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Experiences With Student Developed Software Defined Radios In The Smart Radio Challenge

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Embedded System Design

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.556.1 - 15.556.8



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Paper Authors


Sven Bilen Pennsylvania State University

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SVEN G. BILÉN is an Associate Professor of Engineering Design, Electrical Engineering, and
Aerospace Engineering at Penn State and Interim Head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs. His research interests include software-defined radio and cognitive radio.

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Okhtay Azarmanesh Pennsylvania State University

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OKHTAY AZARMANESH is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering at Penn State. He received his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology and his M.Sc. from Télécom Paris and SUPAERO. His research interests include software-defined radios, modulation classification in cognitive radios, wireless communications, and satellite communications.

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

Experiences with Student-developed Software-Defined Radios in the Smart Radio Challenge


This paper discusses our experiences of participating in the Wireless Innovation Forum’s Smart Radio Challenge, which was established to promote the learning of software-defined radio (SDR) systems and techniques at educational institutions. As part of the challenge, each student team must build and demonstrate an SDR that addresses the problem(s) defined by the Wireless Innovation Forum and supporting the target waveform(s). The SDR domains provides a method to tie together many of the subjects in a typical electrical engineering and computer science and engineering undergraduate’s curriculum. Although student teams may choose to use whatever development environment they wish, we have had success with the GNU Radio development environment as well as the MATLAB Simulink environment. Simulink allows a model-based design approach, which allows students to take a systems approach to designing the overall SDR transceiver, which provides them with exposure to this important aspect of project development. In this paper, we discuss the overall structure of the Challenge and our experience with it; lessons learned and recommendations; and how we used various development tools to develop the resulting SDR systems.


Starting with the 2007 Challenge, the Wireless Innovation Forum (previously called the SDR Forum) has sponsored the Smart Radio Challenge (SRC) annually. The SRC is an international competition in which student engineering teams design, develop, and test software-defined radio (SDR) or cognitive-radio (CR) technologies to address relevant, real-world problems in the advanced wireless communications market.

The Challenge is performed in several phases, beginning with a qualifying round and progressing through one or more development rounds. As part of the Challenge, each student team must build and demonstrate an SDR that addresses the problem(s) defined by the Wireless Innovation Forum and supporting the target waveform(s). For example, in the 2007 Challenge, one of the problems had student teams attack the problem of “communications interoperability”. Their task was “to develop a smart radio terminal that can automatically provide interoperability between radios with different modulations, voice, and network protocols, and which knows how to forward messages to the proper network—be it commercial or civil.” The Challenge culminates in a competition in which teams compete against each other in their problem category. A complete set of rules, details on problems from previous years, and a listing of current teams and past winners may be found at the Challenge’s website (

One of the primary drivers for the Challenge is that it addresses a need in the education of SDR engineers. SDR is a rapidly growing field that is driving the development of and innovation in communications technology and promises to significantly impact both the consumer and government communications sectors. Companies and government agencies developing these SDR systems require a trained workforce that has been prepared with the mindset, knowledge,

Bilen, S., & Azarmanesh, O. (2010, June), Experiences With Student Developed Software Defined Radios In The Smart Radio Challenge Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16490

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