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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Tuning in VLF with a sound card

From: Marcus D. Leech
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Tuning in VLF with a sound card
Date: Tue, 07 May 2019 16:16:45 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/31.7.0

On 05/07/2019 04:05 PM, Ben Hilburn wrote:
Hey Brad - just checking in! This is an interesting experiment, and I would love to hear how it went!

Big thanks to Kevin and JMF for providing very helpful guidance, here, too =)

I should perhaps have entered this discussion earlier, and pointed out one of my early applications using a sound-card for VLF work:


It's OLD now--I don't think it was ever converted to GR 3.7

One of the problems with mag-loop antenna is that they're very high Q, and thus have very small fractional bandwidths, which means that
  they're wildly inefficient at all but the resonant frequency.  I made up for that using a Behringer microphone pre-amp using the balanced input.
  That meant I could use a fairly "random" multi-turn mag-loop and not worry about efficiency very much.

On Thu, May 2, 2019 at 7:12 PM Kevin Reid <address@hidden> wrote:
On Thu, May 2, 2019 at 1:22 PM Brad Hein <address@hidden> wrote:
I took a Raspberry Pi and attached a 48KHz USB sound card, with a big magnetic loop antenna fed into the mic. A little cheesy? yes! But I'd like to try and see if I can receive VLF. It's in a remote location with little to no interference so I'm thinking my chances should be good. The challenge I'm facing is that I need to write the SDR logic to "tune" throughout the 0-24KHz tuning range.

My question is, being that a sound card source presents samples in float and not the usual complex data type, can I still apply the same SDR logic that we use for SSB/FM/AM demodulation such as those presented in the Gnuradio tutorials (eg. http://www.csun.edu/~skatz/katzpage/sdr_project/sdr/grc_tutorial3.pdf) and if not, how do I go about translating the float input into something I can use to feed existing AM/FM/SSB demodulator flowgraphs?

The first thing you need to do is a "float to complex" operation (which will leave the imaginary/Q part zero). If you were to plot the spectrum of the resulting you would see that it is symmetric around 0 Hz, containing an extra copy of all the signals you're receiving, but that is no worse than a more typical received spectrum where the other half contains unrelated signals.

After that, the approach is exactly the same as any other receiver flowgraph that supports receiving at an offset from the hardware center/zero frequency. You can use either the "Frequency Xlating FIR Filter" block (which combines a frequency shift and a low pass filter) or the "Rotator" block (which performs a frequency shift and would usually be followed by a separate filter), and the frequency shift of that block should be under user control for "tuning". Then you have a baseband signal that you can demodulate.
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