One of my challenges is detect a pulsar using my small dish antenna. The pulsars are vey weak radiosources and not easy to get for the amateurs, maybe be the most difficult signal to detect. The only way to detect the strong pulsars with my antenna is using a massive bandwith. Looking the sdr radios market dont find any radio that give-me more than 20Mhz of BW inside of the PC to process it, the trouble is the bootleneck is the USB and Ethernet. But in the middle of 2012 appears a new sdr radio called PHI from a young canadian company called Pervices. Looks that can give me the bandiwth that I need to detect pulsars.
The PHI / Notcar is a 8x PCI-E with two 125Msps ADC and one 250Msps DAC handled by a Altera FPGA. The card gives up to 250Mhz of bandwitdh and a throughput of 5Gbps. The card have two RX branches one working in base band with real type signal ideal for IF, and a I/Q type signal in a direct conversion setup that covers up to 4GHz.
The most important before to start the card, is get a very power PC. You will need a lot of horsepower to process the high samplerate that handle the card. In my case I’m using a Intel I7 3770k that is performing very well.
The first impression is very good, is a card with a lot of potentail, but is important to say that it not is a plg&play finished product, really is a open development platoform. To get good results, you will have to put a good rf frontend.
This are the screenshots of my firsts tests:
I developed a small rtlsdr server tha handle any input, that I’m using to feed the SDR# from the PHI:
Here one of my firsts success, this a screenshot from a L-band Inmarsat satellite, showing in realtime from 1520 to 1560Mhz, getting more than 15fps:
Note: Recentlly Pervices has upgraded the PHI card with some new features, and now the card is called Notcar.