RPF 2017/18: Advanced beamforming antenna testbed

Project: Research project (funded)Internal pump-priming

Project Details


The purpose of the project is to develop and test a 16-element smart antenna testbed that is driven by our USRP RIO devices, driven by LabView Communications Software. Such a testbed will be scalable so additional elements can be added at later date, using external funding (e.g. Bristol has a 128 element antenna testbed). The antenna elements with limited directionality and gain will be expected to purchase from off the shelf, and the integration will be completed internally by our technicians or by an external company. Software written in Labview Comms will control the antenna elements to complete the synchronisation across USRP devices and beam steering of the smart antenna. Various beamforming algorithms will be implemented to control the beamwidth, null steering and sidelobe levels.

Layman's description

The purpose of this project is to build up capability and credibility in the development of smart antennas,through the development of a small scale smart antenna testbed. This will facilitate securing significant external funding from industry, Innovate UK, EPSRC, and H2020. The testbed will use multiple antenna elements, which when phased correctly, can shape and direct multiple antenna beams in the direction of other wireless nodes (or users), thereby enhancing capacity and suppressing interference. Smart antennas are a crucial technology for 5G communications, which is a key component of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Key findings

A 4-element linear array (driven by 2 USRP devices) has been implemented using the log-periodic antennas and wooden burette stands. This array operates on 1.5 GHz carrier frequency with half wavelength (10 cm) element spacing. The MUSIC angle of arrival detection algorithm has been implemented while using the array for uplink reception, test results show that the array is capable of detecting up to 3 uncorrelated signal sources or up to 2 correlated signal sources. The array has also been used for downlink transmission. Various element weights based beamforming algorithms have been implemented to steer the beam to different directions. And indoor lab test has been carried out with 4 receivers placed at different directions in front of the array. The test results show that the array is able to steer its beam to at least +-70 degrees from broadside.
Ofcom has recently promised to grant us a non-operational license to transmit at 1320 MHz using the 16-element array, we are now in conversation with Sylatech for building a customised 16-element array antenna at this carrier frequency.
Effective start/end date1/08/1731/07/18