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Perseus SDR Benchmark – 11 Years On

perseus sdr benchmark

I have been using my Perseus SDR Benchmark for 11 years. It remains a great performer for reception below 30 MHz and my “go to” receiver.

My dictionary describes benchmark as “something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged.” For me, the Perseus is an SDR benchmark to which I compare any other software defined radio covering HF and down.

Back in 2008, I thought it was time to take the plunge into a software defined radio receiver. By chance, it turns out that I bought one of the very first direct sampling radios, the Perseus SDR from Microtelecom. Direct sampling was something quite new in 2008, but Nico did a great job of selecting the analog to digital converter, and pairing it with a selection of FPGA cores for various bandwidths. A very modern architecture ahead of its time.

One of the nice things about the Perseus SDR package was ease of use and seamless integration. Unlike many other SDR back then, set up and use was quite straightforward. No messing around with sound cards and finicky software. I just plugged the radio into a USB port and ran the accompanying software. Pretty much plug and play.

I quickly found that Perseus had more than enough sensitivity and selectivity for use in western Canada. Most times I don’t even need the preselection filters, unless it is to reduce overload from local MW stations. And while the Perseus software is pretty good, I must admit switching to SDR-Console, which runs this radio seamlessly.

I am not sure how many of these radios are sold today. Microtelecom does not have seem to have a North American dealer, so you mostly have to visit European stores to see this radio listed. And, over the years, many other SDR have arrived at a much lower price point with comparable performance. But back 11 years ago, the Perseus SDR Benchmark performance was quite revealing of things to come.

Perseus SDR Benchmark – My Attraction to this Receiver

Two factors drove me to select Perseus as my first SDR receiver. To start with, it was the only radio around that let your record RF rather than audio. You could set up the receiver to record an entire band of signals for later playback. Microtelecom accomplished this by storing IQ data into a modified WAV format file, which included frequency and time.

The ability to record a chunk of bandwidth for later demodulation raised some controversy among DX community. Was it okay to claim DX that you heard through a recording rather than live? For me, that was never an issue. Whatever works, eh? Recording RF was a really big selling point for this radio.

Second, I wanted to write my own SDR using an existing front end. Perseus was perfect for these experiments. My Perseus SDR Benchmark provided an open development kit which allowed me to write software to control the radio and read in the IQ data over USB into my own software creations.

Because of the open protocols for controlling and receiving data from the Perseus, many software packages support this radio.

I will probably hang onto this wonderful gear as long as it keeps working.


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