Front-end board for GPS / GNSS

I’ve been working on a front-end board suitable for GPS and other GNSS
systems. It might be of interest to the GNU Radio community.

Goals for the project:

  • high-quality signals from all current and near-future GNSS systems
    (GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Compass)

  • wide bandwidth—provides three 50 MHz channels, nominally at L1,
    L2, and L5

  • low cost—currently about $170 parts cost in single quantity, ~$110
    in qty 100

  • simplicity of use—emits streams of 2-bit samples to gigabit
    Ethernet, feeding a downstream software-receiver farm

  • two baseband clock inputs for use by timing receivers—any
    combination of 10 MHz, 100 MHz, 1 PPS

  • tunability typically from 0.7 to 2.2 GHz on each channel
    independently, for non-GPS applications such as radio astronomy

  • easy to fabricate and procure parts—4-layer PCB, everything
    available from friendly distributors such as Digikey and Mouser

  • free and open-source licensing: TAPR Open Hardware License version
    1.0 for hardware, GPLv2 for HDL, firmware, and software

So far I have a prototype board outputting bits from which GPS signals
on L1 and L2 have been successfully acquired and tracked. Next steps
are to play with acquiring some GPS L5, Glonass, and Galileo signals,
and to apply some minor cleanups to the hardware for the next spin.

The current design files, including schematic, PCB layout and artwork,
HDL, support software, and a sample sky recording of simultaneous
wideband L1 and L2, are available here:

The hardware and HDL are not quite in their final forms yet, but it
seems best to at least announce and get a discussion going so I can
benefit from any feedback, rather than waiting for every last thing to
be complete, which might be a few months down the road.

One could get similar overall capability with two or three USRP boxes
(suitably synchronized), but this starts to get expensive. I’ve used
a USRP1 for some time, and while it’s a great tool, the bandwidth is
limited and it seems geared toward high-spectral-efficiency signals
with many (>=8) bits per sample.

Peter M.