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Small Form Factor Dual Channel SDR Enables New Applications

Wyatt Taylor

11/09/22

Larger RF and software-defined radio (SDR) systems have taken advantage of multi-channel capability for several generations, but typically very small form factor, low SWaP systems have been limited to a single channel for receive (Rx) and a single channel for transmit (Tx). That is, the low SWaP SDRs can only receive or transmit on a single frequency at a single instance of time. However, many applications require a small form factor or low SWaP SDR that would benefit from achieving dual channel capability on either Rx or Tx, meaning the ability to receive or transmit on two frequencies at a simultaneous instance of time.

The Epiq Solutions Sidekiq NV100 is the first M.2 2280 form factor SDR that delivers dual channel capability on Rx or Tx, thanks to the capability of the integrated RFIC, the ADRV9004 from Analog Devices.

The-The-Epiq-Solutions-Sidekiq-NV100-is-the-first-M2-2280-form-factor-SDR-that-delivers-dual-channel-capability-on-Rx-or-Tx

Dual Channel Application Impact

Many radio applications benefit from realizing dual channels, but a summary of the most prevalent applications follows.

Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) Cellular Network Analysis: For an FDD cellular system two frequencies are being used. The downlink is the signal from the base station to the user node (i.e. phone). And the uplink is the signal from the user node to the base station.

The downlink and the uplink will operate at separate frequencies. A single channel receiver can only observe either the downlink or the uplink, providing an incomplete picture of the entire cellular network activity. A dual-channel receiver can simultaneously monitor both the downlink and uplink, giving the user the ability to completely analyze the entire network.

Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS): A new threat for worldwide airports and departments of defense is the potential damage that could be done by undesired UAS activity. In recent years airports such as Newark International (EWR), Washington International (DCA), and London Heathrow (LHR) have had to pause operations due to concerns about undesired UAS activity in the area. To detect these UAS systems requires a radio system that can monitor all of the control links used by commercial UASs.

There are many potential bands, but the majority of UAS systems operate in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz ISM bands. A dual-channel receiver can monitor both bands simultaneously, while a single-channel receiver has to switch back and forth between them.

SATCOM Make Before Break: The emergence of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications (SATCOM) is driving significant radio development as systems like OneWeb and Starlink are deployed.

A challenge with LEO systems is that the satellites are not available to the ground system for a very long time. As the LEO constellation moves across the horizon, the ground system must continuously connect to a new LEO satellite for communication. Make before break is the concept of creating the link to the next satellite that is coming into the usable horizon before the current satellite exits the usable horizon.

A successful make-before-break system provides less downtown, and thus high throughput. Because the two satellites are likely operating on different carrier frequencies, a dual-channel receiver is required to successfully implement this application.

Epiq Solutions Sidekiq NV100

The NV100 integrates a new RFIC, the ADRV9004, which has benefits - higher RF performance and dual-channel capability chief among them. The NV100 is in the very small M.2 2280 form factor, so even though the ADRV9004 has two receiver inputs and two transmitter outputs, the NV100 only has the physical space for two antenna connections. To overcome this channel disconnect, the NV100 has an integrated switch network. Antenna connections J1 and J2 can be mapped to multiple radio configurations:

Mode

J1  J2
Dual Channel Rx Rx @ freqA Rx @ freqB
Phase Coherent Rx Rx @ freqA Rx @ freqA
Dual Channel Tx Tx @ freqA Tx @ freqB
Phase Coherent Tx Tx @ freqA Tx @ freqA
FDD Rx @ freqA Tx @ freqB
TDD Rx @ freqA Tx @ freqA
 
 

This is an unparalleled level of radio configurability in the M.2 2280 form factor, and it enables the NV100 to satisfy a wide range of radio applications and requirements. Key among those applications are those that require dual-channel operation, which has long been unavailable in this size form factor.

To learn more about the NV100 and other small form factor SDRs, visit epiqsolutions.com.

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