Exploring USRP N210 on Ubuntu
We acquired a USRP N210 unit from Ettus Research. It was planned to explore MIMO and Radar concepts by implementing simple algorithms on the USRP device. However when we got the device after few months of its release and back then the USRP was still plagued with multiple bugs ( including one in the firmware ). It was no easy task to setup working environment on an Ubuntu system. We came across several problems during installation. I found only one blog detailing the step by step installation ( and workaround ) then http://www.raullen.net/2011/02/20/hello-usrp-n210-how-to-make-usrp-n210-running/. Even with the help from this blog, I was unable to setup the working environment in my Ubuntu machine and unfortunately I had to abandon the project then.
A year later, I have decided I want to get the USRP up and running so I can do some cool stuff besides some abstract mathematics. I set out to install the device on a new system ( Ubuntu 10.04 LTS ). And it turns out that Ettus has done a good job of providing a much more detailed documentation on setting up the N210. Here I have made a list of topic and related links that a newbie may encounter when starting with the N210 USRP or in general N-series USRP from Ettus.
The safest / easiest way to setup Gnuradio with UHD environment on Ubuntu is to use the build-gnuradio script:
N210 has issues with the pre-installed firmware and the FPGA code and hence it needs to be updated before the PC can talk with it. The firmware and FPGA images can be downloaded from here
Front panel LEDs
The LEDs on the front panel can be useful in debugging hardware and software issues. The LEDs reveal the following about the state of the device:
- LED A: transmitting
- LED B: mimo cable link
- LED C: receiving
- LED D: firmware loaded
- LED E: reference lock
- LED F: CPLD loaded