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Dsp Based Low Cost Digital Communications Laboratory

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Digital Communications Systems

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.497.1 - 11.497.11

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Paper Authors


Bruce Dunne Grand Valley State University

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Bruce E. Dunne is currently an Assistant Professor in the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. He received his B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. His interests include digital signal processing and communications systems.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

DSP-Based Low-Cost Digital Communications Laboratory


Traditional undergraduate communications courses have focused on analog transmission schemes such as amplitude (AM) and frequency modulation (FM). Given the comparatively simple design of analog modulation circuitry, offering a laboratory component to the course is straightforward. In a typical laboratory session, students could construct and investigate the performance of AM or FM transmitters or receivers.

With the emergence of technology such as digital cellular telephony and wireline and wireless data communications, the emphasis has shifted from analog to digital modulation. Because of this shift, digital communications has become an important component to all levels of communications instruction. Due to the complexity of equipment that can emulate digital concepts, offering a hands-on laboratory component to support instruction is not as straightforward as in the analog case. Simulation based experiments, although a good supplement, are not a substitute for hands-on experimentation with real signals.

There are several approaches to offering a digital communications laboratory ranging from simulation packages teamed with standard instrumentation to dedicated custom hardware. In this paper, an approach that uses a vendor supplied low-cost DSP evaluation kit (the Texas Instruments TMS320C6713 DSP Starter Kit or 6713 DSK1) as an experimental platform is described. The use of this kit allows for a low-cost, highly flexible digital communications laboratory experience.

This report describes several digital communications experiments based upon the 6713 DSK. Results obtained from these experiments are presented as well.


As stated earlier, it is desirable to go beyond simulation in a digital communications laboratory. A laboratory based on a vendor-supplied DSP kit is the approach to be discussed in this paper; however, it is useful to motivate the use of this method by briefly describing other approaches.

A popular approach is to use a software package such as National Instruments LabVIEW for the complex signal processing, along with data acquisition, teamed with either standard electronics instrumentation2 or with general purpose signal generation3. This method is similar in spirit to the DSP approach although not quite as cost effective or as flexible. Another method is to use special, high-end test equipment, together with vendor-specific instrumentation software4,5. This setup can be used to offer a wide range of experiments, for both digital communications and

Dunne, B. (2006, June), Dsp Based Low Cost Digital Communications Laboratory Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.

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