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Open-source goes RF

-April 23, 2013

Radio frequency (RF) signals run from about 3kHz to 300GHz.  As a test and measurement designer, some of my data acquisition rates will get into the 100s of kHz, or perhaps up to 10s of MHz with a digital oscilloscope, but usually that's all.  I also typically try to use existing protocols for as much of the communication as I can, typically USB, Serial, GPIB, SPI, I2C or occasionally Ethernet, Wi-Fi or radio.

My focus comes from a desire to use as many mature technologies as I can to get to my test results quickly and inexpensively.  But, I must also confess that one of my first projects after college graduation was randomly swapping components on a 915MHz capacitive sensor that no one in the company understood in the slightest.  That was not the best introduction to the RF world.  

However, RF is amazingly powerful, ubiquitous in our world and a valuable tool for any engineer.  Sadly, my rough introduction and the high barrier to entry has kept me from digging too deeply into RF thus far in my career.

It looks like open source will come to my rescue again, this time in the form of MyriadRF.  The project is sponsored by Lime microsystems and seeks to bring inexpensive, fully configurable, open-source hardware and development tools to the world.

The first board is now released and available for $299.   The RF band is 260MHz - 3.8GHz.  Of course, my favorite part is the example project  interfacing an Arduino to the low cost MyraidRF board via SPI.

I haven't bought one yet, but it's good to know that open source will give me a path to programmable RF the next time it comes up in one of my projects.  Of course, for $299 I may just get one so I have another tool ready to go in my toolset.

Have you used the MyriadRF board?  Do you have a favorite RF prototyping/ test and measurement platform?  If so, I'd love to hear about your experience.  Please comment below.

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