Troubleshooting

Benjamin Vernoux edited this page Dec 2, 2015 · 56 revisions

This page provides some quick tips on troubleshooting problems.

Most common problem to use AirSpy at full speed 10MSPS(320Mbit/s) (and even 2.5MSPS) are mainly related to USB controller or/and CPU.

We created a set of command line utilities to help troubleshooting the performance problems.

Windows:

  • Performance problems:
    • Download the latest release of the tools package
    • Open a console (cmd.exe) and run airspy_rx -r NUL -t 0
    • Leave it running for 30 seconds, then Ctrl+C If the average throughput is bellow 10.0 MSPS then either your USB controller has problems or you CPU can’t process the data.
    • Possible solutions:
      • Use another USB port
      • Update your USB drivers (Prefer OEM drivers to generic ones)
      • Check your anti-virus or any other CPU heavy task
      • Use a PCIe USB2.0/3.0 controller

Linux (Debian/Ubuntu):

Ubuntu users: 14.04 LTS (Trusty) is highly recommended.

OSX:

Working Configurations

Please report only common PC configuration we shall avoid to have more than 50 configurations here.

Configuration Name OS CPU/RAM and/or CPU-Z Validate Link HDD (optional) USB2.0/3.0 Controller
bvernoux Asus N56VZ - Windows 7 64-bit SP1(Build 7601)
- Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS(kernel 3.13.0-43-generic)
Intel Core i7-3630QM CPU 2.40GHz, 8GB DDR3 http://valid.x86.fr/rm6x5u Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series 240GB Intel HM76 rev 04 (USB3.0 only)

Please update this page with your working configuration using http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html and Validate and post the link to validated configuration like for my configuration "bvernoux Asus N56VZ"

Problematic Configurations

Post here only if minimum hardware requirements match:

  • 3rd gen Intel i3 2.4 GHz CPU or equivalent
  • 2GB of RAM (to run your own OS, airspy barely needs 1MB of memory)
  • High speed USB 2.0/3.0 controller
Configuration Name OS CPU/RAM and/or CPU-Z Validate Link HDD (optional) USB2.0/3.0 Controller Solution
Ben Hall ASRock Z77 Extreme4 Win? Intel Core i7-3770 CPU 3.40GHz PCIe NEC uPD720202

Interesting Streaming Rate benchmarks by Ettus: http://www.ettus.com/kb/detail/usrp-b200-and-b210-usb-30-streaming-rate-benchmarks

It seems a recommended cheap USB2.0/3.0 Controller is the "NEC uPD720202 / NEC Renesas µPD720202" Which can be found for example on: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ID0C4GC/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

More feedback are welcome about those cheap PCIe USB2.0/3.0 controller to ensure they work fine with AirSpy+Host Tools (especially with Windows, Linux & MacOS).

USB transfer problems with long cable can be solved using extension/repeater like this one (tested with success by superkuh): 16ft 5M USB 2.0 A Male to A Female Active Extension / Repeater Cable (Monoprice) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ANARPC8/

How to check external clock is active

To check if the external clock was active while the Airspy was powered on the following command can be used:

airspy_si5351c -n 0 -r

If bit 4 is set then it is not using the clockin (TCXO is active clock)
[ 0] -> 0x11
And if bit 4 is clear then it is using the clockin (ext clock is active clock)
[ 0] -> 0x01

The first nibble is bits 7-4 and the second nibble is bits 3-0, which can be confusing. The Airspy only checks for a valid external 10MHz 3.3v CMOS clock once while it is being powered on. For technical details about the CLKIN Loss Of Signal register query in the command above see section "8.1. Register Map Summary" and section "9. Register Descriptions" of Silabs AN619 - Manually Generating an Si5351 Register Map.

Questions & Answers about External Clock: https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/airspy/conversations/messages/2397

Using multiple AirSpy

Multiple AirSpy use case is mainly for Coherent Receiver Array, Direction Finding, Passive Radar ... which requires to have multiple AirSpy running at same time (on the same PC).

It is heavily recommended to have a high end PC at least CoreI7 in order to use multiple AirSpy at same time on the same PC.

  • For example with a CoreI7-3630QM @2.4GHz (4cores), SDR# use about 10% CPU with 10MSPS with 32K FFT and FM stereo.