Signal Hound Adds RF Mapping to Spectrum Analyzer Software for Accurate Wireless Network Modeling

Signal Hound Adds RF Mapping to Spectrum Analyzer Software for Accurate Wireless Network Modeling

The software team at Signal Hound has recently upgraded the Spike analysis software with a new RF mapping mode that can be used in conjunction with the SM200 RF spectrum analyzers. RF Mapping for drive and walk test solutions are now part of the ever-growing list of free tools included in Spike. 

Earlier this fall, Signal Hound surveyed RF professionals to better understand what they need in an RF Mapping solution. They then used that feedback to create this latest release of Spike. This new addition is a game-changer for Spike and has particular application to Field Techs and Mobile Engineers. The ability to capture and analyze wireless coverage and performance is so valuable in today’s networked world. With the free Spike software and a Signal Hound spectrum analyzer, the solution becomes a mobile data analysis hub with everything needed to ensure that the systems are operating at peak functionality.

Hit the road with Spike’s new RF mapping software

Cell tower coverage testing using a BB60C, external GPS, and the Spike software mapping mode.

Whether it’s for drive or walk test solutions, testing network coverage, or modeling wireless performance on outdoor installations and indoor DAS systems, Spike’s new RF mapping analysis mode provides the tools for efficiently adding a geospatial data layer to your RF measurements.

RF mapping using Spike in a vehicle with a BB60C, laptop, and external GPS unit

With a Signal Hound spectrum analyzer connected to a computer running Spike, setup is as easy as importing a map, and optionally connecting an external GPS unit, or using the internal GPS of an SM series device.

Measurements can be taken manually by clicking on the map, or automatically when using a GPS receiver based on time or distance travelled, allowing hands-free operation. To make the process even more intuitive and convenient, turn on audio feedback for RSSI, enabling eyes-free operation while driving or walking.

Measurements capture frequency, measurement bandwidth, channel power, peak signal strength, and occupied bandwidth, in addition to time, geographic latitude and longitude coordinates, and an optional direction or bearing. If a measurement has a directional component, a line will be drawn on the map to aid in visually triangulating an energy source.

Points are heat mapped according to their power readings, on an adjustable color spectrum, to maximize useful information at a glance. The azimuth of directional points can be specified by rotating a point with a mouse or trackpad, or entering an angle manually from a compass, with an optional declination adjustment.

Mapping works inside, too

Measuring Wi-Fi signal coverage in a commercial office building

Working equally well for outdoor sessions across a wide area around a cell tower, to indoor sessions in a small building for fire radio safety analysis, the ability to import any map gives the user ultimate flexibility in how their measurements are represented geospatially. For indoor mapping, it may be necessary to anchor a measurement only to a position on the image, such as a floorplan.

After data capture in the field, measurement points can be exported as a simple CSV, or in KML format, which can then be opened in Google Earth™ mapping service, with full heat mapping preserved, Google Maps™ mapping service, and other compatible programs.

Sessions preserving maps, measurements and configuration data can be exported on one PC and imported and viewed on another. This enables someone to collect data in the field, and another to analyze it in the lab, with a simple file exchange.

Spectrum analysis and mapping are both dense fields and integrating them in an effective way is challenging. At this intersection, applications that reduce unnecessary complexity are immensely valuable. With Spike, RF mapping is at its simplest and most affordable.

Also – New in the SDK – Frequency Hopping I/Q Acquisition for the SM200

Signal Hound also recently introduced frequency hopping I/Q acquisition for all SM200 models.

This feature allows customers to define custom I/Q acquisition lists with up to 1200 unique frequency steps and custom acquisition sizes at each frequency. The SM200 can continuously sweep up to 8333 frequencies per second, allowing targeted I/Q monitoring with high probability of intercept. I/Q samples are timestamped using the on-board GPS.

RF mapping using Spike in vehicles with a BB60C analyzer, laptop, and e-updates to Signal Hound’s custom applications are ongoing.

Click here to learn more about Signal Hound's SDK solutions.

Publisher: everything RF