National Instruments Aust & NZ introduces the NI USRP-2920 and NI USRP-2921 instruments designed to deliver a true hands-on learning experience with real-world signals to RF and communications university labs that previously relied on computer-based simulation to augment theory.
Consisting of NI universal software radio peripheral (USRP) hardware, NI LabVIEW software and lab-ready course material, the new educational platform provides educators with an affordable, off-the-shelf solution that exposes students to practical application of abstract mathematical theories learned in traditional lecture.
Educators can use the NI USRP platform to teach courses and topics such as digital communications, communication system design, antenna theory, digital modulation, wireless communication, software-defined radio, digital signal processing and information theory.
Additionally, the new USRP educational platform functions as a scalable solution for communications experimentation, research and rapid prototyping.
According to Thad Welch, PhD, professor at Boise State University, the USRP has gained popularity in recent years among universities as a research tool in software-defined and cognitive radio fields.
He adds that the NI USRP with LabVIEW support and course-specific lab materials helps educators strengthen students’ understanding of RF and communications theory through hands-on experimentation. Students can now explore the link between abstract mathematical theory and practical implementation through hands-on experimentation with a working communications system.
Undergraduates have already proven NI USRP technology as ideal for use in the lab as part of a pilot electrical engineering course at Stanford University. The spring 2011 class gained a deeper understanding of engineering concepts through hands-on projects in which they designed a complete communications system.
Sachin Katti, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University explains that the NI USRP technology and LabVIEW allow them to expose students to real-world signals early in their RF and communications courses, which adds depth to both teaching and learning theoretical concepts.
Key features of the NI USRP platform:
- Software-tuneable front end ranging from 50 MHz to 2.2 GHz or the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ISM bands
- Hardware also integrates a software reconfigurable RF transceiver with high-speed A/D and D/A converters
- Baseband I and Q signals can be streamed to a host PC over Gigabit Ethernet at up to 20 MS/s for real-time access to the spectrum