Delivering Wireless Services From the Sky With USRP and LabVIEW Communications

We needed to implement a cost-effective low-altitude aerial testbed that can verify novel wireless communications applications between the airborne node and ground terminals while meeting tight constraints for payload weight, volume and power consumption

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"By offloading intensive processing tasks, such as fast Fourier transform (FFT) and modulation/coding, to USRP’s built-in FPGA, we increased the determinism, signal integrity, and reliability of the system whilst freeing up the host processor for data logging and simpler processing tasks such as visualising power spectrum and constellation diagrams."

- David Grace, University of York, Professor

The Challenge:
We needed to implement a cost-effective low-altitude aerial testbed that can verify novel wireless communications applications between the airborne node and ground terminals while meeting tight constraints for payload weight, volume and power consumption.

The Solution:
We combined the rapid prototyping capabilities of the LabVIEW Communications System Design Suite with the processing power of USRP RIO to directly drive tailored antenna elements in a highly flexible wireless testbed. The testbed is carried onboard a tethered aerial platform Helikite that can be deployed for hours, up to 400 meters altitude, which allows us to trial multiple applications.

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