Once in a while, I come across a learning project that is truly engaging. So, I need to tell you about how DesktopSDR captivates my attention, and might do so for you, too.
DesktopSDR is a complete learning package – book and software – that truly rocks. You need access to Matlab, and a software defined radio like RTL-SDR or USRP. With these resources, you can learn a ton of stuff about SDR on your computer.
DesktopSDR is the brainchild of Professor Bob Stewart in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Bob and his colleagues set out to build a comprehensive SDR learning experience for everyone. His motivation was to engage learners by focusing on real-world radio experiments, rather than the purely mathematical approach typically used to teach DSP. In particular, it leverages the $20 RTL-SDR as a learning tool.
The result is a package of text, experiments and simulations useful for students and others to learn many of the basics of software defined radio. The book is called Software Defined Radio Using Matlab & Simulink and the RTL-SDR. You can buy it, or just download it as a PDF. I recommend that you also download the complete package that contains all of the Simulink models, MATLAB scripts and data files that you require to work through the examples.
On You Tube, you can also find many instructional videos about setting up and using the tools.
DesktopSDR Captivates with a Great Learning Experience
The book is a great combination of teaching theory and applying using Matlab experiments. These include sampling, filtering, frequency translation, modulation and demodulation. Complex numbers and phase locked loops are covered in detail. There are also experiments to set up your own transmitter. At the very least, you should take a look at the book.
Matlab is produced by Mathworks. It is a proprietary, heavyweight tool for teaching and using mathematics, and very much more. Matlab is not open source, and not cheap. It has been used extensively in education and industry for more than thirty years.
Now for the good news. Matlab has reasonably priced licensing for home or student use. And, DesktopSDR runs on all versions, including home and student. The only caveat is that you need a recent version, R2014b or later.
We will be exploring how DesktopSDR captivates in future articles.