LimeSDR has released the next revision of its product called Lime Mini 2.0. It’s a small software-defined radio with both transmit and receive capability.
I felt it would be worthwhile to take a look at how it compares with the HackRF – a very popular software-defined radio.
Let’s look at the two products side-by-side. In the following table we have highlighted the better specification.
Comparing Hardware Specifications
|Specification||Lime Mini 2.0||HackRF|
|Frequency Range||10 MHz – 3.5 GHz||1 MHz – 6 GHz|
|RF Bandwidth||40 MHz||20 MHz|
|ADC Sample Depth||12 bits||8 bits|
|Sample Rate||30.72 MS/s||20 MS/s|
|Interface||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|Oscillator Precision||±1 ppm initial, |
±4 ppm stable
|Programmable Logic Gates||44,000||64 macrocell CPLD|
|Transmit Power||+10 dBm Max||+15 dBm Max|
|Receive Power||?||-5 dBm Max|
|Clock In and Out||No||Yes|
|Price||$399||Check Price Here|
How the products compare
- HackRF is the clear winner in frequency range as it goes all the way to 6 GHz. If you want to analyze signals in the 5 GHz Wi-Fi range for instance, the Lime Mini will not work. Also if you want to look at 5G mid-band signals, the HackRF wins. The large frequency range is why it’s our top SDR pick.
- Wide 40 MHz bandwidth of the Lime Mini 2.0 exceeds that of HackRF (20 MHz)
- WIth 12 bits of precision the Lime SDR has better dynamic range than HackRF
- The sampling rate of 30.72 MS/s in the case of Lime is better for applications like 4G where it can be used without any further conversion
- The HackRF has an older USB 2.0 interface which means it will stream data to the PC a lot slower than the Lime Mini
- Lime Mini 2.0 has full-duplex operation with separate Tx and Rx ports. Distinct receiver input allows for optimization of the receive signal with the use of a low-noise amplifier. Another amplifier can be added to the transmit port to increase transmission range. This is something you cannot do with the HackRF unless its use is restricted to only transmit or receive applications.
- The oscillator precision is better in the case of the Lime Mini which means that you will be able to analyze signals with higher accuracy.
- With the Lime Mini you get the ability to work with the on-board FPGA – this is a powerful capability as not many SDR vendors allow you to do this.
- Finally the HackRF has Clock in and Out ports which are very important for timing and synchronization. These are absent in the Lime Mini.
While both software-defined radios are able to transmit and receive, the specifications of the two SDRs are quite different in many respects.
If the frequency range of your applications is limited to 3500 MHz and you are looking for a fast and accurate SDR, then it makes sense to go with the Lime Mini 2.0. Note that it won’t ship until later in 2022.
On the other hand if you’re looking for a general purpose tool that covers most commonly used wireless systems then we recommend going with the HackRF.