A channel or propagation emulator is a device that provides a controlled and repeatable environment where radio transmitters and receivers can be tested in different propagation conditions. This is especially important for those applications where radio devices need to operate in environments where strong multipath or fast-changing scenarios can compromise the quality of the wireless link (e.g. scenarios with high mobility, metallic scenarios, etc.). This is the case with Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) installed in industrial environments, such as factories or transportation systems (railway, aeronautics, etc.).

In order to use the channel emulator, the antennas of the radio devices need to be replaced by coaxial cables and connected to the RF ports of the channel emulator. Once a specific propagation channel is configured in the emulator, the radio devices will ‘see’ the radio signal as if they were actually operating in that specific propagation environment. This allows testing radio devices in a controlled and realistic way, avoiding the high cost and practical issues of field validations.

The channel emulator achieves this transparent behaviour by down-converting first the signal of the transmitter device to lower frequencies, then digitizing the resulting signal, and finally applying with an FPGA the characteristics of the selected propagation channel. Afterwards, the signal is up-converted again to RF frequencies so it can be sent to the receiver device. It must be noted that the channels programmed in the emulator are statistical representations of real-life propagation channels, which can be obtained either via channel measurement campaigns or using existing models in the literature.

Unlike existing commercial channel emulators, IKERLAN’s device is fully configurable and adjustable to specific user needs. Additional information and features of IKERLAN’s channel emulator can be found here.

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Posted on

January 31, 2023