Disclaimer: I am decent with math/theory, but I have zero hardware knowledge (apart from some basic microcontrollers).
I'm looking to build a (possibly crude, but functional) hardware prototype of a receiver with an antenna array. The application involves frequencies in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. I am experimenting with array processing algorithms and would like to be able to play around with the array geometry a bit. I would also like to do most of the processing in software. Given my background though, I have very little clue how to start. In particular, I've been trying to read data sheets for various types of components, but I can't figure out what the components expect as input and what they output.
Here's what I've figured out so far:
I'll need a couple of antennas, of course, close enough so that I don't get spatial aliasing. The antennas will need to be connected to an RF front end, which does the downconversion. At some point, I'll need an ADC for sampling, and then I'll need a 'bridge' into software.
Assuming what I just described at least makes a little sense, here are my questions:
- How do I bridge the RF front end and the ADC?
- How do I bridge the ADC and the software part?
- Can I make things a bit simpler?, e.g. can I try oversampling the received antenna signals and then just doing everything in software from there?
Additionally, is there a decent resource for learning about practical RF circuitry and prototyping? I think that is perhaps where I am weakest and need the most help.