Phi PCIe SDR transceiver card

Terry Fox tfox at
Tue Jul 10 17:20:46 CDT 2012

Seems to have a few issues for general SDR usage, especially on HF.  Maybe 
good for VHF/UHF/microwave.

It must be put inside a computer, with a PCIe x4 slot.  That's probably 
needed for the high data transfer rate.  It also ONLY WORKS WITH LINUX right 
now, and probably best with GNU Radio.

The dynamic range is poor.  In the data they say to order one of two 
configurations, the "lab" version gets overloaded easily.  For some reason 
it appears that they limit the decimation to a max of 32.  With only a 
12-bit ADC, you would expect it to have a better range.  That's not even 
enough for a decent spectrum analyzer.

It appears to operate only down to 35MHz with one version of the ADF chip, 
or down to 140MHz with the other version.  So, this also leads me to believe 
it has an analog front-end conversion stage that tunes the RF from 140MHz to 
4GHz, which converts to an IF that is then digitized with the 12-bit ADC.

Very cool device for some specific apps, but not really for general amateur 
SDR usage, especially for HF.  VHF/UHF and microwave could be real 
interesting.  Wanna do some signal analysis with wifi or ???  I especially 
like the 200MHz swath!

Last time I checked (6 months ago) they were not shipping yet.  It appears 
that they are now shipping.  Good for them.

BTW, the openHPSDR group is about to open the floodgates on orders for the 
Hermes boards.  Because of the cost, they and TAPR are using a different 
approach.  There will be a small, one-time window that will open up for 
orders, and a deposit (or full amount?) will be required upon ordering. 
Then, the boards will be made, and sent to those who ordered.  The 
TAPR/HPSDR folks are very specific that there will be only ONE run of Hermes 
boards made, and there will be NO SPARES made.  Some bare-boards may be 

So, after waiting more than two years for Hermes, there will only be this 
short, one-time opportunity.  I'm sure that someone else will pick up the 
design after that.   I mention this here because Hermes costs about the same 
as this Phi board (maybe $100 more), nut is much better for amateur radio 
SDR work, especially HF.  There is ongoing work to build a spectrum analyzer 
front-end for Hermes and Mercury (called Cyclops) that also used the ADF435x 
in the front-end.  The down-side of the HPSDR designs is that up to now, 
they have been limited to only about 200kHz of bandwidth.  Some work is also 
being done to expand that.  Using serial lines for high-speed data on the 
Atlas backplane always seemed short-sighted to me...

Then there's the HiQSDR board, available from Germany, based on James 
Ahlstrom's DDC/DUC design.  I've got the parts and bare-board to build one. 
Plus a new Russian DDC/DUC design just coming available....  lots of neat 
SDR hardware (that I cannot afford!)
Terry, WB4JFI

-----Original Message----- 
From: Robert Stratton
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2012 11:08 PM
To: Tacos AMRAD
Subject: Phi PCIe SDR transceiver card

Apologies if you've seen this before. A friend just introduced me to this 
one called "Phi." The specs are interesting:

8Gbps, low latency, PCIe x4 bus
Up to 200MHz bandwidth
Fully integrated, full duplex, RF frontend
100kHz - 4GHz range SDR
Dual, 12 bit, 125 MSPS ADC
Dual channel, 16 bit, 250 MSPS DAC
Direct conversion quadrature transceiver
Digital down/up conversion on FPGA
20MHz, 0.28ppm, reference TCXO
Altera Cyclone IV EP4CGX22C FPGA
Linux drivers available
Includes GnuRadio interface

Apparently it's $750.
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