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Rugged 26-GHz RF Recorder Challenges SWaP Constraints

Feb. 25, 2020
This compact RF recorder grabs signals of interest from 1 to 26 GHz in SIGINT, COMINT, and ELINT applications.

The RTX 2684 26-GHz RF Sentinel Intelligent Signal Scanning small-form-factor (SFF) recorder represents a major addition to Pentek’s Talon family of signal-recording/playback systems. The RTX 2684 combines a Talon recording system with a 26-GHz RF tuner and the company’s Sentinel intelligent signal scanning software, packaged in an extremely rugged, SFF, ½ ATR chassis.

Weighing just 23 lb., the Talon RTX 2684 SFF recorder can hold up in extreme operating environments. Optimized for size, weight, and power (SWaP) and offering a 5X reduction in packaging size over equivalent rack-mount systems, the rugged, sealed ½ ATR recorder comes with up to 61 TB of removable SSD storage. The ½ ATR chassis makes it highly suitable for military, security, and government intelligence (SIGINT, COMINT, and ELINT) applications that are mobile or have space constraints.

Pentek’s Model 78141A Jade transceiver module serves as the data-acquisition engine of the Talon RTX 2684. One of its dual 3.2 GS/s, 12-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) operates at a sample rate of 2.8 GS/s. The Model 78141 is coupled to the 500-MHz bandwidth analog IF output signal of a 26-GHz RF tuner front end, delivering excellent dynamic range across its entire spectrum. A digital downconverter (DDC) in the Model 78141 provides frequency zooming for recording signal bandwidths of 500, 250, or 125 MHz.

The RTX 2684 lets SIGINT engineers scan the RF spectrum from 1 to 26 GHz for signals of interest and monitor or record bandwidths up to 500 MHz wide. A spectral scan facility allows the user to scan the spectrum, while threshold detection enables the system to automatically lock onto and record signal bands. Scan results, which are displayed in a waterfall plot, can also be recorded, giving users the ability to look back at some earlier spectral activity. Once a signal of interest is detected, the real-time recorder can capture and store terabytes of data to disk, allowing users to store data spanning many hours.

Pentek’s RTX SFF recorders withstand high levels of shock and vibration, and all electronics are sealed from the external environment. The ½ ATR chassis uses MIL-standard circular I/O connectors to control RF emissions while protecting the recorder’s electronics from humidity, water, dust, sand, and salt fog. Designed to operate from −40 to +50ºC, these recorders can handle most thermal environments, making them ideal for UAVs, aircraft pods, tight equipment bays, military vehicles, and most outdoor environments.

The company’s QuickPac drive pack is easily removed from the recorder via a set of captive thumb screws on the front panel. Fully sealed with environmental gasketing, QuickPac drive packs can be quickly exchanged to support short downtimes and extended missions. The QuickPac drive pack holds up to 61 TB of SSD data storage and supports RAID levels 0, 5, or 6.

Based on a Windows workstation powered by the Intel Core i7 7700K, 7th Generation Quad Core 4.2-GHz processor, and 8 GB of DDR4 DRAM (expandable to 16 or 32 GB), the instrument packs enough processing power to serve as the primary mission computer when needed. The recorders provide both a graphical user interface and API to control the system.

Post-processing and analysis software tools like MATLAB can be installed on the Talon RTX 2684 platform. Data files are recorded to the Windows native NTFS file system, which gives operators immediate access to recordings without the need for any file format conversion.

The Talon RTX 2684 SFF Series recorders start at $145,995 USD. Delivery is 12-16 weeks ARO.

Pentek Inc., www.pentek.com

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

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About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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