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Introducing Sidekiq™ NV800: SDR for Advanced RF Spectrum Applications

Wyatt Taylor

08/22/23

Epiq Solutions is excited to announce the Sidekiq™ NV800 - the latest addition to Epiq's software-defined radio (SDR) portfolio. It's a breakthrough SDR platform for high-performance capability in a low-size-weight-and-power (SWaP) form factor. Sidekiq™ NV800 is set to enable the next generation of applications for RF spectrum monitoring, wireless device detection, counter unmanned aerial systems (cUAS), and signals intelligence.

Sidekiq™ NV800 Feature Breakdown

✅ Comprehensive RF Integration
Houses 8 RF receivers and a dedicated RF transmitter within a single streamlined SDR platform.

✅ Extended Operating Range
Supports RF channels from 30MHz to 6GHz with plans to stretch one RF receiver's capability up to 18GHz.

✅ Instantaneous Bandwidth
Delivers an impressive up to 8x independent RF receivers with 50MHz of bandwidth each, for a total of 400MHz

✅ Fast Frequency Hopping
Achieves a rapid RF ingest rate of up to ~500GHz-per-second on all RF channels.

✅ Versatile Operational Modes
Offers both phase coherent and independent operation modes with the flexibility to maintain and sweep channels.

✅ Efficient Data Management
Transmits IQ data swiftly to the primary processor through VITA49 packets over a 10GbE connection.

✅ Low power consumption
Operates efficiently, with the Sidekiq™ NV800 typically consuming under 25W.

✅ Compact Design
Features dimensions of 9.92" x 7.24" x 2.0", with a total volume of 144 inch^3.

✅ Next-Gen Synchronization
Employs the WhiteRabbit synchronization standard for precision time synchronization, achieving less than 1ns.

✅ Power Options
Provides the flexibility to power using PoE++ or a standard DC input connector.

Product image of Sidekiq NV800

Inside the Sidekiq™ NV800: Architecture

Epiq's team combined the power of the latest releases from Analog Devices and AMD® to create the Sidekiq™ NV800. This SDR incorporates four ADRV9004 RF transceivers, all streaming data and command & control to an AMD® ZU7 Ultrascale+™ FPGA. The ZU7 FPGA supports the VITA49 interface as well as the WhiteRabbit synchronization. The entire SDR platform is controlled through a RESTful API in the host computer named ERFS (Embedded RF Sensor), which abstracts the thousands of control registers in the SDR to simple radio commands like frequency, bandwidth, gain, etc. 

 

Here is a block diagram of the Sidekiq™ NV800.

Block diagram of the Sidekiq™ NV800


Download the Sidekiq™ NV800 spec sheet.

Putting NV800 to the Test: Cellular Activity Monitoring

The Sidekiq™ NV800 can support staring and sweeping modes in phase coherent or phase independent operation. This allows for broadband signal monitoring, direction finding, and geolocation applications. The VITA49 data that streams off the Sidekiq™ NV800 unit can be processed by a wide range of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or government off-the-shelf (GOTS) applications. Here are a few examples.

One application for the Sidekiq™ NV800 is to monitor active cellular activity around the SDR. The RF receiver channels in the Sidekiq™ NV800 can be tuned to a known cellular frequency band and set to a stare function, where the receiver persistently observes the same frequency, searching for activity. In the plots below, the 750MHz band is being received by the Sidekiq™ NV800 and sent to a host computer. On the left, the cellular data is plotted by Inspectrum, an open-source RF analysis tool. On the right, the same data is being analyzed by the 3dB Labs SCEPTRE tool, an industry-leading application for providing signal intelligence and RF analysis capability.

750MHz band is being received by the Sidekiq™ NV800 and sent to a host computer. On the left, the cellular data is plotted by Inspectrum, an open-source RF analysis tool. On the right, the same data is being analyzed by the 3dB Labs SCEPTRE tool

Both tools provide insight into the RF spectrum, but 3dB Labs SCEPTRE offers more information about the signal details, power level, geolocation, and more. 

In addition, to stare mode, the Sidekiq™ NV800 also supports sweeping mode, where the RF frequency of the SDR is fast-tuned to different frequencies of interest. The plot below shows the Sidekiq™ NV800 scanning across different cellular frequencies of interest. First, the SDR receives at 1.93GHz for 20ms, then fast hops to 880MHz, where it receives for 40ms, and finally hops to 740MHz for a receive dwell of 15ms. The SDR then hops back to the first frequency of 1.93GHz to start the receiving loop again. 

Sidekiq™ NV800 scanning across different cellular frequencies of interest in the sweeping mode

A Decade of RF Excellence

Drawing on the powerful capabilities highlighted above, it's clear that the Sidekiq™ NV800 stands as a testament to Epiq's long-standing dedication to pushing the boundaries of high-performance, low SWaP SDR platforms. With eight RF receivers in a single platform, the Sidekiq™ NV800 encapsulates mission-critical features like phase coherency, geolocation, and rapid frequency hopping, all within a compact, low-power framework and streamlined interfaces like VITA49.

Curious to explore the full potential of Sidekiq™ NV800? Reach out to us today. We'll be happy to answer any questions or tell you more about our tech. Just drop in your details in the contact form.

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