ERASynth

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Jun 16 2017

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Product Choices

$749

ERASynth

250 kHz to 6 GHz RF Signal Generator with TCXO


$1,249

ERASynth+

250 kHz to 15 GHz RF Signal Generator with OCXO and TCXO


$1,749

ERASynth++

250 kHz to 20 GHz RF Signal Generator with OCXO and TCXO. Comes with a 15 to 20 GHz cavity filter.

Details

An open source, Arduino-compatible RF signal generator with Wi-Fi connectivity

As Featured In

eeNews Europe

"Startup creates 250 kHz to 15 GHz Arduino-compatible RF signal generator"

Open Electronics

Istanbul-based startup ERA Instruments has launched a crowd-funding campaign to bring its ERASynth RF Signal Generator into mass production.

IoT Design: Embedded Computing

"Finally, an affordable RF signal generator for everyone"

MWee

"ERA Instruments, a startup based in Istanbul, is utilizing state-of-the-art PLL/VCO technology to create ERASynth, an RF Signal generator with low phase noise and impressive output frequency range."

Myriad RF Blog

"Designed to appeal to everyone from hackers and students to professors and professional engineers, the ERASynth’s specifications are undeniably impressive."

Elektor

"Remarkably, the ERASynth from ERA Instruments uses a multi-loop PLL architecture to provide continuous frequency coverage from 250 kHz to 15 GHz in 1 Hz steps. "

Electroniques

"Unlike many competing products, ERASynth is not based on a single fractional PLL but on a PLL with multiple loop to provide continuous frequency coverage from 250 kHz to 15 GHz"

instrumentacionhoy

Arduino compatible RF signal generator

LinuxGizmos.com

"...offers WiFi and a multiloop integer-N PLL for better performance and reduced noise."

electronics-lab

"Compared with other low cost USB signal generators, ERASynth provides better features in many factors."

Finally, an affordable signal generator for everyone!

ERASynth is a high quality portable signal generator at a price point affordable by everyone including makers, students, universities, research labs, and start-ups.

  1. Makers/Hackers: RF signal generators are expensive pieces of test equipment typically only accessible by pro engineers. ERASynth removes the cost barriers and makes quality RF signal synthesis accessible to everyone, especially budget-conscious makers.
  2. Students: ERASynth is for everyone who wants to learn how signal generators work. Since it is open source with open schematics, students or anyone who is curious about the inner details of signal synthesis can learn from ERASynth. You can learn a lot by reverse engineering and hacking, without having to pay $50k in tuition in engineering program. After all, learning the design of test equipment turned Jim Williams into one of the best analog engineers in the world. ERASynth’s advanced design will certainly teach you several RF tricks.
  3. Professionals: Professional engineers will find ERASynth is a very good alternative to many of their existing signal generators. If you are professional engineer, you can compare it yourself: find the lowest cost equipment on your bench that can give you a 1 GHz signal with -120 dBc/Hz or better phase noise at 10 kHz offset. Its price tag will be several times more than ERASynth’s. See the comparison charts below to learn more about how ERASynth compares to common signal generators.
  4. Professors/Researchers/Start-ups: With all the cuts in research funds, who can afford to spend tens of thousands on signal generators? Whether you are a college professor studying Gigasample converters or a start-up developing state-of-the-art converter technology, you need to clock ADC/DAC somehow. Check out the specs, you will find ERASynth may very well be your next clock source. Besides the price, ERASynth’s portability will definitely help when you are out in the field.
  5. Anyone else : ERASynth is for anyone interested in RF testing. Below is a short list of application areas where users can take advantage of ERASynth:
    • General purpose RF testing. For example, to measure the gain of an amplifier, ERASynth can be used as the source.
    • Test signal source for SDR. People who are using any of the many SDR platforms can use ERASynth as the test signal source for testing and calibration of their SDR devices.
    • An agile LO source for up and down-converters.
    • Clock source for ADCs and DACs. When equipped with an optional OCXO, ERASynth’s jitter performance exceeds the requirements of state-of-the-art giga-sample data-converters.
1. Mini-USB for Serial Access 12. RF Attenuators (RFSA2113)
2. Wi-Fi Module (ESP8266) 13. RF Output (50 Ω)
3. Wi-Fi Antenna Connector 14. Wideband PLL with VCO (LMX2594 or LMX2595)
4. Micro-USB Input for Power 15. 10 MHz Reference Output
5. Microphone Input 16. 10 MHz Reference Input
6. Trigger and External Modulation Input 17. ±0.5ppm TCXO (10 MHz)
7. Step-down Switcher 18. ±25ppb OCXO (AOCJYR)
8. Step-up Switcher 19. Ultralow Phase Noise VCXO (ABLNO-V)
9. RF LDOs (TPS7A8300) 20. Tunable Reference Generator (LMX2594)
10. DDS (AD9913) 21. Arduino Due MCU (ATSAM3X8EA-CU)
11. RF Attenuators (RFSA2023) 22. Serial to USB Bridge (ATmega16U2)

Features & Specifications

  • Architecture: Multiloop Integer-N PLL driven by a tunable reference. No fractional-N or integer boundary spurs
  • Frequency Range:
    • ERASynth: 250 kHz to 6 GHz
    • ERASynth+: 250 kHz to 15 GHz
    • ERASynth++: 250 kHz to 20 GHz
  • Amplitude Range: -60 to +15 dBm
  • Phase Noise: -120 dBc/Hz, typical phase noise @ 1 GHz output and 10 kHz offset
  • Frequency Switching Time: 250 µs
  • Reference: Ultra-low noise 100 MHz VCXO locked to a
    • ±0.5 ppm TCXO for ERASynth
    • ±25 ppb OCXO for ERASynth+ and ERASynth++
  • MCU: Arduino Due board with BGA package Atmel Microcontroller (ATSAM3X8EA-CU)
  • Interfaces:
    • Wi-Fi interface for web-based GUI access
    • Mini USB for serial access
    • Micro USB for power input
    • Microphone jack for audio input
    • Trigger Input (SMA) for triggered sweep / External modulation input
    • REF In (SMA) for external reference input
    • REF Out (SMA) for 10 MHz reference output
    • RF Out
  • Dimensions: 10.5 cm x 14.5 cm x 2 cm
  • Weight: < 400 g (14.1 oz)
  • Power Input: 5 to 12 V
  • Power Consumption:
    • < 6 W for ERASynth
    • < 7 W for ERASynth+ and ERASynth++
  • Enclosure: Precision-milled, nickel-plated aluminum case
  • Open Source: Schematics, embedded Arduino code, Web GUI source code, and RS-232 command set

Signal Generator Architecture: Multiloop with a Tunable Reference vs Single Loop Fractional-N

Low cost, USB-controlled RF signal generators are available from a multitude of vendors. These signal generators usually include a single fractional PLL IC with integrated VCO. Examples of such PLL ICs are: ADF435x and ADF5355 series from ADI, LMX series from TI, MAX2870 from Maxim, and STuW series from STMicro. These signal generators are mostly a close replica of the eval board of the PLL/VCO IC and they are usually limited in terms of performance. ERASynth architecture provides several built-in features that overcome these limitations.

ERASynth rev3.1 block diagram

Competitor block diagram

ERASynth Eliminates Integer Boundary Spurs

While fractional-N PLLs are great for generating frequencies with fine frequency resolution, they suffer from a phenomenon called “integer boundary spurs” (IB spurs). IB spurs are visible at the output of a frac-N PLL IC when the output frequency is close to an integer multiple of the reference frequency. For example, generating an RF output of 6000.01 GHz from a 100 MHz reference will result in IB spurs as large as -30 dBc. This level of performance may be acceptable for some specific application, but generally it is unacceptable for signal generators. ERASynth’s multi-loop architecture eliminates IB spurs by varying the reference in fine steps while keeping the main loop in integer-N mode. This architecture not only diminishes IB spurs but also helps reduce phase noise. PLL IC’s phase noise floors are usually lower by 2-3 dB in integer-N mode compared to frac-N mode.

ERASynth rev2 (turquoise) vs ADF5355 Eval Board (yellow) @ 6.14401418 GHz. ERASynth rev2 uses ADF4356 as the main PLL.

ERASynth Improves Phase Noise

On top of the dual loop PLL that generates the RF output, ERASynth adds another PLL to minimize the reference phase noise. While many competitors use low-cost TCXOs in the range of a few tens of MHz, ERASynth uses a 100 MHz VCXO with a very low phase noise floor. This VCXO is stabilized with a ±0.5 ppm TCXO or ±25ppb OCXO depending on the model. The VCXO may also be locked to an external 10 MHz reference.

ERASynth rev3.1 phase noise at 10 GHz RF output.

ERASynth rev3.1 phase noise at 1 GHz RF output.

ERASynth rev3.1 phase noise at 100 MHz RF output.

ERASynth rev3.1 phase noise at 10 MHz RF output.

ERASynth rev3.1 10 MHz REF OUT phase noise.

Comparisons: ERASynth vs. Low-cost USB Signal Generators

- ERA Instruments ERASynth ERA Instruments ERASynth+ Vaunix LMS-602D DS Instruments SG6000LD Windfreak SynthHD
Architecture Int-N Driven by Frac-N Int-N Driven by Frac-N ?* Frac-N Frac-N
Frequency Range 250 kHz to 6 GHz 250 kHz to 15 GHz 1.5 to 6 GHz 25 to 6000 MHz and 6 to 12 GHz 54 MHz to 13.6 GHz
Frequency Resolution 1 Hz 1 Hz 100 Hz ~3 kHz 0.1Hz
Max Frequency Error 0 Hz 0 Hz ?* ~3 kHz 0 Hz
Amplitude Range -60 to +15 dBm -60 to +15 dBm -40 to +10 dBm typical +11 dBm with 31.5dB attenuator ?
Phase Noise at 1 GHz and 10 kHz offset -120 dBc/Hz -120 dBc/Hz -97 dBc/Hz -91 dBc/Hz (*) -100 dBc/Hz
Frequency Switching Time 250 µs 250 µs 100 µs ?* 4 ms
Subharmonics None None None over 6 to 12 GHz over 6.8 to 13.6 GHz
Reference 100 MHz VCXO locked to a ±0.5 ppm TCXO 100 MHz VCXO locked to a ±25 ppb OCXO & ±0.5 ppm TCXO ±2 ppm ±2.5 ppm 10 MHz TCXO ±2.5 ppm 10/27 MHz TCXO
REF IN/REF OUT Connectors Yes Yes Only REF IN. REF OUT is optional Only REF IN Only REF IN
Trigger Input Yes Yes optional ($400 USD) No Yes
Microphone Input Yes Yes No No No
Enclosure Milled aluminum Milled aluminum Milled aluminum Extruded aluminum Extruded aluminum
Power Input 5 to 12 V 5 to 12 V 5 V 5 V 6 V
Power Input Connector micro USB micro USB mini USB micro USB power jack
Serial Connectivity Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Connectivity Yes Yes No No No
Open Source Schematics, firmware and GUI Schematics, firmware and GUI Nothing Nothing LabVIEW GUI
GUI platform Platform independent web-based GUI Platform independent web-based GUI Windows Windows Windows and Linux
Price (USD) $749 $1249 $2299 $739 $1299

Comparisons: ERASynth vs. Professional Bench-Top RF Signal Generators

- ERA Instruments ERASynth ERA Instruments ERASynth+ Rigol DSG830 Stanford Resarch SG386 Keysight N5171B EXA
Architecture Int-N Driven by Frac-N Int-N Driven by Frac-N Int-N Driven by DDS? Rational Approximation Frequency Synthesis Proprietry Frac-N ASIC
Frequency Range 250 kHz to 6 GHz 250 kHz to 15 GHz 9 kHz to 3 GHz DC to 6 GHz 9 kHz to 6 GHz
Frequency Resolution 1 Hz 1 Hz 0.01 Hz 1 µHz 0.001 Hz
Amplitude Range -60 to +15 dBm -60 to +15 dBm -110 to +13 dBm -110 to +16.5 dBm -140 to +18 dBm
Level Control Open Loop Open Loop Closed Loop ALC Closed Loop ALC Closed Loop ALC
Calibration over Temperature Only at Room Temp Only at Room Temp 0 to 50°C 0 to 45°C 0 to 50°C
Phase Noise at 1 GHz, 10 kHz offset -120 dBc/Hz -120 dBc/Hz -104 dBc/Hz -114 dBc/Hz -122 dBc/Hz
Frequency Switching Time 250 µs 250 µs <10000 µs 8000 µs <5000 µs standard, <800 µs optional
Harmonics -10 dBc typical -10 dBc typical <-30 dBc <-35 dBc <-35 dBc
Reference 100 MHz VCXO locked to a ±0.5 ppm TCXO 100 MHz VCXO locked to a ±25 ppb OCXO ±2 ppm TCXO or optional ±5 ppb OCXO ±2 ppb OCXO ±1 ppm TCXO or optional ±5 ppb OCXO
Modulation AM, FM and pulse AM, FM and pulse AM/FM/ΦM and optional pulse AM/FM/ΦM/pulse optional AM/FM/ΦM/pulse
Price $749 $1249 $3779 $5900 $18266

Shipping & Fulfillment

ERASynths will be shipping from Crowd Supply’s warehouse in Portland, Oregon USA. We can’t pre-pay VAT, so if you are living in a country that collects VAT upon import, you will likely have to pay that and deal with customs clearance. International shipments will be fulfilled with Priority Mail, which is why the shipping fee is $35 USD for all international shipments. This fee does not include any applicable taxes, duties, etc. For more information about ordering, paying, and shipping please visit this Crowd Supply Guide page.

Support & Documentation

ERASynth schematics, Arduino firmware, web and Windows GUI source codes, datasheet and user guide are all available on ERA Instruments GitHub repository.

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Credits

ERA Instruments

Makers of RF test and measurement equipment.


Adnan Kaya

System Designer

Nurullah Kılınç

Embedded Firmware Engineer

Erkin Halaçlı

PCB Designer

Muhammet Küçük

Web Application Engineer

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