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The lab will be split into 2 parts for scalability and efficiency:

  1. A local part where students can carry out lab experiments individually and at their (remote) location using equipment that they have to acquire themselves. A list of recommended equipment will be provided, and for convenience we are considering to make an arrangement with an electronics supplier to provide a package that prospective students can order. All students can participate in this part of the lab, which is focused on relatively low frequency circuits that can be easily and cheaply realized on a breadboard and evaluated with simple equipment.
  2. A remote part where students can access the TU/e wireless labs remotely to carry out advanced mm-wave experiments through remote control and observation of equipment in our labs, supported by a video/audio link to a SA/TA in the lab. This will only be accessible for paying students.

 

List of recommended equipment:

 

Cheap alternative all-in-one option: EspoTek Labrador: USB Oscilloscope, Signal Generator, Power Supply, Logic Analyzer and Multimeter for $29 with worldwide free shipping. Can be combined with $6 Raspberry Pi Zero or $11 Raspberry Pi Zero W, or used through laptop. Windows/Linux/Mac software is free and open source, and hardware is open source as well.

See https://espotek.com/labrador/

 

 

An alternative to this set-up would be to replace or complement the oscilloscope with a nanoVNA.

In the year 2020 a new 3.5GHz version is expected for the same price as the current 900MHz version.

It might be possible to link the nanoVNA to our preferred simulation tool QUCS through GNU Octave which is integrated in QUCS already for postprocessing simulation data. GNU Octave does allow access to the serial port from the Octave instrument control package , which can be downloaded from here. The nanoVNA can be accessed and controlled through the virtual serial port of the USB interface. Opening a serial terminal (such as putty in Windows) and typing help gives a list of commands:

ch> help
Commands: help exit info echo systime threads reset freq offset time dac saveconfig clearconfig data dump frequencies port stat sweep test touchcal touchtest pause resume cal save recall trace marker edelay

More info on the nanoVNA and these commands can be found here .

We will be accessing the VNA either though its hardware controls and menus on the screen or through the GNU Octave tool in QUCS-S. To access the nanoVNA through Octave, we need a recent version of Octave such as version 5.1 and access the "instrument-control" package, which in recent versions is installed (but not loaded yet) by default.. The functions in this package are documented here.

We then also need to point QUCS-S to the new version of Octave by changing the "Octave path" in the "locations" tab of the Qucs properties dialog accessed through "File -> Application seetings" from something like "C:/Program Files (x86)/Octave-3.6.4/bin/octave-3.6.4.exe" to the new command line executable (typically something like "C:/Octave/Octave-5.1.0.0/mingw64/bin/octave-cli.exe").

We have developed a script that can be used to control the nanoVNA from QUCS simulations and display simulation and measurement results together in a single set of graphs:



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Cost calculation

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See also ideas & suggestions from Heinrich & colleagues

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