Request additional information about our research and/or our faculty, by contacting:
Dr. Mike Buehrer
Director, Wireless @ VT
Software-Defined Radio is radio in which many of the physical layer functions are performed in software. Cognitive Radio is defined as radio with autonomous adaption/learning capability (a "robotic" radio). This project-oriented, hands-on course introduces software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio (CR), technologies that are reshaping wireless communications. Students will prepare for employment or graduate study in these or other complex, interdisciplinary areas of technological innovation, by working in teams to design, develop, present/demonstrate and document a system or component that meets user requirements and specifications. The course covers SDR and CR concepts and enabling technologies in parallel with a rapid orientation to hardware and software toolkits for creation of SDR and CR systems and applications. In- and out-of class tutorials will use open-source SDR software and a take-home SDR kit. Lab activities will allow students to explore SDR and CR applications using more powerful SDR hardware and test equipment. Team design projects begin in week 4, and project teams will be supported by in-class advising. Students have access to lab facilities for project work during daytime in-lab Instructor and GTA office hours throughout the semester as well as during scheduled evening lab time after mid-semester. This spring the course had 14 students.
Instructor and Teaching Assistant
Dr. Carl Dietrich has led several SDR and CR-related projects, including an NSF funded summer undergraduate research program. He has taught SDR courses and tutorials for graduate students and industry professionals, as well as undergraduate communications, electromagnetics, and electronics courses. Dr. Dietrich is a Professional Engineer in Virginia, IEEE Senior Member, IEEE-HKN and ASEE member, and Extra Class amateur radio operator, recent chair of the Wireless Innovation Forum’s Educational Special Interest Group, and organizer of the SDR Design Challenge student contest.
Mr. Ferdinando Romano is the primary developer of new tutorial exercises for the course. His research includes investigation of efficient approaches for testing and evaluation of cognitive radios, and he is also an amateur radio operator. Mr. Romano or another graduate assistant with SDR/CR experience will supervise the labs and help advise students on their projects.
THANK YOU to Ventura Solutions, Inc. (VSI) for support of the course. VSI has donated 25 kits consisting of a BeagleBone Black single board computer, SDR receiver, and powered USB hub, and plans to provide prizes to recognize the top three project teams.
New Radio Lab
The course will use Virginia Tech’s updated Radio Lab. Each lab station is equipped with two USRP N210 radio-frequency (RF) front ends that enable computers running SDR/CR software to transmit as well as receive, in addition to a soldering station with ventilation system, spectrum analyzer, oscilloscope, function generator, multi-meter, and power supply. Test equipment is networked with a PC that can support SDR/CR design/signal processing and automated measurements.
Early in the semester, students will be given orientation and access to CORNET, a 48-node indoor SDR/CR testbed and O-CORNET, a 15-node outdoor testbed, for demonstration and evaluation of small or medium-scale systems.
Take-Home SDR Kit and SDR Software
Students will use a take-home, receive-only RF front end that includes an antenna and an adapter cable for use with test equipment. Students will learn three effective approaches to developing SDR/CR applications using open source software pre-installed on virtual machines and lab computers
Recognition of Outstanding Projects