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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => Wireless and Communications => Topic started by: Kevin Maxwell on October 12, 2019, 12:29:11 pm

Title: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Kevin Maxwell on October 12, 2019, 12:29:11 pm
RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band receiver.

I was thinking for trouble shooting (possibly search and destroy) that a relatively small hand held battery powered receiver with a display would be a handy tool. But it looks like the RF Explorer is a scanner. Are there any devices that are reasonably priced (like the RF Explorer) that will show the full bandwidth of the range (wireless mics) I am looking in, all at once so I donít have to wait for a scan to complete as I am walking around looking to see what it on the air around a facility. Playing the old game of hot and cold.

I have a WinRadio scanner that I use for scanning the room but it is not portable. And it is a scanner also. I am not sure if I am properly describing what I am looking for and if I am using the right terms. Even something that would work as a receiver that plugs into a phone or tablet would be nice. This isnít something I would probably need to use very often so I am not looking for an expansive unit.

Anyone have any suggestions.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: brian maddox on October 12, 2019, 12:41:30 pm
RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band receiver.

I was thinking for trouble shooting (possibly search and destroy) that a relatively small hand held battery powered receiver with a display would be a handy tool. But it looks like the RF Explorer is a scanner. Are there any devices that are reasonably priced (like the RF Explorer) that will show the full bandwidth of the range (wireless mics) I am looking in, all at once so I donít have to wait for a scan to complete as I am walking around looking to see what it on the air around a facility. Playing the old game of hot and cold.

I have a WinRadio scanner that I use for scanning the room but it is not portable. And it is a scanner also. I am not sure if I am properly describing what I am looking for and if I am using the right terms. Even something that would work as a receiver that plugs into a phone or tablet would be nice. This isnít something I would probably need to use very often so I am not looking for an expansive unit.

Anyone have any suggestions.

The RF Explorer does exactly what you're asking for, assuming that i understand what that is.  :)

But yes, you can put in a range of frequencies, say 445HZ to 628HZ, and it will show a display in realtime of the amount of RF in that range along with things like peak Hold and that sort of thing.  Looks basically like an RTA for RF.  If the band you're looking at is large, the small display can be troublesome, but it definitely will do this.  I guess in a sense it's a "scanner" in that it's scanning that range and displaying it, but it's refreshing many times a second, so it's essentially a real time display.

If you hook it up to a laptop or something else with a larger display, you can see more granularly what is going on.  You can also do a variety of time based scans as well which can be very handy.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Andrew Broughton on October 12, 2019, 12:58:45 pm
I'm currently looking at seeing how well an SDR will work for this purpose. I have a cheapie (SDRPlay) that does the job, but it's BW is only 20Mhz. I'm considering a BladeRF which can do 60Mhz natively, and there's a hack that can double that. It seems like it's the lowest-priced product I've seen with that sort of bandwidth.

I have an RF-Explorer too, BTW, which I find handy for picking WiFi channels...
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 12, 2019, 01:02:22 pm
The RF Explorer does exactly what you're asking for, assuming that i understand what that is.  :)

But yes, you can put in a range of frequencies, say 445HZ to 628HZ, and it will show a display in realtime of the amount of RF in that range along with things like peak Hold and that sort of thing.  Looks basically like an RTA for RF.  If the band you're looking at is large, the small display can be troublesome, but it definitely will do this.  I guess in a sense it's a "scanner" in that it's scanning that range and displaying it, but it's refreshing many times a second, so it's essentially a real time display.

If you hook it up to a laptop or something else with a larger display, you can see more granularly what is going on.  You can also do a variety of time based scans as well which can be very handy.

Hi Kevin,

It's best not to get hung up on the differences between the methods that various spectrum analyzers use to display their info.  Until our modern time of digital FFT algorithm processing, ALL RF spectrum analyzers used "scanning" to perform their work by employing "swept-tuning".  The speed of those scans or sweeps, while remaining accurate and capturing transient signals, has always been what mostly what separates the wheat from the chaff.

The catch with most handheld & inexpensive RF SA devices is that they can't display fine enough resolution across wide spans for the display to be useful.  RF Explorer, for instance, is limited to 112 data points across any span.  However, with experience you can use it well for your purpose.  You just need to tweak it as you zero in on a narrow span that covers your signal of interest until it shows sufficiently useful info (a well-defined peak of power at the frequency of interest).

We're going to examine this in (hopefully) interesting detail in the AES 147 RF Super Session SR03 RF Advanced Practices discussion next week.  If you can make it, I promise you at least one "Eureka!" moment.  I hope more than one.   ;)

http://www.aes.org/events/147/livesound/?ID=6806 (http://www.aes.org/events/147/livesound/?ID=6806)
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Mac Kerr on October 12, 2019, 03:00:07 pm
We're going to examine this in (hopefully) interesting detail in the AES 147 RF Super Session SR03 RF Advanced Practices discussion next week.  If you can make it, I promise you at least one "Eureka!" moment.  I hope more than one.   ;)

http://www.aes.org/events/147/livesound/?ID=6806 (http://www.aes.org/events/147/livesound/?ID=6806)

Jason, do you know about what time your session will be. It's hard to get in for a 9am session from my home. My session is at 3pm.

Mac
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Pete Erskine on October 12, 2019, 03:41:39 pm
RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band receiver.

Even something that would work as a receiver that plugs into a phone or tablet would be nice. This isnít something I would probably need to use very often so I am not looking for an expansive unit.

https://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/receivers/r30/default.aspx
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 12, 2019, 03:57:33 pm
Jason, do you know about what time your session will be. It's hard to get in for a 9am session from my home. My session is at 3pm.

Mac

I don't, but we're usually last, around 11:00 AM.  You know, the headliner.   ;D
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 12, 2019, 04:13:44 pm
I don't, but we're usually last, around 11:00 AM.  You know, the headliner.   ;D

And FWIW, we're diving right into spectrum analysis from an RF engineering perspective and won't waste time on remedial entertainment RF Tech prerequisites.  We're going to build on its concepts and then bring them back around to hammer home practical considerations in filtering and RFOF.

Most of our attendees in the past have shown clearly, through their questions, that they're there to receive guidance beyond what's readily available to the competent tech and/or avid Googler.  It's our mission to oblige.  I'm excited about it! 
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: brian maddox on October 12, 2019, 05:34:27 pm
And FWIW, we're diving right into spectrum analysis from an RF engineering perspective and won't waste time on remedial entertainment RF Tech prerequisites.  We're going to build on its concepts and then bring them back around to hammer home practical considerations in filtering and RFOF.

Most of our attendees in the past have shown clearly, through their questions, that they're there to receive guidance beyond what's readily available to the competent tech and/or avid Googler.  It's our mission to oblige.  I'm excited about it!

And now i am too!

See you there, even if you don't see me.  :)
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 12, 2019, 07:47:04 pm
And now i am too!

See you there, even if you don't see me.  :)

We usually mill about after our terrifying talk.  Please, I beg you to introduce yourself and let's chat!
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: John Sulek on October 13, 2019, 06:48:15 pm
We usually mill about after our terrifying talk.  Please, I beg you to introduce yourself and let's chat!

Damn...I wish I wasn't working far from NYC this week.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Scott Helmke on October 13, 2019, 08:07:01 pm
The catch with most handheld & inexpensive RF SA devices is that they can't display fine enough resolution across wide spans for the display to be useful.  RF Explorer, for instance, is limited to 112 data points across any span.  However, with experience you can use it well for your purpose.  You just need to tweak it as you zero in on a narrow span that covers your signal of interest until it shows sufficiently useful info (a well-defined peak of power at the frequency of interest).

To be more specific on the "catch", if you're looking at a wide span with the RF Explorer then you just won't see narrow little wireless mic/IEM transmissions at all. You need to zoom in to see those, which means spending a lot of time tweaking frequencies.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Kevin Maxwell on October 14, 2019, 10:19:00 am
Are there any devices that are an RF receiver that interface with an android tablet that are any good. If nothing else I am wondering if the bigger screen on a tablet would help. If it would work with an Amazon fire tablet (I guess it is sort of an android device) that would be even better. Maybe I just need to give my wife the fire tablet to play with and I need to buy a Samsung tablet.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 14, 2019, 11:08:10 am
Are there any devices that are an RF receiver that interface with an android tablet that are any good. If nothing else I am wondering if the bigger screen on a tablet would help. If it would work with an Amazon fire tablet (I guess it is sort of an android device) that would be even better. Maybe I just need to give my wife the fire tablet to play with and I need to buy a Samsung tablet.

Take a look at RTL-SDR USB dongles.  Very powerful for their dirt cheap price and doable on Android.  https://sdrtouch.com/ (https://sdrtouch.com/)
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 14, 2019, 11:44:33 am
To be more specific on the "catch", if you're looking at a wide span with the RF Explorer then you just won't see narrow little wireless mic/IEM transmissions at all. You need to zoom in to see those, which means spending a lot of time tweaking frequencies.

Indeed.  See attached files.  FWIW, it occurred to me after I inserted the captions in these graphics that although RF Explorer claims 578 kHz RBW @ 230 MHz span in its readout, those 112 data points are over 2 MHz apart.  Meaning that the RBW is actually around 6 MHz.  It takes 3 points to define a peak.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Pete Erskine on October 14, 2019, 11:51:03 am
Indeed.  See attached files.  FWIW, it occurred to me after I inserted the captions in these graphics that although RF Explorer claims 578 kHz RBW @ 230 MHz span in its readout, those 112 data points are over 2 MHz apart.  Meaning that the RBW is actually around 6 MHz.  It takes 3 points to define a peak.

Its the detail that I like...not so much that I see individual carriers but to clearly see the DTV,  When I scan, even with a TTI or FieldFox, I limit span to 60 mHz and combine the files later.  TTI is convenient because it is always in my Backpack and it has enough gain to really see the DTV.  Field fox, at 4X the price, is automated with the same results and even greater detail.  The Fieldfox can demodulate the signal to listen to a carrier but I still prefer the plain old scanner which has GPS as well as iOS and Android apps.

https://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/receivers/r30/default.aspx
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Andrew Broughton on October 14, 2019, 12:23:25 pm
Is RBW a calculable value? I don't see it in the specs for SDR products.
https://www.nuand.com/bladerf-2-0-micro/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuZDtBRDvARIsAPXFx3A4UJo7-EKSs38_Y_PcjLQEHCPAuuFmHHIZ0ZDBItUJdIwQvYd68CsaAs42EALw_wcB
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: brian maddox on October 14, 2019, 04:50:28 pm
We usually mill about after our terrifying talk.  Please, I beg you to introduce yourself and let's chat!

Depends on how terrifying your talk is and just how frightened i am...  :)

See ya later this week!
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jordan Wolf on October 15, 2019, 07:53:41 am
See attached files...
Ugh...now I REALLY want to replace vs fix my RF Explorer. Thatís looks like GEQ vs PEQ! My eyes have been opened, lol.

How does the SignalHound USB-SA44B compare with your model?
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Jason Glass on October 15, 2019, 08:42:42 am
Ugh...now I REALLY want to replace vs fix my RF Explorer. Thatís looks like GEQ vs PEQ! My eyes have been opened, lol.

How does the SignalHound USB-SA44B compare with your model?

It's excellent, but it sweeps slower (a few seconds to do 30 kHz RBW over a 230 MHz span vs. milliseconds). Its input is easier to overload with out of band signals and it's more prone to display LO images due simpler front end filtering.  However, it's a great instrument for our kind of work and a bargain for its cost.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Pasi Manninen on October 15, 2019, 07:01:29 pm
To be more specific on the "catch", if you're looking at a wide span with the RF Explorer then you just won't see narrow little wireless mic/IEM transmissions at all. You need to zoom in to see those, which means spending a lot of time tweaking frequencies.

It is true, that the screen of the RF Explorer is limited to 112 datapoints. However, using RF Explorer with  Toucstone Pro software,  The Resolution Bandwidth feature allows some control over the detail of each spectrum trace measured when scanning. There is also Accelerated High Resolution mode for WSUB1G PLUS and ProAudio spectrum analyzers to select up to 4096resolution points.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Ike Zimbel on October 15, 2019, 09:12:54 pm
RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band receiver.

I was thinking for trouble shooting (possibly search and destroy) that a relatively small hand held battery powered receiver with a display would be a handy tool. But it looks like the RF Explorer is a scanner. Are there any devices that are reasonably priced (like the RF Explorer) that will show the full bandwidth of the range (wireless mics) I am looking in, all at once so I donít have to wait for a scan to complete as I am walking around looking to see what it on the air around a facility. Playing the old game of hot and cold.

I have a WinRadio scanner that I use for scanning the room but it is not portable. And it is a scanner also. I am not sure if I am properly describing what I am looking for and if I am using the right terms. Even something that would work as a receiver that plugs into a phone or tablet would be nice. This isnít something I would probably need to use very often so I am not looking for an expansive unit.

Anyone have any suggestions.
Hi Kevin, I just sent you a PM. iz
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Scott Holtzman on October 15, 2019, 10:34:23 pm
I have an older HP analyzer HP 8594E with tracking generator.  It is extremely low latency but quite large.  The tracking generator is great for tuning filters, preselectors etc.

There is one on eBay right now for $500.00

Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Andrew Broughton on October 16, 2019, 12:26:29 pm
Any other than me tried an SDR?
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Scott Helmke on October 16, 2019, 03:09:51 pm
Any other than me tried an SDR?

I did, a few years ago. Better than nothing, but not very usable.  The software is probably much better now, though.
Title: Re: RF Explorer, I assume it is a scanner. I think I am looking for a wide band rec.
Post by: Andrew Broughton on October 17, 2019, 12:33:04 pm
I did, a few years ago. Better than nothing, but not very usable.  The software is probably much better now, though.
I agree that the software isn't great - it's really geared towards radio (ham, etc.) scanning. It would be great if the 3rd party software that's been made for the rfExplorer would start to support SDRs.
I think there's a real market for something that's a step up from the rfExplorer, but isn't at the multi-$k price point. I don't think there's anything that's there atm.