SDR Design Competition


#1

SDR Forum is running a competition for university teams in software
radio. There are monetary prizes, and it looks like you get Matlab and
Simulink for free. Registration is due by the end of May.

http://radiochallenge.org

Matt


Matt E. removed_email_address@domain.invalid


#2

On Wed, May 17, 2006 at 04:33:05PM -0700, Matt E. wrote:

SDR Forum is running a competition for university teams in software
radio. There are monetary prizes, and it looks like you get Matlab and
Simulink for free.

In other words, they think software radio is great, as long as
you are beholden to a Big Company with Profits to Protect.

- Larry

#3

removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

On Wed, May 17, 2006 at 04:33:05PM -0700, Matt E. wrote:

SDR Forum is running a competition for university teams in software
radio. There are monetary prizes, and it looks like you get Matlab and
Simulink for free.

In other words, they think software radio is great, as long as
you are beholden to a Big Company with Profits to Protect.

- Larry

I was just looking at this, intending on posting this. I guess great
minds think alike…

Matlab and Simulink are very useful tools. While you are encouraged to
use the tools that are provided, they didn’t seem to be mandatory.

I have a bigger concern that the contest entry materials become the
property of the SDR Forum. If I were a student looking for something to
commercialize, that might be a deal breaker right there.

I also think, looking at the sample problems, that they will be lucky to
get any entrants at all.
http://www.radiochallenge.org/SampleProblems.html

especially considering the timeframe they are looking for.


#4

There are monetary prizes…

Yeah – unspecified ones!

It looks like an incredible amount of work, under really picky and
idiotic rules, solving problems so challenging that there isn’t any
commercial gear that does it, at any price. For an unknown and
probably tiny reward. And to hand it all over to somebody else to
own!!!

(They won’t accept work that has been released under a public license,
such as the GPL or even the BSD license. If you spend two years
writing this stuff, they will own it at the end, and you won’t even
be able to keep working with or evolving your own software or
hardware. And you won’t be paid for any of this.)

They’ve issued a call for suckers. Any takers?

[Now let’s go back to improving the world with GNU Radio…]

John

#5

On Thursday 18 May 2006 16:52, John G. wrote:

(They won’t accept work that has been released under a public
license, such as the GPL or even the BSD license. If you
spend two years writing this stuff, they will own it at the
end, and you won’t even be able to keep working with or
evolving your own software or hardware. And you won’t be
paid for any of this.)

They’ve issued a call for suckers. Any takers?

College professors (and students taking their advice) fall for
that all the time. It is so bad in some schools that those
(either students or professors) who do not fall for it are
treated as outcasts.


#6

David Bengtson wrote:

I also think, looking at the sample problems, that they will be lucky
to get any entrants at all.
http://www.radiochallenge.org/SampleProblems.html

That sample problem list looks more like a brochure - perhaps one of the
sponsors.

-rick


#7

Well put, Lamar. I just wanted to add a few things. I’ve worked with the
SDR
Forum for a while now, so I decided to ask them about the concerns
raised on
this discussion board.

First, to the IP, they are not trying to take IP rights away from the
inventors. Their intent is to reserve the right to publish the work.
This is
basically the same as the copyright transfer we always give when
publishing
papers for IEEE or to the SDR Forum Technical Conference. They have
recognized problems with the wording, as raised by a number of people
directly involved with the competition, and are right now waiting for
the
new wording to clear this up. The SDRF is a non-profit organization and
has
no interest in holding IP of this sort.

The competition is meant to allow students to get hands-on work with
SDRs,
techniques, and tools. The corporate sponsors have agreed to provide
some
tools and equipment to facilitate this process. I understand the
concerns
with the corporate sponsorship, but again, they do not receive the IP
created. They are mostly interested in building familiarity with their
products, getting their names out to the community for future
development,
and hopefully build loyalty to their products.

Without these tools made available to the competitors, it wouldn’t
really
fly. Unfortunately, most people do not look at the GNU Radio right now
as a
professional tool whereas MATLAB is, not to mention the fact that MATLAB
is
a simple CD installation, and I think all of the “Can’t get
gnuradio-core to
compile” emails on this listserv prove the difficulty in working with
this
project.

As someone who has taught communications classes (and used the GNU Radio
for
in-class demonstrations!), I can tell you that most electrical engineers
in
communications are not comfortable with programming, which I am highly
critical of as the future of communications is in software. That aside,
many
of them are uncomfortable working in MATLAB in a Windows environment.
When I
tell my students that they will have to program in this class, I loose a
number of them, and the rest groan. I can’t imagine what would happen if
I
told them they had to install Linux and the GNU Radio code if they
wanted to
work on this stuff at home!

Bottom line, I love the GNU Radio project, but the world of SDR has a
long
way to go. It started mostly, and still is largely, with military money.
We
are just now seeing it as a commercial and hobbyist possibility. That
means
that much of the work comes from the military and the big contractors.
Getting more students involved is nothing short of a good thing. If the
GNU
Radio community wants to get involved, too, I think everyone would be
happy.
This is about the future of SDR and communications, and I for one would
like
to see as many students get their hands on this stuff as possible and
provide the necessary cooperation and competition to push it to new
heights.

Thanks, and I’ll get rid of my soapbox now.

Tom R.
Virginia Tech


#8

[You know, I might get flamed for this, but here goes…]

From: discuss-gnuradio-bounces+lowen=removed_email_address@domain.invalid on behalf of John
Gilmore

It looks like an incredible amount of work, under really picky and
idiotic rules, solving problems so challenging that there isn’t any
commercial gear that does it, at any price. For an unknown and
probably tiny reward. And to hand it all over to somebody else to
own!!!

Looking over the rules, FAQ, and phases, this looks pretty normal,
having dealt with engineering academia before (for PARI, and during my
own senior year 17 years ago).

The purpose of these challenges is education of the students in
practices found in the industry. Whether those practices are correct or
not is not even relevant, as industry practices are what they are.
The student is getting the use of the development tools of the sponsors
for free during the scope of the challenge; it is an extremely good
educational opportunity from the educational point of view, and provides
valuable people networking for the students involved. This sort of
challenge mirrors the processes by which industrial electrical
engineering is actually done, not how we (myself included) wishes it
were done.

The rules and projects are ordinary in terms of actually engineering
industry practice, in my experience. Reading through the sample
challenges, and understanding that Matlab, Simulink, and all of Xilinx’s
tools will be made available, I don’t see any of the challenges that
would be too difficult for a team of bright engineering juniors and
seniors.

To give you an example, here at PARI we just finished a two semester
mechanical engineering project with NC A&T University. In one year, the
students developed programs, techniques, skills, and processes to
measure, model, and change the balance of our 26 meter radio telescopes,
each of which weight over 300 tons. The one is bottom heavy, and the
other top heavy. For obvious reasons they began with the bottom heavy
dish, and measured torques, calculated moments, centers of mass, and
weights, and then recommended not only how much weight to remove, but
the ideal (using finite element analysis) weights to remove. The upper
axis had 2,200 pounds of lead counterweight removed, and the lower axis
around 6,000 pounds. Oh, and the students had to design the fixtures to
remove the weights, and actually help remove weights.

There were five students, and they completed all of the modelling and
50% of the physical work (they hadn’t counted on rust, for instance, on
the three inch bolts (not length; diameter!) holding the weights to the
structure). But the bottom heavy dish is now much less bottom heavy (we
wanted to keep it stable, and not try to perfectly balance it; but they
could have made the balance perfect).

A team of five students can accomplish amazing things.

(They won’t accept work that has been released under a public license,
such as the GPL or even the BSD license. If you spend two years
writing this stuff, they will own it at the end, and you won’t even
be able to keep working with or evolving your own software or
hardware. And you won’t be paid for any of this.)

And just what is wrong with any of this? The sponsors provide tools;
the students use them for no charge, and get recognition, valuable
experience, and a great time. That is, unless you want a blob of
Matlab/Simulink/Xilinx-centric code running around that requires those
tools. The scoring is weighted towards those solutions that use the
sponsors’ products (this is normal industry practice, too; put up the
money, and you make the rules).

You know, if the GNUradio Project wanted to sponsor such a contest and
provide USRP’s for each team, then the GNUradio project can set the
rules of license. I would love seeing that, actually. By the way, I
personally own two USRP’s; our technical director owns one; and PARI
owns four. So I certainly believe in what the GNUradio project is
about; but seeing an antagonistic attitutde towards a normal educational
senior project baffles me.

If we are going to change engineering practice, we have to get students
using the tools. To get them using the tools incentives have to be
provided. Although, there are quite a few students using the GNUradio
toolkit already.

Not directed at John, but to Al: none of these students or their faculty
deserve the epithet ‘suckers.’

Lamar Owen
Director of Information Technology
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
1 PARI Drive
Rosman, NC 28772
www.pari.edu


#9

Tom R. wrote:

new wording to clear this up. The SDRF is a non-profit organization and has
no interest in holding IP of this sort.

I’ve been to a couple of the SDR Forum conferences, and I’ve been
impressed with the organization. I’m glad they are clearing this IP
issue up. I was quite surprised to read the IP rights clause there,
based on other publications I’ve seen from the SDR Forum.

The competition is meant to allow students to get hands-on work with SDRs,
techniques, and tools. The corporate sponsors have agreed to provide some
tools and equipment to facilitate this process. I understand the concerns
with the corporate sponsorship, but again, they do not receive the IP
created. They are mostly interested in building familiarity with their
products, getting their names out to the community for future development,
and hopefully build loyalty to their products.

I think this competition is a good idea, and I’m very curious to see the
projects that get submitted to this. I’ve been out of school for a while
, but the projects that are listed as examples strike me as quite
difficult for a group of students, but I certainly willing to be proven
wrong.

If nothing else, entering this contest would look great on a student’s
resume, and would really seal the deal when it comes to hiring. I’m not
sure that it would really matter how well they placed, as long as there
was something there that the students could talk about in an interview.

Without these tools made available to the competitors, it wouldn’t really
fly. Unfortunately, most people do not look at the GNU Radio right now as a
professional tool whereas MATLAB is, not to mention the fact that MATLAB is
a simple CD installation, and I think all of the “Can’t get gnuradio-core to
compile” emails on this listserv prove the difficulty in working with this
project.

Matlab/Simulink makes for a decent toolset. While it is expensive, there
is quite an ecosystem that has developed around it, something that
Octave/Scilab/numPython/etc. aren’t really able to offer. Looking at the
other difficulties in this project, it certainly seems like a decent
decision to eliminate as many software glitches as possible.

As someone who has taught communications classes (and used the GNU Radio for
in-class demonstrations!), I can tell you that most electrical engineers in
communications are not comfortable with programming, which I am highly
critical of as the future of communications is in software. That aside, many
of them are uncomfortable working in MATLAB in a Windows environment. When I
tell my students that they will have to program in this class, I loose a
number of them, and the rest groan. I can’t imagine what would happen if I
told them they had to install Linux and the GNU Radio code if they wanted to
work on this stuff at home!

They are going to have to get used to programming something if they plan
on working as an engineer. A significant amount of my work hours are
spent staring into

  1. The Matlab IDE
  2. Agilent’s ADS
  3. Microsoft Excel

and I’d really like the time to learn Verilog. While Computer algebra
packages are nice, if you plan on implementing something in hardware,
you will need something that outputs something that you can build an IC
from. Perhaps a topic for another discussion.


#10

On Friday 19 May 2006 11:38, Tom R. wrote:

Well put, Lamar. I just wanted to add a few things. I’ve worked with the
SDR Forum for a while now, so I decided to ask them about the concerns
raised on this discussion board.

Thanks, Tom. Say hi to Steve Ellingson for me; got his document, and
enjoyed
the read.

Bottom line, I love the GNU Radio project, but the world of SDR has a long
way to go. It started mostly, and still is largely, with military money. We
are just now seeing it as a commercial and hobbyist possibility.

MatLab plus Simulink is de rigeur for many. I personally have a license
for
this, on Linux. We have a large hardware computer design coming in for
autocorrelating 12 200MS/s streams; it will require the equivalent of an
800GHz P4; it’s going to be done with Xilinx silicon, similar to the
setup
Dr. Ellingson is using with ETA here at PARI.

that much of the work comes from the military and the big contractors.
Getting more students involved is nothing short of a good thing. If the GNU
Radio community wants to get involved, too, I think everyone would be
happy. This is about the future of SDR and communications, and I for one
would like to see as many students get their hands on this stuff as
possible and provide the necessary cooperation and competition to push it
to new heights.

Yea, and Amen.

Lamar Owen
Director of Information Technology
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
1 PARI Drive
Rosman, NC 28772
(828)862-5554
www.pari.edu


#11

Friends -

On Fri, May 19, 2006 at 11:14:43PM -0400, David Bengtson wrote:

A significant amount of my work hours are
spent staring into

  1. The Matlab IDE
  2. Agilent’s ADS
  3. Microsoft Excel

and I’d really like the time to learn Verilog. While Computer algebra
packages are nice, if you plan on implementing something in hardware,
you will need something that outputs something that you can build an IC
from. Perhaps a topic for another discussion.

I have designed, simulated, and implemented a mixed
analog/digital/software system using (Icarus) Verilog
and C. Attempts by others to accomplish this using
Matlab, Simulink, and all manner of expensive plug-ins
never amounted to much.

Oh, and the initial feasibility check was done with Octave.

They are going to have to get used to programming something if they
plan on working as an engineer.

I fully agree. And I personally have made the choice
to program using tools that I have control over.

    - Larry

#12

< http://radiochallenge.org/ >

The new IP policy:

“The SDR Forum intends to seek permission to publish proposals, design
documents, engineering drawings, source code, analyses, and supporting
material developed under the challenge entires. No materials shall be
marked `proprietary’.”

IMHO tt would be even better if the implied “ownership belongs to the
creators” were described explicitly, but I can abide by it as it
stands. Thanks for making the change! - MLD


#13

“The SDR Forum intends to seek permission to publish
proposals, design documents, engineering drawings, source
code, analyses, and supporting material developed under the
challenge entires. No materials shall be marked
`proprietary’.”

IMHO tt would be even better if the implied “ownership
belongs to the creators” were described explicitly, but I can
abide by it as it stands. Thanks for making the change! -
MLD

Academics get a tremendous amount of pressure from software
vendors, to use their stuff, and not their competition. It
doesn’t take much to see that the competition is us.

Part of this pressure comes from book publishers, by including
demo versions of commercial software, refusing to include
free/GPL software, pressuring authors to use commercial
software, not GPL software, etc.

Prepare for the electronics education wiki. It’s coming.

Some other comments from others…

I think all of the “Can’t get gnuradio-core
to compile” emails on this listserv prove the difficulty in
working with this project.

Give them a custom Knoppix disk.

Recommend a distribution that includes gnuradio, or has a
package available. Then you can "apt-get install … " or
something like that.

I can’t imagine what would happen if I told them they
had to install Linux and the GNU Radio code if they wanted to
work on this stuff at home!

Give them a custom Knoppix disk.

It is OK to say they need to install Windows (at a cost of
$???), and spend $100 for an academic copy that will expire
when they graduate, or not work on the new computer they get in
two years?

“Quantian Linux” is a Knoppix variant that has lots of math and
EE software on it. It’s big. It mostly fills a DVD.

While it is
expensive, there is quite an ecosystem that has developed
around it, something that Octave/Scilab/numPython/etc.
aren’t really able to offer.

Who owns the ecosystem? A company starts a core, then relies on
a user community to add all kinds of stuff, the true value.
Eventually, the value of the community exceeds the core. Why
not use a core from the community too? when the commercial
core is derived from a free/open-source core?

There are plenty of “contests” which are really just ways to
promote a commercial product, and to divert energy away from
their competition (Free/open-source software).

How about a real design project, where you have the students
work on something that gnuradio needs and is missing? How
about implementing some of the features that octave is missing?
These are projects that will look good on a resume, and be
useful, even if they don’t come in first. “I contributed xxxxx
to the gnuradio project” is a lot more impressive than “My team
entered this contest and didn’t win”. I believe that if you
managed to pull it off once, you would find that there is
funding available to do it again.


#14

I guess my message got into a black hole :slight_smile:

Anyone has an idea where I can find the files
“cic_inter_2stage.v” and “cic_decim_2stage.v” ??

As we can see, they are referenced on the “ddc.v”
file:

cic_decim_2stage #(.bw(bw),.N(4))
decim_i(.clock(clock),.reset(reset),.enable(enable),

.strobe1(1’b1),.strobe2(strobe2),.strobe3(strobe1),.shift1(shift2),.shift2(shift1),
.signal_in(i_cordic_out),.signal_out(i_out));

Or if they doesnt exist at all, it means the “ddc.v”
code is never compiled? If so, how come we have 1,2 or
4 DDC in the system?

Thankx,

Angilberto.

==============================
From: Angilberto Muniz Sb
Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] FPGA bit file – again
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 16:46:05 -0800 (PST)


I’m trying to bypass the hardware DDC/DUC and tying to
implement the FPGA based UP/DOWN conveters.

Looking into ‘ddc.v’ and ‘duc.v’ we see references to
‘cic_decim_2stage’ and ‘cic_interp_2stage’
respectively, but there are no ‘.v’ equivalent files
– the close to it are ‘cic_interp.v’ and
‘cic_decim.v’ –

I assume the ‘_2state’ refers to ‘2nd stage decimating
and interpolating’ – Am I right?

Is it just tipo error? If so, how come I get no error
compiling the project under Quartus?

Thank you,

Angilberto.


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