Q's Workshop

Exciting comments, news, and technical recommendations from the back room.

A Heat Test - November 20, 2016

The N3 SDR Receiver works hard to grab radio waves and turn them into digital signals that your computer can use. This hard work generates heat, and we’ve kept this in mind during the design process. Of course, the N3’s internal 0.5 parts per million Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator (TCXO) ensures excellent frequency stability between -30 and +85°C, so that’s not an issue, but in general, electronic components don’t enjoy being cycled between temperature extremes. So, we wanted the N3 to keep its cool!

We designed a large and exposed ground plane on the back of the board (more surface area to dissipate heat), a bigger board to increase “thermal mass” and aimed for good thermal conduction between the edges of the board and the outer case body. One of the reasons that we selected aluminium for the outer case material is that it’s an excellent thermal conductor and helps to suck away heat.

We’ve tested the production N3s and used an IR thermometer to measure temperatures. The case and components show a maximum rise of just 12-13°C above room temperature. Measuring individual components shows that the internal steel can and external aluminium case do a fine job of transporting heat away from the board.

We’re not done yet. We’re constantly monitoring and reviewing the N3 SDR Receiver to see where further improvements can be made, and we have some ideas for even better thermal performance, but for now, we are quietly satisfied.

Happy Nongling!


Nongles.com Launches - November 17, 2016

We're very proud and extremely excited to release Nongles into the Software Defined Radio (SDR) community!

Here’s the place where we’re going to discuss things like:

  • What exactly is Software-Defined Radio, and why would anyone want to use it?
  • What are Nongles?
  • How to improve the performance of a receiver system built from Nongles.
  • What other people are using Nongles for.
  • Occasionally, interesting topics and news from around ThumbNet – the satellite ground station network that was the reason for Nongles coming into existence.

  • We’ll welcome input from you, our co-experimenters. Beyond the amazing things that you will do with our complete radio receivers, we’re also keen to see what magic you create when we split up the standard RTL SDR receiver into boards to give you convenient access to two outstanding components:

  • The R820T2 “high performance, low power, advanced silicon” tuner
  • The RTL2832U ADC/demodulator with USB interface.