Signal Hound Adds VITA 49 Protocol Support to the SM200A Spectrum Analyzer API

Signal Hound has added VITA 49 functionality to its SM200A 20 GHz headless RF spectrum analyzer and monitoring receiver.

The VME bus International Trade Association (VITA) 49 standard is a packet-based exchange protocol for RF devices such as spectrum analyzers and SDR receivers. The standard was developed to increase interoperability within RF systems by providing a communications format that is hardware and supplier-independent. Typical applications for VITA 49 are spectral monitoring and scanning, signal intelligence, radar, electronic warfare, direction finding and geo-location.

The latest version of this standard, VITA 49.2, defines the Signal Data and Context packet types. Signal Data packets consist of variable-sized blocks of I/Q data, along with a 32-bit trailer to convey critical information about the state of the receiver at the time the samples were obtained, such as timestamps and whether the system was being overdriven. The Context packets convey detailed information about the state and settings of the device at a given time. The Context Section is of variable size, depending on how many of the available fields are used.

The SM200A VRT functionality offers several advantages:

  • Greater context for signal data including timestamps and system state change indicators
  • Status indicators for calibration to external time reference, stability of time reference, and invalid data due to sample loss or over-range samples
  • Knowledge of system settings including RF reference frequency, bandwidth, reference level, attenuation, sample rate, temperature, device identity, and GPS geolocation
  • Increased compatibility with a wide range of RF applications

The SM200A API’s capabilities include spectrum sweeping, setting record-on-event triggers, real-time analysis, I/Q data streaming, and now VITA 49 compatibility. Using a C interface, the functions are easily callable from popular language platforms such as C/C++, C#, Python, Java, and MATLAB. The SM200A API Manual and VITA 49 User Guide provide full documentation of these features, and the SDK includes in-depth examples of usage in compliable C++ code, including a demo parser.

The SM200A VRT functionality is available immediately, at no additional cost i.e it is part of the Signal Hound Software Development Kit.