Tektronix joins group developing Software Defined Radio
Tektronix has become a member of the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. This group is engaged in the development of the software-defined radio (SDR) test bed known as OSSIE for (Open Source Software communications architecture) Implementation Embedded).
The objective is for OSSIE is to provide a platform that is simple, easy to expand, and an open-source for the development of waveforms--following the guidelines laid down by the SCA (Software Communications Architecture) specifications under the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program.
As part of the SCA framework, Tektronix test equipment will provide an integrated solution for SDR test and validation. By integrating this test equipment into the same framework that manages SDR operation, it becomes a resource to analyze and verify the correct operation of future software radios. "Our arbitrary waveform generator and real-time spectrum analyzer, were the first of our products to be integrated," says Keith Cobler, a market development manager at Tektronix. "We are now discussing some follow-on projects with Virginia Tech," he adds.
The SCA framework is helping to overcome a significant barrier to entry into software-radio research experienced in previous years. It is the military, which is a driving force behind software-defined radio. It has mandated that any radio developed for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program of the Department of Defense (DOD) must be implemented in the SCA environment.
"We sensed a need within the research community to ease the barrier of entry," says Max Roberts, a post doctoral research fellow at Virginia Tech. "So we brought together a team of graduate and undergraduate students and developed a framework in C++ to implement the bulk the specifications--and we have released it."
"It eases the entry for the typical research center and for smaller organizations that lack the means to build their own framework," he adds.
The JTRS program is divided into four sub-programs, known as 'clusters.' The recent award for what is known as 'cluster 5' has as its goals smaller form factors, low-power consumption and a small form factor so that power consumption is very small.
"These steps, which will characterize Cluster 5, will open the way to a very large number of applications," says Max Roberts.
SDR is clearly the future of mobile radio. As Cobler concludes: "Very much as we experienced with the cell phone over a decade ago, we will experience similar trends as SDR in the military word spawns the development of SDR in the commercial world."
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