So a lot has changed since I last fired up my HackRF. GNURadio hit version 3.8, so did Python. GNURadio deprecated WX GUI and moved to QT GUI elements. My two go-to test flow graphs didn’t work anymore on my Windows 10 machine. So here is what I changed:
Hackrf One Manual
FM Radio Receiver
In the osmocom Source object I had to add hackrf=0 to Device Arguments. I also modified the WX GUI Slider to account for a range of 88.5MHz to 108.5MHz and center on 97.7MHz. Other than that, everything still worked, even with the deprecated WX GUI elements.
Garage Door (OOK) Code Display
I wanted to verify that my garage door used a rolling code for security. So this flowgraph from Michael Ossman’s tutorial needed some heavy modification to work with the new QT GUI elements.
Had to replace the WX slider, frequency sink and audio sink with elements from QT GUI.
In the osmocom Source object I had to add hackrf=0 to Device Arguments.
In the Options block make sure QT GUI is selected.
HackRF One produces a 10 MHz clock signal on CLKOUT. The signal is a 10 MHz square wave from 0 V to 3 V intended for a high impedance load. The CLKIN port on HackRF One is a high impedance input that expects a 0 V to 3 V square wave at 10 MHz. Do not exceed 3.3 V or drop below 0 V on this input. Do not connect a clock signal at a frequency.
Follow the images above and pay special attention to the Properties of the QT GUI Time Sink object, specifically ensure Type is set to Float.
Another example for how this feature can be used is spectrum surveillance. The image below shows the 6–16 MHz HF spectrum over an 8 hour time period. It was captured using a HackRF device. As written above, the time span can be up to 24 hours, however, this is only an arbitrary limit and we can increase it should the need arise. The HackRF one with Portapack works perfectly in SDR# and SDRconsole (SDR radio.com) on the same PC, same OS (windows 10 1809) but with SDRangel, I cannot get it to see the HackRF one. Is there anything specific that I need to do to make it work?, in the install folder there are two.dll files hackrf.dll and hackrfdevice.dll, but they are not.
- Download the latest HackRF release. Update the firmware on your HackRF One. For this and the subsequent steps, you may want to boot to Pentoo or the GNU.
- HackRF One from Great Scott Gadgets is a Software Defined Radio peripheral capable of transmission or reception of radio signals from 1 MHz to 6 GHz. Source code: On Windows 10 must use Zadig to install the correct driver, WinUSB (v6.
The output is as follows:
Hackrf One Windows 10
One of the most common reported issues is a significant drop in signal level both in the receiver as well as the transmitter of the HackRF. In this post we will explain the amplifier chain, how to identify this issue and finally how to repair the HackRF.
HackRF has three amplifiers in the receive section. The first is a low noise amplifier (LNA) with fixed gain of 14 dB. The second is an Intermediate Frequency (IF) LNA with gain that varies from 0 to 40 dB. Finally, the baseband amplifier gain can be varied from 0 to 62 dB. On the transmit side, there are two amplifiers. The first is an IF LNA with gain that can be varied from 0 to 47 dB. The second amplifier has a fixed gain of 14 dB.
The following block diagram shows the amplifier chains in the receive and transmit sections of HackRF.
The first amplifier in the receive and the last amplifier in the transmit sections can be switched in and out of the chain. The designers of HackRF picked the same component MGA-81563 with Gain 14 dB, for both these amplifiers. As it turns out, this amplifier component is very susceptible to damage – even when the maximum input signal level of +13 dBm is not exceeded. This has been reported by a number of users.
So the first question is – how do you know if this amplifier has been damaged? In the video below, adjustments are made to the three different gain settings.
Adjusting LNA Gain and VGA gain affects the input signal level. When the Amp box is checked, the MGA-81563 amplifier is switched into the chain. In the video this is the only setting that results in no change in signal or noise level. The signal level should in fact increase by around 14 dB in the FM band if this amplifier is working correctly.
Similarly if the last amplifier in the transmit chain is not working, there will be a weak signal out of the HackRF as measured on a spectrum analyzer. If you don’t have a spectrum analyzer, you can use an RTL-SDR to view the signal with software like SDR#. Note that if you are plugging the output of the HackRF Transmitter into a RTL-SDR make sure to use an attenuator of 20 dB or higher or you will damage the RTL-SDR.
Once you have determined that the MGA-81563 on either or both receive or transmit paths is damaged, you can repair it.
The schematic below shows the Transmit (TX) and Receive (RX) LNAs.
The picture below shows the location of the LNAs on the PCB.
Here is an instructional video on how to replace the parts without a hot air gun
You will need a soldering iron, solder and solder flux. And if you plan to do a lot of soldering, get yourself a smoke-absorber fan as the solder fumes can get pretty intense.
Program For Hackrf One
In this article we discussed how to fix one of the most common issues with the HackRF – i.e. damage to the first RF LNA. If you have seen other hardware issues with HackRF, let us know and we will discuss them as well.