Reconfigurable Communications Transceiver

Contact Information

Michael Moore
Staff Engineer
Applied Sensing
(210) 522-5944

image of reconfigurable communication transceiver trade space analysis tool for space-borne communications

Transceiver trade space analysis tool for space-borne communications

image of Tapered-Aperture Small Helix (TASH) Antenna, a type of specialty antenna

Tapered-Aperture Small Helix (TASH) Antenna, a type of specialty antenna

With more than 15 years of experience in the research, design and development of networks and network-based systems and an extensive background in networks, coupled with real-time systems focus, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is a pioneer in bringing networking technology to airborne and space platforms. SwRI is also conducting research and development in reconfigurable communications architectures for space applications.

Reconfigurable Communication Transceiver

SwRI built a tool for analyzing the tradeoffs between costs (size, weight, power, and development time) as variations occur in:

  • Waveform algorithm
  • Performance
  • Hardware platform
  • Operating environment
  • Software vs. hardware allocation

This tool supported a trade space analysis for space-borne communications systems, utilizing Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) hardware and leveraging standard communications architectures such as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) software component architecture (SCA).

Software-Defined Radio for Reconfigurable Communications

During the last decade, programmable digital radio systems have been replacing fixed analog radio systems as programmable hardware components have become more capable, inexpensive and available, and wireless communications applications have demanded reusable, reconfigurable and flexible radios. Consequently, an evolving technology known as Software-Defined Radio has emerged. Traditional digital radio systems used application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and digital signal processors (DSPs).

image of chart showing research results of flexible software-defined radio communication designs for space applications at SwRI

SwRI is a leader in researching flexible software-defined radio communication designs for space applications such as space-borne communications.

Software-Defined Radio Systems Facts

  • A software-defined radio system implements many internal (baseband) operations with software or firmware.
  • As hardware components evolve, future software-defined radio systems may also allow programmable radio frequency (RF) bands within the RF section.
  • Software-defined radio technologies allow fewer devices to support communications requirements, reducing size, weight and power.
  • SwRI has developed software-defined radio platforms, waveforms, transceivers, and software-defined radio satellite communication terminals.

Smart Antennas

Smart antenna systems can adaptively point the main antenna beam in the direction of a desirable transceiver and can be made to resonate at different frequencies. SwRI engineers have extensive experience in developing smart antennas and other specialty antennas. Areas of study in specialty antenna research include:

  • Broadband antennas
  • Electrically small antennas
  • Low-observable antennas
  • Phased-array radar systems
  • Antennas with other special attributes

Related Terminology

reconfigurable communications transceiver  •  software-defined radio  •  smart antennas, specialty antennas  •  reconfigurable communications  •  space-borne communications  •  network-based systems  •  programmable digital radio systems

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.