Navigation bar: Point and move to desired sweep. While the scrollbar actuator is being moved, sweep captured date will be updated realtime but spectrum analyzer screen will be updated after releasing the bar.
  • [ > ] Go forward one sweep
  • [>>] Go forward multiple sweeps (about 10%)
  • [Play] Replay captured activity using original captured speed
  • [ || ] Pause spectrum analyzer activity on screen, but the RF Explorer device continues capturing and storing data
  • [ H ]: Hold - Fully stop spectrum analyzer activity and data capture. This is the only valid state when using data from file

Configuration Options

Display

Display Options

Fill Trace

Display a filled area in all signal shapes except Realtime signal.

Smooth

Use soft splines to join data sweep points in order to present a calculated soft curve

Thick Trace

Display trace with extra width

Show Grid

Show grid inside spectrum analyzer graph

Dark Mode

Set a black background skin, closer to desktop instruments and easier to read in certain environments.

Realtime

Raw data as captured with no post-processing.

Average

Arithmetic media of all the last iterations sampled.

Max Peak

Maximum value of all the last iterations sampled.

Max Hold

Maximum value of all captured samples regardless Iterations value.

Minimum

Minimum value of all the last iterations sampled.

Iterations

The number of sweep data iterations to perform calculations on including Average and MaxPeak.

Amplitude Units

Select amplitude units between dBm, dBµV or Watt to display data in analyzer graph.

Device

Device Options

Enable Remote Max Hold Buffer

Enable this to increase chances of fast changing signal capture, such as WiFi. Disable for extra accurate signal capture.

Automatic LCD Off

Automatically switch the LCD off for faster updates and help increase LCD lifetime. This option only will be enabled for RF Explorer devices with screen (Not supported for RF Explorer IoT).

Automatic Amplitude Update

Use this option to force the RF Explorer device to update amplitude visual range, or disable for fast local updates with no need to remote updates. This option is only available for RF Explorer devices with embedded screen (Not supported for RF Explorer IoT).

Enable RF Connector

  • Left SMA: Use this option to enable remote device port on the left RF connector (Main board).
  • Right SMA: Use this option to enable remote device port on the right RF connector (Expansion board). (Not supported for RF Explorer IoT).

Input Stage

Select input stage to enable Direct, Attenuator or LNA (Only supported in PLUS models and IoT).

  • Direct Input: Low loss signal path to standard sensitivity, use for linear measurements up to -25dBm.
  • Attenuator 30 dB: Nominal wideband attenuator, use for linear measurement up to 0dBm.
  • LNA 25 dB: Low noise wideband preamplifier, use for linear measurements up to -40dBm.

Reinitialize Data Buffer

Internally re-initialize the MaxHold buffers used for cache data inside the RF Explorer device.

Sweep Points

Resolution data points for each captured sweep in spectrum analyzer device. This feature is currently supported in PLUS, ProAudio and IoT models only.

Supported values:

  • Windows, Linux and MacOS: 112, 240, 512, 1024, 2048, 3072 and 4096 points
  • Raspberry Pi: 112, 240, 432, 1024, 2048, 3072 and 4096 points

File

File Configuration

Save RFE Data File on Close

Save a RFE data file every time application is closed. If “Enable Continuous Log” option is enabled, this feature will be enabled automatically.

Enable

Enable continuous log to save RFE data or CSV files periodically in seconds as selected in “Auto Save Delay (s)” option. Also this option save a RFE data file in each configuration change in device and when application is closed.

Auto Save RFE Data

If “Enable” option checked, save a RFE data file every number of seconds selected in “Auto Save Delay (s)” option.

Auto Save CSV

If “Enable” option checked, save a CSV data file every number of seconds selected in “Auto Save Delay (s)” option.

Auto Save Delay (s)

Number of second for Auto-Save feature.

Auto Delete (Days)

Number of days for Auto-Delete old and unused files in user folder

Auto Save Folder Path

Directory where .RFE and CSV files will be stored if Auto Save feature is active

CSV File

config CSVfile

Field Separator

Delimiter to use for CSV file generation. Supported separators: Comma, Division, Semicolon, Space or Tabulator.

Decimal Separator

Delimiter to use as decimal separator. Supported separators: Comma or Dot.

End of Line

End of line to use in for CSV file generation. Supported end of lines: Line Feed (\n) or Carriage Return and Line Feed (\r\n).

WSM Sennheiser Compatible

When option is checked, CSV files generated can be imported directly in WSM Sennheiser software.

CSV Trace

Selected data trace on which the data will be stored.

CSV Header

Insert descriptive header inside generated CSV files.

Fields included are: 

  • Receiver
  • Date/Time      
  • RFUnit
  • Owner
  • ScanCountry 
  • CRC

Techical Support

Create a compressed ZIP file with activity logs, configuration files and report files in order to diagnose application issues. Only required if requested by RF Explorer Tech Support. 

About

Show application, Operating System and, if connected, device details

How to change application appearance

  1. In main menu, click on [Config]
  2. Click on [Display] button to see display options.
  3. Check or uncheck “Dark Mode” option.
  4. The software will change its appearance with a black theme or white theme including background screen.

Note: In macOS, appearance will change after [Back] button is clicked and returned to main screen.

     Dark Theme       Clear Theme

     config display dark       config display


Power Channel

Show power measured within channel defined by start/stop frequency.

Power Channel

Power Data Mode

Trace from which measurements are performed.

Channel Power

Power received in the frequency band represented in dBm and Watt units.

Channel Power Density

Represents how the signal power is distributed in dBm/Hz unit.

Channel Center

Center frequency of the channel in MHz unit.

Channel Bandwidth

Bandwidth of the channel in MHz unit.

Captured

Date and time when sweep was captured.


Frequency and Amplitude configuration

Set frequency and amplitude values for device. This can be modified if RF Explorer device is connected only.

Change Frequency

Click on [Frequency] and click on desired parameter to set in device. (See “Main Menu” section for more details).

Span Frequency

Change Amplitude

Click on [Amplitude] and click on desired parameter to set in device. (See “Main Menu” section for more details).

Top Amplitude


Markers

Configuration parameters to display markers in spectrum analyzer graph and markers panel.

Markers

Overview:

  • Marker 1: It is special marker. It will search for peak trace point on screen and will track automatically. Therefore, frequency point for Marker 1 cannot be defined, will be dynamically updated by the application every sweep.
  • Markers 2 to 10: These markers are defined for a specific frequency point, and will show amplitude values for all enabled traces on that frequency.
  • Delta markers: This markers will be a reference of other marker, that is, it will be linked with a particular marker.

Main Marker ID

Marker Identification number. Check “Enable Marker” option to set a marker.

Frequency (MHz)

Marker frequency (Only allowed for markers 2 to 10).

Delta Marker ID

Delta Marker Identification number. Check “Enable Marker” option to set a delta marker.

Offset (MHz)

Frequency difference in MHz between delta marker and its reference marker.

Offset Locked

Enable a dynamic follow-up of the Delta ID to the Marker ID selected. It will follow the reference Marker if it changes position.

Track Marker 1

Define trace that marker 1 follow in visual representation

Marker 1 Peak Text

Show peak frequency and amplitude values for marker 1

Marker Panel

Show or hide markers panel to display visible markers table.

MarkerPanel

How to set up a peak marker

  1. Go to Marker menu.
  2. Select marker ID 1.
  3. Check “Enable Marker” option.
  4. In “Track Marker 1” options, click on [Real Time] button (Marker 1 will detect peaks in RealTime trace).
  5. Click on [Back] button to apply changes.

How to set up a manual marker

  1. Go to Marker menu.
  2. Select a marker ID from 2 to 10.
  3. Check “Enable Marker” option.
  4. Set frequency for selected marker, such as 1250Mhz
  5. Click on [Back] button to apply changes.

How to set up a Delta marker

  1. Go to Marker menu
  2. To define a Marker Delta, you first need a standard marker enabled. As an example, enable Marker 1, we will use it as Delta marker later.
  3. Increase “Main Marker ID” to go to Marker 2, enable it at any arbitrary frequency.
  4. Set “Delta Marker ID” to 1 and check “Enable Marker”.
  5. At this point, Marker 2 is linked to Marker 1 and will display Delta calculations automatically
  6. Define offset in MHz you want Marker 2 to be from Marker 1. For instance, set it to 100 MHz. Changing the offset will redefine position for Marker 2 based on current position of Marker 1.
  7. Click on [Back] button to apply changes.

Notes:

  • Special Marker 1 can be Delta Marker of any other, but it cannot have associated any Delta Marker by Offset. The reason for this is Marker 1 works as auto-peak therefore cannot be defined as reference of any other.
  • Markers defined by Offset use the value at the time of Marker definition, but does not update or keep that offset fixed if the Delta Marker changes frequency. For instance if you define Marker 5 at an offset of 5MHz of Marker 1, and marker 1 is currently at 100MHz, then Marker 5 will be located at 105MHz. If Marker 1 moves to a different frequency later, Marker 5 will remain at 105MHz, you can see the current frequency offset any time in the marker display panel.
  • Future upgrades will allow for optional dynamic markers where offset will be locked so Main Marker absolute frequency value can change accordingly to the Delta Marker.

Presets

Presets are predefined configuration stored by name in the application to easily recall commonly used setups. Parameters persisted are frequency, amplitude, enabled traces and markers.

Note: For handheld models, these presets in the application are not the same presets as can be defined inside the device. A future version will include and help to coordinate both kinds: application and device presets.

Presets

Load

Action option to load stored preset values into current configuration.

Note: Load Presets only will be effective while device is capturing data, not when a file has been loaded.

Save

Action option to save current configuration into the selected preset. This option cannot be undone, care should be taken to not overwrite another valid preset.

Delete

Remove selected preset configuration. “Default” preset cannot be deleted.

Back

Return to main menu and current visual mode (Such as Spectrum Analyzer).

How to create a new preset

  1. Set device configuration to store as frequency, amplitude, traces and markers.
  2. Go to “Presets” menu.
  3. Click on edit box and type a name for this preset.
  4. Click on [Save]

Files

Contain different actions for files as Load, Save RFE data and Save CSV.

  • RFE data files are binary, compact data files with multiple sweeps. These files are compatible with RF Explorer for Windows.
  • CSV data files can capture a single trace and can be used to share data to external applications such as WWB, Excel, Matlab or IAS.

Load file

To load RFE file, go to File -> Load… and select desired file navigating through directories. Click on [Load] button to finish action.

Load File

Save file

To save RFE file, go to File -> Save… and select desired directory to store file, typing a name for it. Click on [Save] button to finish action.

This option is only available if there is a RF Explorer connected device and some data is actually received

Save File

Save CSV file

To save single CSV file, go to File -> Save CSV… and select desired directory to store file, typing a name for it. Click on [Save] button to finish action.

To change CSV file configuration parameters, such as field delimiter or end of line type, see Configuration Options.

Save CSV file

Instructions to easily export CSV files to external applications

How to generate CSV File compatible with WSM Sennheiser Software

Go to Config -> CSV File and check “WSM Sennheiser Compatible” option.

How to generate CSV File compatible with Shure Wireless Workbench WWB6 Software

Go to Config -> CSV File and select “Comma” as “Field Separator” and “Dot” as “Decimal Separator”.

How to generate CSV File compatible with IAS Software

Go to Config -> CSV File and select “Comma” as “Field Separator”.


Virtual Touch Keyboards

Numeric Keyboard

NumericKeyboard

This keyboard will appear when application require numeric data. When available, a physical keyboard can be used to edit numeric value as well.

  • [X]: Close keyboard ignoring changes.
  • [<DEL]: Delete a left digit from current cursor position.
  • [CLEAR]: Remove all text in edit box.
  • [dBm], [-dBm], [dBµV], [Watt]: Validate inserted data in the specific units. Other configurations may show GHz, MHz, KHz, etc.

Note: Validation buttons will change depending on parameter to modify.

Alphanumeric Keyboard

AlphaKeyboard

This keyboard will appear when application require text information. When available, a physical keyboard can be used to edit alphanumeric value as well.

  • [CLEAR]: Remove all text in edit box.
  • [ESC]: Close keyboard ignoring changes.
  • [CAPS]: Type with capital letters.
  • [<DEL]: Delete a left character from current cursor position.
  • [DONE]: Close keyboard saving typed text.
  • [<]: Move cursor to the left.
  • [>]: Move cursor to the right.

Advanced Configuration

Some advanced configuration settings are available for expert users tune-up. This should be modified only if you are comfortable changing XML files and understanding XML syntax.

The advanced configuration parameters are stored in file RFETouch.xml. This file can be found in following locations depending on OS:

  • Windows platforms: %APPDATA%\RFExplorer
  • MacOS platforms: /User/<Username>/.RFE
  • Linux platforms: <Home>/.RFE

Only these parameters below should be modified, other RFETouch.xml configuration parameters should not be modified. Note incorrect file update may damage XML structure or values and may lead to configuration loss. It is advisable to backup the RFETouch.xml before any modification is made.

Parameter

Default

Values

Description

IsIOTModule

true

true/false

Use true for IoT module, or false for Handheld Analyzer. This setting is set by default to true in Raspberry Pi SDCard image files, and false otherwise

ShutdownRPiOnCloseApp

true

true/false

Use true to shutdown Linux when RFETouch is closed, other case set to false. This setting is set by default to true in Raspberry Pi SDCard image files, and false otherwise

IoTPortName

/dev/ttyAMA0

/dev/ttyAMA0
/dev/ttyS0

For Raspberry Pi only: Set serial port name either as /dev/ttyAMA0 or /dev/ttyS0 depending on UART configuration (useful in Raspberry Pi 4B). This parameter is ignored for USB devices, only RF Explorer IoT module is affected by this setting in a Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: How to disable RFETouch auto-start:

In SDCard images provided for Raspberry Pi, the RFETouch application is configured to automatically start after the Raspbian GUI is loaded. If you want to disable this behavior and load RFETouch manually, locate the autostart configuration file which may be in one of the following locations, depending on Raspberry Pi model:

  • /home/pi/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart
  • /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

Edit this file using <sudo nano> or equivalent editor as superuser, and remove this line:

  • @lxterminal -e sudo /home/pi/RFExplorer/RFETouch

RF Explorer Signal Generator Tool

RFEGenTool

Overview

RF Explorer Signal Generator tool is currently available in two models:

  • RF Explorer Signal Generator baseline – 23.4MHz – 6000MHz
  • RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo – 100KHz – 6000MHz

Both models can be used standalone, as well as connected to a computer for easy operation.

Computer control can be achieved by any of these free software options:

  • RF Explorer Signal Generator Tool: It works in Windows, MacOS and Linux offering simple yet powerful interface for CW operation.
  • RF Explorer for Windows: It is supported in Windows only, and support all kind of advanced operation including CW, Sweep and Tracking SNA.
  • Programming interface: You can deliver custom solutions by using Python or .NET libraries, as well as direct USB interface calls through any major language.

This article describes the use of the RF Explorer Signal Generator Tool in all supported platforms.

Installation

  • Microsoft Windows:
  • Apple MacOS:
  • Linux:
    • Download and install from download page.
    • Download and install Mono for your Linux distro from Mono project website
    • 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
    • Copy RF Explorer Signal Generator Tool for Linux executable, you can locate it anywhere in your computer.
    • Connect your RF Explorer signal generator to the USB port.
    • Run the tool with
      mono RFExplorerGeneratorLinux.exe
    • Note: use regular Linux login, not root or superuser, otherwise configuration files will not be stored in the home folder correctly.

Quick start guide

  1. Connect your RF Explorer Signal Generator device to USB and keep it in main generator screen. Only one device can be connected to USB, otherwise the tool will not be able to automatically connect with RF Explorer device.
  2. Open the RF Explorer Signal Generator Tool, it will automatically connect to RF Explorer and indicate model, S/N and status.
  3. Select CW frequency and power level as needed, using numeric keyboard, or slide controls.
  4. Click on [Enable RF Power Output] to active the RF power output in the Signal Generator device. Important: Enable output power only if the generator has a load connected.
  5. Click on [Disable RF Power Output] to stop RF power from the Signal Generator device.

Main screen

 The main screen is a compact, convenient display of all operational parameters. Controls are large enough to be operated in a touch screen if required.

The first edit area is for CW frequency. It can be edited in multiple ways:

Frequency

  • Direct numeric edition over the value in MHz using keyboard.
  • Using [<] button for small frequency decrease, or [>] for small frequency increase.
  • Using [<<] button for large frequency decrease, or [>>] for large frequency increase.
  • Using the Slider control, either with keyboard using <left>,<right> and <Pag Down><Pag Up>, or direct slide control with mouse or touchscreen
  • Values for small and large increment are configurable.

The second edit area is for Power output in dBm. It can be edited in equivalent ways as with frequency, with some specifics depending on the Signal Generator model connected:

Amplitude

  • For Signal Generator baseline model, only 8 predefined power levels are available. Doing direct edits over numeric control will adjust to the closer power level available. Doing small or large increments is predefined and cannot be changed.
  • For Signal Generator Combo model, any large and small step can be configured within available power ranges. Minimum possible step is 0.25dB.

Tooltips area available by navigating the mouse over any control to help remember all options:

ToolTip

Advanced Configuration

Configuration

The tool can be easily configured to adjust different parameters:

  • Frequency Small and Large Increment defines the step for [<] [>] and [<<] [>>] frequency buttons respectively on main screen. It also defines <left> <right> and <Pag Down> <Pag Up> keyboard keys acting on the slider control.
  • Power Small and Large Increment defines the step for [<] [>] and [<<] [>>] power buttons respectively on main screen. It also defines <left> <right> and <Pag Down> <Pag Up> keyboard keys acting on the slider control.
  • For Combo models, you can specify whether amplitude ranges offered should be limited to calibration limited ranges, or should include uncalibrated range as well.

Manual USB connection

ConnectionWindows

If the Signal Generator device is not the only RF Explorer device connected to USB when loading the application, or if you need to manually connect it anytime, please use the [Connect USB device] button

  1. Click on [*] to refresh available USB ports. Note different platforms may display the USB port name differently. For instance Windows may display it as COMx whereas MacOS and Linux may show a USBx name.
  2. Click on [Connect] to stablish connection to the device.
  3. Use [500000] baud speed only.

Using Presets in RF Explorer

Overview

Presets are predefined configuration names stored in the device to easily recall commonly used setups.

Device models supported:

  • RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzers Combo (with Expansion board) support presets since firmware version v1.26. This include ISM Combo, 3G Combo, 6G Combo and Wifi Combo.
  • RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer Plus and ProAudio model since initial firmware v3.00 support embedded presets but firmware v3.06 is required to connect with RF Explorer Preset Manager.

Firmware upgrade is available in the download page.

For specific help on using presets in the handheld device, please check user manual.

This tool is available for Windows computers (Windows XP SP3 and higher, including latest Windows 10), Linux and Mac computers. Please see specific sections below.


WinIcon

RF Explorer Preset Manager for Windows

The RF Explorer Preset Manager tool can be used in Connected and Disconnected mode. Connected mode is required to update the RF Explorer device, but Disconnected mode is useful to manually define presets that can be later uploaded to one or more RF Explorer devices.

For companies with multiple RF Explorer devices, this tool is the easiest way to propagate the same settings to all them.

PresetManager

Quick Startup guide

  1. Connect your RF Explorer device to USB and keep it in standard Spectrum Analyzer mode. Only one device can be connected to USB, otherwise the tool will not be able to communicate with RF Explorer.
  2. Open the RF Explorer Preset Manager tool, it will automatically connect to RF Explorer and indicate so in the “Status” section.
  3. Press button [Reload All Presets From Device] to get all defined presets from your RF Explorer device (if any) into the Computer.
  4. Do any manual modification or create new presets, as required
  5. When all changes are completed, click button [Update All Presets To Device] to get RF Explorer device update with all changes from Computer
  6. Close the RF Explorer Preset Manager tool

Detailed description

The tool include tooltips help text on each button and function, keep the mouse a couple of seconds on top of any application area to get instant description.

Connection

The tool will scan and try to connect to any RF Explorer device when it starts.

If there is no RF Explorer connected, it will work in Disconnected mode. This mode is useful to define presets or modify existing ones, stored in local Computer. To connect to an actual device, the application must be closed and reopened again.

If a RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer device is connected to the USB port, the application will automatically connect upon starting. It will not connect if more than one RF Explorer device is connected to USB, for instance if a Spectrum Analyzer and a Signal Generator are both connected.

The tool uses 500Kbps speed mode only. If connection fails, please make sure to check the CONFIG MENU baudrate selected in the RF Explorer device, should be set to 500Kbps in the device for it to work.

Define a new preset

To define a new preset, select the preset index (1-30 for Standard units, and 1-100 for Plus units). Modify Start/Stop frequency, define a Description Text, etc.

Description Text is limited to standard ASCII 7 bits characters. Other characters may display correctly in the computer, but will not work correctly when loaded in the device. For best results, limit text to A-Z, a-z, 0-9, and simple symbols like ., -, +, _, etc. Do not use accentuated or 8 bits ASCII characters.

All values are persisted in local computer XML file. If application is closed, presets will be remembered when the application starts again.

Important: a preset is considered <defined> with a useful value whenever the Start Frequency is different than zero. Presets with Start Frequency set to zero are considered empty.

Valid preset values for frequency are limited by the actual RF Explorer model the preset will be used into. For instance if the device is limited to 240-960 MHz range, defining values outside this range will be ignored as incompatible when uploading to the device. In devices with Mainboard and Expansion Board, make sure to select the right option before editing frequency ranges.

Modify a preset

To modify any preset with new values, edit the values the same way you do for defining a new preset.

Reset a preset

Select the preset to reset to zero and then click on [Reset Current Preset…] button

Reset all presets

To start with an empty, clean preset selection you can reset all at once using [Reset All Presets…] button

Reload presets from Device

If running in Connected mode, the tool can download all presets from the device into the computer frontend.

If values for a particular preset are different in the computer and the device, the one in the computer will be overwritten with the one from the device. When using the [Reload All Presets From Device], the device preset definition takes the priority.

Presets defined in the computer but undefined in the device will not be overwritten or changed.

Update device presets

If running in Connected mode, the tool can update all presets in the device using the current definition from the computer.

If values for a particular preset are different in the computer and the device, the one in the device will be overwritten with the one from the computer. When using the [Update All Presets To Device], the computer preset definition takes the priority.

For presets defined in the computer with ranges incompatible with the device, the preset will be ignored and not sent to the device.

Import / Export presets

Presets defined in a computer can be saved to and restored from Preset export files. These files allows to share preset definitions among teams or colleagues, can be sent by email or shared apps, and can also be used to replicate in different computers.

To export presets, use the [Export Presets to File…] and select a file name. This file can be shared, stored for backup, etc.

To import presets from a file into the current session, use the [Import Presets from File…]. The file will add any new preset to the computer session. To upload the imported presets into a device, use the [Update All Presets To Device] after import completes.


MacIcon

RF Explorer Preset Manager for Mac

Installing and using the Preset Manager in Mac is a simple task.

Install Instructions:

  1. Install USB drivers and Mono as documented in this article
  2. Download the RF Explorer Preset Manager 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.

LinuxIcon

RF Explorer Preset Manager for Linux

The specific version for Linux run with mono. It is tested and supported in Ubuntu 64bits v16.04 using Mono 4.x, it should work fine in any modern distro using a recent stable version of Mono.

Install Instructions:

  1. Download and install Mono for your Linux distro from Mono project website
  2. 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
  3. Download and copy RF Explorer Preset Manager for Linux executable, you can locate it anywhere in your computer.
  4. Connect your RF Explorer spectrum analyzer to the USB port. Only Combo and Plus models are supported.
  5. Run the tool with
    mono RFEPresetManagerLinux.exe

Note: use regular Linux login, not root or superuser, otherwise configuration files will not be stored in the home folder correctly.

User manual: RF Explorer for Windows PC Client

RF Explorer can be optionally connected to a Windows PC USB port for additional functionality using the RF Explorer for Windows PC Client tool.

You can download the software for free and try-before-buy any RF Explorer device. You can even download the full open source code and modify it for your needs!

Latest details on recent versions may not be detailed here yet, so it is always a good idea to check the RF Explorer Windows Client Release Notes to get the most out of your application.

Note: In addition to Windows, there is a GUI client iRF-Explorer available for Mac OSX, developed and offered for free by independent developer Dirk-Willem van Gulik visit AppStore for additional info on connecting RF Explorer with a Mac. We do not offer direct support for the Mac iRF-Explorer tool, please post your questions on the www.rf-explorer.com/forum group for any question.

Note: You should use a high quality USB cable to limit the EMC interference that otherwise a PC would add to your measurements. A high quality cable comes with ferrite beads, it is shielded and more robust than a low price cable but makes a difference when you use it for an instrument like RF Explorer. Good quality connectors used in these cables also extend the life of your device if you connect it frequently.

Silabs CP210x drivers must be installed in your Windows computer for RF Explorer for Windows to connect to the device. Standard Microsoft Windows 7 and newer include this by default. For any issues related to USB drivers, please check this article online: USB drivers

Installation

Download the software from the download page. All you need is there:

Microsoft .NET 4.0 Framework libraries will be automatically installed if not already available in your system.

If you don't have the USB drivers for Silicon Labs download and install them from the same page. RF Explorer uses an embedded CP2102 USB device internally to connect with the PC. If you run into connectivity problems with USB, please check the USB Troubleshooting article.

Download and upgrade the firmware of your RF Explorer device to the latest version available, it may be required for certain functions of the PC Client to work.

There are some brief instructions and documentation in the Readme.txt as well as examples and test files in the package and program file folder after the installation.

 


Spectrum Analyzer main screen

The main screen includes all the functionality to make Spectrum Analyzer measurements in your PC.

Click on the image to get a high resolution view

The software will connect with RF Explorer device automatically if it is available. Otherwise, connect your RF Explorer and click on the [*] button to refresh the available USB COM ports.

You should use the high speed 500,000bps mode. If you are using a USB 1.1 old PC or have any problem, try the low speed 2400bps but that will take much longer to refresh your PC and the Spectrum Analyzer refresh rate will downscale significantly. Note you need to change the RF Explorer to 2400bps as well in the CONFIG MENU for the low speed mode to work. Both RF Explorer and the PC must use the same connection speed.

When the connection is in place it automatically starts in RUN mode, download live data and displaying it on screen. You can stop live data anytime by clicking on HOLD button.

The Sample value will grow to show how many complete data sweeps have been captured. In RUN mode it always updates to the latest captured data set, whereas in HOLD mode you can manually go back and forth to review captured data.

Iterations value defines how many data samples will be used for the calculator in Average, Max Peak and Minimum. Realtime data is unaffected by the number of iterations. You can select which of the 4 calculator mode data representation will be displayed on screen:

  • Realtime: Raw data as captured with no post-processing
  • Average: Arithmetic media of all the last iterations sampled
  • Max Peak: Maximum value of all the last iterations sampled
  • Max Hold: Maximum value of all captured samples regardless Iterations value - this is only available from the View menu
  • Minimum: Minimum value of all the last iterations sampled

The data screen is a high speed data representation of Spectrum Analyzer Frequency vs Amplitude, same as with RF Explorer screen. However, you can do a number of advanced actions you cannot do on the smaller device screen. By right clicking on the data screen you open a context menu which offers you ways to Zoom In, Zoom Out, Print data or even export the image as a PNG bitmap file. You can also use Copy in order to have a clipboard copy of the image to be pasted in other Windows applications.

If "Show Point Values" is enabled, you can move the mouse pointer over the data graph and will display data point values one by one.

By default the screen will display the Peak value but can be disabled on the menu View->Show Peak Values option.

The current Spectrum Analyzer configuration of the RF Explorer device connected can be easily controlled from the Windows PC Client software. You can specify frequency and amplitude configuration and then click on Send for the RF Explorer to reconfigure with your new settings. To undo all the edits and go back to RF Explorer settings anytime (before you click on Send) you can use Reset to restore all last values received from the device.

Data can be saved to RFE data files or exported to CSV for use in 3rd party tools such as Excel, IAS or LabView. There is more info here.

Internal data buffer can be reset anytime to clean it from earlier captures by using Reinitialize Data Buffer option. This is done automatically anytime frequency configuration of the device is changed. The previously captured data will be persisted to RFE data file if the "Continuous log to RFE data file" option is set.

Screenshot image being displayed at anytime can be saved to a file with the "Save Bitmap screenshot image" option. The actual filename and contents will vary as a function of the currently displayed image.

 


Waterfall screen

This is a powerful, high performance 2D/3D visualization of historical sweeps, displaying the most recent captured sweep in front, with older sweeps in the background. It is a very efficient and practical way to display intermitent or time-changing signals that may not be easy to detect any other way.

The color map used by the Waterfall screen is defined by the Top and Bottom amplitude signals configured on the spectrum analyzer. Signal peaks that are close to the top will show red region whereas signals close to the bottom will display blue, with a color gradient in between. The "heat" of the display color code can be dinamically adjusted by changing the Top and Bottom amplitude settings anytime.

You can choose between 4 different perspectives, including a 2D view that is best suited for accurate signal research.

There are multiple options to display the Waterfall view:

  • Select the Waterfall tab screen in order to display a full screen waterfall.
  • Right click on the waterfall screen anytime to enable a context sensitive menu. Alternatively, these options are available as well at the bottom of the View menu.
  • Alternatively, the waterfall display can be enabled on the spectrum analyzer screen, select the View menu option Include Waterfall in main screen and choose bottom or horizontal layout.
  • Waterfall screenshots can be saved to an image file.

Visualization settings

The tool offers a number of configuration settings to adapt the display to your own preferences.

The Dark Color mode will enable a black background skin, closer to desktop instruments and easier to read in certain environments. In this mode, in order to save ink, the tool will disable it temporarily anytime you print but will restore automatically after print is complete.

Fill signals option will display a filled area in all signal shapes except Realtime signal.

Smooth signals option will use soft splines to join data sweep points in order to present a calculated soft curve. In some cases, the curve calculation may be misleading and you may need to disable the smoothing in order to see raw data points accurately. As the interpolation done to join data points is always a calculated "guess", you have control on which guess mode is more accurate for each measurement.

 


Configuration named settings

In RF Explorer for Windows there is a simple and effective way to save an unlimited number of frequency/span/amplitude combinations identified by configuration names:

  • The "Default" configuration always exist and is the latest selected set of settings, saved transparently by the application.
  • After a specific configuration is selected, it becomes part of the graph title for easy reference of measurement configuration
  • To store the current configuration with a name, simply type the descriptive name you want on the top-screen combo box, and then click on Save button. The current configuration is persisted with that name.
  • To apply the stored settings associated with a name, select the name from the combo list and then click on Load button. The frequency/span/amplitude settings will be restored and, if a RF Explorer device is connected, these values will be updated on it as well.
  • To replace an older named configuration with the current settings on screen, select the name from the combo list and then click on Save button. The previously associated settings on that name are replaced with the new ones.
  • To delete an old configuration name you no longer use, select the name from the combo list and then click on Del button.
  • All these settings are stored in a RFExplorer_Settings.xml file in the standard application data folder. You can easily copy that XML file to another computer if you want to export your settings.

 


Device Menu

Starting at v1.11, the Device menu includes options to select the active RF module. Left and Right SMA connectors are available menu options when a 2-port RF Explorer such as 3G Combo or ISM Combo is connected.

The red signal mark on the connector will indicate which of the two ports is enabled at any given time, for instance in the image below the left port is red and therefore the one enabled.

The Show Device RF Connections option will show or hide the model image for the connected RF Explorer device. The software includes models for all possible combinations of modules but the pictured antennas are just a guess, it will not presume a specific antenna or RF source connected as it is impossible for the software to truly know what is connected.

By enabling the Automatic LCD OFF, the connected device will stop displaying images on the LCD screen which has the advantage of some sweep refresh speed increase and certainly a reduction of the power consumption.

 


Calibration

RF Explorer can be calibrated to get the best possible frequency accuracy, available for several models since firmware version v1.09. Please check download area to get the latest firmware for your device. This feature is not yet available for 2.4G model, but it is for all others.

Short demo video of the calibration functionality in action.

 


Remote Screen tab

By clicking on "Remote Screen" tab you get access to a exact copy of the RF Explorer screen. This is a wonderful feature to share info and data capture with colleagues and friends to show what you get exactly on your device.

IMPORTANT: the remote dump capture is not available if Automatic LCD OFF is active - that is, if the device has the LCD disabled, there is no possible screen to capture so this option is disabled.

 

 

To start receiving screenshots from the RF Explorer, simply check "Remote Dump active" on. You can stop it anytime.

You can also zoom in and out at different screen sizes, and navigate through all the captured images by updating the Sample counter. Starting with v1.11 there are fine options to include header descriptive text and, beyond certain large size, the LCD grid effect can be enabled or disabled before saving the bitmap.

The images can be saved as individual PNG bitmaps or as a RFS capture file. More info see below on RF Explorer file formats article.

 Additional notes

Some features still under development or not yet completed are available as separated notes. Please check below:

  • Amplitude correction data files: link
  • Limit lines and multiple markers on screen: link

Report tab

This is technical low level data report window. There is no use of it beyond diagnosis or debug, so you normally won't go there for anything useful except you need to troubleshoot a communication or error problem.

All data in this window is automatically saved to a report file, we may ask for it if we need to work with you to resolve a specific USB or COM issue in your PC.