The Adalm Pluto SDR Active Learning Module

A self contained RF lab in your hand


The ADALM-PLUTO active learning module (PlutoSDR) is an easy to use tool marketed by Analog Devices Inc. that can be used to approach the Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology or to learn the basic concepts and topics of electronic engineering or again to explore advanced topics in the field of radio frequency communications, both in “instructor” and “self-learning” mode.

sdr pluto

PlutoSDR allows students to better understand the real RF world around them and is applicable to all students, at all levels, in all areas. Learning in a practical way with PlutoSDR will guarantee a solid base particularly suitable for students who follow a scientific, technological or engineering study path.

The PlutoSDR active learning module is a tool that “amplifies” the relationship between theory and practical activity in the field of radiofrequency.

PlutoSDR provides a personal portable laboratory that, when used with a host, can increase classroom learning. A variety of software packages like MATLAB or Simulink provide an innovative graphical user interface (GUI), which allows intuitive use and minimizes the learning curve, allowing students to learn faster, work smarter and explore more!

Robin Getz looks at various RF problems (third harmonics of mixers, RF pollution, required RF filters), and how new innovated tools, and open source software can help measure and mitigate these issues.

The ADALM-PLUTO active learning module is a learning tool for everyone.

Based on the Analog Devices AD9363, it offers a reception channel and a transmission channel that can be managed in full duplex, able to generate or measure analog RF signals from 325 to 3800 MHz, up to 61.44 MSPS, with a width 20 MHz band. PlutoSDR is completely autonomous, truly pocket-sized (it fits perfectly in the shirt pocket) and is entirely powered by USB with the default firmware. With support for OS X ™, Windows ™ and Linux ™, it enables the exploration and understanding of RF systems regardless of where the user is or when.

In practice, adding RX filters, an antenna and a pair of VHF-UHF-microwave amplifiers with PlutoSDR it is possible to build a 144-430-1200-2400 MHz quad-band, both for SSB use and for digital transmissions, using the PC as control console SDR. With the necessary adjustments it also accepts full-duplex for satellite use.

The cost is just over 100 euros, truly within the reach of every experimenter.


  • Portable self-contained RF learning module
  • Cost-effective experimentation platform
  • Based on Analog Devices AD9363 Highly Integrated RF Agile Transceiver and Xilinx® Zynq Z-7010 FPGA
  • RF coverage from 325 MHz to 3.8 GHz
  • Up to 20 MHz of instantaneous bandwidth
  • Flexible rate, 12-bit ADC and DAC
  • One transmitter and one receiver, half or full duplex
  • MATLAB® Simulink® support
  • GNU Radio sink and source blocks
  • Libiio, a C, C++, C#, and Python API
  • USB 2.0 Interface
  • High quality plastic enclosure

PlutoSDR Host Interface

The PlutoSDR supports the following USB device classes:

X Mass storage (for easy firmware updates)
X Serial (for interacting with the Linux kernel/userspace on PlutoSDR)
X Networking/RNDIS (for loading and controlling custom ARM® applications) X Libiio (bulk USB for SDR data transfer and control)
X Device firmware upgrade (for backup firmware upgrades)

Open Source

The PlutoSDR open source firmware is built from Das U-Boot, the Linux kernel, and Buildroot. As part of the class materials, the firmware
is able to be run, copied, distributed, studied, changed, and improved with Vivado® HL WebPACKTM Edition (license free). Supporting USB 2.0 On-the-Go, the PlutoSDR can attach to a variety of USB peripherals (wired networking, Wi-Fi dongles, audio, etc.), which extends functionality. All documentation is open and available at


Connecting RF Theory with RF Practice

The PlutoSDR works as a portable lab that, when used with a host, can augment classroom learning. MATLAB® and Simulink® are two of the many software packages supported by PlutoSDR, and it provides an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) so students can learn faster, work smarter, and explore more.

Made for Teachers, Students, and Self-Learners

The PlutoSDR features independent receive and transmit channels that can be operated in full duplex. The active learning module can generate or acquire RF analog signals from 325 MHz to 3800 MHz at up to 61.44 megasamples per second (MSPS). Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, the PlutoSDR is completely self-contained and entirely USB powered with the default firmware. Because PlutoSDR is enabled by libiio drivers, it supports OS X®, Windows®, and Linux®, which allows students to learn and explore on a variety of devices.

With dozens of available online tutorials for SDR-based projects, PlutoSDR boasts labs and teaching material covering topics such as ADS-B aircraft position, receiving NOAA and Meteor-M2 weather satellite imagery, GSM analysis, listening to TETRA signals, pager decoding, and many more!

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