Recent News

These are recent news.

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Near field H-Loop antenna for RF / EMI / EMC diagnosis

We have been adding more and more specific antennas to our offering over the last few months, in order to help users get the best value from RF Explorer.

As you probably know, the right antenna at the right place makes all the difference. Directional, omnidirectional, narrow band, wide band, patch, cloverleaf are available for different frequency ranges at SeeedStudio and other distributors.

But all our available antennas so far are used to measure the so called "far field" transmissions. They are fine to measure and diagnose all sort of RF transmissions which are a few wavelengths away. But for a number of tasks, most notably sniffing and measuring components or cables in a PCB or electronic device, far field antennas are not good because lack enough resolution to determine with precision where the transmission comes from. Furthermore, a far field antenna will keep receiving RF radiations from all sort of external, distant sources and mixing the result with the nearby radiation being diagnosed.

To assist on that, RF guys use "near field" antennas. They offer way more resolution for close-by diagnosis, and are mostly unaffected by far field transmission. Unfortunately, most near field antennas cost several times more than RF Explorer device itself; They are used for very specific tasks and not sold in the mass market. So most cost-sensitive setups would not have access to near field antenna... or that was the story until now.

 

We are happy to introduce our first custom designed, fully calibrated, near field antenna at the right price. This first model is called RFEAN25 and is a very sensitive, compact and easy to use H-loop near field antenna. We fine-tuned prototypes and experimented ideas for more than 15 months. Thanks to this creative design, our lab testing show RFEAN25 is at least 10dB more sensitive in the range 20-6000MHz than other H-loop options in the market, at a much lower cost.

If you compare it with other near field competing antennas, you will see RFEAN25 is smaller and lighter, exactly what you need when space is constrained in a PCB.

We added a high quality semi-flexible RF cable which works as the handler of the antenna. The big advantage of this approach: you can shape the cable the way you want for the antenna to be located exactly where you need, in most cases with no need to keep it on your hand.

It is the ideal antenna for the tasks listed below:

  • Detect radiation: Easily determine the electronic component or PCB signal track creating a wanted or unwanted RF radiation.
  • Sniff and measure: Follow signal path in any RF or high speed digital circuit, with no need to actually contact the circuit itself.
  • Find bugs: Thanks to great spatial resolution, it is ideal antenna to check for RF bugs such as hidden cameras or microphones in a room.
  • Diagnose EMI: Check any electronic device for RF radiation limits. This may include a connector with leakage, a module creating interference in a drone or RC plane, an oscillator or crystal that may not be working at the right frequency, etc
  • Pre-compliance EMC testing: Help on finding possible sources of interference in a design before passing an expensive EMC lab test for approval EU / FCC.
  • Create interference: it can be used to introduce RF interference in specific areas of a circuit or device, to check on side effects as well as diagnose root cause of intermittent problems. Connect it to a Signal Generator and use CW or Frequency Sweep to check how your circuit respond.
  • RFEAN25 can be used with RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer and Signal Generator. But it can be used with any spectrum analyzer brand, as well as oscilloscopes. It is DC decoupled up to 25V so pretty much risk free if makes contact with the PCB circuit under test.

 

 The RFEAN25 is available for preorder at 15% discount till mid-October, for only $23.

You will not find near field antennas at this price tag anywhere. Use Seeedstudio link here.

Other near field antennas will be available later this year, as a full 4-antenna kit with 3 popular H-Loop sizes and one E-Field size. But we will keep RFEAN25 as separated antenna option as this is the best multi-task near field antenna most users need. More demanding users may go to the full antenna kit, it will be available at a very reasonable price tag.

 

RF Explorer Sniffer - public Beta available

This major feature for RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzers is now available as public Beta release.

We have been working hard the last few months to embed a huge list of features, including the ability to create your own decoder Add-ins:

  • Capture OOK/ASK modulation data packets at any frequency supported by your device model (in the range 15-2700MHz)
  • Filter and trim noise out of the data capture
  • Included decoders for PT2264 remote controls and Oregon Scientific weather stations
  • Advanced zoom, contextual menus, text, configuration settings for sample rate and frequency.

There are so many features included, the only way to elaborate them is through an accompanying guide included in the software package.

Download available in the BETA area of the download page.

How the RF sniffer works

You can detect RF transmission and decode data either manually or automatically.

Most gadgets and devices like the ones depicted below can be easily captured and processed by RF Explorer sniffer tool:

The RF transmission would look like a train of pulses at first sight, but it can include a large number of unusable noisy data, as well as duplicated data packets transmitted by the gadget.

Thanks to RF Explorer Sniffer tool advanced features, you can easily remove unwanted noise and detect envelope digital modulated signal, so it can be interpreted according to available documentation or reverse engineering.

If the device transmit a protocol currently supported by one of the included Decoders, the RF Explorer Sniffer will do all decoding with a single click:

Using this extremely advanced feature, checking any RF transmission is now a trivial task.

Below is a fully decoded RF remote control data packet including address and data values when pressing button [1] of that particular remote control. A good example of use for this would be to adjust your remote control receiver to the right address to react to that remote control.

And this is an example of fully decoded Oregon Scientific Weather Station sensor transmitting 7.9C temperature and 55% humidity.

This useful tool enables RF Explorer models such as 433M (by a mere $99) assist you on debugging RF projects, detect wanted and unwanted transmissions and interpret any gadget at hand. As opposed to other tools available, you do not need to disassemble or connect cables to the RF gadget in order to detect what is being transmitted: your RF Explorer connected to a Windows PC is all you need for the antenna capture and sniff around!

Developing your own Decoder add-ins

By using a simple yet effective Add-in model, RF Explorer for Windows can be easily extended with your own Decoders.

You can develop decoders in any language, samples are provided in Python and C#, but others like Perl, VB, C/C++, Java and pretty much any environment you are familiar with can do the work just fine. The only requirement is to produce a command line tool, following certain convention for data communication between the Add-in and the RF Explorer for Windows tool.

Happy hacking!

RF Explorer v1.15 upgrade available

We are happy to announce the availability of the latest firmware and software for Windows, as a free upgrade.

It includes final release version v1.15 firmware for Spectrum Analyzer and Signal Generator, as well as v1.15.1607 latest compatible RF Explorer for Windows.

The major features include full support for Signal Generator Frequency Sweep, Amplitude Sweep and Network Analyzer.

On the Signal Generator handheld device this is fully supported with new advanced screen modes as depicted below:

  • Improved Signal Generator CW screen with GHZ/MHZ/KHZ indicators

  • Improved Frequency Sweep screen with G/M/KHz indicators and true start power level

  • New Amplitude Sweep screen with true power level indicators

We recommend all users to benefit from these new features and fully stable latest firmware v1.15 upgrade. Please download from our online repository.

RF Explorer firmware v1.12B32 available

This firmware resolves a problem with RF module idle mode. Before this fix, the Combo units with two modules may not always power off the unused module correctly, leading to higher power consumption and RF false readings.

Thanks for customers reporting this problem, it was elusive bug not all silicon RF devices had, not resolved by everyone at last.

Download available in our website (link)

Upgrade instructions available in the internal release notes document.

Visit us at Hamvention 2016

dayton hamvention logo

We are happy to announce RF Explorer will be available for demo and purchase in Hamvention 2016.

Hamvention is one of the largest and premiere Amateur Radio shows and flea market. The show this year will be held May 20 to 22 in Dayton, Ohio; where thousands of hams from across North America (and the world) converge to one location to see hundreds of commercial and flea market vendors.

NutsAboutNets will offer all our RF Explorer product family and you can ask questions, take demos and see the product first hand in booth #342, Silver Arena. We can also help you understand how a Spectrum Analyzer and Tracking Generator can make your life easier tuning antennas, checking filters, detecting jam and noise sources, to name a few..

We hope to see you there!