Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ordered BladeRF; installed Quartus and GnuRadio on a laptop with Windows 7 prof

I ordered my BladeRF last week and saw today that I was already credited on my bank account. Anyway it is reassuring that my order was noticed at nuand.com...

I downloaded Quartus and checked for support of the FPGA on the BladeRF ==> OK

Then I installed gnuradio. First I installed Python 2.7. I did run Python on an iPad before, but that was Python version 3. For gnuradio you need version 2.7, the latest relase before version 3.

I already noticed a difference between the two pythons: you cannot simply say "print a" in Python 3. You have to write "print(a)"

Quite annoying if you stumble with python for the first time.

Now I have python 2.7 running on the laptop and I must say, it works like a charm. I read the tutorial, well, I skipped a lot of the tutorial but found the differences with other programming languages I used before. Among others: FORTRAN, BASIC, Algol, C, LISP, Pascal, Prolog and lastly Java. I thought java would be the last programming language to learn. But now I understand I will use Python from now on. Still under Windows, no linux yet. I had Debian running under VMWare but it seems my license expired. I have to solve that problem later IF I _must_ use linux. I'll try to use Windows as long as possible for this project.

Reason: my wife also uses the laptop. I invested hours in convincing her to leave MSDOS for Windows. I finally succeeded so we now have one common laptop with Windows 7 prof. I don't want to put my 40 year relation on risk by trying to convince her to go for linux...

Gnuradio is a marvelous discovery! This is exactly what I needed all the time. I looks like what you can do in Simulink with MATLAB. After reading some documentation and looking a some video-tutorials I came up with my first project and it worked almost immediately. To be honest, the example from the tutorial with an oscilloscope, waterfall display and FFT generated a lot of error-messages. I have to solve that problem later. My current hello world-gnuradio-program:

Perhaps the picture is unreadable. I can send a better version if asked for it. The left sink is a noise-generator. This is followed by a filter, a throttle and finally the sink. This output-sink is the loudspeaker on my laptop. Without the filter I hear a hiss, ok, noise. With the lowpass-filter around 800 Hz the hiss sounds as you might expect, no high frequencies anymore.

I was quite satisfied with this result. My wife did not understand my satisfaction, she will never understand why I bought that BladeRF by the way.

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