Tuner Works With Software Demod for Wideband Reception
When I was small the ads for multiband transistor radios caught my attention. Imagine, one radio to pick up long wave beacons, AM broadcast, amateur radio and shortwave broadcast stations, FM broadcasts, aircraft communications, weather radio and police and fire communications. When I got one of these radios for Christmas, the excitement eventually wore off when I realized how poorly it performed. In the years that followed I made some modifications to improve it. I still have that radio, but it's been a long time since I've turned it on.
More than five decades later I'm still intrigued by the idea of a "DC to Daylight" radio, so a recent press release from Mirics about their partnering with VERTEX3D to combine its software-based global TV receiver with VERTEX3D, a brand of AMD graphics cards, in a "Digital Streamer Edition" that enables graphics card users to watch free digital TV on their PCs caught my attention.
The Mirics' FlexiTV software and FlexiRF silicon tuner allows constructing a receiver that can receive radio and TV in multiple modes from 150 kHz to 2 GHz.
Mirics says its hardware and software can be used to create a receiver that can pick up analog radio (AM & FM), digital radio (DAB, DAB+, DMB-A, DRM, HD Radio), analog TV (PAL and NTSC), digital TV (ATSC, DTTB, DVB-T, DVB-T2, ISDB-T), Mobile TV (ATSC-M/H, CMMB, ISDB-T and T-DMB), Cable TV (ClearQAM, DVB-C), satellite TV (DVB-S and DVB-S2 downconverted) and GPS!
If Mirics provided the drivers, it would appear the system could also be used as a software-defined radio for shortwave, VHF and UHF two-way radio, and weather satellite reception.
With such an innovative product, I'm surprised I haven't heard of this company before. Mirics says the FlexiTV platform "exceeds all relevant broadcast and industry compliance requirements (such as NorDig and USB-IF), delivering a robust solution to meet the strictest of OEM and ODM quality expectations."
The other exciting thing about a software radio is that if broadcasters decided that another modulation scheme worked better for them, a software update would allow the receivers to adapt to it.
I could see using the Mirics FlexiRF/FlexiTV as the basis of a low-cost, compact software-defined USB based spectrum analyzer and signal analysis system. I'd proposed that to some manufacturers at the start of the DTV transition--a GNURadio based test set, but was told that the hardware available was not powerful enough to support it. Seeing the improvements in software-defined radios over the last decade, that may no longer be the case.
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Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.