The objectives of this project are to provide:
- an innovative and flexible modem platform for use in operational ground stations.
- a highly modular architecture allows the system to be rapidly scaled to support complex spacecraft with multi-carrier downlinks, uplinks, radiometric and baseband processing or lightweight systems for smaller missions.
- an architecture that supports legacy, current and future modulation and coding requirements.
The ABBM helps to bridge the gap between the current trend towards software modems and traditional hardware biased modems. While the system can be used as an SDR front-end, the unit offers a compact stand-alone system that does not require a computer workstation. This allows the system to be used as a cost optimised, turnkey solution.
The modularity refers not only to a physical structure but also to the way in which the hardware, firmware and software are combined. A key goal of the project is to design an architecture and mechanisms that are largely independent of specific hardware, vendors and devices such that the system could be scaled as required.
The project includes a number of key challenges, in particular:
- the system should be highly flexible while fulfilling the performance requirements of an operational ground station regarding radiometric processing and signal processing/purity.
- the system must be highly cost effective in order to become economically viable in an increasingly challenging market.
The ABBM is designed such that it is scalable at all levels whether in terms of the number interfaces, signal processing and back-end processing. The system can be used as a compact stand-alone system or connected to a commercial PC with additional software applications. This allows the customer to define functions to be included thus allowing the system and CAPEX to be scaled accordingly.
The ABBM Full Prototype system supports multiple IF inputs, IF outputs, demodulation chains operating independently or in pairs with Diversity Combination. The receiver and transmitter chains have associated baseband processing and radiometric processing. The system includes flexible in-field configuration to add/adapt functionality as required.
The system uses digital signal processing techniques for both modulation and demodulation based on System On Chip FPGA processing together with modular software within the ABBM. This is augmented by an optional external workstation.
The project is divided into four main tasks and will result in a full prototype to demonstrate the platform architecture and system design.
- Requirements consolidation
The project has completed the requirements consolidation and preliminary/architectural design phase (phase 1). Early prototyping of key technologies and the design implementation is now in progress