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Author Topic: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions  (Read 6749 times)

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Offline apelly

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Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« on: November 24, 2014, 04:31:43 PM »
The second of two items I'd like to pick up on Cyber Monday is a Rigol DSA815-TG.

To be honest, I haven't researched this very much, but if the price is right I'll probably just grab it.

Maybe some kind of SDR would do me though. I don't really have a use case for it, I'm mainly interested in sniffing around the airwaves and hacking.

Any thoughts?

Edit: Here's a link http://www.tequipment.net/RigolDSA815-TG.html
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 04:34:25 PM by apelly »
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2014, 05:18:21 PM »
Between the DSA815-TG and the 34461A (in your other post) I'm betting the spectrum analyzer would be more interesting.  Not that I don't get why someone would want a $1k bench DMM vs. a decent handheld DMM but how much more are you going to be able to do with the bench DMM than what you can do with your existing DMM(s)?  With the SA you might find or learn or do something interesting that is hard to do with any of your existing equipment.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 05:32:33 PM by Electro Fan »
 

Offline Andy2

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2014, 10:51:58 PM »
For just sniffing around, a decent SDR might be better than a specan, which is really more for analysis than sliding around the bands. The FCD Pro Plus is excellent and covers 100 KHz to 2 GHz (with a gap from 240 to 420 MHz). It is far easier to tune around and listen than a SA, which will try your patience very quickly. The only downside of the FCD is its rather limited span of 200KHz. There is a new kid on the block called the SDR Play, which is similar to the FCD Pro Plus but can deliver up to 8 MHz of span.
Andy.
 

Offline bookaboo

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2014, 11:06:40 PM »
Missing 240 to 420MHz and only 200KHz span? Those are pretty big downsides, I dont think anything with those issues could be compared to a SA.
I got a DSA815_TG earlier in the year, I use it mostly for checking the output of low power radio modules (doing a few channel hopping projects) and some very rough antenna testing. I'm quite happy with what I got for my money. Bearing in mind I'm a long way an expert in SA,  I went for the 815 on the back of it's many positive reviews (including Dave's). The consensus seemed to be that it was a steal at that money for an entry level SA.
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2014, 12:04:09 AM »
I went for the 815 on the back of it's many positive reviews (including Dave's). The consensus seemed to be that it was a steal at that money for an entry level SA.
That's pretty much my reasoning too.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline Andy2

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2014, 01:26:53 AM »
Oh don't get me wrong, the Rigol is excellent for the money and I have a Rigol myself - but from the OP's post I got the impression that he wanted something just to 'poke around the bands with' and an SDR would be far more convenient for that. An SDR is constantly in 'listen' mode, whereas this has to be invoked on an SA and the Rigol's listen mode (in common with many SA's) is not brilliant and has to be tweaked. Perhaps one of the more expensive SDR's with continuous coverage and larger span would be worth looking at.
Still, horses for courses and whatever Apelly fancies is his choice.
Andy.
 

Offline XFDDesign

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2014, 01:55:02 AM »
Given that SpecAns are little more than specifically designed receivers, I would argue that SpecAns also are always in a "listen mode." The big requirement would be "GET THE MODEL WITH THE TRACKING GEN."

I'm unfamiliar with the SDR the OP is thinking about, but with the DSA w/TG the OP can design up an LNA for the band of interest, hook it up and use the Tracking Gen to tune it and get it right. Once that's done, plug an antenna into the thing, drive the SpecAn input with the LNA's output, and get a complete idea of what's going on in the spectrum of interest.

The OP would like to listen in, at that point? Build up a down-converter, build up an amplifier for the tracking gen, and then zero-span the spec an for the LO of interest. Poof, the Spec-An provides a decent-enough LO to drive the down-converter and the baseband can be processed further. One could build a simple set of demod radios for a specific IF, and the rest comes out in the wash (all of which can be assisted with by the SpecAn).
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2014, 07:40:12 AM »
XFDDesign, those are exactly the things I was thinking of fooling with.

The SDR I had in mind was a hackrf. Pretty rare at the moment.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline videobruce

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2014, 09:05:29 AM »
For $200 for the TG, you would be foolish if you didn't get it. I use that almost as much as without.  :-+
 

Offline KD0RC

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2014, 10:46:48 AM »
I got one (with the Tracking Generator) and have learned a great deal from it.  I even used it to track down a transmit problem in a transceiver.  It is a lot of gear for the money and I am very happy with it.  I have wanted one for a VERY long time, and this unit is in my range of affordability.
As far as using it as an LO for an SDR, be aware that the waveform from the tracking generator is not a well formed sine wave at lower frequencies.  I will certainly work, but may give disappointing results.  The higher in frequency that you go, the better the quality of the sine wave until around 620 kHz to about 800 kHz where it has another anomaly.  I don't think this hurts the SA functionality, but using the TG as an LO for a receiver may not be the best, except for learning purposes.
Len
 

Offline Electro Fan

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RF Explorer
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2014, 12:15:03 PM »
The Rigol will probably be more useful and fun  :-+, but if you go with something other than a full SA this seems to be worth consideration:

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/rf-explorer-signal-generator/

There are probably tons of info on EEV and on the web but here are a few links ready to go:


- some lock-ups in this demo; hard to know if those are standard, occasional or maybe user error


- demo with out the PC software


- 2.5 years old but good intro


- RF Explorer Generator


- adding a card

http://rfexplorer.com/
- an overview

http://www.amazon.com/RF-Explorer-Handheld-Spectrum-Analyzer/dp/B00GM72CGU#customerReviews
- some reviews
http://www.amazon.com/RF-Explorer-handheld-spectrum-transport/dp/B00NMH179Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416964278&sr=8-1&keywords=rf+explorer+wifi&pebp=1416964294878
http://www.amazon.com/Signal-Generator-RFE6GEN-RF-Explorer/dp/B00OY1P7DG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416964349&sr=8-1&keywords=rf+explorer+generator&pebp=1416964358126

http://www.edn.com/design/test-and-measurement/4389545/Can-a-129-spectrum-analyzer-be-any-good-
- another review

Different modules and/or different versions for different frequencies.
http://nutsaboutnets.com/models/
- product table

http://micro.arocholl.com/
- web site
http://micro.arocholl.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51:rf-explorer-specifications&catid=40:article&Itemid=62

Some of the reviews here on EEV and on the web say the screen is too small to be useful but with a PC it looks like it might have some utility - at least as a way to get some visibility into RF at a lower entry cost than a full SA.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2014, 12:17:26 PM by Electro Fan »
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2014, 03:00:27 PM »
Long post Electro Fan!

I looked into the RF Explorer thanks to your post.

It's interesting, but I think I'd try and get my hands on a hack-rf if I was going the ultra cheap route though.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline radiogeek97

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 02:07:42 AM »
just wondering if anybody has had any progress working on the LATEST DSA815 bootloader?  I have searched high and low for a unit with the old formware/bootloader so the upgrade/mod can be done and i have had NO luck.  I would love to order a new one from some place like T-equip but they are the latest non-upgradeable units    if anybody has had any hopeful progress and cares to chime in that would be great for allot of us     >:D
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Rigol DSA815-TG Opinions
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2014, 12:11:08 PM »
Ordered a DSA815-TG today. Thanks for your input guys.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 


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