SDR Lab Platforms

The proposed SDR lab is built around four categories of platforms each having specific characteristics that together offer a good representation of the operational environment.

  • Development and Reference Platform

    In this category a high-performance, modular and scalable platform is provided as a reference environment in which every SCA concept can be tested. New algorithms and techniques can be tried with minimum fear of performance limitation and system obsolescence. Once developed and tested under this reference environment, waveform applications or techniques can be ported to more specific environments emulating operational scenarios.

    Development and Reference Platform

    User Interface

    The UI, developed in JAVA, will be running on the SDR unit depicted in the blue box. The NordiaSoft Radio Manager application could be used or the client may develop its own UI interface using functionalities of the Radio Manager.   The audio card of the desktop (microphone and speaker) is to be used for audio-in and audio-out while the screen can be used for data presentation.

    Signal Processing Unit And RF Transceiver Unit:

    For the Reference platform, the signal processing and RF transceiver functions will be provided within the same unit, on different cards. Connectivity between the cards will be done via a high-speed backplane.

    Built using test instrument grade components, this platform provides extremely high performance signal processing and RF performance. The versatility and scalability of this platform will allow users to configure the SDR unit with various COTS processing cards.

    Development Environment

    A desktop computer is needed for the development environment, in addition to providing the application UI functionalities. The workstation would host the SCA Architect development tool, the programming development environment, the OS compiler and ORB libraries.

  • Small-Size Form Factor

    This environment emulates handheld devices carried by soldiers or first responders. As depicted in the colour box in Figure 2, the SDR would consists of an Android-based smart phone and a handheld transceiver unit, the two being connected via USB cable. The workstation depicted in Figure is used for development purposes and to upload the SCA environment and applications onto the smart phone. It is disconnected from the SDR during operation. This environment is based on the concept developed by the NordiaSoft team while working at the Communications Research Centre Canada.

    Small-Size Form Factor

    User Interface

    The UI is developed in JAVA as an Android application running on the smart phone. The control of the radio (applications / waveforms to be loaded and executed, frequency setting, power level…) are to be performed via the touch screen. The different peripheral buttons of the phone could be reconfigured to serve different purposes (e.g. push-to-talk for a land mobile radio system).   The smart phone microphone and speaker are to be used for audio-in and audio-out while the screen can be used for data presentation.

    Signal Processing Elements

    The signal processing functionalities of the application are distributed between the smart phone and the RF transceiver unit. The exact split is to be decided either at design time or at execution time based on the application packaging. It is envisaged however that most of the signal processing will be performed in the smart phone except for the frequency conversion, filtering and decimation/interleaving which would be executed in the RF transceiver FPGA. The connectivity between the RF transceiver and the Android phone can be performed via the USB port.

    Note that the NordiaSoft team has developed a basic North American public safety P25 waveform, including the Vocoder, on a Samsung Galaxy S2. Therefore, it is very likely that the newer Samsung mobile phone will have the necessary processing capabilities for simple to medium complexity waveforms like the digital FM and Tetra waveforms.

    RF Transceiver Unit

    In the case of a Small Form Factor, Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) RF units are considered. On the receive side, the RF transceiver unit will down-convert, filter and digitize the incoming RF signal. Further filtering and decimation can be accomplished in the on-board FPGA before data being sent to the smart phone, via the USB port, for further processing. On the transmit side, the smart phone will send the modulated waveform at an IF level to the RF Transceiver unit for up-conversion to the selected frequency and transmission over the air.

    Development Environment

    The desktop computer is used to load the SCA environment and applications on the Android smart phone. Once loaded, the computer can be disconnected leaving the smart phone and the RF transceiver to operate autonomously.

    The desktop computer is also used as the development environment of the waveform applications. It hosts the SCA Architect development tool, the programming development environment, the cross compiler and ORB libraries.

  • Mid-Size Form Factor

    This environment emulates more powerful radio units as used typically in vehicles. It will therefore possess a more powerful processing environment and a larger user interface than what is typically available for dismounted soldier systems presented in the previous section.

    As depicted in Figure , the actual Software Defined Radio is a single unit shown in the blue box. The workstation provides the User Interface and is also used during the development cycle. Connectivity between the two is performed via Ethernet or USB port.

    Mid-Size Form Factor

    User Interface

    The UI, developed in JAVA, will be running on the desktop workstation. The NordiaSoft Radio Manager application could be used or the client may develop its own UI interface using functionalities of the Radio Manager.   The audio card of the desktop (microphone and speaker) is to be used for audio-in and audio-out while the screen can be used for data presentation.

    Signal Processing Elements

    The signal processing functionalities are to be executed both within the SDR unit and in the desktop computer depending on the processing power needed to execute the application and that provided by the transceiver box. The transceiver and the workstation are to be connected via Ethernet. Based on the implementation of the application and its SCA description, the SCA Domain manager will distribute the signal processing components accordingly.

    The SCA Domain Manager would reside in the desktop workstation and both the desktop computer and the RF transceiver would host a Device Manager.

    RF Transceiver Unit

    In the case of a Mid-size Form Factor, Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) RF units are considered.

    Similar to the Small-Form factor, on the receive side, the RF transceiver unit will down-convert, filter and digitize the incoming RF signal. Further filtering and decimation can be accomplished in the on-board FPGA before data being sent to the smart phone, via the USB port, for further processing. On the transmit side, the smart phone will send the modulated waveform at an IF level to the RF Transceiver unit for up-conversion to the selected frequency and transmission over the air.

    Development Environment

    A desktop computer is needed for the development environment, in addition to providing the application UI functionalities. Note that those two functionalities can be executed on separate computer, it is proposed here to use the same for cost saving. The workstation would host the SCA Architect development tool, the programming development environment, the OS compiler and ORB libraries.

  • Full-Size Form Factor

    This environment emulates a military radio unit as could be used for high bandwidth, high performance requirement communications systems (e.g. satellite communications or networking) or for applications such as radar or signal intelligence (spectrum monitoring).

    As depicted in Figure 4, the actual Software Defined Radio is a single unit shown in the blue box and would include the processing element and the RF transceiver section. The workstation provides the User Interface and is also used during the development cycle. Connectivity between the two is performed via Ethernet or USB port.

    Full-Size Form Factor

    User Interface

    The UI, developed in JAVA, will be running on the desktop workstation. The NordiaSoft Radio Manager application could be used or the client may develop its own UI interface using functionalities of the Radio Manager.   The audio card of the desktop (microphone and speaker) is to be used for audio-in and audio-out while the screen can be used for data presentation.

    Signal Processing Unit And RF Transceiver Unit

    For the Full-size Form Factor, the signal processing and RF transceiver functions will be provided within the same unit, on different cards. Connectivity between the cards will be done via a high-speed backplane. The SCA Domain Manager would reside in the SDR unit and the desktop computer would host a Device Manager for its I/O ports.

    In this environment, the FPGA are much larger than in the previous two platform categories. In addition, the FPGA is user-programmable as opposed to being loaded at boot time. This important feature enables the user to modify the FPGA image without having to shut down and reboot the unit. The RF transceiver is also of higher quality and provides much higher data-handling rates. Those units also come with real-time operating systems such as Green Hills INTEGRITY or Wind River VxWorks. With their modular design, they also offer the advantage of being scalable enabling upgrades to newer material.

    Development Environment

    A desktop computer is needed for the development environment, in addition to providing the application UI functionalities. Note that those two functionalities can be executed on separate computer, it is proposed here to use the same for cost saving. The workstation would host the SCA Architect development tool, the programming development environment, the OS compiler and ORB libraries.

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