Lime Microsystems has published a video demonstrating how the LimeSDR-powered LimeNET CrowdCell can ease the provision of private and community Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks – including using the system’s general-purpose compute to run edge workloads.
“As of late 2019 anyone in the UK can obtain a licence from Ofcom to operate their own private or community LTE network via Shared Access spectrum,” Lime Micro’s Andrew Back explains. “In the short video we show how this is made easy using a CrowdCell that is based on Lime’s field programmable RF technology plus general purpose compute, together with the Amarisoft LTE software stack.
“Finally, a video call is made between two handsets, using the Nextcloud collaboration platform, which is also running on the CrowdCell as a mobile edge compute workload.”
Lime Micro chief executive and founder of MyriadRF Dr. Ebrahim Bushehri has penned a guest post for TechUK, as part of its Diversifying Telecoms programme – offering an insight into software-defined radio and Shared Access in the radio access network (RAN) ecosystem.
“With the advent of high performance software-defined radio (SDR) and powerful commodity compute platforms based on GPPs [General Purpose Processors] and GPUs [Graphics Processing Units],” Ebrahim writes, “it has now become possible to create RAN solutions which are integrated in much the same way that a PC workstation or a server chassis might be; using the very same components and running a Linux operating system, meaning that they benefit from the same economies of scale, while utilising familiar APIs and software tooling etc.
“As we move beyond simply disaggregation and open interfaces, to a commodity compute based approach, the UK finds itself poised on the verge of a transformational opportunity. One which is well within its grasp, but in order to realise it must think beyond current open RAN efforts, mobilise its software development community, commit to making Shared Access spectrum a success, and embrace the tools and practices that will foster collaboration and accelerate ecosystem growth.”
The full blog post is available on TechUK now.
Progress on the LimeRFE software-definable radio-frequency front-end module for the LimeSDR range has reached a key milestone, with assembly of the production boards and testing well underway.
“Assembly of the first production boards has now been completed,” Lime Micro’s Andrew Back writes in the latest campaign update, “and these are being put through comprehensive testing before being sent on to Crowd Supply. In the short video you can see the test setup, with performance being measured in the transmit path for cellular Band 3.
“You can check on your order and update your shipping address by logging in to your Crowd Supply account. You will receive a shipping confirmation email when your order ships.”
The video of a LimeRFE under test, along with links to check your order status, can be found on the Crowd Supply campaign page.
Radio enthusiast Daniel Estévez has published a write-up of his latest experiments in classifying the gain and system noise of his set up in the 10 GHz spectrum, using a LimeSDR Mini and the sun.
“Back in 2019, I took advantage of the autumn sun outage season of Es’hail 2 to make some observations as the sun passed in front of the fixed 1.2 metre offset dish I have to receive the QO-100 transponders,” Daniel writes. “Using the data from those observations, I estimated the gain of the dish and the system noise. A few weeks ago, I have repeated this kind of measurements in the spring sun outage season this year.
“The equipment I used was the same set up that I normally use to receive the [QO-100] NB transponder. This consists of a 1.2 m offset dish from diesl.es, an Avenger PLL321S-2 LNB, and a LimeSDR Mini. The LNB and LimeSDR are locked to a 27 MHz reference that is locked to GPS. The LimeSDR Mini is connected to a BeagleBone Black ARM board and samples at 600 ksps using the software described in this post.”
The full write-up, along with a GNU Radio flow graph and a Jupyter notebook of results, is available on Daniel’s blog.
DragonOS, the SDR-focused Linux distribution from pseudonymous security researcher Aaron “Cemaxecuter”, is soon to be compatible with the Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer – and now comes complete with Lucas Teske’s lms_tcp utility.
Designed to make software-defined radio work more accessible, DragonOS is a Linux distribution designed for security work with a range of drivers and software utilities pre-loaded. Its latest release is set to come compiled for aarch64, making it compatible with the Raspberry Pi 4 family of low-cost single-board computers.
In a demonstration video, project maintainer Aaron showcases the operating system running on a Raspberry Pi 4 and interacting with a LimeSDR Mini connected over USB – using Lucas Teske’s lms_tcp, which allows any LimeSDR hardware to interface with software written for the RTL_TCP standard.
For those who prefer stock Debian Linux, security researcher Vinod Shrimalii has released a tool which quickly installs a range of utilities for telecommunications work – including drivers for the LimeSDR family.
Released as a simple shell-script, Vinod’s tool offers a simple process to install and compile the Lime Suite software package along with GNU Radio, SoapySDR, and Osmocom’s gr-osmosdr – providing a base for carrying out 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) research.
The utility, which locks the installation to tested and known-intercompatible versions of each tool, can be found on GitHub.
The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has announced the formation of a 5G Private networks Solution Group, through which it hopes to develop a cloud-native approach to the development and operation of 5G networks.
“This new solution group will enable operators to address the exciting opportunities that 5G is creating in the enterprise segment, both through valuable features for our customers and more efficient network operations,” claims TIP board director Juan Carlos Garcia. “The TIP community is the perfect environment for this innovation, as it will allow us to leverage multiple current project groups (Open Core Networks, OpenRAN) to deliver an end-to-end Minimum Viable Product that we will then test in Telefonica’s TIP Community Lab.”
“Through the recently launched solution groups, TIP is expanding its scope to include the validation of interoperability between different elements across the whole network, and insights and recommendations about how to operate them,” adds fellow board director Carline Chan. “The new 5G Private Networks Solution Group is a strong example of this approach. With dedicated local private high-performance network connectivity as a key emerging deployment model for 5G and edge buildout, this group can help foster important ecosystem collaboration.”
More information on the Solution Group is available from TIP’s announcement.
Joel Brand has penned a piece investigating self-interference cancellation (SIC), a technology which is showing increasing popularity for improving the performance of mesh radio networks.
“Current wireless mesh-network designs have limitations. By far the biggest is that a node in a mesh network will interfere with itself as it relays data if it uses the same frequency to transmit and receive signals,” Joel explains. “And yet, a breakthrough here could bring mesh networks into even the most demanding and spectrum-intensive networks, for example ones connecting assembly floor robots, self-driving cars, or drone swarms.
“And indeed, such a breakthrough technology is now emerging: self-interference cancellation (SIC). As the name implies, SIC makes it possible for a mesh-network node to cancel out the interference it creates by transmitting and receiving on the same frequency. The technology literally doubles a node’s spectral efficiency, by eliminating the need for separate transmit and receive frequencies.”
Joel’s piece delves into a series of mainstream SIC offerings from three US startups, including his own Kumu Networks, as well as a selection of academic programmes. “Kumu’s SIC technique attempts to cancel out the transmit signal at three different times while the radio receives a signal,” he explains of his company’s technique. “With this three-tier approach, Kumu’s technique reaches roughly 110 decibels of cancellation, compared with the 20 to 25 dB of cancellation achievable by a typical mesh Wi-Fi access point.”
The full write-up is available on IEEE Spectrum now.
The Object Management Group (OMG) has announced the release of a beta specification for the Space Telecommunications Interface (STI), which it is making freely available to all.
“Many space projects either use hardware radios, which cannot be modified once deployed, or software-defined radios (SDRs) with an architecture that depends on the radio provider and involves significant effort to add new applications,” OMG’s Steve MacLaird explains. “Software-based SDRs enable advanced operations that reduce mission life-cycle costs for space or ground platforms.
“Object Management Group (OMG) members just released a beta version of the Space Telecommunications Interface (STI) specification, which establishes an open architecture specification for space and ground SDRs and is based upon OMG’s Systems Modelling Language (SysML).
“The architecture enables the reuse of applications across heterogeneous SDR platforms,” Steve continues, “reducing dependence on a single vendor or platform type and assists in the development of software-defined, reconfigurable technology to meet future space communications and navigation system needs.”
The beta standard is available for free download from the OMG website now, with a finalised version expected by the end of the year.
The Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org now include tests for software-defined radio workloads, including GNU Radio, LuaRadio, and srsLTE – helping clarify CPU performance between platforms.
“Per reader requests, several software-defined radio (SDR) benchmarks have been added alongside the 640+ other distinct workloads available for benchmarking via the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org,” writes project maintainer Michael Larabel.
“For those interested in evaluating CPUs for software-defined radio or signal processing purposes, some of the latest test additions may be of interest to you. GNU Radio, LuaRadio, srsLTE, and Liquid DSP are now all available for benchmarking via the Phoronix Test Suite/OpenBenchmarking.org. Via those OB links are already a number of reference CPU results available for those curious about the latest processors in those radio benchmarks.”
The latest test results and software downloads are available on OpenBenchmarking.org now, while those interested in running the tests on tehir own systems from the Phoronix Test Suite can do so with the command “phoronix-test-suite benchmark sdr”.
CENOS, a finite element method (FEM) tool for antenna design simulation, has launched a call for closed beta testing of its presently Windows-exclusive software – and the first review is already out.
“Finite element method (FEM) software solves Maxwell’s equations directly with no simplifications or limitations,” the company explains. “Therefore, results provided by CENOS are accurate for wide ranges of geometries and antennas, including very complex geometries. CENOS software is specialised in the simulation of microstrip- and wire-type antennas that include various geometries (fractal, helix, horn, loop, slot, patch, spiral, and others), as well as dipole and monopole antennas.”
The company is currently looking for beta testers, who receive a two-week time-limited licence to the software. A Japanese SDR site has taken the company up on its offer, and has published a first-look review of its capabilities – including a few tips on installation.
Those interested in giving the software a go can apply to the beta programme through the CENOS website.
Pseudonymous developer “skintigh” has put together a range of GNU Radio expamples for 8PSK and 8DPSK operation, along with “examples of what I call a 9PSK/9DPSK.”
“I couldn’t find any working example of 8PSK or 8DPSK nor anyone who could help, and GNU Radio documentation was less than helpful,” the developer writes. “After months of struggling and tinkering I have some solid designs and decided to share them to hopefully save others months of frustration. I included versions with and without channel models, and a seemingly useless equaliser.
“I have also added examples of what I call a 9PSK/9DPSK. I made it while reverse engineering a mystery protocol that I now think is probably 8DPSK-with-nulls. But where nulls probably are just used for timing and finding frame breaks, my example used them for a 9th symbol for transmitting data. If nothing else that lets you encode nulls along with your data when transmitting 8PSK with nulls.”
The examples can be found on skintigh’s GitHub repository now.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published a Notice of Inquiry for a discussion on open and virtualised radio access networks (RANs) – and is looking for comment from industry and the community.
“The Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on the current status of Open RAN development and deployment in networks in the US and abroad,” the FCC’s statement reads. “It asks about the role of established large manufacturers and new entrants in setting standards for this new network architecture. It seeks input on what steps should be taken by the FCC, federal partners, industry, academia, and others to accelerate the timeline for Open RAN standards development.
“Further, it seeks comment on any challenges or other considerations related to the deployment, integration, and testing of systems based on Open RAN specifications. The NOI also requests comment on the costs and benefits associated with Open RAN development and deployment.”
“Today, the RAN is the most restrictive and most expensive part of the network, in part because all of its major components have to come from the same vendor,” explains FCC acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “There is no way to mix and match. But if we can unlock the RAN and diversify the equipment in this part of our networks, we may be able to increase security, reduce our exposure to any single foreign vendor, lower costs, and push the equipment market to where the United States is uniquely skilled—in software.”
The Notice of Inquiry is live now on the FCC website.
Finally, developer and radio amateur Luigi Cruz has built what could be the cheapest software defined radio around, using a Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 microcontroller development board: the PiccoloSDR.
“A whopping 500 ksps of pure Direct Sampling at 8-bits,” Luigi boasts of the project, which was unveiled via Twitter earlier this month. “Yes, you heard it right! Get your samples right away using TCP/IP over the Full Speed USB at up to 12 Mbps. Welcome to 2005!
“Yes, I’ve made this for fun. Don’t get too excited. As I said, the RP2040 is very limited in terms of ADC speed and USB speed. This project is just a proof of concept with very limited use cases. But it works!”
The source code for the project has not yet been released, but more details are available on the Hackster.io write-up.