LONDON – Lime Microsystems Ltd., a developer of configurable multi-band radio transceiver ICs, has launched an open-source RF hardware project that it says is intended to further innovation in wireless systems. The non-profit initiative has been launched under the name Myriad-RF with its own website and includes pre-made RF boards with editable design files that developers can freely download and use in their own designs.
Lime Microsystems is not the only company trying to stimulate an open-source and community-support approach to RF but it is a well-connected commerical enterprise that plans to lead the initiative while other companies and individual engineers come on-board.
"We're trying to create an Arduino for the RF sector; a board that's low cost, powerful, exceptionally flexible and easy to use. And, most importantly, we're trying to let the community determine what's required, letting them add the functionality they need," said Ebrahim Bushehri, CEO of Lime (Guildford, England) and creator of Myriad-RF, in a statement. "Innovation only really happens when a large number of minds tackle a problem, and by going open-source we can slash the hardware costs and open RF innovation up to as many people as possible."
Bushehri said he hoped that engineers would congregate on the site and be able to support each other as they roll out innovative uses of field-programmble radio systems.
Right now Myriad-RF is effectively based around Lime's LMS6002D digital-to-RF transceiver. This chip, used in small cell basestations and suitable to support all cellular wireless standards, includes integrated ADCs DACs and low-noise amplifiers and covers the spectrum from 300-MHz to 3.8-GHz. Bushehri said Myriad-RF would be open to other suppliers of RF transceivers if they could meet the objectives of furthering software-defined radio and field-programmable RF (FPRF) over a similar frequency range.
Myriad-RF boards use FPRF transceivers to support all the mobile broadband standards – LTE, HSPA+, CDMA, 2G – including all regional variants; and any wireless communications frequency between 0.3 and 3.8GHz. This includes the regulated, licensed bands and unlicensed/whitespace spectra.
Myriad-RF aims to provide hobbyists and experienced design engineers with a variety of low-cost RF boards and free design files available for general use. The first board, Myriad-RF 1, has been designed by Lime's Taiwanese distributor Azio Electronics.
I don't think that this will "shake up" the amateur world, but it certainly looks like a very worthwhile contribution and it does appear to have a number of uses besides just communication. So I will be quite interested to see what all develops. If it can indeed be made to function as the core of a spectrum analyser then it would have immediate value to quite a few people, both hams and experimentors. BUT please don't compare them to Ardunio. Those ardunio projects always substitute a microcontroller board for a function that could be done with a simple comparator. A shameless promotion of a product line at the expense of understanding actual circuitry.
"Myriad-RF boards use FPRF transceivers to support all the mobile broadband standards – LTE, HSPA+, CDMA, 2G..."
Does this mean that the board can send and receive according, to, e.g. the CDMA PHY standard? Or does it mean that the board can send and receive at the relevant rf frequencies and actually imposing the digital signal on top of that is up to you?
It is interesting to note that the BladeRF is based on the LMS6002D IC from Lime Microsystems because as Nuand states: "this transceiver is capable of handling anything from simple FM audio to the latest 4G LTE standard."
BladeRF does include the FPGA and a USB 3.0 digital connection and bus power.
Take a look at the BladeRF from Nuand:
They have an open source radio platform which uses GNU Radio and provides analysis. I have been rather rash and ordered one already!