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Software-defined radio mezzanine module gets ruggedized

Posted: 13 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mil hardware? pentek? model 7131? pmc module? pci mezzanine card module?

Designers and integrators of MIL hardware take notice. Here's news of a board-level high-speed data conversion product that's suitable for applications in harsh environments. Offered by board maker Pentek, it's a new version of the company's existing Model 7131 16-channel multi-band digital receiver PMC (PCI mezzanine card) module. The new module achieves Pentek's highest level of convection-cooled ruggedization, joining the company's 6821, 6822, and 7140 PMC and VME bus boards.

Ruggedization makes this product suited for operational environments such as that found in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles), and in other combat applications.

The Model 7131-702 is also slated for SDR (software defined radio) applications such as those used for synchronous data communications, direction-finding, wireless telecom, satellite communications, WLAN (wireless local area networks), and HF high-frequency sonar.

Resists extremes

To suit these harsh environment applications, the new PMC touts an operating temperature range of -20C to 65C and a storage range of -40C to 100C. It is also qualified for 20g shock, 2g sine vibration, and 0.04g?/Hz random vibration.

A conformal coating is also available that extends operating range to 100 percent relative humidity. It also protects the board from environmental contaminants.

The hardware

This latest Model 7131-702 features two 14bit 80MHz sample-rate or 105MHz sample-rate ADCs, and four quad digital receivers (more about these in a moment). The system's sample clock is derived either from an internal crystal oscillator, or via an external clock supplied through a front panel SMA connector.

The new board also couples a Xilinx Virtex-II FPGA with channelized software radio functions. That combo provides over two million gates for user-customization.

Switching and synchronization

The Model 7131-702 accepts two analog inputs on its front-panel SMA connectors; these signals can originate from baseband HF sources or IF (intermediate frequency) outputs from communications receivers. Each of the two inputs is transformer-coupled.

As noted above, the 7131-702 also includes four quad multi-band digital receiver chips, driven by the samples from both ADCs. Each device includes four receiver channels capable of independent center frequency tuning from DC to 40MHz, with output bandwidths ranging from 4kHz to 2.5MHz. The block diagram will give you an idea of more of what's on-board.

In addition, a crossbar switch permits all sixteen receiver channels to independently select either of the two A/D inputs. A front-panel clock/sync bus lets one 7131-702 act as a master, driving a sample clock out to a front-panel cable using LVDS (low voltage differential signaling). Multiple slaves can be then clocked synchronously with the master. Up to 80 boards can be sync'd.

The user-configurable FPGA

As mentioned, the 7131-702 is also equipped with a Xilinx FPGA. Either an XC2V1000 or a XC2V3000 FPGA can be used, giving you logic densities of one million or three million gates, respectively. As shipped, the board's FPGA is factory-configured to perform standard modes of data packing, formatting, and channel selection.

However, an optional FPGA developer's kit is available for custom applications to take advantage of the 70 percent unused resources within the optional XC2V3000 FPGA. Also supported are Pentek's GateFlow intellectual property cores. These can implement functions such as pulse compression algorithms and FFTs (fast Fourier transforms).

The Model 7131-702 is priced starting at about $7,500. The company's ReadyFlow board-support packages are available to speed development tasks, and both Linux and Windows drivers are available to support high-level programming. Driver source code is included, too, letting you modify the software's functions.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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