LimeSDR PCIe Bracket and Win10 Driver

I just received my LimeSDR PCIe and I am really confused as to why it did not come with a bracket. What are people doing about this? Should I have received one? If not, I think that is a massive oversight for this piece of hardware which now leaves me with a gaping hole in the back of my server and some fragile u.FL jumpers that pull off very easily when attaching antennas. This leads me to have to pull the server out of the rack, open it up, and reattach the jumpers because there is no bracket.

Also, the documentation does not deal at all with the driver process needed for Windows 10. Is this available anywhere? Do I need to program the board or should it have come pre-programmed? I have found conflicting information regarding this.

Does anyone have any tips on configuring the PCIe version for first time use on Windows 10? I am having a heck of a time with this. I followed the documentation on programming to a T and flashed the .jic file and I now have two solid green LEDs on the PCB and one solid green LED on the back of the board. However, my device manager does not list any LimeSDR device and Lime Suite also does not find the radio.

Is it me or is the documentation sorely lacking? I have had this board for over a week and still have yet to do anything with it. Any tips or help would be appreciated.

I am also working on tracking down a bracket so hopefully will have that fixed soon as well.

Suspect @Zack may be the best person to advise on getting up and running.

So I received a reply from Gompf concerning their 9B90-0000A bracket which fits the LimeSDR-PCIe. They are willing to sell me a lot of five for $20 a piece or ten for $10 a piece. I am more than willing to go ahead and order a lot of ten if others would like a bracket for their LimeSDR-PCIe. I will sell it to anyone at cost ($10 + s&h). Are others interested in this? I’ll place the order if I get enough people interested. If so, please PM me.

You can try modifying the 3d printable adaptor bracket (from the other thread on this PCIe Version updated documents?) to match other PCIe brackets. I have found a bracket that was close from a PCIe server card and plan to modify the 3d print model to match. The Gompf brackets are even more expensive trying to get them in Australia.

I’ll go in for two.

Re: getting the board up and running - you will need to program the FPGA. It comes un-programmed, because the Lime folks used an evaluation license for the PCIe core; they expect everyone to get their own license (as is outlined in their start-up docs).

You need an Altera programming head and the FPGA programming code to perform the operation. The head costs circa $50 from DigiKey:

The software is free from Altera. It’s a pain, but these are steps you will need to go through anyway if you plan to hack inside the FPGA.

BTW - have all the brackets shipped to me first, and I’ll CNC cut out the SMA and LED apertures. From Gompf, I believe all you will get is a blank bracket with the mounting ears.

Wups! Should have read your earlier message - I see that you’re cognizant of how to program the FPGA.

I’m having problems getting my PC to recognize the SDR myself - ref: the last post of the following thread:

Hey Zero, yeah, I seemed to have programmed the board successfully. I built the Xyllibus core and compiled the Quortus project. Using my USB Blaster, I programmed the board and now have the first two FPGA lights solid green and one solid green light on the back of the board but no recognition of a new device in Windows Device Manager. I am pretty much stuck at this point in the process and that’s as far as the documentation goes. Further setup guidance would be a HUGE help here. I’m a little disheartened that you seem to have been at this for well over a month with no resolution.

As far as the brackets go, I did a little digging about PCI form factors and realized that the LimeSDR-PCIe is the new low profile form factor with a 54mm pitch on the mounting holes. The Gompf bracket is simply a low-profile to 120mm adaptor so that it fits into a traditional PCI slot. With that said, I also found the following bracket on Amazon which has the same mounting pitch and have ordered one to try. They’re much cheaper than the Gompf brackets would be - they’ll just need to be drilled for the SMA jumpers.

Yeah, I saw those brackets too - but I didn’t like the vent holes.

Re: setup - my concern is that the single RFIC PCIe board is a developmental dead end. I’m a hardware developer by trade, and to me it smells like a deprecated product. The USB version seems more mainstream, and so I’ve shifted my efforts there.

Re: the FPGA - the Lime PCIe card should have come with a USB stick. That has a pre-compiled FPGA configuration file you can try (just in case it’s the compilation process causing trouble).

But FWIW it seems there are some motherboards (mine, as referenced earlier) in which the Lime doesn’t properly enumerate. If you can test your board in a different PC you might find the same thing.

I agree… the lack of support or interest from Lime in producing documentation or supporting this hardware is a growing concern. I also have a USB version and will work on that for a while but I may be forced to do something concerning this PCI board.

I did receive the USB stick and like you, had different results when flashing the included .jic file versus the file I compiled with Quartus. I ended up leaving it with the jic file I compiled as that seemed to result in the most hopeful outcome for the board.

I will try putting the board in another machine to see if it enumerates properly.

@andrewback @Zack

Is the LimeSDR-PCIe repo up to date? There hasn’t been a commit since April when v1.2 was added so I am wondering if there have been any revisions since then. Also, the gateware submodule in that repo links back to a vastly out of date commit from June 2016 which looks to be for hardware v1.0

We should probably remove submodules, as I don’t think their use is a good fit.

@Zack should be able advise on gateware releases.

Thanks for the response Andrew. Do you or @Zack have any comment on the initial configuration issues I and some others are encountering? Are there plans to continue work on the documentation (namely

Hi @kc1gif,

As far as I understand, you compiled the gateware yourself and then uploaded it to the FPGA, correct?
You should receive USB stick with distribution archive. There is gateware\LimeSDR-PCIE_lms7_trx_bs folder. Try to upload LimeSDR-PCIE_lms7_trx_HW_1.3.jic file to FPGA and then check LEDs.

Repositories and submodules updated:

Thanks Zack. What should I be looking for in the LEDs? I currently have the first two FPGA LEDs (the ones surface mounted on the PCB) solid green and one LED on the back of the board solid green. Is that correct? I did try the v1.3 jic file that came on the USB drive and got the same result.

Any further suggestions?

Hi @kc1gif,
Could you specify what board version do you have, please.

@Zack It lives! Honestly though, and I say this with the utmost respect, the documentation on the PCI board is absolute junk.

After flashing v1.3 of the JIC file, I then got a BSOD in my machine. Upon rebooting, I had an unknown PCI device in device manager. Trying to install the Xillybus driver was another issue since it is not signed… I had to go into my startup options and disable driver signature checks to get it to install but I am now able to connect to it in Lime GUI and SDR-Console.

This is most certainly not plug-n-play but at the very least, a proper “Getting Started” guide would be extremely helpful to those who sprung for the PCI variant of this board (not to mention a PCI bracket).

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BTW, while the unsigned drivers worked, I encountered issues after a reboot. I dug around the Xillybus website and found signed drivers that installed fine without triggering windows 10 security controls or requiring disabling driver signature checks. They can be found here:

Not sure if you can include them in the repo or not but I wanted to get this information out there so it can be included in the future documentation.

I think it’s super odd that the board comes without a bracket. Lime is manufacturing the board in quantity, so it should be rather easy for them to source a bracket in similar quantity, which has

  • a number of SMA D-holes (preventing the pigtails from rotating, as opposed to brackets with round drill-holes)
  • the mounting flanges + holes at the right location so the bracket can be mounted to the LimeSDR-PCIe
  • mounting screws to mount the bracket to the board

Relying on each individual user/customer to obtain such a bracket himself is just not going to cut it. Buying a suitable bracked with the proper holes in single quantity is not possible, and manually drilling it is cumbersome and will not have properly stamped D-holes.

It 's such a super easy and trivial problem to solve if you want e.g.100 units, but very difficult and/or expensive for 1 unit.