Michael Ossmann Makes You an RF Design Hero

To a lot of people, radio-frequency (RF) design is black magic. Even if you’ve built a number of RF projects, and worked your way through the low-lying gotchas, you’ve probably still got a healthy respect for the gremlins lying in wait around every dimly-lit corner. Well, [Michael Ossmann] gave a super workshop at the Hackaday Superconference to give you a guided tour of the better-illuminated spaces in RF design.

five_rules[Michael] is a hacker-designer, and his insights into RF circuit design are hard-won, by making stuff. The HackRF One is probably his most famous (and complex) project, but he’s also designed and built a number of simpler RF devices. And the main point of his talk is that there’s a large range of interesting projects that are possible without getting yourself into the fringes of RF design (which require expensive test equipment, serious modelling, or a Ph.D. in electro-wavey-things).

You should watch [Mike]’s workshop which is embedded below. That said, here’s the spoilers. [Mike] suggests five rules that’ll keep your RF design on the green, rather than off in the rough.

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Pulling data from the IM-ME spectrum analyzer

A small, cheap spectrum analyzer with an LCD can be a fun thing to play with. But to be truly usefully you need access to raw data, and lots of it. [Travis Goodspeed] set out to make that possible by pulling data with a GoodFET and a Python script.

He started with [Michael Ossmann’s] IM-ME spectrum analyzer, which uses a CC1110 chip. The two of them are giving a lecture at Toorcon 12 (called Real Men Carry Pink Pagers) and this will be used as a demonstration device. After studying the datasheet he found the starting RAM address and did some further work to deciphered how the data is stored in it. From there it was a matter of working out the timing for grabbing the data, and coding a method for storing it. Now he’s looking for brave souls to help him trailblaze with this newly-discovered tool. It seems that if you know what you are doing, and have abundant patience, you can use this for a bit of old-fashioned reverse engineering.