Software defined radio and Radar (SDR)

ElectroScience_LaboratoryDr. Joel Johnson’s team uses Sundance development platforms for their research in building a lowpower experimental radar system.

Scientists at the ElectroScience Laboratory in Columbus, are currently developing a software defined radar (SDR) platform that can adaptively switch between different modes of operation by modifying both transmit waveforms and receive signal-processing tasks on the fly. This low-power experimental radar system features an instantaneous analog bandwidth of 500MHz which can be tuned to operated anywhere between 2-18GHz. High-speed A/D and D/A converters along with Xilinx FPGAs and fast DSPs allow for maximum flexibility in algorithm design. Additionally, parallel coherent transmit and receive channels enable the exploration of multi-channel radar modes such as multiple-input multiple output (MIMO) radar and polarimetric radar. Target phenomenology and the urban propagation environment for radar are two key areas of study which will also be explored with this system.

Software defined radar features:

  • 500 MHz or greater waveform bandwidth,
  • RF Front-end tunable from 1-18 GHz,
  • High-speed Xilinx FPGAs and Texas Instruments 32-bit DSPs for implementing real-time signal processing,
  • Information driven active sensing layer based on a game theoretic approach to sensor management implements competitive sensor tasking to control the selection of the current radar operating mode.

“Multiple transmit and receive channels will allow us to explore new MIMO radar techniques which take advantage of spatial diversity to improve target detection and tracking performance. In addition, the programmable nature of the transmitters and receivers will allow us to explore adaptive waveforms for target recognition. The first step is to build the hardware and implement the basic signal processing foundation necessary to make the system work, and then proceed from there. We’re starting with two transmit and two receive channels with the goal of expanding to 2 transmit and 4 receive channels, and possibly 4 transmit and 4 receive channels.” 
Mark Frankford, Electroscience Laboratory, Department ECE, Ohio State University, U.S.A.