Saturday, August 6, 2011

455kHz SDR - a second thought

My previous blog was all about the idea of adding a softrock, or any other simple SDR-DC-RX, to a cheap (synthesized) AM radio. Well, honestly said, when thinking of it, this may be a totally unnecessary overkill.
Why? Well, very simple. The main purpose of all the quadrature stuff is to make the two sidebands that a DC-RX receives different. But, what if there is not other sideband? The following may not apply to the absolute cheapest of AM-receivers.
Concerning the ATS-404, I have ambiguous information. While some technical data mention the AM i.f. being 450kHz, the schematics diagram mentions a LT455H, which is a 455kHz ceramic filter having +/-3kHz 6dB bandwidth (+/-9kHz for attenuated bandwidth). If we tap before that filter, we definitely need quadrature, should we however tap the i.f. behind that filter, a non-quadrature SDR would be OK too.
Most of the better world-band receivers use a first i.f. somewhere high with a relatively wide crystal filter. Most of the narrow filtering is done at 455kHz. In this case, we probably wont need quadrature at all. All we have to do is to ensure that our SDR center frequency (or SDR-l.o.) falls close to but outside the range of the intermediate frequency range. In such a scenario, there would not be a second sideband to care about and also a simple mono-audio interface would already do the job.
The Target HF3 would be an example for such a receiver. The first i.f. is at 45MHz having a bandwidth of +/-3.75kHz. The second i.f. band would consequently be 455-3.75=451.25 to 455+3.75=458.75 kHz. In yesterday's example, using a 1.8432Mhz local oscillator, we ended up at an SDR center frequency of 460.8kHz, which is close but outside the HF3's second i.f. band. A regular direct conversion receiver with a local oscillator at 460.8kHz would therefore receive only a lower side-band, since there is no signal in its upper side-band.
My idea would be to try that out using a canned oscillator and two flip-flops for frequency division. With some isolation amplification a singled ended diode mixer and a cheap USB audio adapter should round up that experiment.