Digital Communication Systems Education via Software-Defined Radio Experimentation

Abstract

In this paper, we present an educational approach that employs “hands-on” software-defined radio experimentation in the instruction of digital communication systems theory to electrical and computer engineering students. By prototyping and evaluating actual digital communication systems capable of performing “over-the-air” wireless data transmission and reception, students enrolled in this course can attain a first-hand understanding of the design trade-offs and issues associated with these systems, as well as gain a sense of actual “real world” operational behavior. Given that the learning process associated with using an actual softwaredefined radio platform for prototyping digital communication systems is often lengthy, tedious, and complicated, it is difficult to employ this tool within the relatively short duration of a typical undergraduate course, e.g., 7-14 weeks. Consequently, we have devised a method where the laboratory experiments have been preassembled with examples provided in order to enable the student to successfully implement designs over a short period of time. Moreover, softwaredefined radio design software packages were selected based on their ease of use and their flexibility in implementing various digital communication systems. Initially, a combination of MATLAB, Simulink, GNU Radio, and GNU Radio Companion were employed in the laboratory experiments. However, by the second offering of this course and its associated laboratory experiments, all the laboratory material was migrated over to Simulink in order to provide a convenient, efficient, and easy-to-use graphical experimentation environment, including the use of a recently released collection of blocks capable of controlling software-defined radio platforms for “over-the-air” transmissions.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Wyglinski2011DigitalCS, title={Digital Communication Systems Education via Software-Defined Radio Experimentation}, author={Alexander M. Wyglinski and Di Pu and D. J. Cullen}, year={2011} }