When a new iPhone is released you will see a flurry of activity & posts related to doing a “teardown” of the hardware and/or software plus features.  These sort of detailed walkthroughs of what’s really under-the-hood of the exterior casing can go a long way to helping to educate those of us who are looking for details beyond what is typically posted on the website.

The goal of our blog is to educate people on DSP related topics that we think might be of interest to them.  Typically we will avoid posts that are 100% product focused, but periodically we will be sharing “teardown” type blogs so we can give detailed information to those of you who have a deep interest in the bits & pieces that make up our solutions.  At the end of this blog you can leave comments, asking questions on what we’ve covered, or suggesting ways to improve these type of posts.



Nutaq’s PicoSDR Available Configurations

PicoSDR Stack

(Click image to expand.)

The Nutaq PicoSDR is an SDR solution that has been packaged in a small table-top metal enclosure. It is based on Nutaq’s Perseus601x AMC carrier and Radio420 FMC daughter boards.

The PicoSDR comes in three different packages. Click on the links to see the block diagram of each.

  • PicoSDR2x2 https://nutaq.com/public/images/images-de-contenu/picosdr-2×2.jpg
    • 1 Perseus 601x
    • 1 Radio420M FMC stack
  • PicoSDR2x2-E https://nutaq.com/public/images/images-de-contenu/picosdr-2×2-e.jpg
    • 1 Perseus 601x
    • 1 Radio420M FMC stack
    • 1 SAMC-514 embedded CPU
  • PicoSDR4x4 https://nutaq.com/public/images/images-de-contenu/picosdr-4×4.jpg
    • 2 Perseus 601x
    • 2 Radio420M FMC stack

What’s Included

Shipped with the PicoSDR are :

  • A universal power supply
    • 180 watts
    • 12 VDC output
    • 100 to 240 VAC input
  • The ADP software tools installers on a DVD
  • A Quick Start Guide document
    • Guides through a quick setup to run the OFDM reference design demonstration
  • A set of antennas and their MMCX cables
  • MMCX – MMCX cables to synchronise clocks between Radio
  • A MIMO synchronization cable (only for the PicoSDR4x4)

PicoSDR Teardown

Let’s start the teardown by opening the PicoSDR2x2 enclosure.


PicoSDR 2×2 (Click image to expand)

The back plane board (1) handles the power supply for the whole enclosure as well as the control and data streaming connections with the external world. The following interfaces are available:

  • The reset button (2)
  • The power connector (3) (12V DC)
  • The FPGA JTAG. (4) connector which allows access to the Perseus FPGA
  • A mini-USB connector which is connected to the Perseus serial port (5). The user can access the Perseus’ emdedded Linux serial console.
  • Two RJ-45 Ethernet connectors (6) connected to a Gigabit Ethernet switch for control and data streaming
  • A PCIe 4x connector (7) (optional) for control and data streaming.
  • A SATA connector (8) (optional) to interface an external Hard Disk Drive to the embedded CPU in the PicoSDR2x2-E. The HDD allows prolonged recording and playback.
  • 2 AMC connectors (9). In the PicoSDR2x2’s case, only the right connector is used to power and control a Perseus601x. The connector also routes the Gigabit Ethernet and PCIe links between the backplane and the Perseus601x.

The back plane connectors are available on the PicoSDR back panel.

PicoSDR Backpanel

PicoSDR Back Panel (Click image to expand.)

The PicoSDR is also equipped with 8 very-low noise fans (10) to cool the enclosure.

PicoSDR 2x2

PicoSDR 2×2 Side View (Click image to expand.)

In the PicoSDR2x2, the Perseus601x carrier (1) is equipped with Virtex6 FPGA (LX240, LX550, SX315 and SX475 models are available), a 4 GB DDR3 SODIMM and a Radio420M FMC stack (2) consisting of two Radio420 daughter cards. The Radio420M is powered and controlled through the Perseus High Pin Count FMC connector (3). The PicoSDR2x2 front panel gives access to the following connectors for each Radio420.

  • 1 TX connector (MMCX antenna connector)
  • 1 RX connector (MMCX antenna connector)
  • 1 Reference clock in connector. (MMCX).
  • 1 Reference clock out connector (MMCX). With the reference clock in connector, allows frequency synchronisation between two Radio420 boards.
  • 1 PPS in connector (MMCX). Allows the Radio420 to synchronize its clock to a GPS Pulse-per-second signal.
  • 1 custom IO connector (microHDMI). Allows MIMO synchronisation between Radio420m stacks for 4×4 or 8×8 MIMO.


PicoSDR Front panel

PicoSDR Front Panel (Click image to expand.)


PicoSDR 2x2-E

PicoSDR 2×2-E (Click image to expand.)

The PicoSDR2x2-E adds an embedded CPU blade (SAMC-514) to the package to allow embedded processing. The CPU runs Fedora 17 and supports the Linux version of the ADP Software Tools as well as Nutaq’s GNU Radio plug-in. The PicoSDR2x2 front-panel gives access to the SAMC-514 connectors, namely 2 USB connectors (for keyboard and mouse for example), an HDMI connector (for the video display) and a mini-USB connector.  The backplane handles the CPU and Perseus601x interconnections for Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express.

PicoSDR 4x4

PicoSDR 4×4 (Click image to expand.)

The PicoSDR4x4 adds a second Perseus601x and Radio420m FMC stack to allow 4×4 MIMO within a single unit. The backplane handles the Perseus to Perseus interconnections.

What Did We Miss?

This is our first blog post where we have done a product teardown.  Our goal is to continuously improve, in order to give you the most relevant information possible.

So, what did we miss?  Leave your ideas in our Comments section.