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Facilities and Equipment 

The Centre is well-equipped with facilities. Some of the main ones are described here. 

Channel sounder 

A unique chirp sounder with multiple receive channels provides radio channel measurements in the 2-6 GHz bands with a single channel in the 60 GHz band. The sounder has a versatile architecture which enables the following types of measurements 

  • Simultaneous multiple frequency band measurements with single antennas (SIS0) (up to 4 bands) 
  • Multiple antennas (MIMO) (dual-band 4 by 4 or single band 8 by 8) 
  • Spectral occupancy for cognitive radio. 

Anechoic chamber 

The anechoic chamber in the School of Engineering is a professional facility for the provision of free space radio frequency measurements in the frequency range of 26 MHz to greater than 18 GHz. 

The chamber allows the following measurements: 

  • Antenna Characterisation – for example, to measure the relative amplitude and phase of up to 4 antennas simultaneously within the frequency range 50 MHz to 6 GHz 
  • Electromagnetic interference studies – measuring, for example, the effects of wind turbines on digital terrestrial television. 

Antenna arrays 

8 Elements wideband directional antenna array 

This antenna array operates in the 1.5 GHz to 2.3 Ghz frequency range. It was designed and developed by a student to support radio signal direction of arrival estimation in conjunction with the 8 channel radio frequency sounder.  

Wideband discone array 

Compact discone antennas for operation in the frequency range 2.2 GHz to 6 GHz have been developed. Arrays of discones have been developed and characterised in the radio frequency anechoic chamber. 

Antenna calibration unit 

8-elements antenna array calibration  

An antenna rotation rig with control and data logging software has been developed to allow antenna radiation patterns to be investigated. The equipment is sufficiently compact that it can be configured to make measurements either in the field or within the radio frequency anechoic chamber. 

I & Q 4 element antenna calibration unit 

The antenna amplitude and phase characteristics are extracted using a four-channel quadrature down converter. This operates at 10 MHz and includes a reference channel to provide cancellation of residual phase and frequency errors in the measurement system. The equipment can be used to make measurements at arbitrary frequencies using external down converters.  Measurements have been performed using this technique from 50 MHz to 6 GHz. 

Survey vehicle 

The Centre’s survey vehicle is a land rover equipped with a 7m pneumatic mast which is capable of raising the antenna above the vehicle.  The inside of the vehicle has been adapted to provide equipment racks to house the channel sounder receiver, down converters, data acquisition computer and ancillary test equipment necessary to perform measurements. Power is available to operate the equipment. Mobile measurements can be performed while the vehicle is moving.  A transportable telescopic mast can be used to elevate the transmit antenna during channel sounding measurements. 

RF circuits 

The Printed Circuit Board plant is capable of producing high-quality prototype and production quantities of single-sided and multi-layer plater through-hole circuit boards up to a maximum of six layers and board size up to 300mm x 250mm.  A variety of circuit design and simulation tools have been used to produce printed circuit boards. 

A 60 GHz channel sounder receiver has been constructed using commercial wave guide components in conjunction with proprietary electronics. The receiver assembly includes a low noise, low distortion pre-amplifier and a single side band translation stage to provide signals appropriate to the data acquisition system. 

Laboratory Facilities 

The Radio Systems Research/Teaching Laboratory has a wide range of equipment available for designing and evaluating various RF and digital circuits. These include a number ofVector Network Analysers (VNAs), Spectrum Analysers, Feedback Modules, Texas Instruments signal processing boards, Digital Oscilloscopes and Signal Generators, as well as other test equipment. Work is already underway to conduct measurements on indoor radio channels using an extended 9-port VNA. 

Software packages include MATLAB and Agilent Advanced Design System (ADS), used for channel simulation and evaluation of system performance.