The Perseus Direct-Sampling SDR Receiver

by Adam Farson, VA7OJ/AB4OJ

Exterior view of Perseus receiver.
Perseus external view. Click for Microtelecom S.p.A. Image courtesy Microtelecom S.p.A.

At the 2010 Dayton Hamvention, I "took the plunge" into the SDR world and purchased a Perseus receiver. Since acquiring this fascinating little radio, I have been evaluating it on the air and have also conducted an exhaustive lab test suite on it. My user review and test report are now downloadable from this page (link below).

The Perseus is a direct-sampling software-defined radio (SDR) receiver offering continuous 10 kHz - 30 MHz coverage. It features a 14 bit 80 MS/s analogue/digital converter ADC, a high-performance FPGA-based digital down-converter (DDC) and a fast 480 Mbit/s USB2.0 PC interface which feeds a baseband up to 1.6 MHz wide to the connected PC in I/Q format.

The  analogue  front end between the BNC antenna input and the ADC consists of a switched attenuator (0 - 30 dB in 10 dB steps), a preselector with a bank of 10 switched filters (9 BPF's for 1.7 - 30 MHz and 1 LPF for 0 - 1.7 MHz) and an RF preamplifier offering high dynamic range to meet the most demanding amateur, SWL and radio-monitoring applications. This front end, and the ADC clock source, are the only analogue RF circuits in the Perseus. The low-noise clock oscillator assures phase noise < -140 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset.

The Microtelecom website offers a detailed description of the Perseus, along with software downloads and user documentation.
 

Perseus GUI display (NPR test with notched noise).
Perseus GUI display (NPR test with notched noise). Image: VA7OJ.

The receiver is controlled exclusively from the GUI (graphical user interface) which the Perseus software presents on the computer screen. All manipulations of the GUI are performed using the computer mouse.

All frequency, mode (emission type), bandwidth and signal-management functions are controlled by means of clearly-marked buttons and sliders. Frequency entry and tuning are possible via direct entry on a pop-up keypad, by clicking the frequency display digits, by rotating the mouse wheel with the cursor positioned over a frequency display digit and by "grabbing" and sliding the fiducial line on the main spectrum display.

Two spectrum displays are provided; the main display which fills ≈ 85% of the screen width, and a smaller secondary display which magnifies a central segment of the main display centered on the carrier frequency and slightly wider than the selected channel filter. The secondary display facilitates setting filter bandwidth, Passband Tuning (PBT) and the manual notch filter; the latter shows the notch stopband, which can be aligned with the spike corresponding to the signal to be notched out.

The S-meter displays S-units and either dBm or dBμV (selectable). The meter is accurate to within < 1 dB; thus, the Perseus is useful as a selective RF power meter covering 10 kHz to 30 MHz.

The main FFT spectrum display provides all the features of a basic spectrum analyzer, such as fully-configurable span, center frequency, resolution bandwidth (RBW), reference level and input attenuation. It also features markers with frequency/amplitude displays, and adjustable trace averaging. A large, clear waterfall display can be selected instead of the main spectrum display.

In addition to the Perseus software, the HFSpan software package allows operation of the receiver in a wideband mode as a 10 KHz - 40 MHz spectrum analyzer with more than 100 dB dynamic range in a 10 kHz RBW

The newest Perseus software release (v4.1a) now supports USB 3.0. It incorporates a server package which allows remote operation of the receiver over a LAN or the Internet, using the regular Perseus software as a client.  It also includes HFSpan, a spectrum-analysis program covering 10 kHz to 40 MHz with 10 kHz RBW.

Links:

Microtelecom Home Page

The SSB Electronic USA Perseus Page

The perseus_sdr Yahoo! Group

North Shore ARC Presentation on Perseus (PDF)

Perseus Block Diagram (PDF)

My Perseus User Review & Test Report including NPR tests on 1940, 2438, 3886, 5340 and 7600 kHz (PDF)

My Apache Labs ANAN-100D Test Report including NPR tests on 1940, 2438, 3886, 5340 and 7600 kHz (PDF)

Noise Power Ratio (NPR) Testing of HF Receivers (PDF)

NPR Test on HPSDR Transceiver (PDF)

NPR & Sensitivity Tests on FunCube Dongle Pro+ (PDF)

SDR Handbook, 10th Edition (PDF)

Copyright  2011-2013 A. Farson VA7OJ/AB4OJ.  All rights reserved. Images contributors as noted.
 Last updated: 11/05/2013

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