Sentinel recorder for military signal intelligence

12th February 2020
Alex Lynn

Pentek has announced a major addition to its popular family of Talon signal recording and playback systems, the RTR 2654 26.5GHz RF Sentinel Intelligent Signal Scanning rackmount recorder for military signal intelligence. The RTR 2654 combines the power of a Pentek Talon Recording System with a 25.6GHz RF tuner and Pentek's Sentinel intelligent signal scanning software

The RTR 2654 automatically scans the RF spectrum from 800MHz to 26.5GHz for signals of interest and monitor or record bandwidths up to 500MHz 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 Talon RTR 2654. One of its dual 3.2 GS/sec 12-bit A/D converters is operated at a sample rate of 2.8 GS/sec. The Model 78141 is coupled to the 500MHz bandwidth IF output signal of a 6GHz RF tuner front end with excellent dynamic range across its entire spectrum. A digital downconverter (DDC) in the Model 78141 provides frequency zooming for signal bandwidth steps of 500, 280 or 140MHz.

“The RTR 2654 Sentinel recorder greatly expands the scanning spectrum over previous Pentek products to 26.5 GHz, covering the vast majority of popular RF signal bands,” said Rodger Hosking, Vice-President of Pentek.

The Sentinel recorder provides automated signal monitoring and detection. The user specifies a start and stop frequency for the scan, covering any range between 800MHz and 26.5GHz. The RF tuner and DDC step across the scan range in consecutive bands, each programmable up to 500MHz 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 Programmer’s Interface) to control the system. Systems are fully supported with Pentek’s SystemFlow software for system control and turn-key operation.

The SystemFlow software has been enhanced to include intelligent scanning and integrated control of the RF tuner and optional RF upconverter. 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 allows operators immediate access to recordings without the need for any file format conversion.

The Talon RTR 2654 is packaged in a 4U 19" rackmountable chassis, with front panel removable 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 245.7TB configurations, supporting RAID levels 0, 5 or 6. Options include GPS time and position stamping and 10GbE or 40GbE offload facilities. The Talon RTR 2654 starts at $125,000 USD. Delivery is 16 weeks ARO for all models.

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