Computer/Embedded Technology


Signal recorder for military intelligence

25 November 2019 Computer/Embedded Technology

A new addition has been made to the family of Talon signal recording and playback systems from Pentek. The RTR 2654 26,5 GHz RF Sentinel intelligent signal scanning rackmount recorder combines the power of a Pentek Talon recording system with a 25,6 GHz RF tuner and Pentek’s Sentinel signal scanning software.

The RTR 2654 automatically scans the RF spectrum from 800 MHz to 26,5 GHz for signals of interest and monitors or records bandwidths up to 500 MHz wide, making it very suitable for military, security and government intelligence (SIGINT, COMINT and ELINT) applications.

A Pentek Model 78141 Jade transceiver module serves as the data acquisition engine of the recorder. One of its dual 3,2 GSps 12-bit A/D converters is operated at a sample rate of 2,8 GSps. The Model 78141 is coupled to the 500 MHz bandwidth IF output signal of a 6 GHz RF tuner front end with high dynamic range across its entire spectrum. A digital down-converter (DDC) provides frequency zooming for signal bandwidth steps of 500, 280 or 140 MHz.

The Sentinel recorder provides automated signal monitoring and detection. The user specifies a start and stop frequency for the scan, covering any range between 800 MHz and 26,5 GHz. The RF tuner and DDC step across the scan range in consecutive bands, each programmable up to 500 MHz in width. Threshold RF energy in each band can be detected to trigger creation of a waterfall spectrum display over the entire scan.

Any band can be selected for continuous real-time monitoring and/or recording. In addition to manual band selection, a recording can be automatically started during a scan by configuring signal strength threshold levels to trigger a recording of the detected band. Once a signal of interest is detected, the real-time recorder can capture and store hundreds of terabytes of data to disk, allowing users to store data spanning multiple days.

Sentinel recorders are built on a Windows workstation with an Intel Core i7 processor and provide both a GUI (graphical user interface) and API (application programming interface) to control the system. Systems are fully supported with Pentek’s SystemFlow software for system control and turnkey operation.

The SystemFlow software has been enhanced to include intelligent scanning and integrated control of the RF tuner and optional RF up-converter. The software provides a GUI with point-and-click configuration management and can store custom configurations for single-click setup. It also includes a virtual oscilloscope, spectrum analyser and spectrogram to monitor signals before, during and after data collection.

Post-processing and analysis software tools like Matlab can be installed on the Talon RTR 2654 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 RTR 2654 is packaged in a 4U 19” rack-mountable chassis, with removable front panel and hot-swappable solid state drives (SSDs), front panel USB ports and I/O connectors on the rear panel. The SSDs are available in 7,6 to 245,7 TB configurations, supporting RAID levels 0, 5 or 6. Options include GPS time and position stamping and 10GbE or 40GbE offload facilities.


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