June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
A distinctive feature of wireless communication systems is implied by the fact that there is no physical connection between a transmitter and its corresponding receiver, which enables user mobility. However, experimenting with wireless communication systems is mostly done in the lab, where transmitters and receivers are setup on benches, in stationary settings. This prevents students from experiencing fading and other propagation effects associated with mobile wireless channels. The mobile platform described in this paper enables students to run wireless communication experiments beyond the confines of a traditional lab, in realistic settings that cover indoor and outdoor scenarios with both fixed and mobile propagation characteristics. The platform consists of software-defined radio (SDR) boards that are used to implement the wireless transmitter and receiver, laptop computers used to program the SDR boards, and equipment for visualizing radio signal characteristics such as a portable spectrum analyzer or oscilloscope. Unlike other SDR platforms used in the lab for wireless communications experiments, where similar boards are used for both the transmitter and the receiver, in our platform the transmitter is implemented on a Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) from National Instruments, while the receiver is implemented using the affordable RTL-SDR USB dongle. This choice results in a moderate overall cost for the radio hardware required by the platform, which can be easily programmed using open source software such as GNU Radio as well as software packages like Matlab or LabView. For outdoor wireless scenarios with fixed propagation characteristics, both the transmitter and the receiver are located on the rooftops of various campus buildings to enable line-of-sight propagation of the radio signals and to allow students to study distance-based signal attenuation in wireless communication systems. For experimentation in wireless scenarios with low mobility (both indoors and outdoors, corresponding to walking speeds) the transmitter and receiver may be placed on push carts, while for higher mobility they may be placed on university owned golf carts moving at faster speeds on the designated campus routes. Furthermore, mobile transmitters and receivers may also be placed in cars driving on the campus streets and through the university parking lots/garages to enable experiments simulating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.
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